Skip to main content

Key to unlocking Browns' offense? Taking even more advantage of attention Odell Beckham Jr. attracts

Before we dive into the same storyline you've likely already heard for the last few weeks, allow us to first examine some statistics. 

The Browns' offense is… 

-18th in passing yards per game (241.3)

-21st in turnover differential (-1)

-23rd in yards per play (5.4)

-24th in yards per game (330.3)

-25th in rushing yards per game (89)

-Tied for 26th in total touchdowns (6)

-T-27th in points per game (16.3)

-28th in third-down percentage (28%)

-T-32nd in penalties (35)

-32nd in penalty yards (327)

Statistically, that's not the look of a contending offense. On the field, it hasn't taken on such a look, either, though there have been some bright spots.

The goal moving forward: Increase those bright spots until the bigger picture is blinding.

That future might require sunglasses, which could also come in handy right about now as the outside doubters multiply after just three games. The shades would join the earplugs permanently inserted by Freddie Kitchens' staff back when everything said externally was infinitely positive.

Positive or negative, the Browns aren't listening. They're too busy shaving down the square peg so that it will fit into the square hole. Baker Mayfield said Wednesday the time to discard the sandpaper could be near.

"I kind of hit on that after the game, and that is the frustrating part is we are very close on a lot of things," he said when asked about Kitchens saying the offense is close to success. "That is why we have to be even more focused on the little details. Just like I just said, details are what really matters."

Check out photos of the Browns preparing for their game against the Ravens Sunday by team photographer Matt Starkey

Some of what might unlock this particularly complex lock that has been wrapped around the Browns' offense could include No. 13. Odell Beckham Jr., who routinely attracts additional attention from opposing defenses. Logically, that should open things up for his teammates. 

"I think formatting stuff and just finding the one-on-ones and taking advantage of it," Mayfield said on how to succeed with Beckham on the field. "We are having to adjust on how teams are playing us because of him and some of our other pieces, but we are figuring it out." 

There have been flashes of what Mayfield is discussing. Beckham's 89-yard touchdown against New York was a simple pre-snap adjustment against a zone defense that left him enough room to catch and run. From there, it was over.

Sometimes, it's that simple. Most other times, it isn't.

Beckham said it himself Wednesday, not long after Mayfield. He's used to attracting double teams. He'll grind through a whole game before a reception pops off for a massive gain and score. It's a matter of persistence, and taking advantage of the other opportunities elsewhere on the field before the star explodes.

"Same things on the field since my rookie year," he said. "They have put a safety, a two-high safety, double-team playing from the inside out, safety over the top. All of these teams that play their style of defense and this and that and then they I am on the field, and they switch it to the same thing – a double-team. 

"That is just we expect. That is what I go into the game expecting. I do not go into the game expecting man to man or no safety over the top all game. I definitely do not expect that. Right now, I feel confident in me that it would be a long day. I do not thing that is going to happen. We know how teams are going to play us so we just have to plan around it."

The most important step is the next step, of course, which will come Sunday in Baltimore in a game that could put the Browns into a tie atop the division if things go their way. The Browns' work will be focused solely on that meeting.

"We expected to have success early on. We did not expect it to be easy," Mayfield said.  "I think that is the frustrating part is we wanted it to be easy but now we really know. It is not. People are going to gameplan, they are going to have a certain strategy for us and we need to be able adapt. Talent is not going to take us there, and we just have to do our job."