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Browns Pass Rush: No Newhouse This Time

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A common opinion is that Marshall Newhouse was the reason the Browns were able to get a lot of pressure on Andy Dalton in Week 10 and that their pass protection will be sound now that he's been replaced by Clint Boling. Let's take a look at what to expect from the Browns pass rush in Week 14.

Clint Boling
Clint Boling
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew Whitworth

Whitworth is the Bengals left tackle. He's viewed as rock-solid but he actually should have shared in some of the blame vs. the Browns, as he struggled in pass protection.

On this play, Andrew Whitworth faces Paul Kruger. He mirrors the pass rusher well, but Kruger catches Whitworth leaning into his block and puts on a spin move. Then he powers through to the quarterback to force an overthrow.

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Here Whitworth faces a bull rush from Kruger. The outside linebacker gets under his pads and drives him all the way back into the quarterback, forcing another poor throw:

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This time Kruger jab-steps inside to fake the bull rush and then beats Whitworth around the edge with an outside move. Whitworth bit on the inside fake because of Kruger's earlier successes.

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What about Whitworth vs. Sheard? Jabaal catches him off balance and rips right by him on an inside rush:

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This time, Sheard drives him back into the quarterback on a bull rush. Whitworth has good feet and balance but doesn't bend his knees very well and plays rather high. Sheard is able to get lower, get better leverage, and drive the tackle back like a blocking sled.

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On this play, Whitworth faces strongside defensive end Billy Winn. Winn squares up on Whitworth and is able to get lower than him, drive, and get in the quarterback's face.

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Clint Boling

The Bengals moved their left guard Clint Boling to right tackle in Week 13 vs. the Steelers. Marshall Newhouse was sent to the bench and backup guard Mike Pollak took over Boling's left guard spot. Below is a series of 6 pass blocking plays from Bengals right tackle Clint Boling from the second quarter of the Bengals-Steelers game this past week. (Note: This is a series of plays, not highlights or lowlights.)

On the first play, we can see Boling going against a 3-4 defensive end. He displays heavy feet but keeps them very active to prevent getting knocked off balance. He is playing very upright here -- he's not a natural bender and has limited flexibility -- and is being driven back.

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On the second play, Boling takes on outside linebacker Jason Worilds. Boling gets out on the edge quick enough to cut off Worilds. The OLB gets lower than the tackle and is able to walk him back into the quarterback, affecting the pass. Worilds has good quickness but only average power, yet he was able to win vs. Boling with power by gaining a leverage advantage.

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Boling faced 3-4 end Stephon Tuitt on the third play. This time he didn't move his feet enough to stay ahead of the rusher on his outside speed rush. Tuitt beat him around the corner, but the quarterback got the ball out quickly so it did not effect the play. Still, this play shows that Clint Boling was susceptible to giving up the edge against a player that he expected to bull rush straight at him or come on an inside move. Facing Desmond Bryant poses a similar threat as Tuitt and likely will be met with this same kind of approach from Boling. It's also possible that the Browns outside linebackers could set him up like this if they establish their inside moves early on.

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Here on the fourth play, Boling is back against Worilds. He faces the outside linebacker head-on but he leans too far forward to try to get leverage. Worilds sheds him and enters the backfield. Before this game, Clint Boling was the Bengals starting left guard and he looks like a guard forced to play tackle here. Limited athletes like this have been on Paul Kruger's menu this season.

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Clint Boling faces a bull rush from Worilds on the fifth play. He manages to stay in front of him, but loses the battle when trying to re-set his feet. Worilds' bull rush is very similar to Jabaal Sheard's, though Jabaal prefers to continue through the blocker rather than attempt to shed and release. Worilds is quicker and more agile while Sheard is a bit stronger, but the two are reasonably similar players and Worilds' success here bodes well for Sheard against Boling.

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The sixth play was a quick pass. There wasn't time for Worilds to threaten Boling, let alone get pressure, but the right tackle is showing the same pass blocking form as before, leaning forward to make up for his limited ability to bend his knees and sink his hips into the block. Worilds pulls up after the quarterback releases the ball, but he had it set up to either drive Boling back with a bull rush or shove past him around the outside.

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The reason I point this out is that while Clint Boling received a nice grade vs. the Steelers, his pass protection grade was only a +0.9 against a below-average group of pass rushers. Kruger and Bryant both bring skillsets that should be much more troubling for Boling than what he faced against Pittsburgh and Sheard's bull rush should be as effective as Worild's was.

Given the matchups against Clint Boling and the previous success against Andrew Whitworth, Browns fans needn't long for the days of Marshall Newhouse.