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Bills Spacing on Offense Should Serve as Inspiration for Browns Offseason

The Buffalo Bills led by a magnificent performance from quarterback Josh Allen annihilated the New England Patriots defense. The Cleveland Browns can take some inspiration in how the Bills were so problematic on offense.

In a blowout that featured Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen at the peak of his powers obliterating a battered New England Patriots defense, what stood out was the speed of the Bills receivers and the spacing they consistently created throughout the game. When Allen wasn't effortlessly throwing behind slower Patriots corners, he was exploiting openings horizontally and the rare time he couldn't find someone open, he'd simply run for ten yards past the first down he needed.

If that wasn't enough, Allen threw a handful of pinpoint lasers into tight windows where Patriots defenders were more than willing to be called for pass interference if they could just prevent a completion. Even that was a challenge.

The Patriots defense was wounded, they were out-physicaled against a Bills offense that was toying with them at times, but even if they had been fresh, the speed element the Bills presented had the capacity to overwhelm the Patriots.

A microcosm of the stark difference between the two offenses, Patriots corner J.C. Jackson was outstanding against the Browns, stifling Donovan Peoples-Jones in their matchup, rarely allowing him any breathing room. Against the Bills, Jackson struggled to keep up with their pacing, was often caught in no man's land trying to cover Stefon Diggs.

After making the trade with the Minnesota Vikings to acquire Diggs, they drafted wide receiver Gabriel Davis in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft. These two were added to Cole Beasley, a consistent second option. These moves coincided with the breakout of Allen, becoming one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the league.

When the Bills fell short in the playoffs that year, they went even further, taking advantage of an opportunity to add Emmanuel Sanders in free agency. If the Bills don't win the Super Bowl this year, it won't be for lack of threats in the passing game.

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The Cleveland Browns had a dynamic similar to the Bills, albeit briefly in 2018. Baker Mayfield will never be as big or as mobile as Allen, but he's got the ability to throw the ball at a similar clip but the Browns offense has rarely provided a reason the past two seasons.

As nice as it would be to have a player the caliber of Diggs step on the field in Cleveland and immediately be a great fit with Mayfield, it's easier said than done as illustrated by the Odell Beckham Jr. fiasco. It's also not required to improve the offense.

Nevertheless, Andrew Berry should take a similar approach as Bills general manager Brandon Beane in aggressively attacking the position. Given how he attacked the offensive line and secondary in his first two seasons, it stands to reason that's exactly what he has in mind at wide receiver.

Presumably the Browns will re-sign tight end David Njoku as both sides want a deal, keeping him in the mix with Donovan Peoples-Jones and Harrison Bryant, two promising players who will be entering their third seasons in the league. Premium talent with speed to attack vertically and create space is critical to maximizing the offense, including both Mayfield and Browns running game.

For the Browns, tabbed to pick 13th in the 2022 NFL Draft, that may mean targeting Arkansas wide receiver Treylon Burks. Burks is bigger, faster and stronger than Jones, not easy to do, and would give the Browns an imposing collection of skill players along with Njoku. Burks is bigger than Browns linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, excels against man coverage, which should be mandatory for the Browns, who have been limited against even decent man teams the past two seasons.

Coming back to grab another receiver in the next three rounds, Khalil Shakur of Boise State and Wen'Dale Robinson of Kentucky stand out as fits for the Browns, added to at least intriguing options like Anthony Schwartz and Demetric Felton, could enable the Browns to not simply return to the form they showed during the 2020 season, but surpass it.

Counting on production from rookies is tricky, but the threat of what they can do is also important. Schwartz touched the ball just 16 times in his rookie season, but the fear of his speed forced defenses to play the Browns differently when he was on the field. It's imperative the production ultimately justify the threat, but simply giving Nick Chubb more space to run or limiting how opponents can defend Njoku will result lead to better offensive efficiency in 2021.

The Kansas City Chiefs are likely to enjoy similar success against the Pittsburgh Steelers, simply using their speed and spacing to stretch the Steelers defense beyond their limits, another example of what the Browns should aspire to become this offseason.