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Browns veteran-laden offense hopes to outsmart defenses

Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine knows he's disliked in the fantasy football world.

Since his arrival, the Browns have used committees for both their running back and wide receiver positions. Fantasy football junkies have to make gut-wrenching decisions each Sunday trying to guess who will touch the football for Cleveland.

"I'm probably Public Enemy No. 1," Pettine quipped Monday.

Star power on paper might be lacking, but scoring 76-yard highlight reel touchdowns is not what this Browns offense will be about, wide receiver Brian Hartline said.

Instead, Cleveland has built its offensive system on one word: execution.

"It's about not making mistakes," Hartline said. "Overall, I think we have a lot of guys that do that."

When you run through the list, it stands out how many veteran players the Browns offense will rely upon in 2015.

This Sunday against the Jets will mark Josh McCown's 13th season, Dwayne Bowe's ninth, Gary Barnidge's eighth, Hartline's seventh and Andrew Hawkins' fifth. The starting offensive line has 30 years  of experience. Outside of Duke Johnson Jr., Isaiah Crowell and Joel Bitonio, every member of the offense has at least three years of NFL time under their belt.

"Do we have any big names? No, we don't," Pettine said. "But at the same time, we still feel there's a lot of different ways to win football games and we're confident we can get it done."

Offensive coordinator John DeFilippo and Pettine built the offense together with a goal in mind: Cleveland will rely on mental toughness to outsmart teams with game-planning week to week.

Throughout the spring, the Browns uncovered an inventory of plays for each skill player. Bowe can will himself open using his dense frame to box out cornerbacks on intermediate routes. Taylor Gabriel may be just 5-foot-8, but he's actually better as an outside receiver as opposed to the slot. Tight end E.J. Bibbs can catch a screen pass and make defenders miss; Johnson Jr. has the tools to be used like Darren Sproles all over the field.  

"We have a lot of guys with a lot of different skill sets," Pettine said. "Each week, I think you need to adapt your game plan. What does it call for this week? Do we need speed on the outside to help us win? Do we need our tight ends to help us win? Are we going to have to run the ball?

"To me, that's what coaching is, is finding a way each week to hit the reset button. I like the diversity of skill that we have."

So, from week to week, you may not know exactly who form the Browns to start in fantasy football. And the Browns may move the ball chain-by-chain, milking the clock and slowly draining the opposing defense's energy.

But if this offense is schemed up properly by DeFilippo and Pettine, the variety of playmakers may grow even deeper.

"We're excited to play our own brand of football," Hartline said, "and put a stamp on the 2015 Cleveland Browns."

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