The Pittsburgh Steelers are gearing up for the Cleveland Browns in Week 11 of the 2019 regular season. Entering the game with a 5-4 record, the Steelers prepare to travel to Cleveland on Thursday Night Football.
Since this is a familiar matchup for the Steelers, playing an AFC North rival, many fans might think they know everything there is about this matchup. But there are some names and faces in this grudge match.
So, I wanted to get a lowdown on what the Browns might have in store for the Steelers by talking with Dawgs By Nature, SB Nation’s Browns website, editor Chris Pokorney to pick his brain on the upcoming matchup.
In the first of many installments, I asked Chris what he thinks the Browns will do when they are on offense and trying to move the ball on the Steelers’ defense. Check out his response:
The Browns have an outstanding running game, and one of the best receiving duos in the NFL in Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry. The offense has a lot of success, but is only averaging 19 points per game because of how inept they get down in the red zone. They rank 26th in the NFL in the red zone, and 29th in goal to go situations. It has been a frustrating season because this offense has the playmakers to be one of the NFL’s best offenses, and they consistently show flashes of it, but then they consistently have execution errors that are often a sign of poor coaching. To answer the question, though, the addition of Kareem Hunt to the offense last week has changed the Browns’ offense.
Per Pro Football Focus, this past Sunday against the Bills, Hunt and starting Nick Chubb played 28 snaps together. Cleveland “ran 20 or 21 personnel on 43% of their offensive snaps, and the NFL average is 9%.” It might not be a dynamic that many teams can run or sustain, but Cleveland has a unique situation now where they might have two of the Top 5 running backs in the league on the same roster. In that case, there is no such thing as over-using it; the Browns should use it early and often. Off of the threat of the running game, they’ve started to find some rhythm with Odell Beckham Jr. by running him deep a few times to push the cornerback back, and then throwing him the shorter passes where he’s open and can do some damage in space. Baker Mayfield hasn’t turned the ball over in the past two games, and the penalties are way down during that stretch -- there is still a lot of progress that needs to be made, but it truly is only a matter of time before things click on all cylinders. It’s just a bit ridiculous that it has taken as long as it has to get going.
The Steelers’ defense will have their hands full when it comes to the Browns’ running game and their weapons on the outside, but there are many facets of this equation which could help the defense thrive on Thursday Night Football.
First, can the offense actually get a significant lead? The best thing that could happen to the Steelers’ defense is the offense finally wakes up and is able to take a multi-score lead in this game. Doing so would eliminate the Browns’ desire to run the football and put the emphasis on Mayfield and the passing game. It is here where the Steelers can dominate the questionable Browns offensive front and impose their will.
Second, stopping the run should be paramount...even with Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry on the roster. The Steelers ability to slow down Chubb and Hunt will likely dictate whether this game is a close contest, or one where the Steelers run away and hide.
Lastly, while Hunt being in the backfield is a new look, there is at least some tape out there now of how the Browns might deploy the offensive package. On such a short week it isn’t likely they have a ton of new wrinkles, and the Bills were the unlucky recipients of dealing with the two-headed monster in Week 10. The Steelers should be prepared for this and adjust accordingly.
Some think this game will be a cakewalk, but if the Steelers don’t get a lead and/or stop the run it could be a long game for Keith Butler’s unit.
Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and be sure to keep tabs on BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Browns in Week 11.