Welcome to the latest edition of X’s and O’s with the Bros by X’s and O’s editor @rodofdisaster. This feature represents a basic attempt to look 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 “X’s and O’s 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 focuses on the Browns defense in a 30-7 win after a rough start against the Chiefs.
Here’s a pre-snap look at Jamaal Charles’s 80-yard touchdown run on last Sunday’s first play from scrimmage.
The Chiefs are in 21-personnel (2RB, 1TE, 2WR) and the formation is I-right twins (I-formation, strong side is right and both WR are weakside). The Browns are in base 4-3 and are showing a man-to-man look with one deep safety. If you look at the strongside (right) of the offensive line, the blocking is favorable as you have 4 blockers (3 OL + 1 FB) to block 4 defenders.
The run is to the right as the Chiefs offensive line takes man assignments. The TE is moving out to Haden. The RT is blocking the DE Rucker. The RG is blocking the DT Rubin. The LG has sealed the backside DT Taylor. Notice a few things here:
1) The center (arrow) has come off the ball to the second level (linebackers) and is blocking the Mike (Jackson).
2) James Michael Johnson (circled) is in the B-gap. That’s actually the same gap that Rubin is working into. With Jackson and Taylor sealed off, this creates a huge hole.
A flail and miss by TJ Ward, and Charles goes the distance.
No doubt the Browns had seen video of Charles before the game, but if you haven’t, here are some of my favorites:
Anyway, this wasn’t a good start.
1st Quarter, 3:19 left.
KC 7 Cleveland 3
2nd & 6, KC 23 yard line
After a brief spell by Peyton “Many Crazy Exes” Hillis, Charles comes back in the game and we see here that Johnson and Jackson are both flowing aggressively to their left. The center again has a free release onto Jackson. Charles shows his great vision and cutting ability turning it back for an 11-yard gain.
At this point, it’s starting to feel like Jamaal Charles could start to gash this defense all day long which would be problematic since the game plan against a Brady Quinn quarterbacked team is…anyone? Anyone?
1st Quarter, 0:55 left
1st & 10 from KC 45
Here we see a similar blocking scheme three plays later and this time the Browns don’t over-pursue. But what really makes the play here is Billy Winn’s upfield penetration (arrow) that disrupts the flow of the offensive line and forces Charles to cut early.
This play shows Winn making the kind play that folks have now come to expect from the rookie sixth round pick. Since seeing him sub for an injured Phil Taylor, there’s been plenty to like, including his quickness and ability to move laterally and even drop into coverage. Jamaal Charles did gain 165 yards on Sunday and had some beautiful runs despite having been slowed with an injured rib but after an ugly first quarter the Browns righted themselves on defense and did what every good team playing the Chiefs should do. Make Brady Quinn beat you.
3rd Quarter, 11:15 left
Score: Browns 17-7
3rd & 7 from KC 23
Here we see the game’s final turning point. The blitz is coming up the middle and Brady Quinn throws to Baldwin on an in-cut. Of the four pass defenders in panel A, Sheldon Brown has the best position on his receiver of any of them. Panel B shows Quinn with his weight back during the throw (that’s poor). For good measure, the reason this wasn’t a pick-six was that Sheldon Brown’s jump was SO good that he ended up having to wait on the pass and reach back for it. This resulted in a deflection which ended up in the arms of Tayshaun Gipson.
A similar play earlier in the game nearly resulted in another Quinn interception. Here you see a throw to the near sideline (at the top of the photo), a relatively easy throw distance-wise. It’s not nearly catchable and he had at least one receiver (circled) coming wide open. In Quinn’s defense, it’s a 3-step drop which makes a deep ball difficult to throw unless it’s the primary read.
4th Quarter, 7:16 left
Inside Browns 20.
Score: Browns 30-7
Here we see the final threat of the day for the Chiefs, and Quinn throwing an incomplete fade to the end zone for Newsome which had no chance of being caught. He follows this up immediately with a similar call to the opposite side of the field to the same receiver. As the bottom panel shows, the only receiver with a chance to catch this ball is the photographer who is standing on the restraining line for the media. That line is 12 feet from the boundary.
This illustrates the remarkable and maddening trait of Brady Quinn. With his chances of scoring points at a premium he fails to deliver a remotely catchable pass in the general vicinity of a receiver or even in bounds. Which recalls the Browns 16-0 loss to Baltimore on Monday Night Football in 2009, where Quinn’s throws prompted Ron Jaworski to say, “I’d like to see the ball near the field of play”.
As we see above, the Browns came out overly aggressive on defense against a player who might have gashed them for three hundred yards. But the defense either made some adjustments or simply calmed down to collect the benefits of playing against a Brady Quinn-quarterbacked team playing without Dwayne Bowe, its top deep threat, and ended up keeping Charles in front of them for the rest of the game. They won because they made enough plays to force Quinn to throw the football. As we’ve seen from the above, I think even the biggest Quinn apologist would have to admit that he’s no closer to being a legitimate NFL QB than he was with the Browns.
The complete “Xs and Os with the Bros” archive is available here.