The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns know each other well, maybe a little too well after the two teams are preparing to face off for the second time in two weeks. With these two teams getting ready to play for the third time this 2020-2021 season, this time in the Wild Card of the AFC Playoffs, it is important to take a look at how the Browns might be changing their approach before the Sunday night game.
To get the low down on the Browns’ approach, I was able to ask Dawgs by Nature, SB Nation’s Cleveland Browns website, a few questions leading up to the game. I wanted to ask him how the Browns might be preparing for the Steelers.
Check out his answers below:
If you are the Browns’ offensive coordinator, how are you scheming to beat the Steelers’ defense, this time with Heyward and Watt in the lineup?
Run the ball early and often, and utilize the quick passing game. I thought Cleveland’s offense last week got off to the right game plan with the ground game and ensuring Mayfield was getting rid of the ball within a few seconds. They got into trouble when they tried to utilize the longer-developing play action passing game. Those play action passes have worked brilliantly against every other opponent this season, but they have failed against Pittsburgh because the Steelers don’t fall for it and get around the edge quickly to blow up the play. I think Cleveland could try to utilize it a few times if they deploy a max protection scheme, though. Everything has to be structured around reducing the negative plays. If Cleveland can play the field position game, it’s a positive. If they take sacks like they did last week (and in the first matchup), it kills the drive instantly.
Also, if you are the defensive coordinator, how are you scheming to stop the Steelers’ offense, this time with Roethlisberger and Pouncey playing?
I don’t trust our defense, I’ve made that clear to opponents we’ve faced for much of the season. If Cleveland gets Denzel Ward back in time for Sunday, that will be a big lift to the defense, as he can defend those deep/jump ball situations well. Besides that, I hope Cleveland tries to drop their linebackers into zone coverage to see if Ben Roethlisberger struggles seeing the field like he had been for a couple of weeks there. That is really the Browns’ best chance of winning this week — hoping that Roethlisberger is still in that bit of a funk he was in, and doing everything to try capitalizing on it.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for their first postseason run since the 2017 season.