Posts Tagged ‘Shaffer’

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.

 

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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)

 

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