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Browns' 60-second rant: Passing game needs to take downfield shots

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Posted Oct. 05, 2010 @ 10:09 a.m. ET
By Mike Wilkening

The Browns have something good going on offense. Cleveland's running game can be a real edge, especially against a defense like Atlanta's, which is surrendering 4.6 yards per carry. Peyton Hillis, who has 246 rushing yards and 49 carries in the last two weeks, is a good bet to get at least another 20 carries. Cleveland's best plan on offense is to run, run and run some more and hope the defense breaks.

I don't have any problem with this strategy; clearly, this is Cleveland's best hope on offense. The Browns have an above-average offensive line and a physical lead back. This grind-it-out plan worked out quite well for them late last year, and it's one that makes them unique in a pass-happy league.

It's not as if the Browns have abandoned the pass during this breakout stretch for Hillis; they've attempted 64 rushes and 54 throws. And they are going to need to keep that sort of balance, especially if teams are going to dare the Browns to beat them in the passing game.

The Browns aren't known for their vertical passing game, and they haven't had a pass of longer than 24 yards in the last two games, but they did get a Jake Delhomme-to-Mohamed Massaquoi 41-yard TD in Week One and a 65-yard Seneca Wallace-to-Joshua Cribbs TD the following week. Both TD throws were off play-action, which could be all the more effective if Hillis keeps producing like he has.

Getting Massaquoi more involved is a must; he has just two catches for 14 yards in last three games, all Wallace starts. Massaquoi is the club's top vertical threat, and the Browns need to get him more involved to keep defenses honest.

The Falcons have intercepted eight passes and are surrendering just one TD pass per game, but they are allowing opponents to complete 67.4 percent of their throws and rack up 224 passing yards per game, so this isn't an unbeatable secondary. The Browns have to test it deep, if nothing else than to remind Atlanta than its safeties need to be wary of the passing game, too.

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