Can DeFilippo’s Offense Work?
Reading into the new offensive coordinator’s press conference, it appears that the Browns will be similar in some aspects while changing a few things up as well. The beginning of the 2014 campaign displayed a promising offensive unit, only for that to be very underwhelming during the last month. I think the Browns can utilize a successful offense next season – but by how much is the biggest question.
Continuity with the Zone Blocking Scheme
Last year was the first campaign the orange and brown shifted away from man blocking and used a zone scheme. While the guy in charge is new, hopefully some of the same concepts will remain fresh in players’ minds. Joe Thomas, Joel Bitonio, and Alex Mack all should know what is expected to occur – in terms of blocking. The learning curve should be much smaller than it was a year ago. I anticipate Greco and Schwartz to have to fight for their starting jobs among free agents and potential draft selections. Whoever fills the unit upfront could struggle initially (if it’s their first season with the club), but there’s enough leadership that can overcome this.
Employing the Running Backs as Receivers
While I enjoy adding wrinkles to an offense that desperately needs it, I do not feel quite confident in the rushers running routes during passing plays. Assuming status quo, Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West are going to be the main backs next season. The former was strictly a carrier, while the latter caught only a few passes while still in the backfield. Can both improve to be threats for the quarterback to hit down the field? Surely, but they will have to be leaps and bounds better than they were during their rookie campaigns. Perhaps the team will also look for a veteran who can expedite this transition.
Increased Vertical Routes
This is music to my ears; no matter who is under center, the threat of a long completion must be there to give defenders something to think about. Whether it was the personnel or the coach’s decision – the orange and brown flung the football downfield on rare occurrences. Josh Gordon is not going to be on the roster next season, so Ray Farmer must find a solid replacement (and by judging by the wide out’s 2014 output, that shouldn’t be too hard). Toss in a solid draft choice, and perhaps this offense can be dynamic and even potentially feared.
Conclusion: I’m not going to say that the Kyle Shanahan-led offense was horrific, but I am rather excited to see what the team can do under DeFilippo. 2014 was where the foundation was laid for this unit, now they must build upon this. Better personnel will help further aid this – along with correct coaching decisions.