Given the fact that the Browns have already played and beaten all three of these teams during the regular season, they have a good idea of what does and what doesn't work against them both offensively and defensively.
When going back over the film, there were a couple of schematic takeaways from the offensive and defensive side of the ball that directly contributed to Cleveland’s success in the game.
Kevin Stefanski did an excellent job in this game of catering to PJ Walker’s strengths when he came into the game after Deshaun Watson got hurt. The Browns were able to move the ball downfield fairly easily via the short to midrange passing game.
Diving back into the #Browns/INDY game, I'm so surprised that the Colts' D never adjusted to the underneath stuff.— Matt Wilson (@CoachWilson66) January 3, 2024
PJ Walker was able to dink and dunk his way down the field for a good amount of the game. #DawgPound pic.twitter.com/dupGCWycjR
Jerome Ford was particularly effective on “Texas”, “Stab”, and “Arrow” routes within 5-10 yards from the line of scrimmage. The tight ends and wide receivers continually ran a combination of short crossers, quick slants, and different variations of comeback routes as well.
Heading into the game, this Indianapolis defense was allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete almost 68% of their passes along with averaging 10 yards per completion. Despite the Colts being in prime position to make the playoffs, these statistics haven’t gotten much better.
Though the passing game has undoubtedly opened up a bit more since Joe Flacco has taken over at quarterback, we should still see a similar offensive game plan against Indianapolis if Cleveland ends up playing them on Wild Card weekend.
It’s no secret that Jim Schwartz knows how to orchestrate an effective pass rush, and he was able to fluster Colts’ quarterback Gardner Minshew quite a few times in their week 7 matchup.
If Cleveland plays Indianapolis in the Wild Card round, expect to see Jim Schwartz using these types of blitzes quite a bit.— Matt Wilson (@CoachWilson66) January 3, 2024
The #Browns were able to generate a lot of pressure with defensive backs coming off the edge in week 7. #DawgPound pic.twitter.com/mXNiXsYOkg
Schwartz specifically brought defensive backs off the edge in Nickel and Dime packages on multiple occasions, which resulted in plays like the one above. Both defensive ends slanted inside to create exterior rush lanes for the defensive backs to utilize, and unless they had a tight end or running back in pass protection, it was bad news for the Colts offense.
As long as this Browns defense can be successful in getting to Minshew, which might be inevitable given the amount of talent and cohesion they have, then Cleveland should have a good chance of advancing to the next round if the Colts are their Wild Card opponent.
How confident are you that Cleveland could beat the Colts in the Wild Card Round? Join fellow Browns fans in the comment section below.