The Davone Bess Film Room Part 2: "First Down Machine!"

Ezra Shaw

The Davone Bess Film Room Part 2 is now in session, let's take a look at what I consider to be the Browns very own "First Down Machine".

In Part I of my Davone Bess Film Room, I discussed and illustrated how I believe Bess has shown consistency vs. good defenses; great route running ability; quickness; tremendous hands; field awareness and balance; toughness; power; and play making ability.

One of Bess' traits / characteristics of play that may have intrigued the Browns brass to trade for him was his ability to find soft spots in the defense and make catches for first downs. He also brings a veteran leadership and attention to detail that the young receiving core has never really had around them. Recently, the Cleveland Browns official website featured Jamir Howerton's interview with Bess. Two of the topics of discussion were 1) how Bess plans to continue finding ways to get first downs and 2) how he can bring leadership to the young receiving core. You can watch video of the interview HERE ( total of 4 minutes ). In Saturday morning's lead story on the Browns official site, Greg Little briefly discussed how valuable Bess' leadership has been:

"He's a pro," Little said. "He's one of those guys that's first-in, last-out, and that was good for him to come into our room and bring that with him. I think he compliments our room well, and what he's able to do inside and on third downs, he's proven he can be a play-maker.

"Just talking with him and seeing how he runs routes and what he's thinking when he's running routes is really what we've been talking about. He's just added a little bit more to my game as well."

With Little and Gordon on the outside; a stout pass blocking offensive line; and an attack style offensive scheme, Bess should continue to be a "First Down Machine" as long as Weeden can read the defense and get the ball out quickly to the open man. In this installment, we will be looking at several catches that resulted in first downs for Bess and the Dolphins. As shown below, 62% of Bess' catches in 2012 resulted in first downs:

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In Part 2 of my look at Bess, I hope to show his ability to get open and make the critical catches and/or moves to earn a first down. This installment seems long, but it's just over 2,000 words. Feel free to leave your comments below. You'll also noticed that I tried to feature Bess vs. the Cardinals in several examples below, to give readers a look at some of Ray Horton's defense.

2012 Statistics:

Bess was ranked 38th overall for WR according to Profootballfocus premium stats shown below. This was slightly ahead of WR's Dez Bryant, Victor Cruz, Antonio Brown, Marquis Colston, and Torrey Smith:

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Dolphins vs. Jets - First Down

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Let's take a look at a great route by Bess. It's an inside / out route where Bess sells the curl or comeback route but turns it back up field on a fly pattern to the sideline and then makes a great catch along the sideline.

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Bess nonchalantly sets up the corner here with a simple sell on the curl route. The defensive back bites hard and starts to jump the route.

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Here you can see the defensive back has really been sold on the curl route, but Bess has already started his cut back outside and up-field.

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Here we see Bess wide open, eyes and head are turned back around at the QB. Excellent route running allows the space to be there.

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Meanwhile, behind the LOS, Tannehill is on a designed roll out, with players in his face, but delivers the ball on time and on target.

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Bess adjusts to the flight of the ball while in mid-route; here he kinda hops and twists in a maneuver that allows him to see the sideline and put himself in position to jump and come down with the ball.

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Here you can see an example of Bess focusing on his feet after completing the catch. Bess shows excellent concentration catching the ball first, yet is aware enough through the route / while he was tracking the ball to put his body in position to make the play and keep his feet in bounds.

First Down!

Dolphins vs. Patriots 2010 - First Down Touchdown

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Bess is originally split out wide in a 4 receiver set, single back formation.

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We can see here he goes into a slight motion, tucking a tighter inside. The defensive back has slide inside as well, perhaps indicating man to man coverage.

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During his initial cut, you notice the space on the inside of the play being vacated by the inside route. That defensive back is playing man to man, and has his back to Bess as he follows his man. Henne recognizes the open players and is already beigning his delivery. The defensive back is still moving backwards.

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The ball is nearly there and there is still 5 yards of space between he and the defensive back. Notice the man to man duo from last clip has nearly exited the view, again creating space for Bess to operate and catch in.

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As he catches the ball the defensive back has recovered and looks to have a decent angle on the play.

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It's a little blurry, but you'll notice how Bess secures the pass, and has his eyes up field but he is also in the process of switching the ball from his right to left arm, protecting it from the defensive back. We saw this same practice in Part I of this series where during and after the catch he kept his body between the defender and the ball.

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Boom, makes defender miss and the ball is in his left arm now; eyes up the field. I have to assume that he also see #31 in his side view because he cuts his angle sharply two times in order to beat the defender, as seen next.

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You can't see it in this slide, but you can see it better in the next two that he is setting up the defender in this clip so that he can get back inside towards his blocker.

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Here he is able to split the defenders using speed, balance and quickness in tight spaces.

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Here he is able to utilize the blurry block to help create separation from both defensive backs. Notice the ball securely on the outside, away from defenders.

Touchdown!

Dolphins vs. Bills 2012 - First Down

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Here we see a shotgun formation: 3 WR, 1 TE, single back, set. Bess is just inside and just off the line of scrimmage at the top of the screen. The defensive backs are giving about a 5 yard cushion with Bess' man standing at the 20 yard line.

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The "Mike" is assigned to the running back coming out of the backfield, and the other defensive backs are in what appears to be man to man coverage. Bess is able to position his route to seal the defensive back on his inside shoulder.

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Here's another look. From this angle you can see how the outside receiver's route is causing the defensive back at the top right of the clip to drop and eventually clear out of the targeted zone for the throw, creating space for Bess.

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Above you can see as Bess cuts at the top of his route, getting his head around to look for the ball. The defensive back is expecting the ball to arrive in front of Bess, thinking he's closed and has a good angle.

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Here you can see that the ball is thrown high and over the coverage. Which is good because in this situation a high pass is one of the only places that the ball can go that won't be covered by the defensive bacl. The placement, however, forces Bess to make an athletic adjustment mid-route.

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Just an amazing catch as Bess "high points" the ball and brings it down; in bounds and under control.

First Down!


Dolphins vs. Cardinals 2012 - First Down

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Here we can see Bess set out wide in an I-formation, 2 wide receiver, single TE set. The defense is stacking the box as they are bringing in 8 guys into "the box". Bess appears to be the recipient of man to man, press coverage.

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Tannehill recognizes that Bess is able to take advantage of the press coverage and delivers the ball just as Bess is breaking his route and looking back for the ball. The defensive back has good coverage but Tannehill times this throw perfectly.

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Bess secures the ball first and foremost. Here you can see him planting his outside foot in preparation to burst inside to beat the angle of the defensive back; I have to assume by his next move that at this point he has already picked up the on-coming linebacker on back on his radar while also knowing that he has about 5 yards to go to the first down.

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Defensive back is left behind as Bess completes his turn / spin move. Bess immediately sprints towards the first down marker.

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Bess' speed allows him to beat the linebacker. He tackled here, but not after getting another First down!

Dolphins vs. Cardinals 2010 - First Down

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Here you see a 4 WR set with Bess set on the weak side inside slot.

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Immediately off the snap, Bess' quick footwork allows him to "gain a step" on the defensive back off the LOS.

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Here we see Bess putting on the brakes just as the defensive back is turned completely away from the QB.

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Bess now has the defensive back on his back as his inside moves following "putting on the brakes" has forced the defensive back to flip his hips and turn, allowing Bess to gain a slight step and inside position.

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Even though the ball is delivered slightly behind Bess, he's aware of his coverage and the space that's available to him.

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Bess completes the catch and then spins free of his coverage and sees lots of open field ahead, at this point he's already secured today's theme: First Down! But he's also now showing his YAC ability.

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Here he tries to make a cut to get outside the safety who is coming fast to the inside while the linebacker is tracking from behind his right shoulder.

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First Down with plenty of YAC!

Dolphins vs. Jets 2012 - First Down

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Here we see a shotgun formation, 3WR, 1 HB, single back set, with Bess in the slot near the bottom of the clip.

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The H-back goes into motion, flooding the strong side of the formation with receivers. The RB steps across the QB, causing LB to key on the run for just a moment while the H-back also forces the defense to adjust coverage. Meanwhile Bess is on a quick sideline slant.

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Here you can see him in position to make the first down catch, in bounds, with space between he and the coverage.

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Here's a familiar scene for Bess, after making the catch, he turns and uses his hand as balance, scanning the defense. While this might not be something he practices, it shows his athleticism and ability to change direction if the pass isn't on target.

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Here he comes out of the squatting position and explodes in between the defensive backs.

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After one quick cut out of a squat, comes another.

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Here we see him bringing it back inside, using his blockers and finding the open space for YAC.

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First Down with yet another example of YAC ability!

Dolphins vs. Cardinals 2012 - First Down

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Next we'll look at a couple of timing, quick curl type routes. Above you see a shotgun formation, 4WR set with a single RB.

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Bess gets off the LOS and at the 5 yard mark, uses his physicality to push off and make a quick inside cut and turn.

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Boom. First Down! But he's not done yet. Here you see the defensive back trying to make a play after being beat. Instead of wrapping up the tackle, he's trying to go for the ball and cause a fumble.

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Dolphins vs. Cardinals 2012 - First Down

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Another shotgun formation, 4 WR set, single back. Bess is again in the slot at the bottom of the clip.

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Here Bess sets up the defensive back, appearing to show an inside route. But Bess is about to plant and pivot, opening up to the outside again showing the ability to get in between the ball and the defender and create space through great route running.

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Great use of his hands to extend his arms and grab the ball away from his frame with his hands.

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First Down!

Dolphins vs. Cardinals 2012 - First Down

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Great initial footwork off the line to sell the route and get the defensive back to step with him to the outside.

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Here we see Bess again, with great inside position with the defensive back behind him.

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First Down!

Dolphins vs. Patriots 2012 - First Down

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OK, last one. I'll let you scroll through this one and share your thoughts or analysis in the comments section. This one is fun to watch because it's one of those quick, but effective plays that requires toughness and precision Bessne9yardcatch18_medium
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I will point out that at this point he has a decision to make in terms of which arm to move the ball into. Notice what he does next. . .

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Again, his body is between he and the defender.

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First Down!

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