X’s and O’s with the Bros: Brandon Weeden’s Pick-6 in Baltimore

by Cleveland Frowns on October 3, 2012

Welcome to the latest edition of Xs and Os with the Bros by Xs and Os editor @rodofdisaster. This feature represents a basic attempt to dive deeper into the game of football, learn something about the X’s and O’s that make it go, and better appreciate the games within the game. It’s called Xs and Os with the Bros because you don’t have to be a player, coach, or rocket surgeon to get something out of taking a closer look at a football play, so please enjoy the post and the discussion in the comments.

This week Rod takes a look at what went wrong on Brandon Weeden’s back-breaking third quarter interception last Thursday in Baltimore.

—————

“If you’re going to make a mistake, you’re going to have to make it ahead of him out of bounds” -Mike Mayock

Situation: 3rd Quarter; 0:27 left. The Browns have just run a failed end-around to Travis Benjamin
Down & Distance: 3rd & 5 from the Ravens’ 43
Score: Ravens 16, Browns 10

PRESNAP

In the top panel, we see the All-22 view showing that the Browns have come out in 11 personnel (1 RB, 1TE and 3 WR). Since three eligible receivers (Benjamin at “Z” position, Norwood in slot and Watson at TE or “Y”) are on the left, this is called “Trips” by most folks although some offenses keep that term for 3 WR specifically on the same side of the formation. Greg Little is the “X” at the bottom of the screen.

The Ravens have come out with six defensive backs (3 CB and 3 S), 3 LB and 2 DT. The first read is the safeties. There are two deep with one (Ihedigbo) buzzing to the line showing a blitz. Pollard (#31) has his back to us and is moving deep while Ed Reed is nonchalantly strolling toward the line. Either he or the LB in front of him are going to cover the TE. The rest of the DBs are lined up in man alignments within five yards of their receiver. The three WR in the top panel can expect press coverage. That coupled with the creeping safeties probably signifies that the defense will play one safety deep and man-to-man underneath (“man-free”). Since 10 defenders are not deep and five are lined up on receivers them you can expect at least a five man rush. A sixth may join if the RB stays in to block. This means pressure is coming.

The bottom panel shows us a couple of things. First, Benjamin has come in motion and has stopped at the numbers. If he had stayed outside then his possible pass routes would be either a “Go” or “9” route or an inside breaking route like a slant. By moving further inside, he’s telling the defense he wants more room to operate thus opening up the outside breaking routes. Since Benjamin now has more options, Cary Williams moves off to give a little bit of a cushion since he knows he doesn’t have safety help immediately available. He’s aligning just outside the receiver (they call this “outside leverage”) as he wants to funnel him inside should he go deep.

Second, the bottom panel shows the defense bringing the two down linemen, the three linebackers and one safety. That’s a 6-man rush. Ogbonnaya is staying in to block. The blue arrows indicate the pass patterns that the receivers run. Benjamin is running a 5-yard out. Norwood is running a “whip” route. That’s not a standard route on the route tree but he basically breaks in like he is running a slant and then he stops suddenly and reverses to run toward the sideline. Ben Watson releases to run a corner route. Greg Little is running a fade.

PROTECTION

Here we see Weeden taking a 3-step drop. The Ravens are rushing six. The offensive line picks up the rushers nicely. Mack helps Lauvao and then picks up Lewis. Ogbonnaya makes the proper read going inside out and picking up Ihedigbo coming round the corner. Pollard drops back confirming 1 deep safety and Reed is picking up Watson. Weeden is looking left the whole way. For what it’s worth, he was even looking left the whole time before the snap too. This pass protection is solid.

THE THROW AND BREAK

In Panel A, there are a few things worth noting:

1. The ball is on it’s way before Benjamin is out of his break. The timing of the throw is perfect.
2. Jordan Norwood is getting facemasked (thanks real refs) as he fools the slot corner
3. Ben Watson is running the corner route and has a lot of green area in front of him while Ed Reed is still looking into the backfield.

The bottom panel is the All-22 view showing the same part of the play. Williams has this played all the way. Beside Watson being open, Little has one-on-one coverage at the bottom and no safety coming over whatsoever.

THE PICK

Here we see Williams stepping in and cutting off the throw to Benjamin as he begins his race “to the house.” The ball is a little behind Benjamin whose weight is all flowing toward the sideline. He has to turn for the ball so has very little mechanical advantage to fight off the defender. As Mayock pointed out, it was far worse to miss short like this than it would have been to overthrow him. This isn’t a timing issue as much as it’s a ball placement issue. (It’s also a predictability issue, but that’s another story).

DISCUSSION

In scouting the Ravens, it’s not hard to notice a few things. They’re still very disciplined. They don’t work to disguise as much as you’d think on defense (“here it is, beat us if you can”) and they’re very smart.

In the previous 2-plus quarters of football, the Ravens had come out on every 3rd down that was [about half of the third downs] longer than 2 yards with man-free coverage; same as they have here, which is historically a favorite coverage of theirs in this situation and used frequently in last year’s matchup. It was predictable that you’d see the same similar coverage here. Of course, beating it is a little more complicated. (H/T)

First, the Browns telegraphed that Benjamin wanted to go outside. What on earth that short motion accomplished is beyond me. Williams played the first down marker and the outside breaking route. This cut the possibilities down significantly. Weeden did look at him the whole way and while we normally are hard on QBs for that, it was a 3-step drop so he was bound to look at him quickly. The telegraphing before the snap certainly could not have helped here, though.

The execution on this play is lacking, of course, but we still have to ask if Pat Shurmur is putting his players in the best position to succeed here. If you’re intent on passing for the first down and we all know that your best runner is on the sideline then why not just put Weeden in the shotgun? That would give him a better angle on that throw. To that point, why would you ask this route of the smallest guy on the team? He doesn’t have the body to shield a defender and he isn’t tall enough to make the play on a higher pass. Wouldn’t someone like Josh Gordon be more appropriate? If you’re intent on a five yard out pattern then why not have the slot guy or the TE run it to give them more space to make a play?

Second, this pass pattern seems geared to beat zone coverage with the flooding of the left side. Sure, it can be used against man but I would have thought that at least two patterns would have crossed making the defenders possibly interfere with each other. While I could be missing ways in which this play design works off of other plays the Browns ran in this game, I can note that the play design here doesn’t force any defender to really have to work through traffic and thus really lets the defense play somewhat passively and still come up with a stop.

Lastly, it seems to me that Watson is the better option on this play, or even Little one-on-one to the right, but Weeden never looks at anyone but Benjamin. A tough throw that ends up being catastrophic.

But again, in the end it’s about taking the pieces you have and putting them into optimal schemes. Here, we see our best offensive skill player (Richardson) on the bench, and it’s not that Ogbonnaya didn’t do a good job on the block (he did a great job), it’s that he wasn’t at all a threat to the defense. What if Richardson had been in there, chipped on Ihedigbo and leaked out to the wide open right flat?

There are others who understand offensive football better than I do who felt that this team was practically unwatchable last Thursday night, and this play does speak to the general frustration of watching this offense in action (e.g., why would you pull a lineman from the right side of your offensive line on a running play allowing Haloti Ngata a free run into the backfield?).

As for Weeden’s lack of execution here, we can mostly live with some mistakes being that he’s a rookie but I’m starting to notice his decision making getting worse. Here’s an example from earlier in the game.

The square shows the receiver he threw it to. Two receivers in the same area with three defenders. Now, look at Benjamin streaking downfield (circle). Hopefully, this improves.

Another lacking concept for the Browns is the idea of using personnel groupings and formations to dictate coverage and matchups in your favor. Let’s use the pick six play as an example. What if you lined up like this:

You see the same personnel here except I have moved Benjamin to the backfield and put a “33” where Trent Richardson would line up if the coach felt he was good enough to be in the game. The defense has to counter this. Either they move the CB inside to a LB spot and have the linebacker move out on an island or you’re stuck with a really fast receiver on a slower LB. If they chose to flip the defenders I would then bring Little on a shallow cross and run Benjamin out to the right. The defender will get stuck in traffic and Benjamin is open. If they don’t flip, I run him on an angle route or a seam route upfield on a linebacker. The slot receiver can run a deep route to clear the safety.

Of course it might not be that simple here but it’s the kind of thinking that you can see here from the Packers. The Saints did it frequently with Darren Sproles last year. It’s what well-coached teams do instead of watching a journeyman corner return his first interception ever for a game-changing TD.

—————

RELATED: Here’s Herm Edwards on how a well-coached team rolled up 580 yards of offense against the same Buffalo Bills defense that held the Browns’ offense to 240 yards in their own house just one week before:

Even though the Patriots had only seven points at halftime, the score didn’t represent reality. New England piled up 222 yards of offense in the first half, but because Buffalo held the Patriots to 1-of-6 on third downs, drives stalled and the Bills were able to hang on for dear life. The Bills’ defense was able to make plays and get off the field, but that was it.

The problem was that the Patriots already had found the Bills’ weakness — spread Buffalo out and get it into nickel with an up-tempo offense, and you gain a big edge. New England used three WRs, a tight end and a back, or two WRs, two TEs and a back, and forced the Bills into nickel early and often. The Patriots flexed Rob Gronkowski out in a wing formation, which allowed New England to see the Bills’ coverage, and took one more man outside the tackle box. If Buffalo walked out a linebacker to cover Gronkowski, it could defend the run better, but it was forced to use a LB to cover Gronkowski down the field. If Buffalo used a corner, the Patriots motioned Gronkowski into the backfield and hit a run inside. Gronkowski took on a LB at the second level, the Patriots pulled the backside guard to the front side to set the edge and outleveraged Buffalo’s defensive ends. The frontside guard matched up with another Buffalo linebacker, and New England did a terrific job of not allowing Gronkowski’s backside defender to get over the top.

This created an alley and often left Buffalo’s nickelback, Justin Rogers, or one of its safeties one-on-one to make a tackle. It’s not good when your safeties have 19 combined tackles.

Read the whole thing.

—————

The full “Xs and Os with the Bros” archive is available here.

  • Beeej

    Love the X’s and O’s but damn is it depressing.

  • ClevelandFrowns

    The Cheddar Bay All Play this week is West Virginia +6 (or 6.5?) at Texas. Yee-haw.

  • trashycamaro

    Hey @rodofdisaster, your write ups are one of the high(low?)lights of the week in Browns coverage for me. Thanks for the good work!

  • Harbaugh Handshakes

    Early Cheddar action as I will be in Charleston for a Bachelor Party this weekend and unable to form complete sentences:

    (all play) West Viginia +7 @ Texas: Hey did you know the QB had more TD’s than incompletions. Texas can’t tackle, but then again either can West Virginia. I’ll take the points in this shoot out

    Georgia +2 @ South Carolina: I like Georgia winning this game out right.

    Rams +1.5 vs Cards

    Falcons -3 @ redskins: Um the Redskins are a good young team. They’ve lost to the Rams on the road and the Bengals at Home. Bad news is they are playing the Falcons who got a wake up call last week from the Panthers.

    Packers-7 @ Colts: Packers have to cover at some point right?

    (essay) Bears -5.5 @ Jags: The Bears are a good team. That can stack up points. Beat the rams by 17 Colts by 20 and Dallas by 16. I don’t think the Jags can apply the pressure to Cutler to see a performance remeniscent of his Green Bay debacle. I really think the Bears can put together a nice run and contend for the division because the Pack just look out of sorts. So back to the game and the Lions pathetic opponent the Jags are awful. They can run the ball but I think Lance Briggs and the bears defense will easily stop this 1 dimensional offense (ranked 31st in the league in passing). Give me Da Bears.

    Have a good weekend fellas. If you guys could repost this in the cheddar Bay thread I’d apreciate it.

  • TWMBrad

    Josh Gordon seems to be taking the lead for the organizational panic award. One target, one catch, 16 yards. Not on the field when his frame was perfect for the situation. Glad we gave up the 33rd pick in the draft for him.

  • Bryan

    Good break down of the pick 6. That was so gut wrenching. Hopefully we can learn from it.

    A deeper question for you, Rod: how frequently do you think the great QBs miss open receivers? When I watch Rodgers, Brady, etc. I see a lot of plays where they don’t throw to the guy who ended up being the most wide open – the game is too fast to always hit the most open guy. Usually they consistently hit the FIRST guy who is open in their progression. And a lot of time that guy is not very open – the QB is just so accurate that he makes the play. It really wouldn’t make sense for a QB to progress through every option on every play. There isn’t enough time. Each play ranks the options, and as the QB progresses through them he goes to the first one that, in the mili-second he has to make a decision, he believes he can get the ball to.

    Given that, what can we really learn from analyzing a few plays in isolation where Weeden misses an open guy (I am thinking of the 2nd play you analyzed where he “missed” Benjamin deep)? It would be really neat to know the percentage of plays (across all plays) where Weeden missed an open guy and how that compares to the percentage of plays it happens to Rodger, Brady, etc. as well as other rookies.

    • dubbythe1

      if i may insert my humblest opine here, I feel you are correct in that they hit the first open receiver in their progression, however I think the great ones (and even serviceable veterans) recognize mismatches and adjust their reads accordingly.

      re:Weeden… glad he is having so much fun but he really needs to stop staring down his targets.

    • rodofdisaster

      Bryan,

      I think you’re right to say that a)even the best QBs don’t always hit the “most” open receiver as well as b) that the best option isn’t always available to the QB based on timing.

      That said, I think that based on the coverage, Weeden should know what order his progression should be in. If Benjamin is his first option and he thinks he’s open, then fine…but he stared him down even before the snap.

      The second play shows Benjamin coming open deep and as long as the pass rush isn’t an issue, some patience allows that route to develop. A QB with 3 seconds to throw should at least go through two options if not three. How many did Weeden go through here? ONE.

      I didn’t start this week’s entry with the aim to criticize Weeden for anything other than a poor placement of the football. The scheme fails here far more than the players.

      • Bryan

        Thanks Rod. I definitely think your criticism of the two plays was spot-on. I was just curious for more context about how unusual that type of mistake is and whether it is a fatal sign for Weeden. I have been more pro-Weeden than most. He clearly is learning and making mistakes, but I see a lot of potential.

        The point you and dubbythe1 make is interesting: the best QBs adjust their progressions pre-snap if they see a mis-match. Weeden clearly is not at that level yet. Who knows if he can get there under Shurmurball.

        • rodofdisaster

          I don’t think any of this is “damning” of Weeden’s potential. He could still be very good. If I am worried about anything this year it’s that he will somehow have his confidence broken.

          I’ve said it time and again. I saw Sam Bradford play for OU over 20-30 times. Sam Bradford did more for Pat than Pat did for Sam…and not all of that might have been good.

  • BigDigg

    Random MLB note – for as much press as we get around these parts on the joke that is MLB competitive balance and payrolls, it’s notable that 5 of the 10 confirmed playoff teams are within shooting distance (+$5M) of the Tribes payroll ($78.5M). Equally notable is that 3 of the 6 Divisions have high-spenders occupying the basement (Boston, Miami, Minnesota).

    While the system still seems weighted towards high payroll teams (though not excessively so), there’s huge variances on the value of the extra spending. Of course this is MLB roster payroll alone, and there are other factors like coaching staff, farm system and scouts, etc.

    I’m no Dolan apologist and am not sure what to make of this. If anything i underscores my belief that baseball is fundamentally a crapshoot.

    • Hopwin

      You can buy talent or you can farm talent. The Indians’ front office can do neither.

    • bupalos

      yeah, MLB is a crapshoot for the smaller markets, but we should have the sense to understand that and not give away our roll of the dice. That Ubaldo trade made no sense for us. A team like the Indians should not be trying to flatten volatility and define windows of contention and manage risk and so forth. They need to go all in big and blind and hope for the best. That’s the only way for the small markets to compete in this system, hold your lottery tickets and try to get lucky.

      The small markets are 75% of the league, the large are 25%, and as it’s set up, and given the relative unpredictability of player performances, that all should work out to a near 50-50 split of the playoff share if the large markets (buying inflated proven assets) have something like double the success rate of the small (buying cheap random assets.)

  • bossman09

    So based on last year and this year, It’s clear that shurmur is a “follow the book guy” and not an innovator. It’s also pretty clear that Shurmur doesn’t learn from anyone else. He has the book that he learned several years ago and doesn’t vary it. The browns will keep trying to jam pegs into his pre defined holes until they find one that fits. Even then, the offense will not work great when matched up against some one who is creative. After watching McCoy last year, I was convinced that Shurmur was 1 dimensional because of McCoy’s limitations and I still believe that’s true. The problem is that instead of really opening up when he has more flexibility, he’s more of a 1.5 dimension guy instead of a true innovator like you see in GB, NO, or NE. Sad.

    Some people are considered geniuses because they have an understanding of all the combigned knowledge on a topic. Other people are considered geniuses because they create knowledge. It’s clear which one Shurmur is.

    • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/353RMCG4SCQSGHPMKN7TMON654 S. A

      Shurmur’s not a genius by any definition.

  • bupalos

    Great job again Rod, thanks!

    I do have a thought about “predictability” and strategy though. Because the depressing thing about that play to me is that it honestly it really had Baltimore set up there — the corner is jumping the route, the safety is cheating, the blitz looks to be dealt with, and over on the right Little is going to run past the defense with a great chance for >>an exciting drop of??>> the go-ahead touchdown. It’s hard for me to look at that play right after the snap and see strategic failure, except for one thing: it’s hard to see rookie Weeden standing in against the blitz and trying to make the right play out of this instead of going with the most comfortable thing– which if you’ve watched any OSU’11 game you know clearly for him is going to be the quick out. It’s his bread and butter, pushing the ball outside a little harder and faster than the d expects or most QB’s can accomplish, and the receiver getting a few extra steps because of it, move the chains and line it up again.

    The psychology of this play is where it fails. Baltimore blitzes rookie QB, and they obviously fully expect him to go for the quick “safe” conservative play right from the snap and that is exactly what he does. “Predictability” cuts both ways in the NFL, but you need both the personell and a regime that understands how to establish and break patterns. A defense that is cheating because you were so predictable is a defense that is set up.

    None of that is a defense of Shurmur. I’m fully convinced the guy is as numerically blind as anyone in the NFL. I just note that despite whatever the perceived shortcomings of the play-call here, the right decision-making right before and during the play makes this look like genius and potentially swings the game as hard towards the Browns as the real outcome did towards the Ravens.

    • rodofdisaster

      Thanks for this comment. You are entirely correct about Oklahoma State in 2011. This might have been most comfortable for him but he also never gave the defense a chance to consider he might do something else.

      Well said.

      • bupalos

        That may just be an experience thing. Hopefully he can learn from things like that and figure out the defense played him, and get to the point where he plays them when they try to play him.

        When they let Bernie Kosar (Blessed be His Name) do some of the color on broadcasts he would (vocally) jump out of his shoes when he saw corners squeezing out routes. You could sense that this is how a good experienced QB thinks; a gambling, peeking cornerback is both an affront to humanity and a great opportunity; and woe unto you and the world if you don’t fulfill the law on that shit.

  • dubbythe1

    Absolute spot-on assessment of Shurmurball and the Browns to date, by DK.. http://cle.scout.com/2/1227166.html

  • nj0

    Does anyone remember a play in the 2nd quarter where, on a play action, Weeden tossed it back short left to Richardson who ran for about 15 or 20 with it? It was a funky looking play to begin with, but it was pointed out on the replay (and then never mentioned again, thank you NFL network) that someone was completely uncovered down field.

    I believe it was this play from the second (from NFL’s play-by-play): 1-10-CLE 20 (3:21) 3-B.Weeden pass short left to 33-T.Richardson pushed ob at CLE 38 for 18 yards (21-L.Webb)

    I don’t have TIVO or anything so I could take another look at it. Anybody remember this? Was someone wide open? Did Weeden miss him? Or what?

    • CleveLandThatILove

      I remember that play – Little was the WR alone in the middle of the field. Mayock pointed it out on the replay.

    • Believelander

      Nothing really says Weeden didn’t necessarily see Little open or coming open in his progression. He could have seen him coming open and decided the high percentage dump to Richardson had a better chance of being a good positive net play based on his read of the right flat and Trent’s ability.

      Or he could have just missed a read. As long as you’re making alternative good reads while you’re missing reads I don’t have any problem with that from a rookie.

      • nj0

        That’s kind of why I asked the question. Was is a misread, safe throw v. challenging one, a total whiff, or what? Was curious if anyone had an opinion.

        • Believelander

          Love Greg Little, but he can’t be our go to guy until he cures his hands. It’s hard to tell though what was going on inside Weeden.

          • nj0

            If you’re not going to throw it to him when he’s wide open, then don’t even have him in there. And seeing how Weeden threw it to him other times that game, I don’t think that was the thought pattern

  • dwhalen5

    shotgun v. under center doesn’t really create an advantage. angles, possibly, but in quickness and accuracy, it is unlikely. the QB is much more likely to have a quick release from a drop under center. he also guarantees himself the strings of the ball. the shotgun provides distinct advantages for sight and ability to read all parts of the field by being parallel to the line of scrimmage, as opposed to being perpendicular on the drop. so you could argue that angle of the throw is better from gun, and that weeden likely could have gotten his hips open further in order to put the ball more towards the sideline, but quickness would have been lost, and so would the opportunity to guarantee grip of the football with the strings. Also, the size of the receiver isn’t the issue. It’s an out route, not a seam or dig into traffic. Gordon didn’t get the target because he has shown that so far he’s a terrible route runner who hangs the QB out to dry-especially on out-breaking routes, comebacks specifically. Benjamin provides quickness-exactly what you need on a 5 yard speed cut to the sticks. In this case, you WANT your quickest guy on the route, not your tallest or thickest.

    when talking about man-beaters instead of zone beaters, out routes, corners, and go routes are exactly the types of things you want to implement. they’re simply hard to cover. especially in a situation when you expect blitz pressure. Crossing routes and rub routes, while excellent against man, take a split second longer to develop, and could put weeden in position to hold the ball too long given the number of guys coming. however, pat is fooling no-one, especially a field corner who’s waiting and foaming at the mouth for a 5-yard speed cut. he’s not worried about a deep route because in this situation, had benjamin run vertically,the corner is likely going to cheat anyways and eye #2 inside for a short route that he could jump anyways.

    You’re absolutely right about personnel and positioning on the field. Trent could have been in the game, and i’m a firm believer that if you have a QB that can make throws under pressure, that hot routes are more advantageous than blitz-protection. As a QB, i always set the protections so that I’d have an extra receiver (or RB) in the route instead of an additional blocker. Why? because I was confident in my ability to stand in and hold the ball til the very last second and guarantee myself an accurate throw. With a young QB like weeden, it’s possible that Shurmur & Co. want to protect him first, throw hot later. But Ogbannaya or Richardson 1-on-1 with Ray Lewis is a matchup we would win 9 out of 10. Give the RB a 5-yard option to shake the linebacker and make a flat cut left or right. Easy pitch and catch between the hashes.

    On that note they aren’t playing to weeden’s strengths thus far either. Weeden has struggled mightily outside the hash marks, and been pretty solid between them. Why not take your chances on an in-breaking delay route with benjamin, a 10-yd crosser with norwood to create a second-level behind benjamin, and keep watson on the corner route, or even a deep out? Then you still force the DB’s in coverage to move, you give weeden the option to throw to the part of the field he’s most comfortable with(which we’ve already decided will be mostly vacated due to blitzing linebackers), and you also create a shorter throw where his receivers have the inside leverage to the football instead of allowing the DB a chance to undercut a poor, long throw to the opposite sideline.

    The term ‘west coast offense’ is one that is completely over-utilized and mis-understood. I hear it on the radio, i hear it in the stands at games, and I hear it in casual conversation, but the problem is most people have no goddamn idea what it is if you ask them to describe it. Shurmur’s offense doesn’t utilize many of the techniques Bill Walsh and his apostles use. Timing routes out of 5 & 7 step drops, getting the balls to wide-receivers in space, at full speed and allowing them to gain yards after catch. The problem is that Pat’s routes, like you said, aren’t putting the receivers in spots to make these plays (hence the throw and catch at 4 yards when we routinely need 6 yards). I’m not one to challenge X’s & O’s of head coaches typically, because I’m ASSUMING they have weeks of research and reasons for calling plays in given situations, but with him, it’s not clear. Add that on to his seemingly uncanny ability to fuck-up clock management and time-out utilization (both of which are relatively fundamental and elementary level things–types of things many kids learn in gradeschool) and you have a recipe for disaster…errr like the recipe for 10 straight regular season losses.

    Keep up the good work, man. I enjoy your posts.

    • Believelander

      So, the Browns have a head coaching and offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach vacancy coming up.

    • rodofdisaster

      Thanks so much. With all due respect to my regular commenters, this may be my favorite comment ever.

      Re: shotgun. The only point I was trying to make there is that this throw might have been easier had the angle been more advantageous. There’s no other “advantage” as you say.

      Thanks for the paragraph about “man-beaters” vs. “zone beaters” but I wasn’t suggesting these routes couldn’t beat man coverage. I just thought that if the DB is driving to the ball and he’s in tight coverage, Benjamin is the least equipped to fend off a DB given his size. A bigger receiver would be able to compensate for a good break on the ball by shielding the defender. One other note (and I left this out on purpose) is that Benjamin didn’t really run this speed cut as well as he could have. He wasn’t sudden into the break and he rounded off the route a little. I always feel nitpicky when I say that. What do you think?

      Re: Weeden’s strength. Unfortunately, it seems that despite his more appropriate size and arm strength, Weeden seems more successful between the numbers as was Colt McCoy. Regardless of the QB, I don’t think Shurmur has played to the strengths of either man.

      A while back, I did post some links to the old Bill Walsh videos on QB play which do speak to a lot of his whole method. Fascinating. It’s a seven part video series. Well worth anyone’s time. For one, Shurmur doesn’t throw the weakside slant nearly as often as Walsh did. Second, the biggest premise of the WCO is to have all five eligibles out in the pattern thus taxing the coverage. By necessity or design, the Browns RARELY have all five out there. Personally, I just feel like the Browns offense poses very little true challenge for opponents. Yes, we might beat them on a play here and there out of hustle, strength or athleticism but we don’t outscheme or challenge most defenses the way they are schemed at present.

      • Beeej

        But we do battle, flash, and… crap I can’t think of the other one.

        • ClevelandFrowns

          Challenge. We challenge our fannies off.

      • rodofdisaster
      • dwhalen5

        I think you’ve got a really solid grasp of what’s going on. And you’d like Matt Bowen’s breakdowns on twitter and national football post. He’s really really good. People get mad when I refer to others as “average fans” but the truth is average fans have no frickin idea of the work that goes into dissecting even one play, let alone understanding the kinetics of an entire game. That’s why I respect that you take the time to teach even a few people week to week. I’ve spent over half of my 24 years of life perfecting the QB position and so I take absolute pride in my understanding of the game at its most detailed level. And as a note, I happen to think Greg Little can be great. I think Josh Gordon could’ve been got for a 4th round pick and I think he may never “get it”. And for the record, if Benjamin cuts his route at 7 yards and breaks it back to 5, Weeden can lay the ball out to the sideline at low and away and the defender never has a chance at it. These are idiosyncrasies that need to be coached and learned and mentioned in the huddle. These are things that win games.

        • Bryan

          dwhalen – its great to see you posting here. great insights. thanks.

  • Hopwin
  • nj0

    Just realized that a loss this Sunday ties Shurmur with Acta for longest contemporary Cleveland losing streak.

    • Believelander

      Not true unless ‘contemporary’ means ‘this year’. The Cavs lost an NBA all-time record 26 straight games under Byron Scott in their first season, which was very contemporary.

      • nj0

        Yeah, I meant this year. Wanted to avoid that since I’m sure somebody would point out that Shurmur’s streak began in 2011 and yadda yadda. So I went with “contemporary” as a generic descriptor.

        Point being – football teams should not be able to compare losing streaks to baseball teams, especially when said baseball teams fires their manager because of the losing streak.

  • Believelander

    Ask Pat on whether thr Cleveland 95: A Football Life documentary is something he and the team will watch: “We don’t have time for books and movies” … “I’m more concerned with the 2012 Browns” …. “we’ll watch it when the season’s over.”

    Hearing his tone of voice and the reaction of mediaheads to the question, it’s just one more reason I’m glad this guy is gone. “Clueless” is the one word that sums up his tenure moreso than any other.

    Meanwhile, B-Weeds tweeting that he can’t wait to watch the show tonight and get that look into our franchise and city history. Other players too. One guy reported Weeden encouraging others to watch it.

  • GrandRapidsRustlers

    Thanks. Great stuff as always and thank you so much for the picture of Trent on the sideline. It is everything that is wrong with Shurmur.

  • GrandRapidsRustlers

    If you don’t get choked up watching Earnest Byner speak…well I don’t even know what to say to you.

  • ChuckKoz

    i will take Utah +14 (USC) for the thursday night game

  • CLEVTA

    Good stuff. I would’ve liked to have also seen a breakdown of Weeden completely missing a wide open Little on a 30 yd crossing route in the 1st half after the DB fell down. He ended up dumping off to T Rich for a decent gain but could’ve had a td.
    On to my early picks for Cheddar.

    1. Utah +14 v USC (Essay) : The bye week last week for Utah was big as they needed to heal up after getting destroyed at ASU. Their top RB Johnny White was nursing a bad ankle where he missed the BYU game and played poorly v ASU. Also they get back two key defensive starters (Kruger 2.5 sacks) which will help tonight. But the biggest mismatch you might see all weekend is in the trenches. Utah has a stud DL, Star Lotulelei, who will be a top 5 pick in the draft and has Ngata type potential. USC’s Senior Khaled Holmes missed the Stanford game and was a big reason why Barkley struggled under relentless pressure. He aggrevated his ankle injury vs California and is questionable tonight. If he doesn’t play, Star will dominate. Even if Holmes does play he will not be 100% and Star will probably still dominate. Barkley under constant pressure should lead to multiple hurries and sacks and slow down USC’s potentially dangerous downfield throws. This is a night game and will be the Utes biggest game of the year. As last week’s essay with Washington, I love Thursday night home dogs.

  • rgrunds

    Rod, as the new owner of this blog, I now address all questions to you and not Peter Moussaka.

    You said, “Since 10 defenders are not deep and five are lined up on receivers them you can expect at least a five man rush”

    Why do you expect a rush? Maybe some of the CB defenders would just bump the receivers and move back with them. Why do you assume they would rush and just not stay low to cover a short pass and/or interrupt a longer route.

    Is that spectacularly ignorant on my part?

    • ClevelandFrowns

      Yes.

      • rgrunds

        Dear God, Please kill him.

  • http://twitter.com/edudak Eric Dudak

    I really enjoy these analysis pieces. I have found that I am better watching games now than I used to be partly because of these types of articles.

    I too believe the Browns are often their own worst enemy when it comes to play calling. I hate the fact that Richardson is getting so few rushing touches and that basically no one else has rushed the ball at all. It seems like too much weight to put on a rookie QBs shoulders.

Previous post:

Next post: