BEREA, Ohio — The Browns have one of the most talented and explosive wide receivers in the NFL in Odell Beckham Jr., but they have not been able to get him the ball in the red zone.
Maybe, it’s because they’re not trying to go to him very often.
Beckham had 25 touchdowns in the red zone in his five seasons wtih the Giants, but has only been targeted three times in the first half of the season with the Browns according to ESPN Stats & Info.
Beckham said he’s very eager to get into the end zone more frequently.
“I can smell blood when I get down there,” Beckham said after practice Thursday.. “I’m close to the end zone, I want it. It’s just a matter of finding the right play in the right time.”
Offensive coordinator Todd Monken said there’s more to it, sometimes.
“Some of it is what they’re doing,” Monken said. “Some of it is obviously what we’re doing and I’m talking about collectively, schematically. It’s not like we’re purposely looking one way or looking away from somebody.
“Obviously, when you have that few of targets to somebody like that, then you’ve got to take a look at it and say, ‘How do we get our playmakers the ball?’ he said. “That’s every part of the field. That’s really not just (in the red zone), but obviously with our struggles there, we’ve looked at that, and we’ll continue to look at it as we move forward.”
— Fred Greetham (@FredGreetham) November 7, 2019
Beckham said he’s not going to let his lack of targets in the red zone get to him.
“I think, like I have told you all before, I have grown, I have come to a different place mentally, emotionally, spiritually, however you want to put it and I know that I think everyone can see that,” Beckham said. “As long as I know in my heart that I am good with where I am at, nothing is ever going to bother me. I am going to come here, I am going to do my job and I am going to try to give 110 every time that I can go, and that is just it.”
Although not in the red zone, one of the biggest plays in last week’s loss, was on fourth-and-four from the Broncos’ 28 on the Browns final offensive play, when Baker Mayfield tried to throw into double-coverage to Jarvis Landry, while it appeared that Beckham was running free behind cornerback Chris Harris down the sideline.
“It was fourth down,” Mayfield said. “Obviously, you are not going down with the ball with just situational awareness. Have to have the right routes. Have to have exactly what we need to do because it is critical in those situations that we have to be where we are supposed to be.”
Beckham leads the Browns in receptions with 39 for 575 yards, but has just one touchdown. His score came on a quick slant that resulted in an 89-yard touchdown against the Jets in the second game of the season.
— Fred Greetham (@FredGreetham) November 6, 2019
The Browns rank 25th in the red zone, only scoring 12 touchdowns in 26 attempts. Last week, they were only 1-of-5, but also were at the 21- and 24-yard line.
Another option in the red zone could be Rashard Higgins, who has seemed to have fallen out of the rotation.
Higgins caught two passes for 46 yards in the opener before suffering a knee sprain. He returned to action Oct. 27 against the Patriots and had one catch for 2 yards in two targets in 13 snaps. He was shut out against the Broncos on one target in 15 plays.
“Well, first off it’s tough for Rashard just the way the year started and in terms of I thought he had a really good preseason camp and then had a real good start to the year and then got hurt,” Monken said. “Obviously last year they didn’t have Odell, so that’s part of it, as well. You had some other guys that were more role players, so all of a sudden, a player’s role changes, and he’s trying to find a niche, and we are, too.
“So it’s a little more complicated than that, but obviously he’s a guy that Baker has real comfort in and we do have to get him more involved. We do. You’re right and have him be a bigger factor in what we do. Again, there’s only one ball, but it has been frustrating I’m sure for him and for us.”
Kareem Hunt is also set to return to the lineup Sunday against the Bills and he is another viable weapon to help the Browns get into the red zone more often and ultimately, find a way to get into the end zone.
If the Browns want to have any chance of turning their season around and scoring touchdowns, rather than settling for field goals, they need to start using their biggest assets–and that starts Sunday against the Bills.