Stillers offense needs coaching help
Now that the team's only tried and true blocking back is out, the offensive line is dinged up a bit, and the entire offensive unit is coming off a sub-par week, offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride needs to come up big. Despite a couple setbacks, the team still has offensive potential. The receiving corps, lead by Hines Ward, with Edwards, Burress and Bobby Shaw are all capable of making plays -- 1) if they get the ball and 2) if they hold onto the ball. On the ground, Bettis, Fu and Huntley are all solid backs and Bettis is having the type of year thus far that we'd expect from him.
The true test in game prep for Gilbride is to get a good gage of Fu and Dan Kreider's blocking abilities. Since he's seen both guys this season, it shouldn't be a daunting task. The true test for Gilbride come game time is to call plays that will give Fu and/or Kreider the best chance to succeed. Trying to start the game by pounding the ball down the Brownies throats is just asking for trouble. But, that doesn't mean that the game plan should be to going vertical on 1st, 2nd and 3rd downs either.
Gilbride needs to be creative, but not through trickery. He needs to spread the field and to get the TE's more involved. Give the ball to Fu while both he and Bettis are in the backfield. Avoid throwing 2 yard outs (especially on 3rd and 8) and hit more in and slant routes. Even if Cleveland stacks the line and gets penetration on the offensive line, these plays can be successful.
Finally, Gilbride needs to make adjustments during the course of the game...this is something that doesn't always happen. How many times have we seen the offense struggle in the first half, only to come out in the second half with the exact same game plan? While it's not up to Gilbride to execute the plays on game day, it IS up to him to execute a successful game plan and to make the necessary adjustments come game time.