1. Baker Mayfield's hard count 'definitely a weapon'
Baker Mayfield’s hard count is loud enough and abrupt enough to make you jump out of your seat while you're watching the game from home.
Now imagine how a defensive lineman feels.
Mayfield's hard count has become a bona fide weapon for the Browns offense. He's regularly drawing opponents offsides and sometimes doing it as much as two to three times per game. Those 5-yard chunks are nothing to sneeze at, as they're sometimes the difference between a third-and-long or a third-and-manageable or even a third down and a first down.
Because of limited fans in stadiums this season, Mayfield is able to utilize it just as much on the road as he is at the friendly confines of FirstEnergy Stadium. In Sunday's game, Mayfield got Tennessee's Teair Tart to jump hard enough he didn't even attempt to retreat to his position.
Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said it hasn't occurred by accident. Cadence became a major point of emphasis for Mayfield when he arrived in Berea in July for training camp. Now, it's "definitely a weapon for us," Stefanski said. According to an analysis by Cleveland.com, Mayfield has drawn opponents offsides with his hard count 11 times this season.
"That was one of the things that was an emphasis for us because that was one of the harder things to do on Zoom," Stefanski said. "You tried to do some cadence work, but it just is not the same when it is live.
"He has done a nice job with it. We try to mix it up as much as we can and just give the defense one more thing to think about."
It's also another thing to think about for the Browns offensive line, which has to maintain its composure while Mayfield tries to get defensive linemen to jump. That's why it's more than Mayfield working on his different barks, tones and volumes. It's a full offensive effort to pull off what the Browns have thus far this season.
"We do it every day and we make life hard on them in practice," Stefanski said. "We mix the cadence up so that they have to lock in and have that laser focus so that it can be a weapon for us."
Check out photos of the Browns against the Titans
2. The 'emotional leader' of Browns defense
LB B.J. Goodson is a "hear him before you see him" kind of player, Stefanski said, and he's given the Browns exactly what they were looking for when he signed with the team in March.
Cleveland provided a big opportunity in the middle of its defense for Goodson, who was a part-time player with the Packers in 2019. Goodson has made the most of it, as he leads the Browns with 54 tackles and provided multiple big plays in their biggest game of the season Sunday against Tennessee.
"He rallies the guys at practice and during the games," Stefanski said. "He is making big plays in these ball games to help us win."
Goodson made two, significant winning plays Sunday. The first came on Tennessee's first offensive series, as Goodson broke up a sure completion on third-and-1, setting up a fourth down the Titans wouldn't convert. Early in the second half, Goodson stuffed RB Derrick Henry at the goal line on a two-point conversion try.
Goodson has emerged as the most vocal player on the Browns defense, and he's playing the position where it's most required. That's why the fit has been so good, and Sunday's game provided the latest example of it.
"That is just who I am. It is something that I take pride in, something that I am passionate about and I enjoy doing it," Goodson said. "I just really take pride in guys leaning in on me and just giving everyone the juice that they need to get through."
3. Keep the foot on the pedal
The Browns played a nearly perfect first half Sunday but it was far from a perfect game. That's given Stefanski and his coaches plenty to work with as they head into Week 14.
"The attention to detail was not there enough in the second half," Stefanski said. "Guys made plays. Again, proud of them and how they did respond because we knew Tennessee was going to come back. That is a good football team. We knew they were going to give their best effort in that second half and we got it, but definitely some things I would like to clean up, and we will address those."
Stefanski singled out the start of the second half, when the Browns allowed the Titans to march down the field and score a touchdown in swift fashion. Then, on the ensuing drive, the Browns had a holding call — one of their season-high 13 penalties — derail their possession, and the Titans got the ball back in a hurry.
The Browns have held on to win the majority of their games but will look to deliver more definitive finishes during the final quarter of the season.
"There are definitely things that need to be corrected and executed on our behalf," Goodson said. "We have been in quite a few games like that this year and have come out on top. You never want the games to be that close. There are things that we need to work on for sure to make sure that we keep our foot on the pedal."