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Browns confident in run game, will approach it 'smartly'

Posted Sep 21, 2017

'I said we're going to run the football, and when we're ready to, we will'

Isaiah Crowell wants to do his part in helping the Browns win, which means the running back wants as many carries as possible.

“I’m sure he does," head coach Hue Jackson said with a wide smile Wednesday when presented with that information. "I don’t blame him."

“I think that’s fair. I think what he feels is fair, but within the structure of our offense and what we’re trying to do at certain times, I think he gets it," he continued. "I think a lot of guys want the ball. I think there are about five or six of them saying, ‘Coach, I’ll do it,’ but I get it. We'll get there.”

Indeed, Jackson stressed patience as the Browns offense builds chemistry. That, of course, includes a ground game that has struggled to find consistency in losses to Pittsburgh and, most recently, Baltimore.  

“I’ve said to you guys before, we will run the football and he will be a huge part – we have played two games and there are some things we can do better and we will do better. I’m going to say it again: it is the first time in two games that line has played together so I think there is some gelling that is starting to happen,” he said.

“I don’t think you just all of the sudden hand the ball – because we have five linemen on the team who think they have already been together for three months and we are ready to go – I said we are going to run the football, and when we are ready to, we will. I think we are moving in that direction, and I think we will be there when the time comes.”

Through two games, the Browns rank 25th in rushing offense with 75 yards per game. Jackson attributed those struggles to growing pains for an offense with eight new starters.

“I think everybody thinks that we’re not a well-oiled machine just yet and sometimes we’ve been putting different pieces on our offense here and there,” he said. “As we try to piece this thing together and we keep consistency, I think we’ll play a little bit more consistently. That’s not an excuse; that’s just the truth. That’s the way it works.’”

“It takes time to keep developing the chemistry,” left guard Joel Bitonio added. “The more we’re at it, I think you’re going to see a better chemistry on the O-line and it’s going to keep improving.”

Jackson also stressed the Browns’ run game must complement a pass game still coming together as rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer and a host of young receivers build a rapport. And in the case of the past two weeks, playing from behind isn’t advantageous for a robust ground game.

Crowell, who has rushed for 70 yards on 27 carries, said he hopes he can find a rhythm soon.

“Say if you get a carry and you get like 15-20 yards, if you go back to that run or you have a few more of those runs, most likely you might have a 40-yarder or a 50-yarder coming because you just got in a rhythm,” Crowell said. “Just feeling out the game and knowing how the defense is going to play. I feel like that is a big part of it.”

Cleveland travels to Indianapolis on Sunday, where it’ll face a Colts defense ranked seventh against the run, surrendering 73 yards a game. In week 1, the Colts held Rams running back Todd Gurley to 40 yards on 19 carries.

“We do need to run the football, but we have to run the football smartly in the beginning,” Jackson said, “and then at some point in time once this group has had enough time together on task, then I think we'll be able to run the ball the way I think we can.”

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