BEREA, Ohio -- The no-huddle offense that was so successful for the Cleveland Browns in the second half of the season opener was in the plans all along.
“We kind of planned on going to it in the first half,” offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said Thursday. “We just didn’t stay on the field long enough, so we opened up the second half with it.”
Which is interesting, because the way the game unfolded the no-huddle seemed a clear response to the Browns' first half struggles. Coach Mike Pettine even said it was used to start the second half as a change of pace.
“We thought it would be good,” Shanahan said. “It was a little better than anticipated. It was something that got them off-balance, tired them out a little bit. It tired us out too. When you do that that much, you get a little sloppy on both sides of the ball, but it ended up working out well for us -- got some points, got us going.”
To say the least.
Every single Browns offensive number went up in the second half, when they almost exclusively ran no-huddle as compared to the first half when they huddled on every play.
Yardage increased from 101 to 188 in each half, and the yards per play jumped from 4.2 to 7.2. Most important, the Browns scored 24 points with the no-huddle compared to three in the first half.
Despite the success, the Browns have no plans -- they say -- to go exclusively no-huddle.
“It’s a weapon,” Pettine said. “But it’s not our lifestyle.”
Pettine said the Browns can use it as a change of pace or a change in tempo. But he said the team’s focus during the week leading up to the Saints game was on refining its work in the base offense because they are running the same plays in the no-huddle.
“We have to be able to execute our base offense,” Pettine said. “It’s what we worked on all through the spring, all through training camp. We didn’t execute it very well in the first half, but that’s something that ... we’re not an up-tempo all the time team.”
A team like the Eagles built its roster with the hurry-up in, mind and the players are conditioned for it. The Browns, Pettine said, are not.
“That’s not the way we built this roster,” he said. “That’s not the way we worked from the beginning. Just because we had a good half of it doesn’t mean that we need to junk what we’re doing and go to no-huddle and not work on our base stuff.”
Every NFL coach likes to keep the other team guessing, and if the Browns opponents spend a little extra time preparing for something the Browns might do, Pettine would not be at all disappointed.
The one thing that is true is the Browns have shown they can run the hurry-up, which gives an offense that needs any edge it can find one more possible edge.