Posts Tagged ‘Browns’

Browns v. Titans

December 8, 2008

Overall thoughts:

While the Titans are clearly a much better team than the Browns, I think, the score doesn’t accurately represent how close of a game this should have been.  The primary reason for this discrepancy was Crennel’s lack of aggressiveness in trying to win the game. 

In a theory more fully articulated by Greg Easterbrook, (ESPN writer), he speaks of the lack of aggressiveness NFL coaches have in going for it on 4th and less than 5 in between your 40 and the opponents 35.  His assertion, and backed with statistics rests on the fact that: 1) Teams convert about 40% of the time in these situations 2) Coaches of teams that do go for it on these situations have better records 3) going for it in these situations sends a message to the offense that you believe they can convert 4) going for it in these situations sends a message to your defense that you believe they can stop the opponent 5) Teams with bad defenses should go for it more often than teams with good defenses  – field position means less if you have a harder time stopping the other team (e.g. if you’re playing the Patriots last year and you have a bad defense, chances are they’re going to score anyway, therefore, you should maximize your opportunities with the ball) 6. Your playing calling on downs 1-3 would change (3rd and 7 is no longer a “passing down”, and thus a draw or 3 step drop which makes it 4th and less than 5 still gives you a good chance at converting  the 1st down. 7) Bad offenses benefit more than good ones do as an average of 2.6 yards per play is required for a first down, as opposed to 3.4.

As mentioned in previous posts, Crennel, unlike his mentor Belicheck, is extremely conservative, and hardly every goes for it in these situations.  I vowed never to judge decisions based on actual results (which is unknown at the time), and instead judging them an expected results, but will provide the results of this consequences of the lack of aggressiveness below. 

To explain this theory in a brief way, here’s an example: I have a bag with 100 balls in them.  70 of them are worth $100, the other 30, result in you losing $5.  Would you play this game?  Most people would answer “yes”.  If then, you pulled out a ball, and got one that said you lose $5, did you make the wrong decision to play the game?  By judging the decision with an expected value of $68.5 (7*100)-(.3*-5), you made the correct choice by playing the game, regardless of getting a bad result.  Said differently, if you had another opportunity to play the game, it’s likely that you’d play again.

Below recaps the wrong decisions made by the Browns staff, and the results.  Further, a 4-8 team with a coach trying to win to save his job (more on this later) should be more aggressive than an 11-1 team looking to make it into the playoffs healthy.  Regardless, the decision is wrong regardless of result.  I also want to point out, Zastudil, a top 5 punter in the league, had a horrible game.  Yet, the lack of aggressiveness can’t be blamed on him

1)      In the 2nd offensive drive, the Browns had the ball on the Titans 37 yard line, and punted on 4th and 4.

a.       Result – touchback à next play interception by D’Qwell (actually a positive result, but I don’t think you can credit the Browns for knowing that D’Qwell would get a pick)

2)       4th and 3 (right after Ten TD) on Ten 44 yard line

a.       23 yard punt, Tennessee starts with the ball on their own 21 yard line

3)       4th and 7 on the Titans 48 (this is outside the 4th and 5 creed, but the Browns were down 15 at this point in the game, and still 4-8 with a coach that is probably going to get fired if he doesn’t win out

a.       Punt results in touchback –

b.      Eric Wright recovers fumble forced by Corey Williams.  (again, I don’t think the Browns saw this as a predictable result

4)      4th and 10 on the 26 (again outside of 4th and 5 mantra), but you have to imagine that if the Browns had viewed this as 4 down territory, the 3rd and 10 call may have been different)

a.       Missed FG (Dawson is having an incredible season regardless of this miss)

5)      4th and 1 from the 37 – Up the middle to Vickers resulting in 1st down

6)      (same drive, beginning of 4th quarter) 4th and 9 from the 22 – down 21-6 at this point, still 4-8.  Again, a 4 down territory view of this possession may have made for a different play call on 3rd and 9.  This FG still left the Browns down two TDs

a.       FG good

7)      4th and 1 from own 24 (less than 9 minutes to play).  This is the ultimate in “I give up” by the Browns.  Not surprisingly, so did the special teams on the punt return and the defense on the next play

a.       Punt – returned 44 yards

b.      Next play TD

Conversely, Fisher went for it (with a play action pass) on 4th and 1, down 6 on the Browns 28.  Result, 28 yard TD.  I’m guessing the browns kick the field goal there.  To be fair, Fisher didn’t go for it on 4th and 1 from their own 41, but they were up 15 points at the time, and the Browns offense showed very little ability moving the ball.  Thus, punting is the correct decision.  Fisher also went for it on 4th and 2 from the Browns 6.  I’d argue there’s not just correlation between their record and his aggressiveness in 4th down play calling.

Now on to recaps:

QB

Hard to judge Dorsey in this game.  Pass blocking was atrocious, and not having Winslow certainly hurts.  I was impressed by his accuracy on short passes, but he missed some opportunities to hit Edwards deep.  Also, I loved the fact that he was able to call plays from the LOS, something Anderson is incapable of doing, and normally costs the Browns 10 seconds per play.  All in all, he’s probably a really good 3rd QB.  Able to start a game or two if need be because he’s smart enough to pick up the offense in a week.

RB

Impossible to judge this group.  They were unable to get any momentum going forward in this game as the Browns OL was destroyed (more on this below.  When your RBs carry the ball 13 times for 11 yards and one of them is a 5 yard gain, it’s not their fault.  The “Flash” formation worked well however as Cribbs went 6 carries for 24 yards.  Although calling the same play 3 times in a row hardly works

WR

Braylon again showed why he’s a great receiver in this game.  He’s very good at getting open on slants, and deep routes.  He dominated Nick Harper in this game, and he also blocks really well. He got his hand on one pass that he didn’t bring down, but he was the lone threat in the game on the Browns O.  One issue, I feel like he runs only 4 routes: 3 yard slant, 7 yard slant, 15 yard in, and a go route.  Some variability is needed to get open.  Likewise, Stallworth’s only catches seem to be on drag routes, and occasionally a deep ball will be thrown to him.  I feel like Chud uses a variety of formations to mask similar routes for his players.  Steptoe asked to block repeatedly again.  I have no idea what game film Chud’s watching when he decides it’s a good idea to do this again.

OL

Absolutely dominated by Ten.  Running game went nowhere, Dorsey spent every other pass play on his back or hurried.  I’m not sure what the issue was versus last year as this is the 8th game the group has played together (5th in a row).  Shaffer is clearly worse than tucker at RT.

Chud

Above I mentioned the frequency of similar pass routes, but there’s another issue.  When Harrison is in the game, and the WR to the strong side starts coming in motion towards the OL, it’s a sweep to Harrison, or a pass play where the motion WR runs a drag.

In 3rd and 2-4 yards, Braylon will line up by himself on one side and run a slant when the opponent tends to play man coverage.  Against teams that play zone, Winslow will be on his side and the two will run a slant/out combo route (Edwards with the slant).

In short yardage situations, and Vicker’s healthy, he gets the ball on a dive (I don’t remember a play action from this recently)

Defense

Actually played pretty well, and forced a bunch of turnovers.  The running defense can’t really be blamed since 1) this is the 2nd best running team in the league 2) We’re starting Shaun Smith, 3) The law firm plays a lot 3) McGinnest is horrible and holding contain 4) Alex Hall gets destroyed in running plays

DL

Rodgers is having a difficult time as teams realize he’s the real threat on the DL.  Williams played well, and just recently it’s surfaced that he’s been fighting a shoulder injury that could require surgery since week 3. 

LB

D’Qwell needs to be in the pro-bowl.  This was his coming out game, lost by the fact that the Browns offense didn’t win the game.  2 picks and almost a 3rd.  He had 12 solo tackles despite getting very little help from the DL in keeping blockers off of him.  To put this in perspective, the difference between the number of tackles he and Andra Davis have (62) versus NE (28 tackle difference between their ILBs) Pit (approx. 35 tackles as they rotate their ILBs more), Sand Diego (at best 15), SF (35) is dramatic. 

DBs

Not much to evaluate here, as it was so easy to run on the Browns that passing wasn’t a priority for the Titans.  Pool fell too hard for the play fake on 4th and 1, and Jones repeatedly did this.  Some bad angles on trying to catch Chris Johnson, but he’s probably the fastest RB in the league, so that’s expected.  Most of the time Johnson got to the outside, it was the OLB’s fault, not the DBs.

 

Browns v. Colts

December 2, 2008

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

Offense

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.

QB

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)

RB

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)

OL

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.

WR/TE

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.

Defense

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.

DL

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.

LB

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.

DB

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.         

 

Game 8 v. Denver

November 7, 2008

Browns v. Denver

 

Recap:

The offense played well, further analysis of Quinn’s work will be described in greater detail.  I’ll also refer you to Football Outsiders article: http://footballoutsiders.com/extra-points/instant-analysis-brady-quinn which also broke down his performance play by play.  In essence, we came to the same conclusion: Quinn makes, quick, not always correct reads, and adds mobility that Anderson doesn’t have.  He certainly forced less balls then Anderson, and made two or three that Anderson wouldn’t have made.

The defense was a joke.  Even with Smith, Rodgers and Williams, the run defense was terrible, and it seemed like the Browns had never seen a play action pass before (even though they saw at least 12 in the game today).  The corners were outmatched, as most teams would be by this receiver combination, but that isn’t an excuse for Jones missing coverage on the TD pass.  Obviously, the pass rush needs to improve, and that comes from getting a 3rd DL (outside of Rodgers and Williams) that can provide a pass rush (S. smith can’t do this, Robaire is better), and an OLB better than McGinnest at rushing the passer.  However, this was by far, Willie’s best game of the season, and he played above average.  I’m actually impressed.

QB

Analysis after 3 drives: He isn’t making all the right reads, and seems to be eager to get the ball out of his hands (not necessarily a bad thing à see Charlie Frye who loved getting sacked then trying to throw the ball).  He’s been throwing very accurately (which was a knock on him from college).  It will be interesting to see how he develops in the game.  He seems to not trust his pass protection.  This is probably a result of not having a “feel” for when the protection breaks down.  Also, having all three top passing threats helps (Anderson only had this once during the season, against the Redskins) Collinsworth has been giving a pretty accurate analysis, but I sense he wants Quinn to succeed.  In a related story, Collinsworth is the one of the best announcers in the league. They should find a way to have him call every game.  The only person I like more is Kosar.

1st half analysis: Quinn is playing well, probably made 1 play that Anderson wouldn’t have (3rd and 2 conversion).  Winslow’s bailed him out on two bad passes, and helped him with one TD score.  He makes very quick reads, which is a great sign, but may actually do better by holding on to the ball a little longer. Anderson tended to force balls and waited longer to throw.  Keep in mind Denver’s defense is horrible, and doesn’t have its best two players, Champ and Williams.  Champ’s the 1st or 2nd best corner in the league (Asomugha – Raiders).  I think Anderson probably would have put up similar numbers

2nd half analysis: More of the same mentioned above, with two more notes: 1) His ability to move slightly in the pocket and avoid pressure is incredibly impressive based on two factors a) first real game in a long time b) Tucker can’t block Dumervil.  2) I absolutely loved him taking full fault for the loss.  This is what leaders do.  He covered for bad play calling, and dropped passes.  The team will get behind him because he’s willing to take the blame for other people.

Overall Analysis: Pretty much what I had anticipated.  He makes quick, above average reads and has incredible pocket presence.  I think his performance was helped by a bad opponent, and a full arsenal of playmakers (Anderson never had both of these in combination this year), but he certainly did things Anderson couldn’t. I still feel that it may have been the wrong time to bench Anderson.  I’d have rather seen Anderson put up these numbers, and also lose to Denver to give the browns more trade leverage.  Now we have to hope that the Browns can package Anderson for a #2 based on his performance last year, and someone paying close attention to the lack of support he had this year.

RB

Another pretty good game for Lewis, but most of the credit goes to the OL who opened monster holes all game.  I’m shocked that Harrison didn’t play more in the 2nd half, especially as the change of pace seemed to be working in the 1st half.  Cribbs is a great open field runner, no surprise here, but I was still impressed with his ability to run by, around and through would be tacklers

WR/TE

Braylon made 1 catch, and almost made another one that would have been incredible.  No fault of his on this game, however, with Champ out, I’m surprised the Browns didn’t attack Dre Bly more.  Please keep in mind (and this is mentioned in my comments below, that this was only the 2nd time this year that Winslow, Stallworth and Edwards all played. Winslow had a monster game, and anyone who beats him up for the drop needs to shut up because he made three incredibly catches earlier in the game (two throws at his feet, and the third on a tipped ball that ended up behind him).  Heiden blocks well, and did a good job getting open (and helping others get open)

OL

A very good game in run blocking, dragged down by McKinney’s mediocre performance replacing Steinbach.  Pass blocking was great for 4 of the players, but Shaffer was absolutely terrible against Dumervil .  He was beaten routinely on inside moves, and luckily Quinn made plays.

DL

 A below average performance against the run, and a horrible performance in rushing the passer.  Rodgers wasn’t a dominant we’re now used to, and it could be the affect of the rib injury that listed him as questionable (he may have problems breathing).  The law firm was terrible in subbing in, save for Leonard showing some promise in rushing the passer.

LB

It was shocking how often they were faked out by play action fakes by a team that’s below average at best against the run.  It got to the point where they should have assumed play-fake, before run.  Jackson was ok in coverage, I don’t remember seeing Wimbley make any good plays (he was unblocked on his sack).  McGinnest played well, even when dropped into coverage, but completely whiffed on a sack.  Hall played sparingly, I’m not sure why.

DB

Pool played exceptionally well again, even when manned up on a 3rd receiver.  Either Wright blanketed whoever he was covering, or McDonald couldn’t guard anyone.  Either way, McDonald was exposed as an average coverage guy.  Regardless, he made some really good tackles, except for one miss when he had contain on a sweep.  Sean Jones is too keen on stopping the run (could be b/c he doesn’t trust the front 7), but it was his, not McDonald’s fault on the 92 yard TD.)

 

Drive by Drive recaps below:

Defense Drive 1:

Play 1 Browns were totally surprised by play fake.  Pool jumped the run.  McGinnest did a good job of reading the play (or could have just been slow reaction to run fake).

2nd play straight play fake. .  . could the Broncos see some overreaction tendencies or think we’re scared of the running game.  McDonald almost made a great play, but he was beat and the ball should have been caught.  Not too surprising, Willie was a step late on the pressure (even though he was unblocked)

McGinnest makes a decent play, holding contain on the one run.  Very little pass rush, only rushed 3. . . Jones didn’t blitz when he saw max protect from the TE.  Very surprised they didn’t attack the Browns on the ground more.  Rodgers looks a little off, listed as questionable for the game (ribs)

 

Offense Drive 1

You could have placed a $1 million bet that we’d run on 1st down.

Good to see the starting Winslow, Stallworth and Edwards all starting for only the 2nd time all season.  It figures that it happened with 2 lineman hurt.  Quinn made wrong read on 1st pass, he had the out wide open. Good throw to Steptoe.  Sucks that he can’t break a tackle (probably b/c he’s 185 lbs and shouldn’t be in the league)

Defense Drive 2

Cribbs is incredible on special teams, great tackle.

Good to have Shaun Smith back at full strength.  He made a great play not only occupying two guys, but also making the play. 3 play fakes in 6 plays.  . . They’re anticipating an incredibly aggressive defense against the run. Good play by Wright coming off block on WR screen.  McDonald got turned around in coverage.  He made up for crappy coverage by making a good tackle. Lots of play fakes. . . Willie did a good job reading that one.

Wimbley did a good job coming off blocks, Rubin and Thomas were both in, thus the 4 yard gain on 2nd and 3.  There’s a huge step down when any members of the law firm (Rubin, Thomas, and Leonard) are in

Wright made a bad play on covering Royal. 

Good stop on 1st down near the goal line.  This is where the 3 330+ guys come in handy

Denver did a good job doubling Rodgers on the TD score

 

Quick Summary: Browns have to trust that front 7 will stop run.  These are two really good WR, it will be interesting if we stay man to man.  I don’t think we have the CBs to do this (I don’t think many teams do). 

For anyone not watching the game, Shaun Rodgers can dunk a basketball forwards and back.  He’s listed at 6’4 350.  If he weighs 350 lbs, I weight 165.

Offense Drive 2

Cribbs was really close at breaking the return.  He’s very good at reading his blocks.  Very good job in re-signing him this offseason.  It’s hard to replace a good return man who’s also a gunner (that’s two roster slots)

I love how Donte’ doesn’t back away from hits.  Good route, good catch.

Lewis is a good runner, but sometime he runs a little too low. I’m nitpicking b/c I was so wrong in thinking he was done after last year.  Great block by Dinkins

Lewis is scary when he gets to 2nd level.  He’s a beast.  .  Browns can run pretty well against the Broncos (most teams can)

It’s good to see Fraley get some push on goal line (he can’t beat bigger guys, but is stronger than guys his size)

I don’t get a pitch play to Lewis, struggles inside the 5 continue. . . I don’t know why they don’t split Braylon and Winslow and throw a fade, especially without Champ on the field.

Great job sticking in the pocket by Quinn, and a beautiful pass.  Dumervil embarrassed Shaffer, who somehow is getting worse as the season progresses.  He belongs at guard.  The browns need to draft a RT who can pass protect.

Defense Drive 3

Someone explain to me how Cribbs is in on every special teams tackle.

Again a play fake.  . . Davis was fooled and kept coming.  Still playing man to man on defense.

The stretch play worked b/c Davis overran the whole, and Leonard got beat (down)

Better coverage by the browns in a zone.

Good play by McGinnest, not sure why it was 5 yards down field. 

McGinnest got decent pressure (probably his best game this year) although he gave Cutler the corner.

Terry cousin dropped a pick because he shouldn’t be in the league

Offense Drive 3

Great blocking by the line.  I’m getting a Hadnot jersey.  Not sure why Steptoe was in the backfield expected to block (he dove in front of his guy well)

I like the screen.  Not sure why Collinsworth is living in Quinn’s jock strap.  He’s made 1 good read and 1 bad one, and threw two short passes to open receivers.  This is praise worthy?

Great moves making two guys fall down by Harrison on the run .  Heiden and Shaffer made great blocks.  Maybe it’s a Hieden jersey (depends on how many years he has left on his contract.)

Thomas can lock down a defensive lineman.    He’s great.

Cribbs had a great block, this is what Steptoe couldn’t do the beginning of the season.

Good pass by Quinn, but that would have been an incredible catch by Braylon.

Great block by Edwards on the crack back.  It’s good to see him throwing his body around.  People who horse collar tackle should be shot.

Again, decent run by the browns, look for a reverse soon

Quinn made a good pass in overthrowing Edwards.  Made a bad read (#2), but knew to throw it more or less uncatchable

Again another bad read (#3) on forced pass to Heiden.  He had Wright on the flank.

Defense Drive 4

Cribbs made another tackle on special teams.  I wonder how many guys are assigned to block him and how he always beats them.

Hall bit hard on the play flake (I’ve lost count, I think number 8, good play by wright in coverage

Hold on the Broncos (TE couldn’t block Shaun Smith 2 on 1 with tackle).  Which was an impressive play by Smith.  He’s not a top DL, but he’s a legitimate starter.  With him in the league 5 years, Williams, 5 years, and Rodgers 8, the DL should be good for the next two.

Bad throw by Cutler, not sure who he was looking for (on Pool interception).  Great job hiding the coverage.  It looked like man to start but switched to a two 2 deep prior to the snap.  Could be why Cutler misread the coverage.

Offense Drive 4

Ali isn’t as good a blocker as Vickers, and wasn’t able to open the hole on 1st down.

Again, Quinn seems to be very quick to get rid of the ball.  I’d like to see him hold on to the ball longer to see what opens up.  It was a good throw to Heiden

Good pass by Quinn, great play by Winslow beating the coverage to score

 

Defense Drive 5

I think the Broncos are getting away with holds

Big hole opened up.  .. Davis over ran in

DL is giving up yards now. . . not sure how they’re moving them so much.

Slip screen to TE (with McGinnest guarding him).  Willie wasn’t within 10 yards of making the play

2 of 3 lawyers in. . . running game not getting stopped. This isn’t a coincidence.

D’Qwell didn’t know who Torrain was a day before the game.  I’m certain that there were millions of fantasy owners who did, and this isn’t their full time job… that’s an issue.  Get in the film room Jackson. 

Not much pressure, again on a play fake.  Wimbley didn’t get good hands on the TE (who made the catch) off the line

McDonald wiffed on a tackle.  One of the few misses on the year for him

Another play fake (with the Broncos 5th RB in) that the Browns bit on.  Luckilly, Daniel Graham can’t catch

Willie completely missed on an easy sack.  He sucks.  

For some reason, Crennel accepted the offensive pass interference penalty (3rd and 8 on the 15),  This is just stupid.  Crennel is an idiot for accepting that penalty.

 

Offense Drive 5

Winslow makes a great catch on an under throw by Quinn.  Shaffer beat again by Dumervil.

Decent blocking on the right side.  Shaffer is a good run blocker.

Quinn makes really good quick reads.  Exceptional 3rd and 2 conversion, looking off Winslow and throwing to Heiden.  Anderson doesn’t make that play.  (the 1st one of the day that showed why he’s better than Anderson).  Nothing was impressive before then.

Again, another way too quick throw by Quinn, he had plenty of time and forced it – although with the way Tucker is (not) blocking Dumervil, I understand this hesitation.  Winslow bails him out on the catch (absolutely incredible catch)

I have no idea what Crennel was doing letting the clock run down.  He’s an idiot.  Just because Dawson made the kick, doesn’t make it the right call.  At 4th and 2 from the opponents 35 you go for it.

Defense Drive 6

 Great job kicking it through the end zone on the KO.

Loved that hall was in (not McGinnest) on Denver’s two minute drive – Hall subsequently pulled.

Prevent defense is ok.  . .but they need to get more pressure on Cutler with the 4 rushers.  McGinnest can’t do.

I love Shaun Rodgers getting back and making tacklers after pass rushing.

Great tipped pass by Williams.

Rodgers cheated on a pass rush, and got caught on the Cutler run.

Great pass rush by McGinnest and Leonard, Pool made another great play in coverage.  Marshall alligator armed that pass.

1st half summary – not QB

Lewis and Harrison combination looks pretty good, and the OL is opening up holes.  Shaffer is having huge issues stopping Dumervil’s inside move, but the rest of the line looks good.  Again, the team got stopped a couple of times inside the 5, but Fraley’s getting a better push than in other games (probably due to the size of the defense)

On the defense, the team is routinely getting faked out badly by play action passes.  The run defense is ok, but the law firm is playing a lot.  Leonard actually looked good in pass rush, and he should be the 3rd lineman out there (not Shaun smith) in obvious pass situations.  CBs are doing poor in man coverage, but these are two very good WRs.

 

2nd half

1st offensive drive

Good start to 2nd half, Brady put the ball on money to Edwards, who made a great move on the slant (and catch). Lewis had a decent run, not much push by McKinney.  They running with more success to the right, b/c McKinney doesn’t move people, just earns a draw at best.  Quinn’s pass to Ali was behind him, which forced the carry for no gain. 2nd time Quinn faced 3rd and long, he did an incredible job of avoiding an unblocked defender and finding the open receiver (Stallworth).  This is a play Anderson doesn’t make.   Quinn did a good job stepping up in the pocket and forced a ball to Braylon (good play by Dre Bly).  Great direct snap play to Cribbs who made the LB look like McGinnest (whiff on an open field tackle). Another good job by Quinn moving in the pocket. Ali made a terrible block that allowed Lewis to get tackled for a loss. Again, Quinn threw the pass too early and missed Winslow – again probably due to not having a good feel for timing, results in field goal

1st defensive drive

Another play action pass, another totally surprised browns defense and bad man to man coverage on the corners.  Stopped the run to the 6th string (7th round pick) RB. Another play action pass, with a perfect throw and catch. Good coverage by D’Qwell. Good run defense, Rodgers took on two guys, and kept the play on the – side of the LOS. Good pass from Cutler on slant, good coverage by Pool, with an even better tackle. Broncos shouldn’t be able to run over the Browns like that. (3 on 2 blocking), gave them the 1st down and 4 yards on 3rd and 1.  Same play, same result.  . Rodgers is tired. (and now hurt)  This is the worst possible injury for the Browns.  This means the law firm plays way too much.  Hopefully he comes back.

Bad snap. . Heads up play by Cutler to down it. McDonald made a great play in 1 on 1 coverage on Marshall. 

Not sure why he’s guarding Marshall 1 on 1, but that’s a different story.

2nd offensive Drive

Cribbs is a very good return guy. He’s fearless, and reads his blocks well.

Decent run by Lewis to the right, for 1 yard gain.  Hole opened by Heiden and Shaffer.

Bad pass by Quinn to Edwards on the out.  Big 3rd down coming up.  3rd time he’s faced this (1 success, 1 failure so far) Winslow makes an unbelievable catch on a tipped ball (Anderson’s pass doesn’t get tipped)

Play action pass, left Lewis open.  Quinn looked deep briefly then threw underneath to open receiver.  On next play Lewis, for a change, doesn’t knock over the DB in the hole .  Leaves 3rd and 4 which the Browns run a sweep to Harrison (weird call)

I like the aggressiveness on going for it on 4th and 1.  Great effort by Lewis.  I love the fact that it was a quick snap.  Collinsworth gave Ali credit for a good block but he missed it.  On the next play he missed again. (Vickers is much better)

I don’t get how WR (Edwards) jump offside.  Just look at the ball, then run.

Another quick read by Quinn, throwing to the open Heiden.  It’s again a quick, underneath pass.  It’s tough to compare Quinn to Anderson b/c they seem to be calling different types of plays.  Regardless, Chud seems to have a good feel for what works and what doesn’t with Quinn

Great pass on the run by Quinn to Edwards.  Great catch by Edwards. (called back on Winslow penalty). Slip screen from Quinn to Stallworth on 3rd and 16.  I don’t get this play.  I’d like to see them try and get Braylon isolated downfield.

 

2nd Defensive Drive

They show the Drive prior to the play, then the Broncos throw a 92 yard touchdown, McDonald beat by Royal.  The NFL network needs to get kicked in the balls.  If they show the fumble then we fumble, I’m sending a letter to the NFL.  Collinsworth did a great job of pointing out that Jones was also at fault for not dropping in coverage.  Not sure why he was sitting on the run (fear of the 6th string running back breaking one?)

3rd Offensive Drive

Cribbs is an incredible return guy.   Have I mentioned it before?

Good play fake (they had set this up earlier) but everyone was covered.

Thomas could have done better in blocking downfield on a sweep to Harrison

Good pass to Winslow, on his back shoulder.  Even better job of the broncos forcing the fumble. I’m writing a letter to the league.  This is entirely my fault.

3rd Defensive Drive

Cutler great pass to Scheffler (he throws really well on the run).  Just missed the catch.  By the way, it was a play fake.

Good pressure by Smith, Would have been a great defensive play by McDonald if he made the pick (WR smacked him on the head)

No pressure on the next play.  4 guys rushing that didn’t move the line at all.  McGinnest is terrible in coverage. 15 yard completion results

Kamerion was unblocked to get the sack.  Hard to believe only number 2 on the season.

Good job of Cutler avoiding the rush.  Pool made a great play on the ball.  Broncos made a better play and made the catch

Willie makes a great play on the line, beating a crack back block.  Clearly his best game of the year

Good pass rush again by both Rodgers and Willie.  Cutler is taking advantage of the smaller coverage guys on the Browns.

Daniel Graham beat two tackles (D’Qwell/Adams) to score a TD.  Very good stiff arm by Graham.

4th offensive drive

 Bad read on 1st play by Quinn.  He had three open guys and needed to give them another half second to clear the coverage.  Threw it to the most covered guy.

Great reverse to Cribbs.  He’s a real weapon that Chud is using very well.  He runs really hard and isn’t afraid to knock someone over.  This is the reverse that I saw coming earlier

Good block by both Thomas and surprisingly Steptoe, to get 3 yards on a sweep.

Shaffer beat again by Dumervil, browns need to give him some help.  Winslow looked fast on the route.

Woodyard (LB for Broncos) has been impressive.  Stayed at home and makes the play on another Cribbs reverse.

Another great job of Quinn getting away from the pass rush (Shaffer again getting beat). 

Good slant by Stallworth, comes up a yard short.  Big short yardage play coming up.  Browns have been bad all season in this situation. 

Same play, almost same result, but Lewis fought through Thomas to get in.

4th defensive Drive

Good to see Rodgers back in the game. 6th RB just ran over Wimbley (who, in fairness, was coming off a block).  Wimbley needs to bulk up.  Another great play by McGinnest who fought off a block and came inside.  Defensive holding called (didn’t see it on reply)

Corey Williams with another deflection (which was actually unfortunate b/c Jackson had position and may have picked it off if it got through.  Not complaining about the deflection

Broncos play fake, Browns don’t bite and make a great play (McGinnest!!!!) in coverage.

Gave Cutler too much time, gets to 4th and 1.  Huge stop needed à Great penetration, but Hillis (rb) made a good play, and Marshall got enough of Jones to let him through for the 1st down.

1st down, 3 man pass rush – zone covered everyone

2nd down, 4 man pass rush – zone left hole for TE – 8 yards

Quick snap hurts browns as cutler runs for 1st

Again only 3 guys rushing (I don’t think the browns think they can play man on the edges) and b/c of that, very few blitzes, leads to a 12 yard completion.

QB draw just went for 20 yards, Rodgers not on the field.  They’d been in zone before, were in man for this play, leading to the long run.

McDonald makes great play 1 on1 with Marshall to deflect pass in the end zone.

Came back to the same play, and McDonald couldn’t stop him again in the end zone.  McDonald normally does better against bigger WR than Wright does, but Marshall is a very good WR.  Might have been a hold on Wimbley’s inside move, but wasn’t called.

5th offensive Drive

65 yards to go  – Quinn’s first big drive

Good read to winslow underneath.  . . Horse collar should have been called but wasn’t.  Quinn moves really well in the pocket.

Quinn moved to early away from the pocket on 2nd down. 

On 3rd down, makes a bad throw to wright, at his feet.

Winslow had the ball go right threw his hands.  Played a very good game, bad time to drop the pass.

 

Week 8 v. Jags, with comments on rumored trades

October 27, 2008

Game Recap:

Overall summary:

As said in week one of these posts, Shaun Rodgers is a beast.  He’s clearly the best player on the Browns defense (may not be saying too much), however, he’s also probably one of the top 10 defensive players in the league, and I can’t think of many DL that I’d rather have over him.  Certainly, this wasn’t a flawless win, as the Browns still have some issues to address, but I’ll take it.

Again, I watched the game at BW3, this time banished to a small TV in the corner, so this week’s assessment will be below average.

Offense

This wasn’t the 2007 Browns offense, but it was very effective against a good team with one major exception.  But first, the good news. . . very few offensive penalties.  For a team that shot itself in the foot against the Giants two weeks ago, this is a drastic improvement.  In addition, the line played exceptionally well except near the goal line.  As mentioned last week, the primary issue seems to be Fraley’s inability to get any push after snapping the ball.  He routinely gets pushed back a yard or two, which, I’m guessing is a result of 1 of 2 issues: 1) He’s not quick enough out of his stance (I don’t think this is it, otherwise it would be an issue in other areas of the field 2) He doesn’t have the bulk to hold his ground.  If it’s number 2, there really isn’t much the team can do to solve this problem this season.  I think the team needs to rely on play action fakes on early downs near the goal line, spread the field and run Lewis underneath, or split both Winslow and Braylon out and have them make plays.

QB

Anderson played about as well as he can.  Great pass to Edwards downfield, and the right read to Steptoe when the blitz was coming.  The fumble was clearly his fault, Thomas and the rest of the OL gave him about 5 second to throw, and he should have been able to get rid of it.  Also, he seems incredibly hesitant to run.  I understand we’re not talking about the best running QB in the league, but on a couple of bootlegs, he seemed to have enough room to pick up 5-6 yards, and instead, forced passes.

RB

Almost a perfect game by this group.  Jamal ran hard as always, and Wright and Vickers did their jobs in pass protection, running, and receiving.  Harrison still looks a little hesitant to lower his head when there isn’t a gaping hole for him to run through.

TE/WR

Stallworth seems to be providing the legitimate 3rd option the Browns were hoping for, and obviously not having Winslow on the field hurts (see ineffectiveness inside the red zone).  Edwards looked good on his deep catch, but again, dropped an easy ball.  Hieden seems to be an effective starting TE, especially because he’s a better blocker than Winslow, but it’s obvious his hands aren’t as good, nor is he as fast as Winslow.  As stated before, Rucker’s development will be the key to what the Browns do with Winslow in the offseason.

OL

 A very good game for this group again, except for near the goal line. Hadnot seems to be finding his place as the starter at RG.  Because I got to the game late and missed the introductions, I’m not sure if Tucker or Shaffer started.  Regardless, the group played well as a unit, and kept rushers out of Anderson’s face

DL:

Rodgers is incredible, the law firm of Thomas, Leonard and Rubin seemed to play reasonably well against a team the historically runs the ball well.  Keep in mind, the Jags are without both starting guards due to injury, so this doesn’t mean that the law firm has gotten better, but rather, the completion got worse.

Willie McGinnest sucks section

Willie is now the king of getting to the QB two steps late.  The Browns for some reason also believe that he’s the ideal defender to run a stunt (start at left DE, rush at right DT) with in obvious passing situations.  Further, he had an incredible ole’ move on Gerrard on Gerrard’s first long ruin of the day.  If you watch the replay, you can actually see Willie run right past him, making almost no effort to slow Gerrard down, let alone tackle him. 

As a result, Alex Hall should be the one playing in these situations.  He may not have the size to power rush a guard or tackle, but at least he applies more pressure than McGinnest’s patented pass rush move of:  take 2 steps  forward, put hands up.

LBs:

We have a Beau Bell sighting.  That was him stripping the ball on the kick return.  I’d like to see the Browns play him a lot more in the coming weeks as the team needs to make a decision whether or not they need to draft another ILB to replace Andra Davis.  (You can assume the Browns want 3 starters at that position, and they’re hoping Bell will be the 3rd).  Davis’ contract is up at the end of the season.  One surprising personnel decision has been keeping Davis in on passing situations and dropping him into coverage.  I know Leon is terrible in coverage, but I’d like to see what Jackson can do, since he’s quicker than Andra.

Wimbley and Hall didn’t do much.  This will obviously be the 1st area the Browns address this offseason. I did see a spin move by Wimbley, which it appears only took him 3 years to perfect.

DBs

If you read the previous posts before, you know I’m a huge fan of Pools, and again he played well.  However, do not discount Sean Jones ability to step up in the running game.  I’m certainly not putting him on the same level as Bob Sanders, but he routinely gets involved in stopping running plays close to the line of scrimmage.  I’m surprised the Jags didn’t notice this, and try expose Jones’ tendency by going over his head with a play action pass.

Wright and McDonald did about as good a job as they can do when they’re covering guys that are at least 6 inches taller and 40-60 lbs heavier than them.  Matt Jones presents a very tough match-up for any team, but an especially tough one for the Browns as both corners are undersized.  I do have to call out Reggie Williams (jags WR) for his ability to celebrate after just every catch.  I’m not sure how many catches he has this season, or in his career, but judging by his reaction after making plays, I’m guessing he’s never caught more than 3 in a game for over 15 yards.  

On another positive note, Terry Cousins only got burned once, due to the following factors:

1)      The browns had him matched up against Dennis Northcutt

2)      Dennis Northcutt isn’t good

3)      The Jags don’t have a better 3rd WR than Dennis Northcutt

It will be interesting to see as the season progresses how the Browns fare against teams with the following two strengths:

1)      Good running game

2)      Legit 3rd WR

 

As requested by a reader, here are my thoughts on the rumored Browns trades from last week:

First, my stance on any offseason moves comes down to a couple of words.  In Savage I trust.  He’s made some extremely savvy moves over the last couple of years that have put the Browns in a significantly better shape then he got them in, and for the 1st time in a while, the team actually has tradable assets (Droughns doesn’t count).  Further, he’s been an absolutely masterful in the draft, in that only two picks really stand out as busts (Travis Wilson and Charlie Frye).  Needless to say, one could look further north to Detroit and see what a bad talent evaluator does to a team’s chances.

Thus, I’m 100% behind both of his decisions to not make the trade in the below two rumored scenarios. Because of this, I will leave my commentary to what I think his decisions mean to his perspective on the team.

Scenario 1: Rumored trade of Quinn to Vikings for #1 in 2010, and #1 in 2009.

First, to put this trade into present value, it equates to a #1 and a #2 in 2009.  This means that the Browns would essentially be trading Quinn for exactly what they paid for him, except they paid him a bunch of money to sit on the bench.  I think this trade means one of four things: 1) Savage isn’t totally sold on Anderson as the starting QB 2) Savage doesn’t think that Dorsey is a real #2 QB, and doesn’t like the prospects of potentially having to bring someone like Culpepper to Cleveland 3) He likes Quinn a lot, and think if he plays this year he’ll be worth more than a #1 and a #2.   4) He thinks Quinn is the answer at QB long term, and believes he’s better off getting a #2 for Anderson this offseason.

Also keep in mind that if Quinn is very good, and the Vikings turn into a contender, he’d be getting a late round pick in both drafts.  On the flip side, there is ABSOLUTELY 0 value in getting a top 6 pick in the draft.  The guaranteed money is too big, so the picks have no way of helping the team more than paying a proven veteran the same amount (would you rather have Shaun Rodgers or a guy 4 years younger that may or may not pan out, but cost you the same amount of money. )  Thus, if Brady doesn’t pan out, the Browns are stuck with a very high draft pick.

Savage loses nothing by holding on to Quinn until the end of the season, where he can guarantee that he can get the same deal or better, without serious risk of the trade biting him in the ass.

 

Scenario 2: Rumored trade of Winlsow for a #2 in 2009

This is another interesting situation where I think Savage believes one of the following 3 things:

1)      K2 is worth more in the offseason after playing the season healthy.  The most valuable picks are the 1st 5 or 6 in the 2nd round (1st round talent at 2nd round price).

2)      He’s unsure if Rucker, Heiden, and Dinkins are a legitimate answer to the TE position.  Trading Winslow before you know what you have in Rucker is a scary thought

3)      Kellen won’t want a new deal at the end of this season (I don’t think this is the reason at all)

 

Please feel free to leave comments, and please forward this e-mail to friends/family that would be interested.

 

Browns v. Giants Week 6

October 14, 2008

Injuries

TE/WR:  Jurevicious, Winslow

OL: Shaffer

LB: Peak

DB: Holly, Jones

DL: R. Smith, S. Smith

I think Beau Bell is back, but didn’t see him on the field at all.

 

Overall recap:

It’s amazing what getting close to the starting offensive line, and your #2 WR does for an offense.  Tucker was incredible in pass protection, and he and Hadnot made running to the right side as effective as running left.  Heiden was very effective in Winslow’s role, especially in blocking on running plays.  Stallworth drew the attention of the defense.  Despite an obscene amount of penalties, the offense looked very good.  In addition, Cribbs was finally healthy, which allowed the offense to be a little more adventurous.

On the defensive side, the DB’s looked great in tackling WRs and made some very good reads.  However, the team has a huge issue in guarding #3 receivers (Cousins can’t stay with anyone) which is why the Holly injury was enormous.  In addition, the Browns better pray that Shaun Smith comes back, because his back-ups Lenard, Thomas, and Rubin (not a bad law firm name), were atrocious.

Also keep in mind that Eli is nowhere near the QB that Peyton is, despite what the announcers says.  He’s an above average QB who has a tendency to throw off target passes, and not look off coverage (see Pools’, and Wright’s INTs.

QB

This was a great game for Anderson, and an ideal opponent.  The Giants like blitzing, and playing man to man behind it.  Anderson has a good arm, and can read whether or not a guy is open in man coverage pretty well.  I’m shocked that the Giants continued to blitz and play man coverage despite little or no success in doing it. 

RB

Lewis gets and deserves a lot of press for his running, but the real key to the passing game on Monday was Wright’s ability to pick up blitzes and Harrison’s hands out of the backfield.

WR/TE

Braylon played like he’s able.  He dominated smaller DBs, and made the catches that he’s supposed to.  Stallworth provided a decent 2nd threat, but more importantly, he’s actually a very good blocker.  As mentioned above, Heiden blocked well, but isn’t the receiving threat that Winlsow is.  Dinkins needs to be cut as soon as Rucker gets back.  Yes he caught at TD, but he also dropped two catchable balls and isn’t a great blocker

OL

This was a coming out party for the OL.  They won this game hands down.  They manhandled the Giants on running plays, and stopped just about every blitz in its tracks.  It will be interesting to see what happens when Shaffer returns from injury (they obviously can’t replace Tucker, but I’m not sure if Shaffer is better than Hadnot).  On Monday, Hadnot looked great.  One other comment, Fraley is exceptional in getting downfield and making blocks.  One knock on the team’s best lineman, Joe Thomas, is that if he hustled more on Harrison’s reverse, it would have been a TD.  That’s nitpicking, but there weren’t a lot of flaws with this group.

DL
This is an enormous problem.  Williams and Rodgers played well, but the aforementioned law firm of Lenard, Thomas and Rubin were horrible.  Routinely they were getting blocked at least 5 yards down field.  Granted were talking about 3 guys that shouldn’t be playing more than a combined 10 snaps a game.  This is the teams 5th, 6th, and 7th DL.  Normally, 3-4 teams only carry 6 guys.  Their background, if you’re not aware is: a guy that was cut from the Rams (Lenard), a 7th round draft pick this year (Rubin), and I don’t know anything about Thomas.  Basically, these guys need to learn how to get on the ground when they’re being blocked this well, because it cuts off LB pursuit.

LBs

Measuring the LBs success when the DL lineman are in your face is tough. . . More of what was said before can be said again.  They appear to be good tacklers, although D’Qwell needs to bulk up a little more to take on guards and people like Brandon Jacobs.  Pass rush from this group was non-existant.  McGinnest made his one good play of the day (kind of, he didn’t wrap up), but as usual, was more of a detriment than a benefit.  Hall looked good in pass rush, but needs to put on weight this offseason to replace Willie full time in pass rush situations

DBs

Can’t say enough about how well these guys tackled.  McDonald was a steal in the 5th round, and somehow plays better against bigger guys than he does against small ones.  Wright looked good in coverage, and made a great move on Eli to take the INT for a TD.  Pool is definitely the safety to keep this offseason (letting Jones go).  As mentioned before, he’s great in coverage, and good enough against the run.   Not having a 3rd CB is an issue.  Teams that can put a good 3rd WR on the field will kill the browns, and there’s really no immediate solution to this.

Coaching:

All in all a good game by the staff.  No major clock management issues by Crennel, but the offensive penalties need to stop.  Chud called a great offensive game, and I’m sure he was the happiest person in the stadium to have Tucker and Stallworth back.  The defense was aggressive, and learned how to time their blitzes better in the 2nd half than in the 1st half (and most of the season)

 

Drive by drive recaps below:

 

First offensive drive

                Braylon looked good – with a great stiff arm.  You can tell not all of his speed is back.  Tucker is blocking much better than Shaffer both on runs and passes.  Anderson can’t read a zone near the goal line, which isn’t new.  Lewis is running hard, again, not surprising.  Got to stop jumping offside

First defensive drive

                Why McGinnest was on a stunt shocks me.  It’s moving a liability on the end to the middle.  Not surprisingly it did nothing.  Next play he waves at a ball in coverage.  Not sure why he’s dropping in coverage, he sucks at doing that.   Pool made a great read on the INT, and an even better play on the ball.

 

2nd offensive Drive

                Great block by Thomas freed Cribbs on the wildcat formation.  Lewis is relatively nimble on his catch in open space.  It looked like Giants knew what was coming on the first unbalanced line, they were ready for the run.  Steinbach did a great job on a trap block, but that’s expected from him. Got to stop jumping offside.  I think the giants saw the WR screen coming, and Heiden was slow coming out on the block (winslow probably would have gotten there).  Again, a healthy Cribbs makes a lot of difference.  I also don’t get why the giants are staying in man coverage, as opposed to playing zone. Tucker is much better than Shaffer in pass blocking

2nd defensive drive

                Very good coverage by Adams on a tough to guy to guard, TE Boss.  Giants just realized that the browns are starting their #5 defensive lineman, and got a pancake.   Great route by S. Smith, beat McDonald, he seems to struggle with quicker guys.  Again, giants going at LDE, who was blocked 8 yards down field.

3rd offensive drive

                Great slant go route by Braylon.  Then the Browns don’t get the bext play off, maybe they were in shock.  Not new, but Anderson doesn’t look, he just assumes people are open (jump pass near end zone).  Lewis touchdown – thank god Tucker is back, Hadnot looks better with him

3rd defensive

                Great play by Wright in coverage breaking up pass to Plax.  Rodgers only guy who gets pressure, and the team needs to time blitzes better – it’s been an issue all year.  The Giants can make line calls when they see this, and Eli’s smart enough to make adjustments.  Again Rodgers is a beast (always been a great pass rusher)

4th offensive

                Vickers is not good at reading holes, but that’s not new.  Joe Thomas is great at run blocking, he doesn’t get enough credit for this.  Great catch by braylon on the slant.  Tucker’s pancake leads to 4 yard gain.  Interesting to see how much value Winslow is losing in this game.  He’s a huge asset in the red zone, but they seem to be replacing his game breaking threat with Stallworth, and Hieden takes the underneath stuff (switch from last year with Joe going underneath and Winslow going deep).  I know the Giants like to blitz on 3rd down, but they should just play zone against Anderson.

4th defensive

                No pressure from the line.  Jackson good taclker, needs to get stronger – as he tends to get dragged.  Why is Willie in coverage? To get holding penalties and still give up a completion.  That’s awesome.  Good blitz call, but I’m not sure why is Davis in on passing situations.  Should be Williams or  Jackson.  3rd receiver (Smith) should be covered by Holly, we don’t have anyone that can stay close.  Wright was beat (on break-up of pass near end zone), but made a great play.  Line gets no push when against no huddle – Rodgers gets tired.   Hall should be in on all pass situations actually got push, and doubled, which left Williams 1 on 1 (when Williams got sack).  Again, great tackling in secondary.  Why is Cousins guarding Plax on his TD catch?  I’d rather have him guard Toomer

2nd Half

1st defensive

                On Manning INT, Manning just said to Plaxico “thought you were doing one of these” (hand motion to post corner, not post) – from Necessary Roughness.  I’d give the ball back to have Pool not injured

1st offensive

                More success to the right than left, which is new.  Again great reverse play to Harrison, it’s nice to have a healthy Cribbs, this would have been a TD if Thomas didn’t let up towards the end, his guy made the tackle.  Lewis is big, angry, man who doesn’t like being tackled, and doesn’t cut that well (he should have followed Vickers). The goal line is where you miss Winslow/Joe – Stallworth isn’t the same type of threat in that situation. 

2nd defensive

                Lenard needs to learn how make a pile instead of getting pushed back 8 yards.  McDonald reads WR eyes incredibly well, he always puts his hands up at the right time.   Sorenson timed blitz well (if he’s in, 90% chance he blitzes).  Adams timed blitz well on run almost got Jacobs from the back.  Willie made his one play for the day – he’s done.  Rodgers out and the Giants run @ Williams, I don’t get this.  Hall needs in on all pass situations, he draws chip blocks from RBs.

2nd offensive

                Keeping up with quota of 1 procedure penalty per series.  Stallworth is a much better blocker than Steptoe.  Lewis is a big, angry man. There’s a reason why Dinkins will get cut when Rucker’s back (He can’t catch or block that well).  Chud is confident they can run, going run left on 3rd and 3.  That takes balls. Anderson better against blitz, still not sure why the Giants are coming at him.  The run blocking a lot better with Tucker.  These penalties are obscene – I can’t even put this into words .  Harrison is great out of the backfield, will be complete 3rd back when he learns how to block (Wright does a great job of this).  Giants bite hard on play fakes, great play by Anderson

3rd defensive

                Great blitz timing by Pool, Browns are doing a much better job than they’ve done all season on this.  Hard to stop Steve Smith, Adams can’t guard him – Daven Holly anyone? Browns secondary makes great tackles (Wright on Jacobs) (giving up 90 pounds.     Why is Travis Daniels guarding Plax on 3rd down?  And who is Travis Daniels.  Per Kornheiser (sp?) comment: the difference between Thomas (DL) and Rodgers is way more than just 60 pounds. That’s like saying the only difference between me and Alex Hall playing in the NFL is that he’s 60 lbs heavier than.   Great play again by Wright breaking on the ball, and a nice move on Manning to take it to the endzone.

4th defensive

                As bill simmons would say. . . we just saw “Eli Manning” face. Look for “completed in front of Sorenson” when he’s not blitzing. Brandon McDonald is the best corner on the team, Rodgers trade was a great move.  Bodden will be missed, but if Holly wasn’t hurt, this is an incredible secondary.  I’m surprised that Giants don’t go hurry up more often, since there’s such a huge gap of talent between Rodgers/Williams and the next DL.  They get tired quick, but probably much slower than most 300 and 360 lb people. 

4th offensive

                Lewis and the line are playing exceptional.  Starters should come out.

See this link as well: http://footballoutsiders.com/extra-points/one-man-audible-monday-night-football

 

Browns v. Pittsburgh – Week 2

September 25, 2008

Injury update (unless noted, scheduled starters are starting):

WR: Stallworth, Jurevicious

OL: Tucker

LB: Peak

DB: Holly, Jones

QB

Anderson passed the ball very well, but two things are very apparent: 1) His a lot more problem with teams sitting in a zone and rushing 4 players then he does when they blitz.  I believe this is a result of him having a hard time making the correct reads.  When a team blitzes him, he knows he’s got 1 on 1 coverage and Winslow and Edwards (at least last year) can beat the man covering them.  In a zone coverage, Anderson is forced to predict defensive player movements, and he has trouble with this (interception at end of the half).  2) He’s not football smart.  Before Crennel gets blamed for the time management, Anderson needs to be questioned first.  Here are the situations that bothered me the most:

1)      Last week, end of 3rd quarter, about 30 seconds left on the game clock, Browns can’t get a play off

2)      This week, before the 2-minute warning, Anderson got the play off 1 second before the 2-minute warning (also the reason why Polamalou was able to time the snap).  Prior to the play call you could see Anderson looking to the sidelines waiting for the call.  This is unacceptable.  Anderson should be able to run to the line, call a play without needing to depend on the staff to send it in

3)      The 3rd and 1 sneak.  Despite what Madden said (he and Michael’s are clueless half of the time), this was the perfect play call.  However, again you could see Anderson waiting for at least 5-7 seconds waiting for the call.  That situation dictates either a QB sneak or a quick run.  Anderson should be able to call that play without needing sideline help.  Problem is he just doesn’t.  This is a huge problem with judging a QB based on his arm strength and stats.   Football smarter QBs know what needs to be done there.  (on a side note, I have complete faith that neither of these would have been an issue with Quinn).

RB

Again, I’ll take fault in believing Lewis wasn’t going to be good this year.  He runs hard, breaks tackles, and the change of pace with him and Harrison is exactly what we need on an ongoing basis.  I realize that we average 2 yards a carry, but Lewis reads his blocks well, and does a good job in pass protection.  Vickers needs to get mentioned as well.  He’s a great lead blocker.  My only fault with him is that despite his 250 lb size, he always seems to get tackled by 1 DB going low on him when he catches passes

OL

Keep in mind,  Pittsburgh has a very good front 7.  Hadnot is a dramatic improvement over McKinney, and did a good, not great job handling Casey Hampton with Fraley.  Steinbach does a good job pulling and keeping blockers away from Anderson, but struggled a little again with blocking at the point of attack.  As always, the pass protection was almost perfect.   They only gave up 2 sacks, and one of them Anderson held the ball too long.  I love the overload package, and will elaborate more on that in later on.  

TE

Again, K2 looks as scary as ever.  He seems to get open easily and doesn’t drop much.  Obviously, he’s a liability in blocking.  The only thing I’d like to see more of is him split out opposite of trips on the other side.  I don’t think there’s a corner in the league that can get inside position on him, and he ran away from Palamalou and 2 separate occasions.  As mentioned above, the team doesn’t really need a blocking TE, because they use Vickers and overload a tackle in those situations.  Dinkins will be off the team as soon as Rucker returns from injury.

WR

Dropped by Edwards showed up again, but also displayed that he’s still very good at getting separation.  However, he did alligator arm the post route and took a good hit.  The larger problem was Syndric Steptoe’s inability to block.  There were at least three occasions where he was actually a detriment to the play (one of which he went flying in the air and hit Lewis).  There are two problems with this: 1) Jamal won’t break any long runs if Steptoe can’t block.  2) I have no idea what Chud asked him to crack back on a DE on a sweep play I think in the 4th quarter.  Clearly, someone on the team may be better than him at this (a flexed out Winslow?).  I get not sacrificing Cribbs on this play and asking him to do this.  Chud should learn from President’s Bush’s mistakes,  if you don’t have the armor, don’t go to war.  There’s nobody on the Browns active roster at WR that can make this block, but Steptoe’s the worst.

Overall Offense

Despite the incredibly slow start, this was a pretty good game all clock management issues aside. The weather was obviously a factor and slowed both teams at the beginning, but Chud was incredible in his play calling.  The steelers had no answer for the overload formation (Madden did an excellent job calling this out.  The Browns did this a lot last year and not a single announcer focused on it like Madden did), and the team converted on some pretty crucial 3rd downs.

There’s absolutely no excuse for the field goal attempt.  Michaels and Madden are completely wrong about kicking the field goal there.  The worst case scenario is a slightly upset offense frustrated with their performance and a defense heading out on to the field with the statement “the game’s in our hands” in their head.  This is even a larger problem based on last week’s field goal attempt.  Crennel could have used this opportunity (the team had just converted on 4 previous 3rd downs) to say to the offense, you can win us the game.  Instead he fed his unhealthy field goal obsession (or helped his fantasy team with Dawson on it) and kicked the field goal.

 

Defense

DL

As I said last week, “Rodgers is almost impossible to stop when he’s fresh”.   He’s an absolute monster, and is probably the top interior lineman in the league.  He almost impossible to block with 1 guy, and when he does get double teamed, he doesn’t get pushed back 4-5 yards (Ted Washington and Jason Fisk’s favorite moves).  So when Michaels and Madden were beating him up for getting pushed to the ground at the line of scrimmage, those were actually incredible plays by Rodgers designed in the defensive system.  This is exactly what you want your 3-4 NT to do.  He’s quite simply, amazing.   If you take out Parker’s 19 yard run and the other 12 yarder (courtesy of Willie McGinnest – more on this in a second), the Browns held him to 26 carries for 74 yards.  If Robaire Smith’s injury is serious, this could be very big problem as Crennel will rely on Rodgers too much.  Also, watch Rodgers on any play on the outside, he’s trying to chase much faster RBs down.  His effort is also exceptional.

Not to take any credit away from Williams, Shaun and Robaire Smith, they also played great games.  The pass rush was there because these guys occupied blockers so FS, and LBs could blit (except for when the Steelers were pinned down – more on that in a second)

 Willie “statue” McGinnest sucks section:

Typical game for Willie.  Three good plays, and the reason for every long run by the opponent.  This week’s mistakes were less about his speed (or lack thereof) and more about the fact that he didn’t close down the hole.  On Parker’s two long runs, the TE double teamed the defensive end, leaving McGinnest unblocked temporarily before the pulling lineman or TE came.  The first time, Willie charged the QB, leaving a gaping hole for the RB.  The second time, he did a little bit better, and only left 5 feet for Parker to run through.  It’s a very simple concept, when the TE doubles the guy inside you, close the hole down and force him outside.

Again the real issue here is lack of a better option with Peek hurt.  Alex Hall played some, but he’s not big enough to play on run downs.  He was on the field when the Browns had the Steelers pinned down, but didn’t get far with his pass rush.  He’ll be better next year when he’s 10-15 lbs heavier.

Switching to a 4-3 may be an option since “statue” doesn’t do much in pass coverage, but the Browns don’t have a 2nd DE (outside of Williams) that can play that role either. 

LBs

Again, with the DL doing their job, the LBs were able to play well.  Jackson missed a tackle, but overall, this was a good performance.  Madden needs to get off Wimbley’s back.  He still gets double teamed or chipped on every play.  Since you read last week’s column, you know that the issue isn’t Wimbley, it’s that Wimbley doesn’t have someone on the other side.   For example, Shaun Phillips (OLB – San Diego).  He had 4 sacks in his 1st year (pre-Merriman), since he’s had 7, 11.5, and 8.5.  I’d be shocked if he gets more than 6 this year (through 2 games – 0).   Wimbley’s good against the run, which is why teams run right at “Statue”

DBs

Another tough matchup for the Browns, but Pool looked better in coverage.  With Holly, this would have been a very good group, without him, it’s below average.  If you could choose 2 position injuries that would hurt the browns the most this year its CB, and OLB. 

An injury to Thomas would hurt, but Steinbach or Shafer would shift over, and Hadnot would play G, with Tucker moving to G or tackle respectively. 

Lewis getting hurt would be very bad, But Wright is serviceable (at best), and the Browns could pick up Benson, who wouldn’t be Lewis, but would be a lot better than he was in CHI.

Even losing Rodgers (I’m starting a fan club), would hurt, but the addition of Williams still makes the team better than last year.

Special Teams

 Zastudil is a good punter.  Dawson’s making his kicks.  Cribbs needs another game to get his feet underneath him (the weather didn’t help)

 Overall

I give this performance a B.  The defense played very well.  Crennel either needs to empower Anderson to make the decisions (if that’s the issue), or train him to make the right ones when the clock is running.  The schedule doesn’t get easier.  At 0-2, here’s my prediction for the season

@ Balt – W

@ Cin – W

Bye

NYG  – L (closer then you think.  We negate their best attribute, pass rush)

Wash  – L

Jax –  W (they’ve lost 3 starters on the OL)

Balt – L

Denver – L (WR will kill us)

BUF – L

Hou – W

Colts – L

TEN – W

 

PHI – L

Bengals – W

Steelers – L

6 wins total

Blog Goal

September 25, 2008

Goal of article:

The goal of this article is to reflect on the game with an emphasis on predicting future success/failure.  Therefore, I’ll focus on issues that tend to predict future behavior (based on Football Outsiders research) e.g. fumbles that are caused by the RB getting stripped) and less on other factors (fumbled snaps, and all fumble recoveries).  I’ll try and do my best to alleviate some bias, but will call out specifically in advance that McGinnest was washed up last year and shouldn’t be on the field (the Peek injury is significantly larger than the Holly injury).  Further, since I don’t have a DVR I’m not able to watch plays in slow motion to see what really happened.