Browns v. Colts

Thoughts on the Anderson injury

                Obviously this is very bad for the Browns for two reasons:

1)      He gives them the best chance to win any of these last couple of games.  The Browns will clearly be in better position next year if they have a pick after the 1st 5 or 6, as opposed to being in those 1st 5 picks.  The guaranteed money is too big and it screws with your cap space.

2)      Anderson’s trade value is basically 0 now.  His cap number is around $5 million, and nobody’s sure if he’ll play football again.  Cutting him does nothing to reduce the cap hit, but trading him would have.  Please keep that in mind browns fans regarding the below.

Any Browns fan who cheered when he got hurt needs to be summarily shot for three reasons:

1)      It’s a disgusting personality trait to actually be happy that someone got hurt

2)      It’s even worse when you’re stupid.  If you consider yourself a Browns fan, the injury is Anderson injury is actually worse for the team

3)      There’s a 90% chance you cheered for Anderson last year when he went to the Pro Bowl.  Further, as articulated many times, a large portion of his struggles this year were out of his control due to injury or better opponents.  Also keep in mind that Manning’s QB rating was 22 in this game.

Dorsey actually made three really good throws despite having no more than 10 warm-up passes and no snaps during practice in 12 weeks.  I’m not saying he’s better than Anderson or Quinn, but I don’t think the drop off will be as enormous as everyone thinks.   He’s smart QB who seems to be able to make good throws (market research of 3 passes).  Think of him as a poor man’s Kosar.

Now  the game analysis


Clearly the offensive strategy was perfect for this contest.  Keep the ball out of Manning’s hands, by running the ball against a porous defense and pass only when you need to b/c of the two great DE ends on the Colts.  The problem however, is that execution was awful, except for 2 running plays and Anderson’s solid passing effort.


Anderson played ok, not great in this game.  He eerily looked similar to Quinn against the Broncos a couple of weeks ago with a couple of exceptions: 1) He was under a lot more pressure 2) the weather conditions were working against him 3) the running game was bad (more on this below).  He checked down to the open receiver, and except for missing Stallworth deep on 1 play, made good accurate throws that moved the chains when needed (11-20 on 3rd down)


No fault of Lewis, Wright or Harrison in this game.  They all looked like their normal selves.  Wright was quick to the hole when he got his chances, Lewis fought hard for extra yards when he was hit, and Harrison was fast.  Again, the issue here was not getting a better rotation between the backs.  Crennel/Chud seem to believe in the “wearing the defense down” theory (which there is no statistical proof that there are running backs that can do this, and the Browns certainly haven’t shown that they’re the exception to the rule this year)


Probably the worst game played this season.  Outside of a 15 yard run by Lewis on a draw, and an 8 yard run on a counter, the line didn’t open 1 other hole the entire game. As stated above, the strategy was correct, running the ball to keep the ball away from Manning was key, but execution was horrible.  I think the browns could have done a little more play action, and looked for safe passes, but an ineffective running game doesn’t open up holes in the zone for the passing game.

Pass blocking was an issue obviously on two key plays (Anderson’s fumble, Anderson’s injury).  Both can be directly attributed to the two tackles, not surprisingly, as they were facing two of the best pass rushing DE’s in the game.  Thomas again showed that he’s struggling with bull rush moves from quicker defenders (Mario last week).  Shaffer’s never really been successful in pass blocking this year against above average DEs, let alone top flight ones.

I do think I would have schemed slightly differently.  Freeney’s success came from his very wide stance when a TE was on his side supposedly to help Thomas make the block.  However, what this actually did is give him another two steps to get momentum against Thomas.  Shaffer on the other hand, facing a pass rusher with less of a bull rush move (and more bulk to handle it), probably would have benefited more from either the TE or a RB chip.


Braylon again showed his ability to beat man coverage.  While he may have his drop issues this year, he can certainly beat coverage in most instances when he needs to.  On his one 17 yard catch this was apparent as the CB was playing him for a deep post route and Braylon still got open (helped by a great pass by Anderson).  He was blanketed on one occasion near the end zone, when he and Winslow ran a crossing route.  Chud needs to change the routes Edwards’ runs, b/c teams seem to be playing him to catch a slant, especially in short yardage/goal line situations.  A post corner or sluggo route is needed.  Lastly, the drop wasn’t his fault.  He was well covered and did a great job to even get a hand on the ball.

Winslow played well, even throwing a key block on Lewis’ draw.  Hieden again showed that he’s above average, but nowhere near the threat to catch just about everything thrown to him like Winslow, or get open.

Rucker made two appearances in Winslow’s absence resulting in a catch, and incorrectly lining up (forcing a browns Time Out).  I’d like to see him get more PT as the season winds down (which is unlikely, due to Crennel’s job being on the line, and his propensity to not play rookies – where’s Beau Bell?)

I think Chud missed an opportunity to expose the lack of a good MLB on the Colts with either more play action passing or a seam route by Winslow.  The 4-3 MLB in the cover 2 system has an unbelievably hard task of running down the field with the TE on seem routes.  Very few starters can stay with Winslow on this route, let alone 3rd stringers.

Chud also kept asking Steptoe to block way, WAY too much.  At 200 lbs. soaking wet he doesn’t have the build that last year’s #3 (Jurevicous) does to make blocks, nor the desire or ability.  Stallworth on the other hand has showed that he can make these blocks.  Steptoe’s blocking assignment was the cause for Cribb’s “Flash” play not working.  Steptoe has no chance of blocking a 240 lb. LB, nor should he be asked to.


Probably the best game the defense played all year.  I’m not 100% sure if this was attributable to weather, or a new found desire to play better defense.  What is surprising is that the success wasn’t a result of Rodger’s dominance (except for the missed FG).  Instead, it seemed like Williams and S. Smith were able to hold the line a little bit better.  McGinnest made his one play, then did pretty much nothing as usual.


Probably the best game by this group in stopping the run.  The best thing that could be said is that you didn’t know when one of the law firm members was in the game.   I think the biggest reason for this was a healthy (except for Robaire being on IR) rotation.


Wimbley, again showed his prowess in stopping the run, but his lack of a pass rush (and scheming to give him a chance – he can’t be 1 of 3 rushers) is evident.  D’Qwell again really impressed me, very frequently the only two reasons why he didn’t make tackles is b/c 1) a DL lineman prevented him from getting there by getting pushed in his way 2) a DL made the tackle.  He’s incredibly quick sideline to sideline, and is a sure tackler.


Obviously McDonald’s best game of the year.  But I’d argue he played just as well last year against Houston in his first start.  It’s hard to fault this group when 1) you’re playing against the smartest, best QB in the game 2) you’re severely overmatched at WR.   I’m guessing this was a weather condition helped unit as opposed to dramatic improvement by the group.  Most surprisingly was how infrequently the colts exploited the two greatest mismatches (McGinnest on Clark, Cousins on Gonzalez)

McDonald again showed he’s a very sure tackler.  That aspect can’t be underestimated, and in a cover 2 defense like the Colts play, he’d probably be a huge asset (despite his less than ideal stature)

One last comment.  Put away the Cowher signs and stop bashing Savage.  Fans should support their teams through thick and thin, not bash them when things go bad.  Savage is one of the top GM’s at evaluating talent in the league (subject of latter post) and this really can’t be argued if the other side uses data to support their argument.


Drive by Drive analysis below:


1st  Defensive Drive

McGinnest gave up contain on the sweep.  Shaun smith makes a great play running down the field.  He and Rodgers don’t get enough credit for their hustle.   Forced fumble gives Browns the ball back.

1st offensive Drive

Fraley/Steinbach opened a big hole in the middle on 1st play, on the 2nd play Hadnot screened DT very well.  This is where we need to win the game

No Mathis on run downs so early draw plays won’t work.  I’ll focus on Thomas against Freeney

Short yardage.  Great push by Hadnot/Fraley – Anderson did a great job pushing the line forward on the QB sneak

Thomas did a great job collapsing Freeney.  Winslow should have gotten to 2nd level and it would have been a larger gain. – He looked inside instead of outside, and his guy made the tackle)

4th straight run with Lewis – he’s tired, less of push (now he’s taken out)

Wright able to take advantage of Shaffer’s block on the outside

Another good hole opened up by GCG. – Lewis Rushes for 2.  Still not fully rested (only 1 play off)

Another run, 1 WR set, Browns hardly ever pass in this formation.  Edwards had man to man

3rd and long – need to see how Thomas does.

                Line holds well.  Anderson needed to let play develop more.  Can’t beat a cover 2 with a swing pass on 3rd and 7.


Summary Line is doing a good job in blocking the run.  Colts moved 8 men into the box after the 5th straight run (forced 2 short gains).  If this continues, the running game won’t work all game long.  They need to come out and play action pass on 1st down on next drive.

2nd Defensive Drive

Beau Bell and Cribbs in on tackle on 2nd KO.

Corner blitz timed incredibly well by Adams.  Addai blocked it very well.  Wright beaten on man coverage.

McGinnest on Clark in slot.  Run to inside, Davis makes a great, aggressive play at LOS.  Look for Colts to hit Clark and exploit this matchup.

Sweep left, Williams doesn’t hold line.  D’Qwell flows well and makes the tackle.

L. Williams lined up on Clark – blitzed.  Picked up again.  McDonald beat by Wayne on good pass/catch

Manning audibled two plays in a row

                Catch them lined up weak to left – 6 yards on run

                Drop off over the middle – good tackle by Davis

Slant to Harrison – Wright too far off to stop the route.  Good read by Peyton.

Swing to Addai – Jackson makes a great play on the sideline.

Sweep right – Williams pushed back which slowed D’Qwell to sideline.  Williams could be showing signs of fatigue.

Browns’ line tired.   Need to get subs in to give them a break,  3rd and 11 on 13.

                Great pass/route from Manning to Wayne in endzone. McDonald makes a great play to rip ball out of Wayne’s hands

Summary: No huddle is incredibly bad for Browns b/c of big lineman who need breaks.  It will also wear out the team in the long run more quickly.  Manning has been exceptional in noticing where Browns are vulnerable.  Stopping them to a FG was key.

2nd Offensive Drive

Need to open up the offense on this drive – Play action needed on 1st or 2nd down. 

Quick pass to Vickers in obvious pass set.  Freeney made no progress on Thomas.

Draw play opened big hole.   – Winslow and Handot with big blocks to free Lewis.  Makes one guy miss and runs over another in the defensive backfield.

Another good hole opened on the rights side.  Lewis goes right through it and breaks some tackles.  Outside of the draw play for 15, Lewis has picked up 23 yards on 7 carries.  Draw play came with Mathis in the game (pass situations) great call by Chud for recognizing Colts personnel changes. 

Another quick pass set (3 step drop).  Anderson makes good read to get it to open Winslow. Shaffer got great initial block on Mathis.

Fraley got great push on 3rd and 1.  This is an obvious change for him.

Again, obvious run set on 1st down, again short run to left. Lewis picks up 2.  Excluding the short yardage and the draw, Lewis has run the ball 8 times for 25.    Said differently, the run game isn’t really moving the ball too much.  Anderson has made quick reads to hit open receivers, and led them well.

If Brackett is hurt, that’s a huge injury.  He plays the middle LB in the 4-3.  Look for the Browns to try and take advantage by getting Winslow open in the seam.

I’d like to see the Browns play action from an obvious run formation, and get the ball to K2 that way.

Harrison sweep left – couldn’t see the play b/c they were still replaying the injury.

Throw over the middle to K2 (attacking where MLB was replaced)

Obvious run formation, sweep left for a couple of yards.

5 wide – Anderson again making quick read and hits Hieden for 3.  Similar to Quinn, he’s getting rid of the ball very quickly, and looking underneath.

3rd and 5 out to Winslow.  Great route and pass to get him open.  Anderson had locked on to Winslow which brought the LB over to make the tackle.

Finally, play fake from run formation with slant to Edwards, who makes a good play on the ball.

I’d like to see a fade to Edwards on this play .

In run formation.  Edwards blanketed on slant, and Winslow covered just as well on the out.  Anderson made a good play to throw it away.

2nd and goal from the 9 and we run for 2 yards.  Not sure what this was supposed to accomplish.

Shaffer beat badly by Mathis on outside move.  Anderson stepped up in pocket and didn’t really need to.

Summary Starting to move the ball better through the air.  Anderson seems to lock on to his receivers, but is making the right decision so far.  Winslow’s been able to get open, and Braylon beat his man on the one man coverage that the Browns passed against.  Run game has been virtually halted, so the next drive will show where Chud thinks he has the advantage.  The long drive was crucial to give the D a break and keep Peyton off the field.

3rd Defensive Drive

Shotgun 4 wide – great play by Wayne/Manning. Can’t do much to stop that

Sweep right.  Wimbley makes a good play keeping contain and making the tackle (1 yard gain).  Much harder to sweep against him than Willie.

Lots of time for Manning, good coverage forces him to go underneath. Wimbley makes another good open field tackle.

Blitz and pass completed to Clark (Pool was picked off by Umpire) – pick up of 16.  Manning faced pressure on the blitz.

Huge hole on play where Colts pulled a guy – Rodgers took himself out of the play, Jones took a bad angle and got manhandled.

Sweep off right side – Rodgers left unblocked.  McDonald makes a good tackle on the outside.  Gained 6.

Rodgers drops in pass coverage on Zone Blitz.  Not sure why he’s the guy dropping off.

3rd and 2.  Slant pass to Harrison (covered very well by Wright).  Hard play to stop.

Essentially 4-3 look.  Leonard makes a play coming off a block, which was impressive.

2nd and Goal from the 6.

Manning sees Blitz coming – shift from under center to shotgun and the run a draw – picks up 4.

3rd and Goal from the 1 – huge play.

Single back (audible) to run to right guard.  Stopped just short of goal line.  Lots of guys in on the tackle.  Rodgers made a decent play.  Williams seemed to fill the gap well. 

4th and goal from the 1.  You can guarantee that Crennel would kick the field goal here.  Obviously, Colts are going for it.  The hard thing about the colts is that you have no idea if this is a run or a pass.

QB sneak – no idea if he got in.

Pool seemed to have forced a fumble.  Browns recover

3rd Offensive Drive (starting from half yard line)

Anderson sneaks for 2 (good blocking again by GCG)

FB Dive to Vickers .  Colts take TO.  There’s a really good chance the browns D will be on the field again if we don’t get a 1st down.

Run to Lewis off RT.  No room and the Browns have to punt.


4th Defensive Drive

On Punt: Great coverage by Sorenson/Cribbs getting down field.  Hieden also beat his man.

Stopped hail mary pass (intercepted by Jones)  Manning under-threw it due to pressure that eventually got there.

Summary: Three major differences so far:

1)      Manning’s ability to call the play that exposes browns D weakness.  Very few teams have QB that can do this

2)      Hard to stop manning to Harrison slants etc.

3)      Addai averaging a full yard per carry more than Lewis.  Colts can run the ball against the Browns, reverse isn’t true.

1st offensive Drive of 2nd half.

3 WR set – Steptoe assigned to block backside.  Lewis runs for 2.  Running game is not working, at all.

Winslow hurt – appears to be his ankle. 

Run to left. ..  .again not going anywhere.  Browns need to open up the offense.

Watching the tackles –

Shaffer did a great job on Mathis – Thomas got overpowered by Freeney and pushed into Anderson which affected the throw (behind Edwards who made a good play to get a hand on it – not a drop)

Summary Browns need to pass on 1st down.  The run is going nowhere Lewis is 12 for 29 if you remove the draw and the 3rd and short run).  First down passing keeps Mathis off the field.

1st Defensive Drive

Corner pressure comes from Wright , Manning takes 1 on 1 shot to Wayne on McDonald.  McDonald makes a great play on the ball and beats Wayne to make the interception.

2nd Offensive Drive

1st Down pass leaves Stallworth wide open.  Anderson overthrows him by a bunch.  Not sure if wind impacted the throw.  This throw needed to be made to loosen up colts D.  Need to keep taking these strikes

Quick throw to Stallworth, picks up 4. 

3rd and 6.

Good blocking by both tackles.  Edwards again open on the slant (even though it was overplayed by Jennings).  Post corner route needs come soon.

Lewis breaks an 8 yard gain.  Good blocking by Line and Vickers.

Run to right, Colts get good penetration past Hadont (I think) which keeps it to 3rd and 2.

Rucker in game, lined up incorrectly and the Browns need to call a TO.

Cribbs run on Flash formation, goes for no gain b/c Chud asked Steptoe to block LB (not sure why that match-up didn’t work in our benefit).  He was only giving up 45-50 lbs to the guy he was supposed to block, and has showed absolutely no ability to block anyone all season.  Stallworth should have been the guy making that block.

2nd Defensive Drive

Single back trap right – Rodgers tackles him 8 yards down field.  Not sure where hole opened up.

Wimbley and Williams make tackle.

3rd and 1 – run right at Willie who gets pushed back 3 yards.

No huddle (again) Willie lined up inside (2 yard pass).  Wimbley, Rodgers, Williams only three guys coming to rush Manning

Trap left – Pool and Rodgers blow up play in backfield.

3rd and 6

Two backs in shotgun (man on outside, rush 4).  Great pass on a line to Wayne on McDonald and Jones.  Perfect pass.

Willie makes his play for the day, beating his guy (asked to come off next play) – run at Hall who gets pushed back too far.

(too many men on field) – Browns were tired and tried to make subs.

Gonzalez beats adams (not a good match-up for Browns).  This is the Holly injury biting them in the ass.

Rodgers beats two guys, keeps run to just 2 yards.

Manning goes after Wayne 1 on 1 with McDonald, good coverage.  Somehow Adams stayed with Gonzo.  Rodgers blocked by 3 guys.

3rd and 8.

Zone Blitz – McGinnest dropping.  Forces underneath pass which is dropped by Addai.

Rodgers gets through on FG attempt (again).  Missed left

3rd offensive Drive

I’d like to see rucker get into the game to see what we have there.

Run left – no room, picks up 1.

Anderson throws underneath to Lewis – pick up of 7 as he ran over a LB.

3rd and 2 – Steptoe on in route, picks up 3 for 1st down.  (Anderson locked on to him, thus no YAC)

Play action pass on 1st down – covered well downfield – Anderson throws it behind Lewis for an incomplete pass.

Lead draw to left,  Lewis picks up 5.  3rd and 4

Great pass blocking gives Anderson a lot of time.  Thrown incomplete to Hieden (again, locked in to that side of the field.)

Perfect punt by Zastudil.

3rd Defensive Drive

3 guys push Rodgers out of position, pick up of 5 by Rhodes. D looks a little tired.

Manning reads blitz coming (Browns showed it early) and hits Gonzo for 4.  Pool was slow getting to Gonzo in coverage.

3rd and 1.

All 3 DL pushed back, pick up of 4.

Single back run right.  Jackson makes a great play from ILB.  C. Williams kept lineman off of Jackson so Jackson could make the play.

Single back run left.  Strung out poorly by Smith, pick up of 6

3rd and 3

Incomplete pass from Manning to Wayne on crossing pattern.  McDonald takes inside route and Manning couldn’t get it to him.  Rodgers was in his face.

4th offensive drive

Run to right (pulled Steinbach) pick up of 2 – running game really not moving the ball at all.

Lead draw right, picks up 4, as Lewis beats two would be tacklers

3rd and 4 –

Trap right, Steptoe asked to block again.  Browns push Harrison to get extra yards and 1st down.  Great run by Wright.

Play action pass should come here. – they don’t and run it as Lewis picks up 2 over RG.

Run formation, play action pass.  Bootleg by Anderson who was helped by Rucker’s bock.  Hieden drops the ball b/c of a great hit by DB Hayden.

3rd and 8 –

Freeney pushed Thomas into Anderson again, beats him and knocks the ball out of Anderson’s hands.  Returned for TD by Colts.  I think having TE on Thomas’ side may be hurting Thomas more than helping hm (giving him more room to get momentum)

5th Offensive Drive

Good return by Cribbs negated by Hall’s block in back penalty – starting from 21 yard line instead of 31.  Need to open up the offense or it may not be back on the field again (9:45 left in game)

Incomplete pass on 1st down.

Over the middle to hieden on 2nd for 8 yards.

Big 3rd and 2. – empty backfield

                Wrong read by Anderson, but good catch by Rucker (on his back side)

Counter run with Lewis on 1st and 10.  Picks up 3.  No real room.  Again Steptoe asked to  block a bigger guy and can’t.  Colts down to 3rd MLB with another injury.  This needs to be exposed with pass over middle.

Lewis has room on draw play, but reads it wrong (should have been Harrison on that run)

3rd and 4.

Single back – complete pass to Hieden on an out for 6 yards.

Need to play fake on 1st down and look deep as there’s only 6:30 left in the game.  This drive is taking too long.

                They do, Anderson looks long but throws underneath to and Lewis who can’t handle it.

In twins I –formation, browns pick up 2 on Lewis run.  Not sure about this play call

3rd and 7 – tackles are key to conversion.  3 step drop isn’t enough time.

Miscommunication between Anderson and Heiden, leads to incomplete pass.  Thomas was knocked over by a twist by DE and DT.  Steinbach picked up Freeney well.  Thomas seems to be struggling a lot with bull rushes.  Will continue to watch this in coming weeks (this could also be attributed to playing against two top DE (Freeney /Mario Williams)

4th defensive drive

5:30 left – good chance Browns don’t get the ball back.  Need a 3 and out badly.  I’d come with pressure.

Single back – not blitz shown. – Adams blitzes and stops play in backfield.  Willie jumps offsides (on backside) to give Colts another shot

Single back -1st and 5.

                Willie holds the LOS really well on rush to his side.  No gain.

2nd and 4 shotgun.

                Nobody touches Wayne before he gets 5 yards, then catches the pass.  Needed to be pressed better

1st and 10

                Good play by Adams crashing down from slot, stops potential 8 yard gain to just 5 (3:30 left)

                Run for 3

                Right move by Crennel to not use the TO.  There’s no reason to use them at that point.

6th offensive position

2:00 minutes left – starting on 30

Great blocking by Tackles gives Anderson time – pick up of 5

Another throw underneath – dropped by Wright

                3rd and 5

7 yard pass to Wright – Tackles keeping Mathis/Freeney away from Anderson

Shaffer abused by Mathis , bull rushed and knocked over)– sacked for an 8 yard loss.  Hadnot should be looking to help him out, but this was Shaffers’s fault.

Dorsey in the game

                Throws great ball to Edwards who gets hit as he gets his hands on it.

                Throws a good ball on the run to Steptoe – who was out of bounds.

4th and 20

                Intercepted as pass was forced to Braylon.         



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One Response to “Browns v. Colts”

  1. Doug Says:

    I’m embarrassed to be associated with the fans who cheered when Anderson got hurt. As you said, DA’s going down is really bad for the team and cheering for an injury is just a low-class thing to do. I don’t see how things could get any worse for this team. Normally, I would want a change, but I’m sick and tired of starting over. This organization needs stability. I say bring everyone back and try to get better. Hopefully we’ll have better luck with the injuries. I know it’s tough, but Browns fans need to be more supportive.

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