It’s a cliché to say that an American football game “will be won in the trenches.” But in the case of Patriots-Browns on Sunday, it’s true. It’s damn true.
The big story out of Cleveland this week is a creeping COVID calamity (Scoops Callahan here!) in the running back room. But the true football heads know that head coach Kevin Stefanski’s run-heavy scheme is based around the offensive line. Sophisticated zone blocking, high-end talent across the offensive line … profit?
Cleveland heads to Foxboro this weekend on a high note, Costanza. They will face the Patriots coming off a 41-16 thumping of the Bengals. Cincinnati had no answer for the Browns on the ground. Cleveland rushed 23 times for 153 yards and two touchdowns, with Nick Chubb doing most of the damage.
And it’s not the same exact thing every week, either. Stefanski will tailor parts of the offense to the opponent, just like the Patriots do. It’s a diverse attack with an engine of five nimble ogres opening space for whoever carries the ball.
“They’ve got gap plays. They’ve got zone plays. They’ve got the midzone plays, outside plays,” head coach Bill Belichick said Wednesday. “The backs are really good. The point of entry could be one place, but that could end up somewhere else. You’ve got to do a good job across the board, and they usually get a couple guys to win on their blocks, so there’s just space in there somewhere. Tight ends do a good job. All of them. They use all three tight ends and a fullback and 11-personnel, so they kind of run wherever they can attack you, wherever you don’t match up well with them, and they’ll exploit that.”