The Cleveland Browns’ offense struggled in Week 1. Its assignment this week won’t be any easier as it lines up against an angry Ravens defense that was victimized by Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, who threw seven touchdowns in a lopsided victory (49-27).
If the Browns are to have any chance at derailing the defending Super Bowl champs they must establish a balance attack running and passing on offense. It’s a bit of a cliché, but it’s the goal of a team coming off a disappointing 23-10 loss to Miami.
“We want to be able to do whatever it takes to win, whether that’s throwing or running,” Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said during his Wednesday news conference. “You have a plan that you go into the game with, and a lot of times, the situation dictates it and you have to be flexible with how it happens and how things happen during the course of the game.”
Cleveland abandoned its run game like a deadbeat dad in the second half against the Dolphins. The offense only rushed the ball five times, three times in final 28 minutes and not at all in the fourth quarter. Starting running back Trent Richardson finished the game with 13 carries for 47 yards.
“Trent is a critical part of our offense,” Chudzinski said. “We want to give him the ball as much as we can. The real key is converting on third downs. We’ll get plenty of opportunities to get the ball to Trent.”
Richardson had some success running against Baltimore’s stingy defense last season, gaining 105 yards on 25 carries. The same cannot be said for quarterback Brandon Weeden, who completed 20 of 37 passes for 176 yards with two interceptions in their last meeting. The Browns need consistently better play from Weeden — sooner rather than later. Rebounding from a horrid performance where he completed 26-of-53 passes for 289 yards and one touchdown with three picks would be a good start for Weeden.
Chudzinski insists the second-year quarterback is making progress.
“I’ve see progress in him since the time we’ve started,” he said. “He’s making quicker decisions. He’s grasping the offense better. I think you saw his toughness and resiliency against Miami. As he continues to improve, the production should improve. That’s ultimately what we’re looking for.”
Cleveland fans are hoping that’s the case with Baltimore leading the all-time series 21-7, including an 11-3 mark at home. The Ravens have won the last 10 meetings.