C.J. Stroud has been killing single-high coverage all season, and the Browns didn’t get it

Before Saturday’s wild-card game between the Houston Texans and the Cleveland Browns got started, it was clear that one key factor was going to be how often the Browns play single-high coverage vs. how Texans rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud demolishes one-deep stuff.

The Browns played single-high on 64% of their defensive snaps in the regular season, the NFL’s highest rate. But Stroud against Cover-1 and Cover-3 in the regular season? He completed 141 of 228 for 2,054 yards, 1,335 air yards, 11 touchdowns, one interception, and a passer rating of 105.4 – only Dak Prescott and Lamar Jackson have higher passer ratings against Middle-of-the-field closed coverage this season.

It took little time for Stroud to show his mastery of single-high stuff in this game. With 11 seconds left in the first quarter, Stroud hit receiver Nico Collins on this fake-toss/Tunnel screen for a 15-yard touchdown.

The Browns had Juan Thornhill as their only deep safety.

Then, with 12:00 left in the first half, Stroud completed this 76-yard touchdown to tight end Brevin Jordan.

This time, Ronnie Hickman was the only deep safety on the bootleg pass.

Not that Schwartz moving to two-high helped much. Stroud’s third touchdown pass of the first half — a 37-yarder to tight end Dalton Schultz — saw the Browns with two deep safeties, and some miscommunication issues. Meanwhile, Stroud was once again showing outstanding deep touch when required.

At the half, Stroud was already setting rookie postseason records against one of the NFL’s stingiest defenses. And offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik is putting together quite a head coach resume.

Story originally appeared on Touchdown Wire