Six weeks have passed since coach Mike Pettine introduced John DeFilippo as the new offensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns.
During that time span, DeFilippo finished hiring his staff, reached out to several players on offense to get to know their personalities and familiarized himself with Cleveland.
But his paramount responsibility has been watching every Browns offensive snap from the 2014 season. The 36-year-old has been putting a plan together and he illustrated the broad strokes of the offense Tuesday as a guest on Cleveland Browns Daily.
1) *The Browns will keep a comparable approach in the running game *
Why fix it if it's not broken? Because of a skimpy month of December, offensive production dipped the Browns' rushing total to 17th in the league. But when Cleveland was sitting with a 7-4 record and atop the AFC North, the running game was one of the main reasons why. DeFilippo will continue to utilize the zone-blocking system, though he added gap-blocking and downhill running will be interspersed.
"We are going to be able to run the football here," DeFilippo said. "We have a fantastic offensive line. And when you can run the football – I'll tell our guys this from Day 1 – everything else falls into place. Your play-action game falls into place. Then you can take shots down the field."
2) *Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West will be asked to be pass-catchers*
DeFilippo said that Crowell and West were thrown into the fire early in their careers and, at times, "flourished." But the offensive coordinator thinks they have untapped talents that can help the Browns move the football with more consistency.
Last season, West had 11 receptions for 64 yards while Crowell had nine catches for 87 yards. Just as a comparison, Pittsburgh's Le'Veon Bell had 83 receptions for 854 yards and three touchdowns.
"Let's see if they can catch the ball, run a slant, run a hitch, run a go, run a comeback," DeFilippo said. "I want to see if those guys can do those things because that's going to be a big part of the offense that I want to incorporate here."
3) *A playmaking tight end will be a necessity *
Pettine indicated at the NFL Combine the Browns have been in contact with impending free agent Jordan Cameron, but there's a chance the tight end doesn't return. DeFilippo said he's very comfortable with Jim Dray and Gary Barnidge as his "Y" tight ends, who will primarily be blockers in the run game.
The other tight end in DeFilippo's offense is called the "F" – who will be lined up all over the field trying to exploit the defense. If Cameron returns, he's shown the knack for making big plays. If not, the Browns will need to go on a hunt for his replacement. DeFilippo was clear in what his offense will need.
In Oakland, Pro Bowl fullback Marcel Reece was this sort of player.
"A guy that can move around, be a mismatch on a linebacker, can run a choice route, get in and out of breaks on third and fourth down, can win against man-to-man coverage," DeFilippo said. "That's what I think we are in the market for. Everybody is looking for that personnel mismatch to be able to go out and do all those things. It just totally broadens the field for you and widens and makes you much more diverse."
4) *There will be more team meetings *
When he begins to install the offense at OTAs in April, DeFilippo said almost everything will be done together as an entire unit to avoid misinterpretations. There will be team bonding. There will be pop quizzes. There will be one unit in unison.
"We're going to meet the majority of the time together, so that players hear one voice as much as possible," DeFilippo said. "I'm a big believer in that. That way there is no miscommunications from coaches, from coach to player, from player to player. Those expectations will be set from Day 1.
"The one thing I've really enjoyed in watching the tape is that with our guys on offense, effort is not going to be a problem. We're not going to have to coach effort – which at some places I've been, you've had to lay out expectations for effort. It's been a very pleasant surprise to watch our players play so hard."
5) *There will not be separate playbooks for Johnny Manziel and Josh McCown*
DeFilippo explained there will be 10-15 plays that Manziel might focus on more because they are plays tailored to his scrambling skill set, but the coordinator repeatedly said having two playbooks is a trap for other players on offense to be confused.
"The majority of your game plan needs to be able to be ran by all the quarterbacks on your roster, because that's what you've practiced, and that's why you have these plays to attack the team that you are playing that week," DeFilippo said. "It does a disservice if you say, 'Hey, this is quarterback A's game plan, this is quarterback B's game plan. Those other guys on offense will look at you like you have eight heads."