While the Cleveland Browns do need to make some tweaks and improvements to their offense, an overhaul based solely on speed is the wrong way to go.
A belief has infiltrated the world of the Cleveland Browns and it is downright preposterous. This thought has come from the offensive display of the Kansas City Chiefs that was witnessed this past Sunday. What is this thought? That the Browns do not have enough speed on offense and should change things for the sake of speed. Listen Tom Cruise, not only is that a terrible idea, it’s completely irresponsible to do so.
First off, comparing the offenses of the Chiefs and Browns is comparing apples to oranges. The schemes are entirely different and that is before comparing the talent level of players and their specific traits. Much like when teams in the NBA tried to duplicate the success of the Golden State Warriors, many of them failed because it is simply impossible to do so. The Warriors were a special group of players who had elite traits which allowed them to operate in that manner. NBA teams that were not properly equipped that attempted to copy Golden State produced a product which was not only bad, it was flat out unwatchable.
This theme also applies to the Chiefs and their collection of elite talents. With Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Mecole Hardman, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire having the right combination of traits and abilities to make their system work. In addition to the players, the coach who oversees everything also has a massive impact on their success. Much like Golden State, Kansas City has a coach who has tailored the system to his players and put them in a position to succeed. Just like there is only one Steve Kerr, there is only one Andy Reid and that is not something that can be simply copied.
That brings us to the Browns, their offense, and the players in it. The offensive strategy deployed by Kevin Stefanski is completely different than what is utilized by Reid and the Chiefs. Kansas City’s offense is dominated by the passing game and their rushing attack was a complimentary facet of their scheme. Cleveland’s offense has a dominant rushing attack which leads to success on bootlegs and in play action. While both offenses can lead to impressive passing performances, one is more reliant on the defense believing that the offense could run the ball on any given play and that is Cleveland’s.
It is crucial to identify the differences in the abilities and style of quarterbacks of both teams. The fact of the matter is that Patrick Mahomes is what drives the Chiefs offense while Baker Mayfield is a passenger of the system. Mahomes is a player who can succeed in any offensive scheme while the same does not apply to Mayfield. Want proof? It is not a coincidence that Mayfield improved so much in an offense that is not entirely dependent on the passing attack. Stefanski’s offense is designed to maximize the production of quarterbacks just like Mayfield and that was the case this season. Simply put, Stefanski put Mayfield in a position to succeed based off of his unique skill set and did not put him in a place where he is the engine of the offense. Mayfield’s success this season is a product of the offense and not the other way around.
Now onto the aspect of speed. This is not saying that speed on offense is a bad thing, but a complete overhaul of the team in order to cater to this strategy is completely reckless. Adding a player to their receiving corps that has speed would be a great idea, but replacing one or both of Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry with players for the sake of speed and speed only is roster construction malpractice. It is better to find a complimentary speed player to add to the mix rather than replace everyone to fit a system that would be nothing more than a hollow, cheap, and more than likely ineffective facsimile of Kansas City. If this sounds familiar, see above about teams attempting to copy the Warriors resulting in a terrible on court product.
With all of that being said, the Browns do need to make adjustments to their offense and how their roster is constructed. These adjustments should be nothing more than a few tweaks and the addition of players to fill certain roles. A burner would be a perfect addition and would take the top off the defense in a three wide receiver set. The key part of that last sentence is that the player would be third receiver on the field behind OBJ and Landry. This type of player would be able to provide the explosive plays that have become an intense fascination as of late. These players typically finish the game with only a few targets and maybe a catch or two for big yardage. These type of players should not be the focus of the offense, but rather a secondary or tertiary option behind talents who are clearly superior.
It is crucial to not focus on something that one team in the entire league can do better than anyone else, that thing being speed. What the Browns should do is find something that they can do better than anyone else and build that way. Their offense was clearly one of the more impressive units this season and can take the next step with the addition of a speed player. But again, the addition of a speed player, not a full on overhaul with speed being the primary focus. If the Browns can accomplish this they may be able to capitalize on what appears to be an open contention window.