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The Cleveland Browns had a very good game against the Jacksonville Jaguars despite not playing almost all of their starters and key contributors. On offense Saturday night, Donovan Peoples-Jones and Rashard Higgins were the only two guys to play that are expected to play regular snaps.
The offense put up good numbers passing the ball (319 yards) while struggling to get the running game going (41 yards).
The biggest concern came in the redzone where the team was 1 of 4 in converting for a touchdown. Late in the fourth quarter, quarterback Kyle Lauletta hit Ryan Switzer for a seven-yard touchdown pass. Prior to that, the Browns settled for field goals of 37, 34 and 27 yards.
While taken with a grain of salt given the players not on the field, redzone success will always be important to watch. That becomes especially true for the kind of offense that Kevin Stefanski runs with the wide zone running scheme.
The wide zone running scheme is, generally, less successful in the redzone due to the crowding of defenders in the box. It is much more difficult to create lanes for the running back when all 11 defenders are close to the line of scrimmage.
In the passing game, the play-action pass can be successful inside the five-yard line, given defenders’ attempt to stop the rushing attack, but can be more difficult with 10 to 20 yards to go due to the tight windows and quick decisions needed to be made.
Last year, the Cleveland offense was great in the redzone despite the first-year installation of the offense. One of the most important reasons for this success, besides the talent on the team, is Stefanski’s willingness to use a variety of schemes to be successful. While a heavy wide zone scheme and play-action team, Stefanski didn’t force that especially in the redzone.
The Browns struggled to put up touchdowns in the redzone in their first preseason game. Given last year’s success at doing so, nothing to be concerned about but something to keep an eye on moving forward.