Browns WR's will play key role in offensive success

Browns WR's will play key role in offensive success

Mac Blank
6 months ago
3 min read
Cleveland Browns' Amari Cooper celebrates touchdown vs. Cardinals

Through nine weeks of the regular season, the Browns are 5-3 and currently hold the 6th seed in the AFC. If the playoffs started today Cleveland would be in but alas the team has nine more games to play. So far, the defense has done their job boasting the number one defense in yards allowed and in third down conversion. 

The offense has struggled a tad and given their adversity, it’s understandable. Their best offensive weapon, running back Nick Chubb, is out for the year and Deshaun Watson was sidelined for four games with a shoulder injury. Watson is now back healthy and proved he can make the big throws needed to be successful. In the end, a QB can only carry a passing attack so far and for the Browns offense to beat top defenses down the stretch, Watson needs help from his receivers. 

Make no mistake, this piece is not a shot at Amari Cooper. The 29 year old wideout is on pace for over 1,300 yards this season and is a big play threat averaging 17.6 yards per catch, which is the fourth highest in the NFL. The issue: outside of Cooper, no one is getting open downfield. 

The team’s next best receiving threat is tight end David Njoku, but 83.6% of his yards are after the catch. While it helps to dump it off and watch him go, he can’t space out the field by stretching an opponent’s secondary. There’s a stat in the NFL that refers to as “air yards”, meaning how far the ball traveled before it gets to the receiver. Amari Cooper accounts for over 44% of the Browns total. This stat is very alarming considering the next highest on the team is Elijah Moore with a little over 18%.

The wide receiver room in Cleveland was once considered one of the deepest positions on the team and is now looking thinner by the day. Marquise Goodwin, a wide receiver who most thought would be a big part of plays down field is now in concussion protocol. Even when he was on the field he had trouble truly connecting with Watson, hauling in only three of the 11 targets. 

None of his catches were more than six yards downfield as Goodwin would get open but could never haul in the deep ball. Behind him is Elijah Moore, a new trade acquisition who has been very involved in the offense but has only been targeted seven times 20+ yards down the field despite his speed and great route running. The whole debacle makes trading away Donovan Peoples-Jones more frustrating as he was the team’s best deep threat for the past two seasons. 

The Browns have a very important stretch of games as they face AFC North rivals Pittsburgh and Baltimore. These two teams have defenses that will load the box and force you to beat them deep. The Browns have had issues playing loaded boxes before and that was with the best running back in the league Nick Chubb on the field. Not being able to take the top off these secondaries will only make running the ball harder and could force the Browns to be one dimensional. Any football fan knows for an offense to score it has to be balanced and the Browns have to successfully push the ball down the field to do so. 

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