The Cleveland Browns hired former Notre Dame and University of Alabama Offensive Coordinator Tommy Rees this week to be their Tight Ends Coach in 2024. He’s also reportedly expected to play a role in the overall development of the passing game.
Though Rees is fairly young, he’s been able to develop and orchestrate some good offenses at the collegiate level despite having some things working against him at each spot. He was a key contributor in the development of former Notre Dame star and current Las Vegas Raider tight end Michael Mayer. He guided those Fighting Irish offenses to success despite having less-than-ideal quarterback play year after year.
Once at Alabama in 2023, he had the task of trying keep the Crimson Tide’s high-powered offense afloat without Bryce Young. This was a very hard task at first because of Alabama’s horrendous offensive line play throughout the first half of the season and QB Jalen Milroe’s inconsistency. Rees did and extraordinary job of adapting his offense to the strengths of Milroe and ended up finishing the year off strong with a conference championship win over the Georgia Bulldogs.
Aside from having an excellent track record of developing and coaching tight ends, he brings a few more valuable attributes with him to Cleveland.
Tons of experience with pre-snap motion
Regardless of where he’s coached, he’s always used a substantial amount of pre-snap shifts and motion in order to take advantage of the defense. Most of the time he motions multiple players before the snap which allows for better-blocking angles, forces the defense to reveal their coverage plans, and manipulates a defense’s blitzing capabilities just to name a few of the benefits.
For example, if the offense motions to an “empty” backfield before the snap there’s a good chance that a linebacker or overhang player will have to follow the running back out of the box. This obviously negates the defender’s plan to stay in and blitz, if that’s what they were going to do, or else the defense is susceptible to an uncovered receiver out wide.
Ability to identify an offense’s strengths and adapt to them
Just as he’s done with every collegiate job that he’s had as a Quarterbacks Coach or Offensive Coordinator, Rees has the innate ability to be a problem solver for an offense. When he first got to Alabama, quarterback Jalen Milroe was fairly ineffective because he was used to running an offense that wasn’t well-suited for his play style and ability. Over the 2nd half of the 2023 season, Rees was able to implement a deadly play-action heavy, RPO-based scheme that perfectly fit what Milroe is as a quarterback.
There’s a good chance that Rees was brought in to help put the finishing touches on this offense and to make sure that it completely fits Deshaun Watson’s strengths and skillset in 2024.
New wrinkles to the run game
One thing that Tommy Rees is known for is his commitment in establishing the run in a football game. He doesn’t want to be forced to completely rely on the passing game, and honestly Kevin Stefanski doesn’t want to either.
Rees has done a lot of innovative things in the ground game that revolves around motioning multiple tight ends, misdirection, and creating different angles in the power run game. As far as his propensity to run the ball goes and his desire to “smack the defense in the mouth”, he’s a perfect fit for what Cleveland wants to do going forward.
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