FILM STUDY – What to Expect From Baker and the Browns

Image by Zachary Rosenbaum – https://www.instagram.com/zacharyrosenbaumdesign/

If you want to know what the Minnesota Vikings offense would have looked like if their QB had a bigger arm and much more athleticism than everyone’s best friend Kirk Cousins, then tune in this Sunday, because that’s exactly what the Browns are doing. After drafting Baker Mayfield first in 2017, the Browns have slowly accrued some excellent talent around him in the likes of Pro Bowler Nick Chubb, receiver Jarvis Landry, and if he ever stays healthy and pretends its 2014 again, Odell Beckham, Jr. Not to mention a built up offensive line with some road grading linemen to pave the way, which is easily one of the better ones in the league. 

In 2020, the Browns hired Kevin Stefanski from the Minnesota Vikings after serving in various position coach roles for most of the 2010’s.  Due to employing and apparently paying metric tons of money for some reason to a solid but not spectacular Kirk Cousins, the Vikings focused on running Dalvin Cook with heavy formations, and using Cousins in the play action passing game. Lo and behold, guess what you’ll see plenty from the Browns. You guessed it, a fair facsimile of the Vikings offense, and most importantly, a super charged quarterback. 

This isn’t a Baker Mayfield love fest by any means, more of a focus on the Browns scheme and output. Mayfield does throw a pretty damn good ball downfield and can move in the pocket. Would he be as good running another type of offense? Probably not. That’s why the Browns hired a guy whose offense would fit him. Crazy, right!? Secondly, Mayfield has to be given credit for doing fairly well in this under center play action based scheme, considering he came from a wide open spread Air Raid attack at Oklahoma. 

We are going to look at a few plays that show how the Browns use play action and heavy formations to move the ball. When I say heavy, it means that you will generally see them in 12 (two TE’s, one back), or 21 personnel (Two Backs, 1 TE). This is also a common personnel grouping for the 49ers, if you needed to know. Hell, sometimes the Browns get buck wild and roll out 22 personnel, with all big boys and just one wide receiver. 

In a league that trots out three receivers fairly often, (11 personnel. 1 back, 1 Tight End), the Browns go a little heavier. Having these Tight Ends or occasional fullback creates more complications for the defense as both those players can block or catch passes. Sounds simple, but watch the 49ers at times decimate people, and it starts to make sense. 

Basically it’s an open invitation to the defense that says: “Hey Everybody! Come on down into the tackle box to cover all these new gaps we’ve created with our extra personnel! Try and guess who is going out for a pass, and who isn’t!” On the flip side, when you have three receivers lined up in trips, you kind of know that they are strictly going to be a target for a pass. (That’s why the Rams put their guys in bunch grouping near the line, so one of them can come back across the formation to block.) 

***The first clip features a simple gap run every team uses, also known colloquially as “Power”. The following three are three different run plays, but instead it’s play action for all three. The threat of the Browns downhill power run game (as opposed to say the Rams or 49ers heavy outside zone) helps to create these open shots to the Tight Ends. And what do you know, using the players you drafted and paid for at that exact position. Wild times we live in.

Chubb TD Run 

Counter Play Action Boot to TE 

Power Play Action Deep Out

Outsize Zone Bootleg to TE 

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