Browns Mailbag

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Browns Mailbag: What's the recipe for success Sunday vs. Titans?

Senior Writer Andrew Gribble answers your questions every week

It's a Big Game Friday and we're treating it as such.

That's why we're tackling FIVE of your questions in the latest edition of the Browns Mailbag.

Is there any chance we see Greedy Williams vs the Titans? — Jack S., Sarasota, Florida

Williams remains on the reserve/injured list and hasn't practiced with the team since early October. The Browns are holding out hope Williams can return at some point this season, but it won't be this week.

We were leading by eight points late in the fourth quarter with the Browns down to the Jacksonville 20-yard line. Why in the world didn't the Browns kick a field goal to take a two-score lead? As a result of not getting the first down on TWO tries, we gave the ball to the Jags and they almost tied the game! — Robert K., Akron

Browns coach Kevin Stefanski has discussed the scenario multiple times this week. Knowing what ultimately happened, Stefanski said he obviously would have taken the field goal in hindsight. Stefanski said decisions like the one he made Sunday can change from week to week, and they're formulated during the days leading up to the game. 

"I just think it is an area that I will continue to look at what we can do better," Stefanski said. "With all of those decisions, you try to have as much of the conversations during the week and how you want to play the game, and then as the game is ongoing, you are continuing to talk about your matchups and the plays that you have up and if you like them versus certain looks. It is really an evolving conversation."

Had the Browns converted on fourth down, they would have been in position to run even more time off the clock and eventually extend their lead with a field goal or touchdown. The Browns came centimeters from accomplishing it, and Stefanski is confident they'll get those short yards more often than not.

"Those are the scenarios where we are running it, they know we are running it and that is when you really rely on your guys," Stefanski said. "Very similarly in a short-yardage situation, you are relying on your guys. Now, that makes it sound like I am putting the blame on the players; I promise you, I am looking at how I can put them in a better position to succeed in those moments."

A close up look at the cleats and the foundations represented by our players for this years My Cause My Cleats campaign

The Titans are a team much like the Browns. Can the Browns prevail and will they run the ball effectively with a healthy offensive line? — Rob M., Charleston, West Virginia

My first recommendation for how to beat the Titans? Don't let them hang around. The Browns have been very good at winning close games and making big plays at the end of games, but the Titans have been arguably the best in the NFL in this area. They won their first three games of the season by a combined six points, beat the Bears by a touchdown and have two overtime victories, both of which were sealed by Derrick Henry touchdown runs.

Here's another way you put the Titans in a tough spot: Take advantage of their third-down defense. The Steelers and Bengals converted a whopping 23 third downs on the Titans in back-to-back weeks to send Tennessee to its first two losses of the season. The Colts, who dealt Tennessee its most convincing loss of the season, only converted on four-of-12 opportunities but made them pay with big plays on defense and special teams.

As for running the ball, the Browns rank No. 1 in the NFL in rushing offense. They've run the ball well on most opponents. The only time a Cleveland offense with both Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt has struggled to hit its typical rushing output is when it's fallen in early holes and been forced to air it out. The Titans, for what it's worth, are 17th in the NFL in rush defense and 28th in pass defense.

With the Browns continued red zone struggles, why don't they bring in Chubb on goal-to-go situations? He is averaging 6 yards per carry, is a force on short-yardage situations, breaking tackles, finding cutback lanes, following blocks and hitting holes. It would also open the possibility of using play action. It doesn't even look like he is in consideration in their red zone packages, mostly subbing in Hunt for his receiving ability. — Jason Z., Dublin

Let's start with the assertion that Chubb isn't getting the ball near the goal line. Chubb scored Sunday from 1 yard out, giving him his sixth rushing touchdown of the season. It was his sixth carry of the season from inside the 5-yard line. He's gained 4 yards and scored twice in that area. As for Hunt, he's received 10 carries for 10 yards with three touchdowns from inside the 5-yard line. So, when you consider Chubb missed four games, the distribution of carries is about equal.

As for the Browns and the red zone, Cleveland ranks second in the AFC in touchdown percentage (68.6) and is coming away with points 88.6 percent of the time.

Looking forward to the 2021 Draft. I'm thinking linebacker, linebacker, safety and safety. Agree? — Alan H., Reno, Nevada

I will not answer draft questions before the end of the season. I will not answer draft questions before the end of the season. I will not answer draft questions bef...

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