Todd Monken: Air Raid is throwing to win, but run game plays a part

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Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens recently said he had never heard the term “Air Raid” before hiring Todd Monken as his offensive coordinator. Monken learned the offense under Mike Gundy while serving as Oklahoma State’s offensive coordinator in 2011-12.

And Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield won a Heisman Trophy in the offense at Oklahoma.

Monken incorporated concepts of the pass-heavy Air Raid system into the offense at Tampa Bay in his three seasons as the Bucs offensive corodinator.

“It is interesting,” Monken said at his introductory press conference in Cleveland on Thursday. “When I went to Oklahoma State from Jacksonville, it was the ‘Air Raid’ — as we use our fingers to say that. Really, what I took away from it was being able to throw to win. That really to me was the Air Raid. You had a certain amount of run game. You ran a lot of the same concepts, and you could throw to win. That was really it. Like any offense, it works a lot better if you have good players. That is really what it is about. It is about having good players and doing things the right way consistently, so you do it better than they do it. It becomes a lot harder at the NFL level because you are going against the best in the world, windows are tighter and you are under duress a lot more so you have to be disciplined in terms of what you do on the perimeter.”

The Bucs ranked first in passing last season and only 29th in rushing, but Tampa Bay had Peyton Barber, Jacquizz Rodgers and Ronald Jones as its running backs. The Browns have a better cast of running backs led by Nick Chubb, who rushed for team-leading 996 yards as a rookie.

“Balance is multiple skill players touching the football,” Monken said. “To me, it is not always just run-pass [balance]. It is do you have enough skill players where they can touch the football. Last year at Tampa, we almost had six guys – if [Bucs tight end] O.J. [Howard] doesn’t get hurt – with 700-plus yards from the line of scrimmage. That, to me, is balance. You have a number of guys who can hurt you from a matchup standpoint. Is running the football important? Sure because in order to win, you have to be explosive and not turn the ball over. How do you become explosive? Space players and throwing it over their heads or throwing in intermediate pockets, and running the football adds to that.”