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Browns Pass Rush: Week 2 Player Review (Part 2/3)

In this installment of the series, I evaluate individual Browns players' Week 2 pass rush success versus the New Orleans Saints.

Jason Miller

In part one of this week's Browns Pass Rush analysis, I discussed the Browns Week 2 team pass rush performance in the game versus the New Orleans Saints. Here in part two, I will take a look at how individual players fared in their attempts to rush Saints quarterback Drew Brees.

If you are looking for an explanation of where the following numbers come from or a breakdown of the 2013 results that I use as a basis for comparison in this article, check out my introductory 2014 Browns Pass Rush Season Primer. If you'd like to take a look at the Week 1 results, look at my Week 2 Forecast. Now, let's jump into this week's results.

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THE WEEK 2 SCORES

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Pass Rush Scores:

			Week 2		2013
Paul Kruger		48.1%		48.6%
Desmond Bryant		35.7%		29.4%
Jabaal Sheard		35.0%		32.2%
Armonty Bryant		30.8%		31.9%
Billy Winn		30.8%		27.5%
Phil Taylor		25.0%		11.8%
Ahtyba Rubin		 9.1%		17.1%
Barkevious Mingo	 DNP		27.5%
John Hughes		 DNP		22.2%
Ishmaa'ily Kitchen	 DNP		20.8%
Craig Robertson		100%		 -
Eric Martin		50.0%		 -
Karlos Dansby		25.0%		 -
Chris Kirksey		 0.0%		 -
Buster Skrine		 0.0%		 -
Donte Whitner		 0.0%		 -

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Composite Pass Rush Scores:

			Week 2		2013
Phil Taylor		100%		75.0%
Billy Winn		100%		72.5%
Desmond Bryant		92.9%		75.4%
Jabaal Sheard		85.0%		82.2%
Paul Kruger		77.8%		78.4%
Ahtyba Rubin		72.7%		71.4%
Armonty Bryant		61.5%		91.5%
Barkevious Mingo	 DNP		71.3%
John Hughes		 DNP		64.4%
Ishmaa'ily Kitchen	 DNP		62.5%
Chris Kirksey		100%		 -
Craig Robertson		100%		 -
Buster Skrine		100%		 -
Donte Whitner		100%		 -
Karlos Dansby		75.0%		 -
Eric Martin		50.0%		 -

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Week 2 Observations:

1. Nearly every pass rusher approached, met, or exceeded their 2013 averages.

  • The lone exception was Armonty Bryant, whose Composite Pass Rush Score was much, much lower than last season's average (61.5% vs. 91.5%). After two games, Armonty has been struggling compared to last year. The real question here is whether it has to do with his ability, the way he's being used, or the specific matchups he's faced.

As I discussed in my comments on the team as a whole, the pass rush took an enormous hit when they only had a single defensive tackle on the field and Armonty Bryant was the choice in each of these situations. His personal Pass Rush Score took a major dip when he was the only DT: he got pressure on the QB only 14.3% of the time when he was the sole defensive tackle. The team's success at getting pressure when he was rushing (his Composite Pass Rush Score) decreased when he was the sole defensive tackle but did not take a major plunge: 57.1% as sole DT and 66.7% otherwise. Therefore, he appeared to be a liability as a pass rusher regardless of the situation...and the Browns are giving up even more in the running game in order to get him on the field to contribute on the pass rush.

Maybe they need to rethink his place in the pecking order or the ways in which they use him -- the other guys in his role, Billy Winn and Desmond Bryant, greatly outperformed him in this game, though Desmond didn't play Week 1 and Armonty had more success than Winn in that game -- or maybe this was just a bad matchup for him. In the preview to this game, I pointed out how Jonathan Goodwin struggled versus the power Paul Soliai brought to the table Week 1. Armonty Bryant does not bring anything like that and Goodwin fared much better against him than he did against the Falcons.

All that being said though, as I explained in point #6 in my team notes, the single defensive tackle package saw some success, mostly due to the additional opportunities it offered to get creative with coverages, and Armonty was the top choice for that assignment. I'm not sure how strongly they prefer him in that role over any of the other guys, but it's clear that they did in Week 2 and that it was a productive lineup, so I expect to see it again when we face other pass-heavy offenses (i.e. probably not this coming week vs. the Ravens but maybe against somebody like the Falcons).

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2. The team used five defensive tackles: Desmond Bryant, Billy Winn, Armonty Bryant, Ahtyba Rubin, and Phil Taylor.
	Rushes	PR Score   Composite	
Desmond	 14	 35.7%       92.9%
Winn	 13	 30.8%      100.0%
Armonty	 13	 30.8%       61.5%
Rubin	 11	  9.1%       72.7%
Taylor	  8	 25.0%      100.0%

  • The five defensive tackles used in this game split the reps fairly evenly. I already discussed Armonty Bryant's low Composite Pass Rush Score. Ahtyba Rubin's numbers may also seem relatively low, but they actually come in close to his and Phil Taylor's 2013 season averages. Speaking of Taylor, he had a very productive game, as did Desmond Bryant and Billy Winn, all logging personal Pass Rush Scores significantly greater than their 2013 averages. More impressively, when one or more of these three guys were on the field, the team got pressure between 92.9% and 100% of the time (as shown in their tremendously high Composite Pass Rush Scores). Excellent game by these guys in the pass rushing department. (Now if they can only manage to improve the run defense...)

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The Saints bring a play action fake with a pulling left guard. Armonty Bryant (yellow arrow) knifes into the A-gap between the right guard and center and into the backfield before Brees has come set and gotten a chance to get his eyes upfield. The quarterback scrambles to avoid Armonty. Meanwhile, OLB Paul Kruger was left unblocked off right tackle, with the pulling left guard coming over to pick him up. Kruger fakes inside to get the guard off balance and then steps into Brees' path. The quarterback is lucky to throw the ball away in the direction of his running back.

Armontyknifein_no1402_4q6-57_medium

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Billy Winn comes from his defensive end spot and stunts with outside linebacker Paul Kruger. Winn attacks the right tackle, drives him back, and bulls him into the pocket. As Winn approaches the quarterback and is about to shed his blocker, RT Zach Strief holds him but is not flagged for the foul. Winn has arguably the best outside pass rush move of our defensive tackle group, as he combines quickness, agility, and power to cut the corner sharply.

Winnpress_no1402_4q7-43_medium

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Here's Phil Taylor getting low and showing pretty good leverage compared to what's usual for him. Look at the power! Even after the guard settles and regains his leverage, Taylor still drives him back another two yards. Hopefully DL Coach Anthony Weaver can find a way to get this out of Big Phil more often:

Taylorpower_no1402_4q13-19_medium

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On this play, Taylor and Desmond both pressure the pocket from their 3-4 defensive end spots. Taylor (yellow arrow) takes an inside move and pushes past the inside shoulder of the right guard and into the face of the quarterback. Desmond (blue arrow) comes on a game taking an inside path, crossing behind Taylor, and coming free and into the backfield at the vacated right guard spot where Taylor came from:

Taylordesmondstunt_medium

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3. The team used three outside linebackers: Paul Kruger, Jabaal Sheard, and Eric Martin.
	Rushes	PR Score   Composite	
Kruger	 27	 48.1%      77.8%
Sheard	 20	 35.0%      85.0%
Martin	  2	 50.0%      50.0%

  • It was really just a two-man committee between Paul Kruger and Jabaal Sheard. Eric Martin was purely a backup and just came on when Sheard needed a breather for two plays. Kruger's personal and Composite Pass Rush Scores almost exactly matched his 2013 season averages. However, in 2013 he didn't perform to his average consistently, he had a few really big games and several very unproductive ones. So far after two games this season, he's stayed around his average. Jabaal Sheard exceeded his average Pass Rush Scores and Composite Scores from 2013.

  • Just to put this performance into perspective, this matchup with the New Orleans Saints is what I would consider a somewhat unfavorable one for Sheard and Kruger (but a very unfavorable one for the inactive Mingo). The offensive tackles they faced both had weaknesses that could be attacked, but not the kind of weaknesses that can be easily exploited repeatedly throughout the course of a game. Strief bends at the waist too much, but he can often get away with it due to his impressive balance and massive wingspan. Armstead struggles dealing with power but his left guard Ben Grubbs or backs and tight ends can help him with that at times. Both have good coordination and balance. The guys lacking these traits are the ones Paul Kruger took to the woodshed repeatedly for his biggest games last season (ex. Austin Pasztor, Michael Oher, Will Svitek).

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With two defensive tackles, two inside linebackers, and two outside linebackers lined up on the line of scrimmage, the Saints cannot afford to double team either Sheard or Kruger with their 5-man protection. The OLB's respond by rapidly defeating their blockers and threatening the quarterback, but both OT's do just enough to give Brees a chance to extend the play with his legs:

Sheardkruger_no1402_3q0-54_doubleburn_medium

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Jabaal Sheard uses a combination of quickness and power to pressure Drew Brees and attempt to bat down the pass:

Sheardhurryup_no1402_2q0-44_medium

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Sheard comes on a stunt with defensive tackle...Karlos Dansby? Yes, Dansby is lined up as a defensive tackle on this play (with Armonty Bryant as the other DT) and the line runs two stunts, each between a DT and OLB:

Shearddansby_no1402_1q3-45_stuntsut_medium

Jabaal Sheard comes inside from his OLB spot and crashes into the right guard and tackle. The impact causes RG Jahri Evans to lose his balance and he staggers forward to catch it. This, plus RT Zach Strief peeling off to pick up stunting DT/ILB Karlos Dansby allows Sheard to get through the B-gap between the guard and tackle and he bats the quarterback's pass down right in his face:

Sheardpd_no1402_1q3-45_medium

Sheardbatdown_2_medium

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Paul Kruger beats left tackle Terron Armstead to the inside with power (Kruger is lined up at the bottom of the image below, at the end of the line). He takes an outside step to force the LT to respect an outside move, initiates contact by giving him a shove, then arms over to slip inside. Kruger bears down on QB Drew Brees and hits the quarterback as he releases the ball, causing the pass to sail higher than TE Jimmy Graham was expecting. He barely misses it on a leaping attempt with outstretched hands. Instead, Tashaun Gipson snags it and returns it for a Browns touchdown.

Krugerint_no1402_2q3-37_tv_medium

Krugergipsonint_1_medium

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This play starts with a play action fake. For the first second after the snap, Paul Kruger looks to set the edge versus two tight ends:

Krugersack_no1402_1q11-26_all22_1_medium

During that initial second, Kruger identifies the play action fake and begins to redirect inside. He runs right by the inside shoulder of tight end Ben Watson, who was caught leaning to the outside. Paul Kruger then accelerates toward the quarterback and secures the sack at the one yard line. Despite delaying his rush for 1 second, Kruger is on quarterback Drew Brees 3 seconds into the play:

Krugersack_no1402_1q11-26_medium

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4. Karlos Dansby led the way among the linebackers and defensive backs with the most opportunities to rush the passer.
	Rushes	PR Score   Composite	
Dansby    8	  25%        75%
Kirksey   3	   0%       100%
Robertson 1	 100%       100%
Whitner   1	   0%       100%
Skrine    1	   0%       100%

  • Judging by the high Composite Scores, the team had a lot of success getting pressure when they brought an ILB or DB, despite the individual Pass Rush Scores showing that these blitzers rarely got the pressure themselves. Instead, they often made their mark by forcing the pass protection to account for them rather than double-teaming a defensive lineman or outside linebacker.

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There was one major exception of course: Karlos Dansby's sack. The defense had two defensive tackles and two outside linebackers on the line, two inside linebackers close to the line, and two defensive backs (a safety and a corner) near the line in the slot. Having so many defenders near the line like this can complicate and confuse blocking assignments. Here's how I think the offensive players were supposed to block:

Dansbysack_no1402_4q3-36_coach_1_medium

I show the running back's likely assignment in red because he didn't pick his man up. Instead, he went out into the flat and Karlos Dansby was able to come up the middle untouched for a sack:

Dansbysack_no1402_4q3-36_coach_3_medium

Saints QB Drew Brees was not pleased:

Dansbysack_no1402_4q3-36_coach_7_medium

But Browns Head Coach Mike Pettine was:

Pettinehidingsmirk1_medium

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ATTENTION: This is the end of the analysis portion of this article. The remainder consists of tables reporting the grades individual players received for each of their pass rush attempts in Week 2 (as was done with their 2013 grades in the 2014 Browns Pass Rush Season Primer and my Week 2 Forecast).

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The Grades

IMPACT = Pass rush ends QB's clock.

  • The best rating for a pass rush.
  • Pass rush that gets home.
  • Either forces QB to make split-second decision or denies him even that chance.
  • Many sacks fall in this category.
  • Incompletions: forced throwaways, grounding.
  • Also includes passes batted down at the line.
  • Also early penetration into the backfield that forces QB off his spot, forces him to scramble, etc.

EFFECTIVE = Pass rush shortens QB's clock.

  • The second best rating for a pass rush attempt. These plays are the bread and butter of a defense, as they limit the quarterback's ability to pick apart the coverage and often force him to settle for suboptimal throws.
  • Forces QB to cut short or speed up his process.
  • A lot of incompletions, interceptions, and checkdowns are caused by this kind of pressure.
  • May result in coverage sacks if DB's lock down their receivers.
  • General rule of thumb: Rush affects pocket within the first 2-3 seconds or impacts it very strongly immediately thereafter.

ADEQUATE = Pass rush contains QB's clock.

  • Forces quarterback to make a decision within the rhythm of play.
  • QB does not have to hurry but doesn't have all day.
  • Pass rusher comes free late...usually too late.
  • This is a win for the blocker and a loss for the rusher, but it's not a blowout or domination.
  • One common example is when an edge rusher attempts an outside speed rush but the offensive tackle is able to mirror his rush and force him too wide and deep, causing him to come free behind the pocket rather than turning the corner into it.
  • These rushes can become big plays if the quarterback holds onto the ball too long.
  • Generalization: This is when it takes roughly 4 seconds before the rush will get there.

INEFFECTIVE = Pass rush does not affect QB's clock.

  • Pass rusher may be completely taken out of play by blocker.
  • QB has "all day" and can take as much time as he needs; rusher applies no pressure.
  • This is a blowout win for the blocker and loss for the rusher.
  • Defenses can get gutted in the passing game if they have many plays with an Ineffective rush grade. Players with a high frequency of these individual grades may still be an asset to the pass rush if their team grades are much better (i.e. they have a high Composite Pass Rush Score).

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Pass Rush Scores and Composite Pass Rush Scores report how often a player/defensive unit generates an Impact or Effective pass rush. Essentially, a Pass Rush Score shows how often a player gets a good enough pass rush to affect the play while his Composite Pass Rush Score indicates how often the defense as a whole gets pressure on the quarterback on plays where he is rushing.

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THE WEEK 2 NUMBERS

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#99 OLB Paul Kruger:

Individual rush:
Impact 		 5/27 = 18.5%
Effective 	 8/27 = 29.6%
Adequate	 1/27 =  3.7%
Ineffective	13/27 = 48.1%
Pass Rush Score 13/27 = 48.1%
Team when he rushes: Impact 10/27 = 37.0% Effective 11/27 = 40.7% Adequate 1/27 = 3.7% Ineffective 5/27 = 18.5%
Composite Pass Rush Score 21/27 = 77.8%

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#97 OLB Jabaal Sheard:

Individual rush:
Impact 		 6/20 = 30.0%
Effective 	 1/20 =  5.0%
Adequate	 2/20 = 10.0%
Ineffective	11/20 = 55.0%
Pass Rush Score 7/20 = 35.0%
Team when he rushes: Impact 11/20 = 55.0% Effective 6/20 = 30.0% Adequate 1/20 = 5.0% Ineffective 2/20 = 10.0%
Composite Pass Rush Score 17/20 = 85.0%

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#52 OLB Eric Martin:

Individual rush:
Impact 		0/2 =  0.0%
Effective 	1/2 = 50.0%
Adequate	0/2 =  0.0%
Ineffective	1/2 = 50.0%
Pass Rush Score 1/2 = 50.0%
Team when he rushes: Impact 0/2 = 0.0% Effective 1/2 = 50.0% Adequate 0/2 = 0.0% Ineffective 1/2 = 50.0%
Composite Pass Rush Score 1/2 = 50.0%

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#95 DE/DT Armonty Bryant:

Individual rush:
Impact 		2/13 = 15.4%
Effective 	2/13 = 15.4%
Adequate	1/13 =  7.7%
Ineffective	8/13 = 61.5%
Pass Rush Score 4/13 = 30.8%
Team when he rushes: Impact 5/13 = 38.5% Effective 3/13 = 23.1% Adequate 1/13 = 7.7% Ineffective 4/13 = 30.8%
Composite Pass Rush Score 8/13 = 61.5%

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#90 DE/DT Billy Winn:

Individual rush:
Impact 		 1/13 =  7.7%
Effective 	 3/13 = 23.1%
Adequate	 1/13 =  7.7%
Ineffective	 8/13 = 61.5%
Pass Rush Score 4/13 = 30.8%
Team when he rushes: Impact 7/13 = 53.8% Effective 6/13 = 46.2% Adequate 0/13 = 0.0% Ineffective 0/13 = 0.0%
Composite Pass Rush Score 13/13 = 100%

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#92 DE/DT Desmond Bryant:

Individual rush:
Impact 		1/14 =  7.1%
Effective 	4/14 = 28.6%
Adequate	3/14 = 21.4%
Ineffective	6/14 = 42.9%
Pass Rush Score 5/14 = 35.7%
Team when he rushes: Impact 6/14 = 42.9% Effective 7/14 = 50.0% Adequate 0/14 = 0.0% Ineffective 1/14 = 7.1%
Composite Pass Rush Score 13/14 = 92.9%

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#98 DT Phil Taylor:

Individual rush:
Impact 		0/8 =  0.0%
Effective 	2/8 = 25.0%
Adequate	0/8 =  0.0%
Ineffective 	6/8 = 75.0%
Pass Rush Score 2/8 = 25.0%
Team when he rushes: Impact 5/8 = 62.5% Effective 3/8 = 37.5% Adequate 0/8 = 0.0% Ineffective 0/8 = 0.0%
Composite Pass Rush Score 8/8 = 100%

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#71 DT Ahtyba Rubin:

Individual rush:
Impact 		0/11 =  0.0%
Effective 	1/11 =  9.1%
Adequate	1/11 =  9.1%
Ineffective	9/11 = 81.8%
Pass Rush Score 1/11 = 9.1%
Team when he rushes: Impact 4/11 = 36.4% Effective 4/11 = 36.4% Adequate 1/11 = 9.1% Ineffective 2/11 = 18.2%
Composite Pass Rush Score 8/11 = 72.7%

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#56 ILB Karlos Dansby:

Individual rush:
Impact 		1/8 = 12.5%
Effective 	1/8 = 12.5%
Adequate	0/8 =  0.0%
Ineffective	6/8 = 75.0%
Pass Rush Score 2/8 = 25.0%
Team when he rushes: Impact 4/8 = 50.0% Effective 2/8 = 25.0% Adequate 0/8 = 0.0% Ineffective 2/8 = 25.0%
Composite Pass Rush Score 6/8 = 75.0%

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#58 ILB Chris Kirksey:

Individual rush:
Impact 		0/3 =   0%
Effective 	0/3 =   0%
Adequate	0/3 =   0%
Ineffective	3/3 = 100%
Pass Rush Score 0/3 = 0.0%
Team when he rushes: Impact 2/3 = 66.7% Effective 1/3 = 33.3% Adequate 0/3 = 0.0% Ineffective 0/3 = 0.0%
Composite Pass Rush Score 3/3 = 100%

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#53 ILB Craig Robertson:

Individual rush:
Impact 		1/1 = 100%
Effective 	0/1 =   0%
Adequate	0/1 =   0%
Ineffective	0/1 =   0%
Pass Rush Score 1/1 = 100%
Team when he rushes: Impact 1/1 = 100% Effective 0/1 = 0% Adequate 0/1 = 0% Ineffective 0/1 = 0%
Composite Pass Rush Score 1/1 = 100%

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#31 S Donte Whitner:

Individual rush:
Impact 		0/1 =   0%
Effective 	0/1 =   0%
Adequate	0/1 =   0%
Ineffective	1/1 = 100%
Pass Rush Score 1/1 = 0%
Team when he rushes: Impact 1/1 = 100% Effective 0/1 = 0% Adequate 0/1 = 0% Ineffective 0/1 = 0%
Composite Pass Rush Score 1/1 = 100%

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#22 CB Buster Skrine:

Individual rush:
Impact 		0/1 =   0%
Effective 	0/1 =   0%
Adequate	1/1 = 100%
Ineffective	0/1 =   0%
Pass Rush Score 0/1 = 0%
Team when he rushes: Impact 0/1 = 0% Effective 1/1 = 100% Adequate 0/1 = 0% Ineffective 0/1 = 0%
Composite Pass Rush Score 1/1 = 100%

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