The Cleveland Browns have had success on offense over the course of the past two seasons when they have made use of two-tight end sets. At least that is what Browns reporters have been saying. The only problem is that Freddie Kitchens didn’t use two-tight end sets much at all last year.
Granted, it didn’t help that their top tight end, David Njoku, spent a large chunk of the season injured. If the Pittsburgh Steelers were without Vance McDonald that much, they wouldn’t be playing out of 12 personnel very much, either.
With new head coach Kevin Stefanski, however, there seems to be the intention of focusing more on having two tight ends on the field. That is why one of the team’s major free agency additions was former Atlanta Falcons tight end Austin Hooper, a Pro Bowler during his time there.
While some have speculated about what Hooper’s signing might mean for Njoku, it will probably mean nothing in terms of his roster security. What it does is give the Browns the vehicle to use the 12 personnel, and essentially get their best players on the field.
On paper, this offense looks pretty good. Out of a 12 set, you have Odell Beckham, Jr. and Jarvis Landry, complemented by Hooper and Njoku and Nick Chubb or Kareem Hunt in the backfield. The only real hole left is left tackle, perhaps arguably right guard as well.
And then there’s Baker Mayfield. We’re all still trying to figure out who Baker Mayfield is. There have certainly been times that he has looked great, but that didn’t come often enough last season, for sure. He did not show the hoped-for progress going from year one to year two, especially given the offseason moves that they made.
One caveat is the fact that both Beckham and Landry played through the entire season with injuries, and they were injuries significant enough that resulted in both of them having surgery in the offseason to repair them. Njoku, as mentioned, of course also missed a lot of time. Hunt was suspended for the first 10 games. Chubb was is only consistent and consistently health presence, and he’s not really a receiving back.
That’s not to absolve Mayfield of responsibility, because clearly he owns much of the Browns’ failures on offense last season. But Cleveland is trying to do everything in its power to put him in the best situation to succeed, and bringing in Hooper is a key component of that.