Now, I know what you’re thinking. “It’s just the Browns.” Well, sure, you’re not wrong, but sometimes teams need a game like this as a confidence booster. That’s why 9/10 FBS teams in the NCAA start their schedule every year against schools like the University of Phoenix or Devry.
What I’m trying to say is, quite frankly, the Bengals couldn’t have gotten a better week to play the Browns than last week, and I’m fairly confident that this is something they can build off of this coming Sunday against Buffalo.
Now let’s take a look at some film from this past week in Cleveland.
The fad of 2017 football
The shovel pass. I don’t know what happened this year, but between watching college football on Saturdays and NFL games on Sundays, I see a minimum of five shovel passes a week.
This used to be a rarely used play to take advantage of overly aggressive defensive fronts similar to a draw play. When used at the right moment, it’s a terrific choice but much like the wildcat and the read option, this has become the NFL’s new flavor of the month wrinkle.
The problem with that? It’s being abused and defenses are already onto what offenses are trying to do.
Here, the Bengals have a fairly good pre-snap look to run the play, but shovel passes are so incredibly easy to stop that any inside pressure will blow them up.
Here, the Browns send a single linebacker to the inside on a beeline to Dalton, and he blows up the play simply by existing in space. His eyes never leave Dalton and Giovani Bernard basically falls into his arms.
Stop shovel passes! You’re wasting valuable downs!
Thankfully, Gio was given the opportunity to be put in space with the ball rather than in the arms of a defender. Miraculously (sarcasm intended), it paid off.
The Browns’ defensive coordinator had some serious stones to bring pressure with the half almost over against a historically conservative Marvin Lewis coached Bengals team. They rolled the dice and lost to say the least.
By the time Bernard has the ball, he pretty much has green grass in front of him, and as much as Bodine would love to screw things up for everyone else, there was nothing he could do.
I mean, seriously Bodine, what were you thinking with that full arm extension face mask?
Questionable Browns Defense
I don’t know what the Browns were doing on the play A.J. Green scored a touchdown.
Pre-snap, the Browns run a two high safety look, but the safeties stacked over the slot defenders is a dead giveaway of a blitz. Since we see it from both safeties, we can assume that the Browns are probably going to bring a Cover 0 (aka man-to-man) look. This is later affirmed by the Browns showing their hand just before the snap.
Here, you can see both slot defenders on the line of scrimmage, obviously showing pressure, with man to man coverage everywhere else. This is a win 100 percent of the time for the Bengals, provided they can block for even a fraction of a second, because this means Green is in single man-to-man coverage.
But the alignment the Browns take is even more confusing for me. Green is in the slot to the top of the screen, with rookie Jabrill Peppers in coverage. What confuses me is that the Bengals absolutely love sending A.J. to the corner whenever they get inside the 10-yard line, but Peppers has an inside shade on Green.
Why, just why, would you give the outside leverage to a premier jump ball receiver?
Never go full Browns.