The Cleveland Browns were a mediocre offense in 2022. While QB Jacoby Brissett played really well compared to his history but the offense lacked the ability to control games despite a good offensive line, the best running back in the league and solid weapons on the outside. Unfortunately, the defense wasn’t able to carry the team either.
When Deshaun Watson took over for Brissett, the hope was that he could unlock that next level for the offense and cover up for some of the defense’s weaknesses. We all saw how that turned out with Watson struggling to regain his form and a disjointed offense overall.
According to Albert Breer, that offense is set for a big change in 2023:
—-the more traditional, Gary Kubiak-styled attack wasn’t a perfect fit for the quarterback last year. So I’d expect we’ll see Cleveland retrofitting it to Watson’s strengths more aggressively than it did last year, with more shotgun and more spread concepts to get Watson playing fast and back in his comfort zone.
The under-center wide zone scheme has been Cleveland’s staple since HC Kevin Stefanski took over the team. The system does a good job of making runs and passes look similar and make things easier for quarterbacks but it is constricting overall.
While Stefanski is now known for that system, his history isn’t rooted in it. It wasn’t until a season with Kubiak that he adopted it as his own. Prior to that, Stefanski was part of a variety of different offenses including under new Browns coach Bill Musgrave. Musgrave’s Cal offense last year was a shotgun heavy approach:
Thoughts on Musgrave’s shotgun run offense from Stefanski pic.twitter.com/TifWUDrZi6— Jared Mueller (@JaredKMueller) March 1, 2023
The Philadelphia Eagles could be a model that Cleveland follows closely this year. With Jalen Hurts a quality runner, the Eagles ran a lot of inside zone runs while spreading out defenses with multiple receivers on most plays. That style of play will also open up run-pass option plays and make Nick Chubb’s job even easier:
We should get glimpses of the new Browns offense during offseason activities but the spread-out concepts could lead to a focus on a receiver in free agency or early in the NFL draft.