clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Cleveland Browns looking to exploit Steelers' run defense in Week 1 matchup

The Pittsburgh Steelers gave up 115 yards rushing per game in 2013, so it's no surprise that the Cleveland Browns are determined to run the football in the season opener at Heinz Field this Sunday.

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Debate Johnny Manziel vs. Brian Hoyer all you want. If the Cleveland Browns have their way when the team travels to Heinz Field this Sunday for their Week 1 matchup, the quaterback won't be doing anything other than turning and handing the ball off to a stable of eager running backs.

You can't blame the Browns, or any opponent for that matter, for focusing on running the football against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers' were porous against the run in 2013, allowing 115 yards rushing per game, and haven't shown much improvement in run defense during the preseason.

Without All Pro wide receiver Josh Gordon, the Browns will be forced to rely on the running game and not putting the burden of carrying the team on Hoyer's shoulders.

"This offense starts with the run, so it's important for us to run the ball against the Steelers," Browns running back Ben Tate told Ralph Paulk of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. "It's good to know that our success could determine the success of the team, so we'll do whatever it takes to win."

"I think we can get it done on the ground, but it all starts with the guys up front," Tate continued. "If they do their jobs, I'll do mine."

"We are serious about running the football," fullback Ray Agnew said. "When you look at Shanahan's offense in Washington, they've always been good in the ground game."

The Browns offense under OC Kyle Shanahan is expected to use a number of running backs this season, but Tate will get the bulk of the carries in hopes that he'll show some of the 4.0 yards-per-carry he garnered last year with the Houston Texans.

It will be up to the Steelers' defense to make the Browns one dimensional by stopping the run and allowing the defense to get after Hoyer or Manziel. If the Steelers can effectively stop the Browns' ground game, they'd force the Browns out of their game plan, which most likely will lead to a Steelers victory on opening day.

Check Out Football Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with The Standard3 on BlogTalkRadio