Now that hype over Baker Mayfield and Nick Chubb, from Monday and Tuesday has passed to a degree, there are several things that the rest of Browns did extremely well that I’ve identified that allowed these two young stars to thrive.
Additionally, the Browns cut down the yards they gave up due to penalties. Cleveland was one of the most penalized teams entering the game, giving up an average of 61.8 yards per game from penalties. Against Atlanta, the Browns only surrendered 38 yards from flags. For scale, Green Bay, who give up the least yards from penalties per game, concede 36.3 yards on average.
Next, Freddie Kitchens and Bob Wylie did a great job with of protecting Baker Mayfield and creating holes for Nick Chubb. The Browns are ranked 30th in quarterback protection, allowing 3.5 sacks per game, but the Browns kept Baker unscathed for the entire game, allowing all the time necessary to find his passes. This was done by speeding up the time Baker held the ball, something he is much more comfortable with doing.
On the other hand, the offensive line also did a great job by utilizing different blocking schematics and using extra blockers to create room for Nick Chubb. Chubb takes his time to read the line and the way many plays were drawn up allowed him to first read the blocks and then explode through the hole. This was the exact case in his 92-yard run, where center J.C. Tretter made a block in the second level, which left Chubb with only one man to beat, which, obviously, he did to record the longest run in Browns franchise history. All made from a few simple blocking schematics. This Browns team will thrive off simple football, throwing the football quick in a Drew Brees style offense while keeping the defense guessing with Chubb in the backfield.
On the other side of the ball, Greg Williams’ schemes did not produce the number of turnovers we have grown accustomed to, but they made key stops when necessary. First, they stopped the Falcons just before halftime, preventing a major momentum shift had the Falcons put the ball in the end zone. And, of course, the Browns made a fourth-quarter goal-line stand to all but ice the win.
The one turnover that was caused, a fumble by Mohamed Sanu on Atlanta’s opening drive of the second half, was pounced upon by the Browns. While the Browns have created many turnovers, few of these have been turned into points. When Duke Johnson put the ball in the end zone, Cleveland stopped a potential go-ahead drive for the Falcons by creating a two-possession lead in the 3rd quarter.
The Browns have been close against good teams such as Pittsburgh and New Orleans in the past, but they were held back by penalties, bad blocking and not capitalizing on their opportunities. When the final did, they beat a quality team in the Atlanta Falcons. This trend will need to be continued in order to build a winning culture and carry these good signs into the future.