The Cleveland Browns have been the media darlings this week among the sports shows.
The spotlight on them has not been for good reasons.
The Browns have dropped two straight games and have more injuries than anyone would expect going into Week 7.
One of the most prominent injuries is to quarterback Baker Mayfield‘s non-throwing shoulder.
Will he or won’t he has been the headline of the short week?
Mayfield has never missed a start since taking over the quarterback duties in 2018.
Now we have learned that the Browns made the only sensible decision they could in the circumstances; that is to start backup quarterback Case Keenum.
Browns announce QB Case Keenum will start versus Broncos.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 20, 2021
Will the team have to adjust its offensive strategy?
Honestly, they will not have to adjust it as much for a healthy Keenum as they did for a beat up Mayfield.
Offensive Strategy Affected By The Injuries
Both are out with calf injuries.
Good opportunity for D'Ernest Johnson on Thursday with Browns RBs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt out. But I'd also keep an eye on how the staff there uses rookie Demetric Felton to fill the void.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) October 19, 2021
The biggest concern for the offensive strategy is the injuries on the offensive line.
Mayfield has taken a lot of hits this year that he did not take last year.
He was only sacked 26 times in the entire 16-game regular season of 2020.
6 games into 2021, he has been sacked 18 times.
Left tackle Jedrick Wills did such a great job of protecting Mayfield’s blind side last year.
He has an ankle injury that he unsuccessfully tried to play through; right tackle Jack Conklin is also injured.
If Keenum’s preparation is affected by anything, it is the injured offensive line.
#Browns offense will be without Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt tomorrow night, and could also be without Jarvis Landry, OBJ, Jedrick Wills Jr. and Jack Conklin. Hardly ideal. For those keeping track that's the starting QB, top 2 RBs, top 2 WR & starting OTs.
— Daryl Ruiter (@RuiterWrongFAN) October 20, 2021
Typical Game Plan
The Browns offense has been anything but typical this season.
However, the game plan for the Denver Broncos is the bread-and-butter running game.
Keenum may need to get rid of the ball quicker given the fact that the offensive line is more porous this year.
Keenum is a good backup quarterback.
This means the Browns are in good hands as Mayfield heals.
He is 33 years old and has been around several teams.
His most successful season was in 2017 when he led the Minnesota Vikings to an 11-5 record and through a playoff run.
Don't let Baker Mayfield being injured distract you from the fact that the Case Keenum and Kevin Stefanski went to the NFC Championship together. All is not lost.
The Browns win Thursday. pic.twitter.com/LcTM24IwRq
— Nick Karns (@karnsies817) October 20, 2021
Who was his quarterbacks coach in that season?
You guessed it.
This is good news because he knows Stefanski’s offense and tendencies.
Though it is a short week with limited practice time, it is realistic to assume that these two are on the same page because of their previous working relationship.
Von Miller Is Confident
The Broncos are confident that they can come into Cleveland and beat this offense comprised of second and third-string offensive players.
Von Miller provided bulletin board material for the Browns earlier this week.
Broncos’ OLB Von Miller on Thursday night’s matchup vs the battered Cleveland Browns to @AricDiLalla: “I don’t know who the tackle I’m going against is, but I’m going to kill him.”
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 19, 2021
The Broncos may be in for a big surprise because this Week 7 game for the Browns is a show-me game.
The Browns are about to show us what they are made of when the chips are down.