Perhaps the most frustrating thing as a football fan is to watch your offense flat out suck. At least if your team is coming up on the short end of a shootout, you feel some excitement or energy throughout the game when points are on the board. Instead, we have to deal with the Cleveland Browns' offense, where our peak level of excitement comes when we're able to complete a third-down pass to Davone Bess.
To make matters worse, we are wasting some solid defensive efforts. Sure, this defense is not like the Seahawks', but they appear tough, particularly against the run, yet have been giving no margin for error in the second half of games. That might be fine for a game here and there over the course of a season, but not when it looks like something that could happen every single week.
Cleveland had an opportunity to beat a Ravens team that did not look anything like a playoff contender, but were too pitiful on offense to take advantage of that. Let's get my complete game review.
|Cleveland Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens|
WEEK 2 - CLEVELAND BROWNS VS. BALTIMORE RAVENS (COMPLETE GAME REVIEW)
- Goat of the Game: WR Greg Little - It was a good first half for Little, but it all fell apart in the second half, as he had three-four drops on some great throws by QB Brandon Weeden down the field.
- Awarding the Game Ball: OLB Jabaal Sheard - His coverage ability was questioned by fans a bit this week, but his play against the run and rushing the passer was excellent. The transition to a 3-4 outside linebacker is a great fit for Sheard and can really help us down the road so we don't have to draft more players in the front seven.
- Fortunate on First Defensive Series (Part 1): The defense played pretty well, pitching a shutout in the first half before giving up two touchdowns in the second half. In my game reviews during the preseason and in Week 1 against the Dolphins, I focused a lot on the offense. I'll try to make an effort to focus a little more on the defense, though, so you can see some of the stuff they are doing.
Here, we start on the Ravens' first drive. There have been some concerns that the secondary, besides CB Joe Haden, isn't getting the job done. Even though Cleveland shut out the Ravens in the first half, Baltimore really should have had some points on the board. Let's take a look at one of the Ravens' third-down conversions, which have been a little too easy for the opposition to convert these first two weeks.
For reference, the yellow lines indicate the routes the receivers will run, the cyan lines indicate the general area our defenders end up covering (the circles do not guarantee zone), and the red line is where a first down would be.
CB Buster Skrine is lined up as the inside cornerback at the top of the screen, initially over WR Marlon Brown. CB Chris Owens is the outside cornerback at the top of the screen, but you can see WR Brandon Stokley going in motion. CB Joe Haden is on WR Torrey Smith at the bottom of the screen. The Browns bring four guys on the pressure here, and the target is going to be TE Dallas Clark, who is lined up in the backfield to Joe Flacco's left.
Skrine starts off covering Stokley, who was in motion, but passes him off to LB D'Qwell Jackson and gets ready to come up on Clark, while Owens takes Brown on the deep route.
Clark is lethargic and unreliable at this point of his career. The throw from Flacco to Clark is not in stride; Clark has to stop and catch it. Skrine is stumbling when he comes off of Stokley, though, so he takes a bad angle and later slips as he overpursues towards Clark's outside. Clark puts his foot in the crowd and angles back toward the middle to just get the first down.
- Fortunate on First Defensive Series (Part 2): OLB Barkevious Mingo recorded a sack on his first career NFL sack on the very next play, but the Ravens picked up some yards on second down to set up a manageable 3rd-and-8 from the 32 yard line.
I picked these two plays to highlight because, for all intents and purposes, the Ravens go back to the same exact third-down play that they just converted on. The Browns bring just four guys again, but this time, they give a much different look. Initially, you have S T.J. Ward shooting up to the line pre-snap to Flacco's left. It looks like this could be a seven-man blitz.
Instead, we have LB D'Qwell Jackson show blitz initially, but then chip Clark. Ward backs off his blitz and kind of plays zone coverage in the passing lane where a route to Stokley might go. LB Barkevious Mingo shoots up the middle, and Craig Robertson blitzes from the outside at the bottom of the screen. NT Phil Taylor occupies a lineman, but stays at the line of scrimmage.
The pressure, particularly Robertson, gets to Flacco quickly. But, here's the difference between an offense like Baltimore's and an offensive like Cleveland's so far: the Ravens trust their receivers to win some one-on-one battles down the field. Flacco lets it rip down the field, targeting CB Chris Owens.
The coverage isn't terrible for Owens, but the throw is perfect. This is a touchdown...but WR Marlon Brown, an undrafted free agent, drops it. Then, the always-reliable Justin Tucker misses a 50-yard field goal, maintaining the early shut out.
- Biggest Play of the Day: On the Browns' first offensive play of the game, QB Brandon Weeden hit TE Jordan Cameron for a 53-yard catch-and-run. Naturally, my initial reactions were that our offense was going to rebound for a big day, and that the Ravens' coverage problems would continue. (sigh).
I'm not quite sure what coverage the Ravens were playing here. Cameron streaks down the field and then goes out toward the sideline, forcing the safety in the middle of the field to cover a ton of ground. WR Greg Little ends up getting double teamed on his out route at the top of the screen. At the bottom of the screen, WR Travis Benjamin is getting abused on the jam; he might benefit the most from having Josh Gordon back, so he isn't being taken out of plays like this.
You can see how open Cameron gets. Weeden was starting to step up in the pocket and deliver a strong throw that goes about 40+ yards in air. Cameron catches the ball and then cuts back toward the middle to get near the goal line.
- Missed Opportunity on Benjamin Fake: Teams are loading the box against RB Trent Richardson, and here is a prime example.
On the first play after Cameron's catch, the Browns hand it off to Richardson, with a fake built in on an end around to WR Travis Benjamin. Look at this, though -- no one even gives a crap about Benjamin, the whole defense swarms toward Richardson.
If the Browns had handed the ball off to Benjamin, you'd think he'd have the speed to score a touchdown here, especially with WR Greg Little doing what he does best -- blocking -- on the edge. The safeties are pretty far away from Benjamin, and everyone else is attacking the run.
Even if the Browns don't run this down here, why aren't we seeing a play like this at other areas of the field here and there? I bet they are built in, but Norv Turner isn't seeing his offense execute enough first downs to reach further into his bag of tricks.
- Settling for a Field Goal: On third-and-goal, the Browns did not have TE Jordan Cameron in the game. Instead, they went with Gary Barnidge as the tight end and utilized him as extra protection on the right side of the line.
The protection is very good for a third-down play here. At the top of the screen, WR Greg Little is running a jump ball/fade type of route, but is covered. QB Brandon Weeden is looking left the entire time. WR Travis Benjamin can't get free, and he's not looking back yet, a big no-no for bang-band third down plays like this.
I think Weeden wants WR Davone Bess here, but there isn't a lot of separation. If Weeden rockets it in there, this is the type of play a defender could undercut and take back for a pick six. With that said, you'd hope that Weeden could make a strong throw to lead Bess just enough so he can make the catch away from the defender.
Instead, Weeden basically overthrows the pass well out of Bess' reach toward the back of the end zone. Bess did complain about interference, and there might have been some contact. It didn't seem significant, though, and I don't think the officials made a bad call by keeping the flag in their pocket.
Benjamin should not be playing in these situations, and Cameron should be in the game. Next week, hopefully we see both Cameron and Josh Gordon on the field in a situation like this. I'd also like Trent Richardson on the field, but that's an issue in itself...
- Protection Issues Show Up Again: Although the protection was a little bit better against the Ravens, it was still terrible and unacceptable overall. This is an offensive line grouping that I projected to be among the best in the AFC. I think the coaching staff thought that would be the case, too -- this offseason, Jimmy Haslam praised the offensive line, citing it as a strength. Heck, one of the only coaches retained in the transition to Rob Chudzinski's staff was offensive line coach George Warhop. Take a look at this first play of the Browns' second offensive drive:
The Browns have four receivers spread out and a tight end. I'm not certain who this streaking receiver is, but I'm pretty sure it's either WR Greg Little or WR Davone Bess. The defensive back covering him is beat and letting him go, and the safety is giving up a lot of ground. This is pretty early on in the play, too, so if Brandon Weeden recognizes it, this could go for six.
The Ravens don't show a very threatening front; maybe four guys will come. I illustrated who blocks who, and the trouble comes from the guy who bends around between the left guard and center to avoid Oniel Cousins.
The defender shoots through very quickly. Before Weeden can ever Gather himself, he is side-stepping the defender and eventually scrambles up the field and to the left for a gain of two yards. The Browns have to get this play protected with only a four man rush; if they do, who knows how different this game turns out. Even changing the outcome of one play like this can turn the game around.
- Shooting Ourselves in the Foot: Even with a 3-0 lead and the play above that we couldn't connect on, the Browns picked up a first down, and then ran two plays to set up a 3rd-and-2 near midfield. For the second drive of the game, that's not bad -- if you convert, you've got a chance to score on both of your opening possessions.
Instead, we shot ourselves in the foot. There was a delay of game on the offense, although you could clearly see Brandon Weeden calling for the ball with two seconds left (aside: I actually think the Browns got the ball off in time, since officials usually give some leniency). Then, on 3rd-and-7, we had too many guys moving at the snap, resulting in an illegal formation. Since the pass was incomplete anyway, the Ravens just took the fourth down, resulting in a punt. These are things that have to be cleaned up when you are a team that isn't moving the ball very well.
- Not Adjusting to the Defense: Another one of the frustrating things with the offense this year is that because we're trying to be a more "aggressive, down-field team," the routes are taking longer to develop, which is a recipe for disaster when you consider the lack of protection on the offensive line. Perhaps more frustrating is the fact that the receivers, or the gameplan, is not compensating for this; take a look at this play from the second quarter:
The Ravens bring a seven-man blitz on 2nd-and-6 here to start the second quarter. The Browns do have seven guys blocking, but they don't hold up very well and Weeden knows he has to get rid of it. He waits as long as he can, but there is no separation from any of our three receivers, and not a single one of them are looking back toward Brandon Weeden yet.
I know there is such a thing as "anticipating where a receiver will be," but what are the odds of that working here? One of these receivers needs to see the blitz and break a route off for Weeden. Instead, he has to throw it out of bounds to avoid a sack.
- Defensive Pick-Me-Up (Part 1): Getting depressed from the offense yet? Well then, it's time for another defensive pick-me-up to get your spirits up!
This is going to be a handoff to RB Ray Rice. The arrows indicate where NT Phil Taylor and OLB Jabaal Sheard are going to make nice moves to get around the offensive linemen.
Taylor will also get by a potential other chipper coming across.
Sheard and Taylor combine to take down Rice right away.
- Defensive Pick-Me-Up (Part 2): If one made you feel better, then why not another? Two plays later, now facing a 3rd-and-2, OLB Jabaal Sheard was at it again:
Sheard lines up wide of the left tackle.
He goes after him...
And then does a swim move inside, forcing Joe Flacco to pull the ball down. When he goes outside, Desmond Bryant is there. Eventually, Bryant and Sheard combine for a sack.
- Anticipation: In an earlier bullet point, I referenced being able to anticipate what the receivers are going to do. In the second quarter backed up near his own end zone, Brandon Weeden did a great job timing up WR Travis Benjamin on a comeback route. Benjamin was streaking down the field and then came to a stop; with Weeden having the ball already out of his hand, Benjamin caught the pass without having to worry about a defender being draped all over him. Sadly, Benjamin was only targeted once the entire game, despite playing the majority of the snaps.
- Richardson Bowls Over Cousins: There was a running play during the second quarter in which RB Trent Richardson bowled over OG Oniel Cousins. Here is what happened:
In the screenshot above, you can see Cousins helping to shove a defender to the ground.
The problem here is that Cousins acts like he is pass protecting or something, and is occupying what could be a huge gap for Richardson.
Inexplicably, Cousins actually starts turning around to look behind him, which is when Richardson bulldozes him over. In the process, it slows him down and prevents a bigger play. If Cousins had just taken his block to the second level, maybe Richardson breaks a big one here.
- Started Hot in Second Half: The Browns had a 6-0 lead heading into the half, and a touchdown-scoring drive could have put the game seemingly out of reach for the Ravens. Things started off pretty well -- a pitch play to Trent Richardson, which was a change from all the inside runs in the first half, for seven yards. Then, the Browns actually picked up a first down with a second-down run play! The Browns went to the wheelhouse again on first down with the same pitch play. Richardson was hit after about a two yard gain, but broke tackles and turned it into a gain of seven.
Brandon Weeden then moved the chains with a third-down completion to WR Greg Little. Sadly, that would probably be the last positive play for Little of the game.
The Browns continued to be a little more creative, coming out of an injury timeout with a playaction bootleg for Weeden that saw no pressure in his face. Here is what he saw when he looked down the field, though:
We're looking for a big play here, so I don't blame Weeden for not watching to hit the guy closest to him. Unfortunately, the two deeper receivers are running right into where the defense is dropping. In hindsight, I would've loved for this to be a route where WR Travis Benjamin went straight down the middle of the field; it would've opened up single coverage for either he or Jordan Cameron here. Instead, Weeden again has to scramble and just pick up what he can. A couple plays later, we had to punt.
- Botching the Pin Back: Despite not scoring on their opening drive of the second half, the Browns had a chance to pin the Ravens back at their own one yard line.
That is S Johnson Bademosi running parallel to the goal line. Usually, you are trying to pitch this ball back to your teammate safely. You can see CB Chris Owens is ready to field the tip from Bademosi.
The problem? Bademosi appears to whiff on the tip. This is bang-bang, so Owens can't react when the ball continues straight down and bounces off his foot. The ball then ricochets off Bademosi's foot; when that happens, this is a touchback already. Bummer. The Ravens scored their first touchdown of the game on this drive, but that might not have happened had they been pinned back.
- The Miss to Ogbonnaya: The Ravens converted three third-down pass plays on their next drive to take their first lead of the game at 7-6. It was a combination of good throws by Joe Flacco, and our pass rush coming on some delayed blitzes that just got there a tad too late.
On the Browns' next drive, the Ravens blew a coverage. Big time. FB Chris Ogbonnaya was wide open, but QB Brandon Weeden failed to connect with him. This is a play that I'm sure many people will interpret differently. Some will say Weeden has to hit a guy wide open like that. Others will say that Ogbonnaya got two hands on it and should have caught it. Rob Chudzinski placed blame on both of them. That's fair.
Originally, I had leaned toward placing more blame on Weeden. After watching the play several times, though, I'm leaning a bit more toward Ogbonnaya. At this point here, Ogbonnaya is drifting up the field, and Weeden is getting ready to deliver a rope. The problem, in my estimation, is that Ogbonnaya starts drifting his route to angle toward the sideline as he runs off field, which takes him just enough off the path to where Weeden's pass was going. If Ogbonnaya is truly running straight on a line, parallel to the sidelines, I think the pass hits him in stride. Either way, it's frustrating.
- Trying to Keep Faith in Little: I know there is some value left in WR Greg Little, but it was very discouraging to see him drop several passes late in the game that would have been big first downs. One of those came after the misfire to Ogbonnaya:
The ball is right in his hands, threaded between three defenders. Drop. He dropped another one in the fourth quarter. Do you want to know why Trent Richardson didn't get carries in the fourth quarter? Because we felt we could hit a play like this, and we should have. If we did, you can bet your ass off that Richardson would have been fed the ball. Instead, the dropped pass forced us into 2nd- and 3rd-and-longs.
- Final Assessments: After reviewing the film for the game a second time, I actually came away from this game very happy with the performance of QB Brandon Weeden. The throws he made in the second half to WR Greg Little were absolute money and were down the field, and he dropped every one of them. The receivers didn't get much separation for Weeden, and he played a smart game by not turning the football over.
On top of that, this was another disastrous game for both OG Oniel Cousins and RT Mitchell Schwartz. Both guys were consistently beaten by their man, or flat-out bull-rushed right back into the lap of Weeden.
As far as RB Trent Richardson goes, I couldn't find any issues I had with how he ran the ball. The run blocking just wasn't there. I was marginally disappointed with Richardson on his receptions, though. We tried to get him the ball a couple of times in space, but he looked very average and didn't really make anybody miss. You expect more from a guy who gets drafted No. 3 overall and is supposedly at 100% health.
Little doesn't need to be sat down, but WR Josh Gordon will help this offense. I never thought I'd say this, but so will OG Shawn Lauvao. If you get both of those guys back, Weeden is throwing the ball well enough to put some points on the board, and the defense will do the rest of the work.
- Special Teams Tackles: There were three special teams tackles by the Browns and two assists. TE Gary Barnidge had two tackles and S Josh Aubrey had the other one. I saw CB Johnson Bademosi, LB Quentin Groves, and CB Chris Owens all miss tackles on the same punt return.
- Snap Counts on Offense & Defense: If you missed them, here are the links to our snap count trackers for offense (link) and defense (link). On offense, Chris Ogbonnaya saw over half of the snaps in the game, which is way too much for a non-factor like him. On defense, Barkevious Mingo played more than anticipated due to the injury suffered by Quentin Groves.
- Brownies: The Browns were just 4-of-15 on 3rd downs, while the Ravens were 8-of-16. ... ILB Craig Robertson forced a fumble on RB Ray Rice, and ILB D'Qwell Jackson recovered it. ... P Spencer Lanning didn't have a god-awful day, but he was not very clutch in the least, except for the one punt that should have been downed at the one. ... Props to K Billy Cundiff, who keeps booming touchbacks and was 2-of-2 on field goals for Cleveland. ... RB Ray Rice is a complete asshole if he actually spit on NT Phil Taylor.
Up next, the Browns travel to Minnesota to take on the Vikings. We'll find out more on Wednesday who we'll have available, and I'm mostly referring to the health status of QB Brandon Weeden and OG Shawn Lauvao.