The Browns Are Off and Running to Their Best Start in Nearly 20 Years
The Cleveland Browns are off to their best start in nearly 20 years. First-year head coach Kevin Stefanski has led the team to a 3-1 record, built around a strong running-game and some spectacular catches. WKSU’s sports commentator Terry Pluto says it's been a fun season so far.
An exciting offense
After being bulldozed by the AFC North powerhouse Baltimore Ravens in the season opener, Pluto says the Browns have averaged 39 points per game over the last three games.
It's a contrast from a team that often struggled on offense and would usually lose close games. But they were able to hang on and win in the fourth quarter against Washington and Dallas.
Winning and entertainment
Terry Pluto says winning isn't the only reason fans watch games. They want to be entertained.
"I remember one time they won a game 6-3. It was so boring! Whereas these games, they've been explosive and fun. The offense has been creative. You've not seen many penalties," he said.
"I've always thought a running game makes everything so much easier."
An offensive line upgrade
Pluto says where the Browns are struggling on defense, they're making up for it in offense, which was a key focus in the offseason.
"They spent a ton of money to bring in a guy named Bill Callahan, who is considered one of the greatest offensive line coaches in NFL history, and also a former head coach to fix the offensive line," Pluto said.
The team also invested the 10th overall pick in this year's draft on former Alabama tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. It was the highest pick the Browns have used on a tackle since they took future Hall of Famer Joe Thomas third overall in 2007.
The team also made former Titans right tackle Jack Conklin the highest paid player at his position in free agency.
Taking Pressure off Mayfield
A lot of the moves the Browns made heading into the offseason were tailored to take the pressure off of quarterback Baker Mayfield, who struggled in his second season last year.
Pluto said the idea of bringing in Kevin Stefanski as coach was his his approach to a more run-heavy offense and throwing shorter passes with the occasional big play to take the load off Mayfield's shoulders.
Chubb and Hunt
Pluto says the keys to the Browns winning games are in running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.
"When [Mayfield] is just handing the ball off to Kareem Hunt and watching him run for seven yards, all of this helps Baker be a better quarterback. I've always thought a running game makes everything so much easier," he said.
"Now, it'll be interesting to see because Chubb hurt his knee and is going to be out for probably six weeks is what I'm hearing," Pluto said.
Pluto says the Browns will be challenged in their next few games against Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.