1.Score more — and fast.
The Browns parted ways with two offensive-minded coaches this week. The best offense in the league is in town. It sounds obvious because it is. The Browns need to score more points, particularly early in games.
The Browns have gone half the season without a first quarter touchdown. Changing that is imperative. Playing ahead doesn’t just help the offense. It helps everyone.
“Offensively, if we’re staying on the field and getting points, it puts (the Chiefs) in an uncomfortable position,” defensive back T.J. Carrie said. “It allows (the defense) to be a little more aggressive in what we do and play a little different within our game plan.”
Of course, scoring early is always the game plan. Quarterback Baker Mayfield orchestrated two unanswered scoring drives to start last week’s game. But Pittsburgh regained the lead with just one. Good teams punish their opponents for kicking field goals.
“We just have to make the clutch plays,” Mayfield said. “We have to convert on third down, and we have to make the plays in critical moments. We have to win situational football, and we have to score touchdowns instead of field goals.”
2. Slow down Tyreek Hill (or at least tackle him while he’s moving fast)
The Chiefs score enough when all their weapons are on the field. The Browns can’t afford to surrender non-offensive touchdowns.
That means stopping Tyreek Hill, perhaps the most dangerous returner of this generation. Hill has scored five return touchdowns in under three seasons, including a 91-yard punt return touchdown earlier this season.
The simple solution is to kick away from Hill. He can’t score if he never gets the ball. But Browns special teams coordinator Amos Jones is a realist. He’ll do his best to steer Britton Colquitt away from kicking to Hill, but eventually the coverage team will need to pitch in.
“You obviously take directional punts into this game more so than ever,” Jones said. “But the bottom line is he is going to get a ball – we just have to tackle.”
3. Block out the noise
The Browns lost two coaches this week largely due to “internal discord” owner Jimmy Haslam said.
The players and remaining coaches spent all week telling reporters they didn't notice, nor were they affected by anything of that nature. And they’re taking the same approach to the fallout that’s accompanied the firings.
“Obviously, (the firings) could be a huge distraction, or it is something that could bring this locker room even closer,” Mayfield said. “We have to use this as something to make us come together.”
4. Ever wonder why the Chiefs score so many easy touchdowns?
The defenses they play against do, too. That’s because the Chiefs bamboozle their opponent on a weekly basis. They move players around, show different formations, deploy decoys and ball fakes. All in an attempt to shift opponents’ focuses from their assignments.
“They bank on (shifts and fakes) to get high-scoring plays,” Carrie said.
How do the Browns avoid the same pitfalls of 2018 defenses’ past?
“Trust your eyes,” safety Jabrill Peppers said. “See a little, then see a lot and make tackles in space is going to be the name of the game.”