Browns See Offense Capable Of ‘Fireworks,’ Not The Dud Skeptics Predict

This should be a familiar sight in the Browns' offense this year, as usual. The Browns think this simple play can result in 'fireworks.' (Cleveland Browns)

This should be a familiar sight in the Browns' offense this year, as usual. The Browns think this simple play can result in 'fireworks.' (Cleveland Browns)

Browns see offense capable of ‘fireworks,’ not the dud skeptics predict

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 Editor's note: Tony Grossi is a Cleveland Browns analyst for and 850 ESPN Cleveland. He has covered the Browns since 1984.

Takeaways from Browns practice and interviews …

National prognostications and power rankings are showing the Browns no love. Few, if any, have the Browns making the postseason in the loaded AFC.

The biggest reasons are little faith in Jacoby Brissett as a replacement for suspended Deshaun Watson and the uncertainty of the receiving corps behind Amari Cooper.

“I’m not seeing what anybody is seeing out there,” said the soft-spoken Cooper. “Obviously, Deshaun’s a phenomenal talent, a great quarterback. But we believe in the guys who are going to be playing on Sunday. And listen, we know what we have. We’re just ready. We’re preparing. We’re ready to go out there and win a football game.”

Skeptics just can’t fathom the Browns fielding an explosive passing game to compete with the likes of Kansas City, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Denver and the Chargers.

Cooper disagrees.

“Hopefully, its going to be fireworks,” he said of what fans should expect from the offense he joined in March via a trade from the Cowboys. “We definitely have the talent on this side of the ball to be everything we want to be.

“I don’t know what you should expect. I would just say, wait and see. Why not? It’s right around the corner.”

Cooper acknowledges and appreciates the springboard to everything on the Browns’ offense will continue to be the running game led by Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt and the offensive line.

“That’s fireworks, too,” he said.

Coordinator Alex Van Pelt agreed.

“That’s fireworks to me, 20-yard plus runs. I think we led the league in that,” he said. “Those are pretty cool fireworks. It might be sparklers, but they’re still fireworks. We’ll take it.”

The Browns are not apologizing for staying true to themselves and directing the offense through their running game.

“We’ve obviously established we’re a team that can run the football. It all starts with the run game,” Van Pelt said.

“I think it’s always part of our identity, wanting to do that,” said All-Pro left guard Joel Bitonio. “But it depends on the gameplan. If they’re putting nine guys in the box, you can’t just hit your head against the wall. You’ve got to throw the ball. You want to take your shots when they’re there.”

And that’s where Brissett comes in.

For whatever the reasons, Baker Mayfield could not throw the ball accurately enough to loosen up the running game.

How Brissett responds to that challenge through Watson’s 11-game suspension will determine if the Browns can prove the prognosticators wrong.

Schwartz update

Nobody is giving up on young Anthony Schwartz. His drops in the preseason games might have buried a player with a lesser resolve. But Schwartz has responded in practice.

“In the last 10 days of practice, he’s turned it around,” Van Pelt said. “He’s not put the ball on the ground. Sometimes you go through little slumps. You have to find a way to get him out of it. He’s found a way to get himself out of it as well.”

Cooper’s words of wisdom have helped Schwartz.

“I mean, we’re teammates, we all go through the peaks and valleys of this game. Everybody,” Cooper said. “There’s not anybody in this locker room who’s had a perfect practice. We’re all working on something. We talk to each other. Everybody. We all bring each other up. He’s good. He knows what he has to do. He’s a pro. I think he’ll be fine.

“I’ve had many times [of working through tough times]. This is my eighth year. Every year there’s something. Dropped balls, whatever, miss some blocks, missed assignments, not studying enough. We’re all struggling with something. That’s why we come to practice every day. That’s why we’re here now. If we didn’t need to practice, we would just play on Sundays. So everybody needs to work on something.”

Brownie bits

Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (sick, elbow) returned to full work. Cornerback Greedy Williams (hamstring) was a new addition to the injury report. He was the only player who did not practice …

Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer revealed that Cade York did not kick for 10 days after the third preseason game. York then limbered up this week by making 16 of 18 field goals away from the offense and defense. Priefer said York purposely changed directions to kick into a wind and “smoked one” from 58 yards …

Priefer said the Browns’ official depth chart is accurate – Demetric Felton will be the lead kickoff and punt returner. “When Jakeem [Grant] got hurt [with a torn Achilles], that stung us a little bit. I think he would have transcended our return game,” Priefer said. “I think we’ll be OK. Demetric has some experience under his belt. A   year older, mature. He’s seen a year of football and I think he’ll be a good option for us.” …

Defensive coordinator Joe Woods spices up practice by awarding points for big plays (turnovers, etc.) That’s why he started the Alpha Dog competition through training camp. He revealed the overall winner was linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. The John Johnson team won the four-man team competition and undrafted rookie safety D’Anthony Bell won the Bone Collector Award for most turnovers. A new competition starts with the regular season …