The Browns' offense and defense enter OTAs at different stages of development, but Mike Pettine likes where both units are at in their progression toward the 2015 season.
The identity of Cleveland's defense, he said, came together throughout his debut season as the team's coach. With minimal turnover among coaches and more additions than subtractions to the roster, the focus has shifted to fine-tuning and taking the players to a "graduate-level" understanding of the schemes, blitzes and formations Jim O'Neil plans to implement in his second season as defensive coordinator.
The offense, meanwhile, is in a state of transition, but it's far less extreme than what was necessary during Pettine's first season. The zone-run scheme installed by former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan will remain largely intact, as offensive coordinator John DeFilippo works with retained assistants Brian Angelichio (tight ends), George DeLeone (assistant offensive line), Andy Moeller (offensive line) and Wilbert Montgomery (running backs) to maintain a "greatest hits" of last year's run attack.
Pettine, in a recent interview on Cleveland Browns Daily, said there were some complementary pieces missing from last year's running game he hopes to add to the Browns' arsenal. He listed gap-scheme runs and misdirection runs as some of potential wrinkles.
The installation has been of the "high volume" variety, Pettine said, and it will continue throughout the next few weeks of OTAs leading into the team's mandatory veteran mini-camp (June 16-18).
"The big thing for us now is we'll finish the spring with a very large inventory," Pettine said. "We have to determine at some point to start to trim that down to what we are. What do we do best? And then, what do we not do well? That's something than can kind of fall by the wayside. But we need to come up with what our identity is on offense and I feel we are right on pace to do that."
Contact is still prohibited, and OTAs remain voluntary, but the next three weeks will allow the team to roll through 11-on-11 drills for the first time since DeFilippo was hired. That's pivotal, especially for the more visual learners, Pettine said.
Finding a "middle ground" on offense will be among the goals Cleveland carries into this vital stretch of the offseason.
"We don't want to be all just one thing – where if a team takes your fastball away, you have no complement," Pettine said. "But at the same time that you still have to have something you go to that's your core. That's really what we are finding out now: What are our core plays going to be? We might dress them up, in different personnel groupings, different formations and different shifts … and get to those looks in different ways, but still have those core plays be what they are.
"The guys are all here, they've been great in the meetings I've sat in on. It's carried over to the field."