But if they can make it three in a row Sunday against the New York Jets, offensive coordinator Brian Daboll believes it will be Cleveland’s most impressive victory to date.
“This is going to be a big-time challenge for us,” he said Friday. “We pride ourselves on running the football, and they hang their hat on stopping the run. The Jets also do a ton of different things defensively and show you a ton of fronts, so it’s not going to be easy.
“At the same time, though, we feel pretty good about the way things are going for us right now.”
The Browns should feel good about themselves, having topped 30 points in consecutive games for the first time in six years.
Running back Peyton Hillis has been tremendous, as has the entire offensive line, while quarterback Colt McCoy continues to play like a seasoned veteran.
Making it all come together, though, has been Daboll, who has silenced his critics with smart gameplans and effective strategies.
“The chemistry we have collectively on offense is real good,” tackle Floyd Womack said. “Everybody goes out there with a job to do and works hard to help the team win.
“It’s all about chemistry in the NFL, and ours is excellent.”
That same description could apply to the Jets’ defense, which has allowed the third-fewest points in the league, ranks second against the run and is sixth overall on that side of the football.
Coach Rex Ryan runs a 3-4 scheme that relies heavily on inside linebackers Bart Scott and David Harris, along with pass-rushing defensive end Shaun Ellis.
New York also boasts an exceptional cornerback tandem in Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, giving it a huge advantage over Cleveland’s shaky, young wide receiving corps.
“I definitely respect Darrelle and I’ve known him since his youngest days in the league, so I’ve watched him improve along the way,” said Browns coach Eric Mangini, who drafted Revis three years ago while he was in charge of the Jets.
“But for us offensively, the key is to find the open guy. At some point, somebody is going to have to get open and make the play.”
Cleveland wide receiver Chansi Stuckey, who played with New York from 2007-2009, still counts Revis as one of his closest friends. He admitted that there are more questions than answers when asked how he would attack the Jets.
“I don’t know,” he said. “You’ve just got to try and find a way to squeeze something in. They do so many different things defensively. They have great corners out there who are going to make it tough to get off the line, but you’ve got to find a way to score – and, hopefully, that’s what we can do.”
Making that task even tougher are the tricks that Ryan is known for.
According to Daboll, New York has used sets in recent weeks that feature “three defensive linemen, then four on the next play, then two with a bunch of guys moving around.” He has worked extensively with McCoy on the myriad possibilities, but it’s all up to the rookie to react once the ball is snapped.
“Colt prepares very well and he’s a perfectionist in practice,” Daboll said. “He’s also done all of the things we’ve asked him to, but there is only so much you can see on film. He’s going to have to be aware where those guys are and make the adjustments every play.
“That’s not easy to do, but he’s been able to handle it so far against some very good teams.”
But as Daboll added, the Browns are on their way to becoming a very good team themselves. He noted their 7-5 record over the last 12 games – and pointed out that they’ve started five quarterbacks during that span.
“You need consistency in all aspects of the game, and we’re finally seeing it,” Daboll said. “That’s why I was so excited last week (following their 34-14 win over the Patriots). I was excited for the guys who have stuck with us as coaches – even when things haven’t gone the way we’d hoped – to have a performance like that.
“We’ve got something good happening here with the Browns. Now, it’s all of our jobs to keep it going.”
Contact Brian Dulik at firstname.lastname@example.org.