The goal on the defensive side of the ball for the Cleveland Browns this offseason was simple and clear: Upgrade the defensive line. We won’t know if the mission was accomplished until the season starts but the moves by GM Andrew Berry indicate it should be.
The goal on the offensive side of the ball was a little less clear for the Browns but there were a ton of hints of a new system being in place:
- Hiring Bill Musgrave who is proficient in shotgun/pistol run plays
- Multiple comments from Kevin Stefanski and Deshaun Watson
- Adding multiple fast, quick receivers
- The drafting of Dorian Thompson-Robinson
- DTR noting the playbook was similar to the one used under Chip Kelly with the UCLA Bruins
Now, with OTAs in progress, we are starting to see a few of the wrinkles that could come with the new offense. Here, we see new WR Elijah Moore behind Watson with Nick Chubb to the quarterback’s right. Moore motions out of the backfield before running his route:
This formation can cause defenses fits as Moore is shifty enough to run the ball, Chubb is the best back in the NFL and Watson is an elusive runner. The motion also helps Watson identify whether the defense is in man or zone and create a potential for mismatches somewhere in coverage.
Finally, while it isn’t done here, Moore’s motion can also help him create separation if the ball is snapped as a defender is moving with the receiver.
Watson’s throw allows Moore to turn upfield but keeps it just out of the reach of the charging linebacker.
While a small wrinkle, the idea of that formation with Watson, Chubb and any number of potential third players in the backfield could open up many options including... the option:
Just saw something at Browns OTAs that I haven’t seen in practice since Ohio State: QBs practicing the option pitch.— Hayden Grove (@H_Grove) May 31, 2023
While Hayden’s memory of the Buckeyes option-style offense predates Ryan Day’s tenure, there will likely be both excitement (as he notes) and trepidation from fans who see the option or pitch plays as dangerous. The two Super Bowl participants, the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles, are among a handful of teams who have sprinkled more option-oriented offense into their NFL schemes.
Just a little taste of what the new Cleveland Browns offense under Kevin Stefanski might look like.