There are simple solutions for the Cleveland Browns but whether they can pull them off or not is a different discussion. As GM Andrew Berry noted, just cutting down on turnovers could greatly impact the Browns' offensive success. Can QB Deshaun Watson and the rest of the skilled players fulfill Berry’s wish?
Until Watson proves anything, everyone should have a level of doubt that he can return to being the player he was with the Houston Texans and live up to his huge contract.
Given what Cleveland gave up in draft picks, along with that contract, tapping into what made Watson special with the Texans would make a lot of sense. With RB Nick Chubb’s injury, the Browns have already started some of that with more spread-out formations but could take it to the next level with more use of run-pass option plays.
A quick explainer: Different than a play-action pass or a zone-read, the run-pass option is a unique hybrid. While play action is certainly a pass play (barring a QB scramble) and a zone-read is certainly a run play, an RPO can be both. The offensive line blocks as if it is a running play but the quarterback can decide to make a quick pass as well.
The ball can not be held for long if the pass is decided as the offensive linemen will be blocking too far downfield.
We know Watson was successful with RPOs in Houston but we have early data that he has been with Cleveland as well:
Browns have the NFL's 6th best yards/play in RPO concepts in 2023. That includes the 3rd best yards/play when giving the ball off for a rush.— Jake Burns (@jake_burns18) October 4, 2023
They are currently 24th in the NFL in RPO usage.
In a follow-up, Burns notes that Chubb was only on the field for three of those RPO attempts.
Ramping up the use of run-pass option plays could help Watson make quicker decisions, open up the run game and put the offense in position to be more successful. That, along with turning the ball over less and the Browns offense could really catch fire coming out of the bye week.
As noted in the first sentence, until we see it on the field with Watson, doubt and skepticism is the appropriate and expected response.
What do you think about RPO offenses in general? Specifically for the Browns, do you think that using it more often should be a priority?
Our comment section below is a great place to talk things out with fans including answering these questions.