Posts Tagged ‘McGinnest’

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. 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.