With the 2015 NFL Draft quickly approaching, the distractions and noise surrounding...
Cleveland Browns Show Confidence in Team by Opening Up Playbook Against Vikings
What a difference only a couple days will make. After trading Trent Richardson in one of the biggest blockbuster deals to hit Cleveland since they re-entered the league in 1999, analysts and fans everywhere had claimed that they were waving the white flag on the 2013 season.
Fast forward to Week 3, and the Browns had replaced quarterback Brandon Weeden with Brian Hoyer, signed Willis McGahee to replace Richardson and welcomed star receiver Josh Gordon back into the fold. Apparently the team didn’t get the memo that they were supposed to be terrible, because they responded by playing every bit up to their preseason potential in a 31-27 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.
Hoyer passed for 321 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions, but looked poised every step of the way. His ability to respond to adversity, navigate the pocket and deliver strong and accurate throws can not be understated. Not to mention the fact that Hoyer strung together a game winning drive in the final two minutes of the game, something that has eluded Browns quarterbacks for years. The front office will have to make a decision in Week 4 on whether or not Weeden has played his last down in a Browns uniform, but the fact that Hoyer will be the starting quarterback the rest of the season is the worst kept secret in football right now.
The combination of tight end Jordan Cameron and Gordon was simply electric. Both men stepped up in a big way, hauling in clutch catches and making the opposition look downright silly at times. The Browns running game struggled a bit, as to be expected, but for one week it simply did not matter. The Browns offense had come alive after two long grueling and painful weeks. While the defense and special teams has been solid all along, the offense clicking was the missing piece to the puzzle. But even more, it helped win over the confidence of the Browns coaching staff as they unleashed a series of gadget and trick plays on the unsuspecting Vikings, something they were seemingly unwilling to do with Weeden at the helm.
The Browns tried everything, pulling out every trick in the book. They faked a punt, catching everyone by surprise, with undrafted free agent safety Josh Aubrey taking a direct snap for a 34-yard clutch gain. With Aubrey’s versatility and anonymity, he was able to be undetected by the opposition, but don’t expect lightning to strike twice, as you can be sure teams will have it scouted next time. Even still, the move showed trust and confidence by offensive coordinator Norv Turner and head coach Rob Chudzinski towards their young offense.
Next, the Browns gambled and took a chance on a fake field goal while in the redzone. An unlikely quarterback, punter Spencer Lanning took the snap, popped up and threw a strike to Cameron on the right hash for the touchdown. How there was nobody covering the emerging tight end was a mystery to all, and something you can be sure the Vikings received an earful about on the sidelines.
The trickery didn’t end there, as Hoyer helped orchestrate an end-around to Gordon to the tune of 22 yards. For Gordon’s first rushing attempt in the National Football League, it would be tough to find anything to complain about. With Gordon being targeted 19 times against Minnesota, it should come as a shock to nobody if you see the Browns young receiver carrying the ball many more times before the end of the season.
Due to the offense showing they had what it took to win, it allowed Chudzinski and company to gamble all over the field. The Browns went for it confidently on 4th down, seemingly without a moment’s hesitation from the coaching staff. The aggression shown was a page straight out of Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer‘s playbook, and a welcomed sight to fans all over Ohio. The Browns are supposed to lose this year, but don’t try and tell the team that. They have nothing to lose, and when you are playing with house money, you can expect all the stops to be pulled out. Buckle up fans, this season isn’t over quite yet.
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