The New England Patriots have had plenty of issues on both sides of the field this season. They're coming off a big win over the ever-struggling Detroit Lions and will now be in for a much tougher test when they face the Cleveland Browns.
Even without Deshaun Watson, the Browns have been more than capable of putting up points on the scoreboard. Moreover, this could be a bit of a revenge game for Jacoby Brissett, who used to play for the Pats.
However, it's the running game and the countless formations that worries Bill Belichick. Recently, the defensive mastermind gave the Browns a lot of credit for how their three tight-end formations open up gaps for the running game.
NFL News: Bill Belichick Lauds The Browns' Jumbo Lineman Formation
“These guys use three tight ends more than anybody in the league,” Belichick told Patriots.com. “They use the jumbo lineman more than anybody in the league. They use two tight ends a lot. Again, multiple formations, multiple shifts, and a lot of stuff before the snap. Then the ball is snapped you better be ready to go because they’re coming after you, and they’ve got a great back, so there’s no rest for the weary there.”
“It’s one tight end, two tight ends, three tight ends, two tight ends and a jumbo lineman," the coach added. "There are multiple formations where they put them all on one side and balance them off. Put them all on the other side and shift them from one side to the other side. Shift from balanced to overloaded. Unbalanced line, shift unbalanced line, you name it. There are a lot of things for the defense to worry about.”
The Browns have arguably the best one-two running back punch in the league with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, so they will obviously look to play to their strengths. Needless to say, the Pats' front seven could be in for a very, very long afternoon on Sunday.