Browns embrace aggressive mindset

Posted Nov 4, 2013

The Cleveland Browns have embraced the opportunity to attempt, and many times convert, fourth downs through the first nine games of the regular season.

Cleveland Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said he would take chances and be aggressive when he was named the team’s 14th full-time head coach back on Jan. 10, 2013, and he was not kidding, as the their first nine opponents have found out.

Chudzinski and the Browns have attempted to convert 19 fourth downs, and have been successful on 10 of those occasions, with five either resulting in or directly leading to a touchdown.

“If you go back, Jimmy Johnson was that way,” Chudzinski said of his former coach at the University of Miami. “It’s really about the situations that come up. I see it as any other situation, and you want to execute. You have plays to execute and you want to get things done.

“It’s just a matter of: ‘How confident are you in those plays and really, in your players?’ I have a lot of trust, a lot of faith in our guys. Those are the things you weigh at those particular times. There’s times to do them, and there’s times not to do them. We’re going to tend to be on the aggressive side of those. You have four downs. You might as well use them all.”

And that mindset is exactly what the players have embraced since the start of the offseason workouts back in April.

“That’s his mentality, and that was one of the first things he told us when he got here: ‘We’re going to have an attacking mindset,’” said wide receiver Davone Bess, who caught both of the Browns’ fourth-down passes in Sunday’s 24-18 win over the Baltimore Ravens. “Whenever he dials it up, we’re ready. “It’s exciting. We knew that from the first couple times we met, he was going to have an attacking mindset, and that’s what we all signed up for.”

Fellow wide receiver Josh Gordon added, “It’s great. It’s working for us, so I hope he keeps on doing it. Coach Chud has a, ‘Never quit. Never say die’ attitude, and that’s what he instills in us and teaches us. When he goes for it on fourth down, we expect it. Even in the first half, we called a timeout and still made a play to make something happen. We’re going to capitalize on every opportunity that we get.”

Bess’ first fourth-down reception against the Ravens went for a one-yard touchdown.

On fourth-and-goal from the one, Campbell lined up in the shotgun formation and delivered the football to Bess on an out route on the right side of the formation. Bess high-pointed the ball and withstood a hit in the back from a Baltimore defensive back as he fell to the ground for the score.

Bess’ second catch on fourth down came on the Browns’ last possession of the game.

The Browns faced a fourth-and-one from the Ravens’ 43-yard line, and out of the shotgun formation, Campbell fired a three-yard pass to Bess. In completing the pass to Bess, Campbell and the offense were able to wear off 2:55 from the fourth-quarter clock before kicker Billy Cundiff drilled a 22-yard field goal and gave the team a six-point lead with 17 seconds left to play.

“It was big because we needed to keep the drive going,” Browns left tackle Joe Thomas said of the second fourth-down catch against the Ravens. “We didn’t want to have to punt to them and give them three, four minutes to try to go down the field and score. It was a daring call and it paid off because we succeeded and we got the first down. “When Coach Chud got here, he said we were going to go for it on fourth down. We were going to fake field goals and fake punts and we were going to play aggressively. I think he’s been true to his word on that.”

Veteran linebacker D’Qwell Jackson added, “The mentality, the way Chud addresses us and what he teaches us and what we talk about throughout the week, it started in the spring. He didn’t come in with a defeated mentality. He came in with a winner’s mentality, and that started up top with the renovations, new ownership. We’re doing things first class, and when you do things first class from the top, you get a better product on the field on Sunday.”

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