Since taking the head coach, Kevin Stefanski has been pretty clear on how he wants to run his offense with the Cleveland Browns. A wide zone scheme with multiple tight ends, able to run the ball and take full advantage of playaction passing. Stefanski also noted how he wanted to have a fullback, because that was the easiest way to completely change his personnel and force the defense to make major adjustments. In the first two days of the legal tampering period for free agency, the Browns agreed to a deals with tight end Austin Hooper and right tackle Jack Conklin as well as trading for fullback Andy Janovich.
They didn't just add players, but they added the top players at their respective positions. Hooper and David Njoku create a formidable set of tight ends, both of which are capable of creating mismatches. Defenses aren't typically well equipped to deal with 6'4" 250 pound pass catchers, let alone two of them on the field at the same time.
Jack Conklin is a tremendous athlete in addition to being an accomplished tackle. Those athletic traits are what they will be looking for in their left tackle, presumably in the NFL Draft. Conklin's not going to revolutionize the right tackle position, but he is good and he is an excellent fit in the Browns offense.
The Browns emphasized movement skills in offensive linemen and Conklin has them, enabling them to reach and seal. One of the trademark plays that the Vikings utilized was a zone toss with Dalvin Cook. Having the linemen that can get out in front protects the back, allowing them to go down field while reading multiple running lanes, trusting them to find the best one.
Nick Chubb has fantastic vision and has created a number of explosive plays of his own, often finding the best running lane. The Browns run blocking at the tackle position was sub-optimal to put it kindly and most of their success was inside. Conklin unlocks the ability to get outside, potentially get into the alley, forcing defenses to cover a larger part of the field.
Much of what the Browns will do is with the idea of making runs look like passes and passes look like run, maximizing the difficulty for defenses to effectively pick up what the Browns are doing. All of this points to playaction, which Baker Mayfield has been so good with in his young career.
Conklin gives them a two-way go from this standpoint. For the most part, teams run playaction to the quarterback's throwing hand because it's obviously more comfortable and easier to execute. In that sense, Conklin becomes the front side blocker, which is certainly an upgrade from Chris Hubbard.
Meanwhile, the times the Browns can also show zone stretch and make teams have to account for it honestly before Mayfield pulls the ball and rolls left, stretching the field horizontally and creating space to run various crossing routes.
And while Andy Janovich at fullback won't draw the fanfare that the other moves will and he likely won't be on the field nearly as much, he is a player that fans will fall in love with because of the way he plays. Janovich is a good fullback, but he's also played in a similar offense in Denver that the Browns are going to utilize in Cleveland. He's been an excellent zone fullback.
And while Chubb can and has run behind anything, Janovich would only benefit him as a lead blocker. The bigger deal when it comes to Janovich is Kareem Hunt, assuming the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, currently experiencing a sugar high from the Tom Brady news, aren't calling the Browns to tell them they are signing Hunt and giving up their second round pick for it right now, which would be totally fine. Hunt was at his best with the Kansas City Chiefs behind a fullback. He doesn't have good vision himself, so it was a struggle to give him the ball in zone concepts for the Browns last year, often running gap plays with predetermined holes, using him on sweeps or just throwing him the ball.
Janovich is nothing short of Hunt's seeing eye dog in this offense and he's the best one the Browns could hope to find and all it cost them was a deferred 7th round pick. Hunt only has to read Janovich's block. Janovich is the one who's going to find the hole. And in that scenario, Hunt could look much more like he did with the Chiefs than he did last year with the Browns.
The Browns still need to find their left tackle, hopefully either a Bulldog or a Hawkeye. If they can get either, they one of the most talented offenses at least on paper. For all of this talk about offense, this is the first time Odell Beckham's name is going to come up, which says it all. The combination of the two tight ends and everything they are doing for both Mayfield and Chubb really sets them up well for success. Add in a healthy Beckham who feels he has a lot to prove after last year and his excitement for what this offense could do for him and it's easy to fall in love with this team's offensive potential.
It only took three moves for general manager Andrew Berry to establish Kevin Stefanski's identity on offense. Outside of the second half of the 2018 season, an offensive identity is something the Browns have struggled with for the better part of two decades. It took these guys three moves.