The Cleveland Browns saw a good performance from QB Johnny Manziel against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but an awful performance by the team's cornerbacks in a 30-9 loss. Here is my film review of this week's game.
NFL Week 10 Film Review
|Cleveland Browns vs.
- Goats of the Game: OL Cameron Erving, DL Armonty Bryant, & CB Pierre Desir - It might be a little unfair to name Erving a goat, considering the circumstance of him having to suddenly play left guard after training primarily at right guard and left tackle this season (and having been a former center). However, if either guard were to get injured, I think the expectation all along was that Erving would be the next man up. The chemistry of the left side of the line was out-of-whack throughout the game, Erving was blown up on a couple of plays, and he had a holding penalty at the 1 yard line on a 1st-and-goal play (where he lined up at tight end).
Defensively, Desir has hit the sophomore wall or something. Over the past couple of weeks, his soft tackling abilities have started to stick out in a negative way. This week, despite often lining up in press coverage, he wouldn't attempt to get his hands on the receiver at the line. By the time he turned his hips to run upfield, the receiver (usually Martavis Bryant) already had a full head of steam, and Desir and the rest of the Browns' secondary looked very slow compared to Bryant.
A. Bryant gets an automatic goat award for turning a field goal into a touchdown.
- Awarding the Game Ball: QB Johnny ManzielJoe Haden to be back after the bye week from his concussion, but if he is not, the Browns should play around to see what Williams can do on the outside. He had a very solid game from the nickelback position, and I'm sure he was frustrated watching the Steelers just chuck it deep on the outside corners more times than not. If Williams has any redeeming qualities on the outside, then CB Charles Gaines can slide in as a nickelback.
Manziel also gets a game ball for the continued progress he's displaying. There weren't many head-scratching plays from him after the first two pass plays, and he had a good balance between getting rid of the ball quickly and extending plays when nothing was there.
- I expect CB
- Stopping the Run: If there is one thing the Browns did well defensively against Pittsburgh, it was stopping the run. According to Pro Football Focus, "NT Danny Shelton +2.0 had his best game and held the point of attack well in the run game."
Here is an example of Shelton holding the point of attack well. On the Steelers' first run play of the game, Shelton is lined up between the center and left guard. Pittsburgh wants to create a lane in the A gap between the center and right guard, with the fullback leading the way.
Shelton penetrates and rushes through the center, removing any lane for RB DeAngelo Williams to run through. When Williams tries to bounce to the outside, OLB Paul Kruger wraps him up for a loss of four yards. That stalled Pittsburgh's first drive, leading to their only punt of the game.
- Disastrous Start: If you would've only seen the first play of QB Johnny Manziel, you would've had no suspicion that he'd end up earning the starting job the rest of the year.
Facing a 1st-and-10 from the 23 yard line, Manziel had FB Malcolm Johnson next to him int he pistol formation. With the Steelers in man coverage, I think the Browns wanted to get it in Manziel's head early to take what the defense gives you if a receiver is open on your first read. Johnson will go out to the flat, with space to work with.
If Manziel's ball placement is good, this can be about a 4-yard gain at a minimum, with the possibility of going for more yards if Johnson can break a tackle. Manziel looks to throw it right away...
...but his arm comes forward with an empty hand. The ball bounces off the back of the helmet of C Alex Mack and right into the arms of OLB Arthur Moats, giving Pittsburgh great field position for the next drive of QB Landry Jones.
- Attacking the Gap: Two weeks ago against the Bengals, I complained a bit about the Browns' linebackers not attacking the gaps enough on running plays.
Facing a 2nd-and-5 from the 7 yard line, the Steelers are going to bring No. 83, TE Heath Miller, to the edge to stop the defensive end and allow the left tackle to leak to the second level. ILB Craig Robertson is going to do a good job attacking the gap once he sees it.
With Robertson in the gap, he is able to hold RB DeAngelo Williams to just a 1-yard gain.
- Game-Changing Play: If this throw was any indication of what QB Landry Jones was capable of, then this was the turning point of the game, as I would've much preferred our defense go up against him than QB Ben Roethlisberger.
This is the very next play after the run highlighted in the previous bullet point. Facing a 3rd-and-4 from the 6 yard line, the Steelers are going to send the far left receiver underneath the slot receiver at the goal line. With the Browns in off man coverage, our cornerbacks pick each other off and will leave the receiver open.
Jones doesn't see it, and keys in on TE Heath Miller, the only receiver who is double-teamed on this play.
Jones throws the ball right at ILB Karlos Dansby, but he can't hang on to it. It's tough to tell whether ILB Craig Robertson tipped the ball, which might have prevented Dansby from catching the ball with a sudden trajectory change. Jones was stepped on by one of his lineman here, ending his day with Pittsburgh settling for a 24-yard field goal with 10:59 left in the first quarter.
- Big Play Improvising: When QB Johnny Manziel started last year, the only "glimmer" of positive play we saw from him came on scrambles, where a receiver broke open. The problem was that Manziel would float the ball too high over his receivers, leading to incompletions. However, we said, "if Manziel can get those passes under control, defenses are going to have some big-time breakdowns."
On the Browns' second drive of the game, Cleveland faced a 3rd-and-9 from the 29 yard line. The Steelers are in man coverage, with WR Andrew Hawkins at the top of the screen and WR Travis Benjamin wide left. Both receivers are running comeback routes.
Manziel's first read is to Hawkins on the right sideline, but the defender in man coverage on the slot receiver tries to read Manziel's eyes and starts shifting over there. I believe Manziel sees this and decides not to risk a throw, despite having a chance at completing the pass.
Manziel moves to his left, which draws up the defenders who were in zone coverage over the middle. Benjamin then freelances to the middle of the field, where there is a lot of open space.
Manziel is going the opposite direction of Benjamin, so it's not easy to hit him in stride. The pass forces Benjamin to stop and catch it, nearly allowing the diving defensive back to get a hand on the ball. The pass gets to Benjamin just in time, though, and because the defender went for the diving breakup, Benjamin is free for a 61-yard gain before the deep safety angles him out of bounds at the 10 yard line.
- Run Game Communication Issues: In many previous weeks, I've attributed a lot of the running game struggles to tight end and fullback issues. This week, our offensive linemen just didn't seem to know who to block or who to pick up.
On the Browns' next offensive play, facing a 1st-and-goal from the 10, the handoff goes to RB Isaiah Crowell. The original intention appears to be him taking the green route. Once No. 93 splits through C Alex Mack and LG Cameron Erving, though, Crowell has to bail to the outside, where No. 94 hits him for a loss of a yard.
At the snap, Erving immediately went to the second level, leaving Mack to be beaten off the snap by No. 93. When the Browns' run blocking is at its best (which seems pretty rare), linemen leaking to the second level try to chip someone at the first level before leaking out. Was that Erving's fault here, or is it Mack's for being beaten?
- Ball Placement: One of the things I loved about QB Josh McCown was his ball placement on short passes early in the season, because he gave our fast receivers the ability to run after the catch.
Facing a 3rd-and-goal from the 11, WR Travis Benjamin is at the bottom of the screen with Pittsburgh's cornerback playing in zone coverage on the outside.
Manziel's first read is to the right, where there are more defenders (3) than receivers (2). The same goes for over the middle. When his eyes come to Benjamin, he spots him and immediately gets ready to throw. The defender has his hips turned toward the inside part of the field. If Manziel leads Benjamin with a fast throw toward the sideline, Benjamin might be able to use his speed for a catch-and-run dive to the pylon before the defender gets there.
The yellow arrow shows the ideal situation. However, Manziel throws the ball low and stationary, so Benjamin has to spin toward the inside to shed the cornerback. With no momentum, though, the nearby defender stops him and forces Cleveland into a 23-yard field goal with 8:06 to go in the first quarter and the game tied 3-3.
- Not Much to Break Down: Sunday's defensive performance by the Browns was the worst I've probably seen from our secondary since 1999. It was downright embarrassing for QB Ben Roethlisberger to just step back, read which side the deep safety was on, and throw it deep to the other side, and get a completion or pass interference call about 75% of the time.
Facing a 2nd-and-9 from the 32 yard line, Roethlisberger sees WR Martavis Bryant matched up against CB Pierre Desir wide to his right. The safety on that side moves up after the snap, leaving Desir in one-on-one coverage.
Here, you can see that Bryant is even with Desir. What you can't see is that Bryant basically got a free release and is in full stride, with Desir trying to recover.
Roethlisberger let this pass loose pretty early, but look how well Pittsburgh's offensive line is in sync trying to defend our four-man rush. We try to run a stunt on one side, and two lineman are ready for it. On the other side, OLB Barkevious Mingo goes for a rare pass rush, but TE Heath Miller stops him initially and then the right tackle helps out.
Why is Desir peaking in the backfield and waiting for Bryant to come to him? He doesn't even try to touch him until five yards down field, which is useless...
...and then Desir has to turn around and play catch-up against a guy who looked way faster than anybody our defense could throw at him. This play went for 44 yards as Desir barely made a shoestring tackle downfield.
- Bend-But-Don't Break: For much of the first half, the Browns' defense was bending, but not breaking.
Facing a 3rd-and-2 from the 16 yard line, QB Ben Roethlisberger tries to use his chemistry with WR Antonio Brown to signal for and throw a quick back shoulder pass to get a first down on CB Tramon Williams.
Williams is looking for a pass to the end zone, so it's a good read by the quarterback-receiver tandem. However, OLB Nate Orchard spoils the fun by extending his arms out and tipping the pass away. Pittsburgh settled for a 34-yard field goal to make it a 6-3 game with 4:45 left in the first quarter.
- Wrong Time for the End-Around: You hate to see our offense fake a play so often this season, and then when they finally run it, it goes for a big loss.
Facing a 1st-and-10 from the 41 yard line, the Browns fakes a handoff to RB Isaiah Crowell. FB Malcolm Johnson comes across the formation as a lead blocker for WR Travis Benjamin, who is getting the ball on the end-around. First off, I hate running this to the short side of the field. Why give Benjamin less room to work with?
Despite my reservations, the play would work if No. 51 bites for the fake to Crowell. However, I think No. 51 sees Johnson coming in motion and suspects a counter run by Crowell. By luck, it puts him in position to see Benjamin and stop him for a loss of 7 yards.
- Freezing Zone Defenders in the Pocket: One thing I liked about QB Johnny Manziel this week was him taking advantage of zone defender by looking one way and then quickly firing to where he presumably wanted to go all along.
Facing a 3rd-and-14 from the 37 yard line at the end of the first quarter, Manziel looks to the short route over the middle to TE Gary Barnidge. No. 94 doesn't sell out to cover Barnidge, but he takes a step that way, which helps create more space for WR Brian Hartline running up the seam to Manziel's left.
Compare the previous screenshot and you'll see where No. 94 is standing in each of them, creating the throwing lane to Hartline.
Manziel zips the completion in for a gain of 17 yards and a first down. Cleveland still had to punt by the end of the quarter after not converting on their next set of downs.
- Free Yardage: Are we even trying with this defensive look?
Facing a 2nd-and-2 from the 18 yard line, WR Antonio Brown is wide left and CB Pierre Desir is 12 yards off of him. Not only that, but at the snap, Desir backpedals about three yards. QB Ben Roethlisberger reads it and Brown sits at the first down for a quick completion before ultimately turning this into a free 10 yard gain.
A couple of plays later, facing a 2nd-and-17 from the 21 yard line, CB Charles Gaines takes his turn being lined up with WR Martavis Bryant wide right.
Gaines also makes the same odd mistake of giving Bryant a free release and is burned just like Desir was earlier in the game. This goes for a 64 yard gain before the safety re-routes Bryant enough to allow Gaines to strip the ball from Bryant and CB K'Waun Williams (who was in the slot next to Gaines) jumps on the ball for the quick recovery.
- Playing the Run Hard: Even though the Browns weren't running the ball well, passing wasn't a bad option because Pittsburgh was often playing run-first, pass-second. QB Johnny Manziel made Pittsburgh pay by going to the first receiver he saw open with that frozen defender.
TE Gary Barnidge lined up at the fullback spot on this 2nd-and-14 from the 10 yard line. The defender in the cyan circle will remain stationary off of the playaction fake...
...which means Barnidge is wide open to the outside. Manziel releases the ball quickly to him with good ball placement, allowing for a catch-and-run of 17 yards.
- Right Back to Barnidge: On the very next play, the Browns played in to the Steelers' commitment to stopping the run again, this time using the end-around to WR Travis Benjamin as a fake again.
Barnidge is going to run to the 40 yard line before going toward the sideline. With all three nearby linebackers sucking up to play the run or end-around, Barnidge is wide open.
This play goes for a gain of 18 yards and another first down.
- More Run Game Woes: After the two pass plays to TE Gary Barnidge, Cleveland continued their success through the air with an 8-yard completion to WR Andrew Hawkins.
Now facing a 2nd-and-2 from the 47 yard line, now seems like a good time to try to run the ball, right? What's the worst that could happen? On this play, LT Joe Thomas and TE Gary Barnidge both attack the far edge defender, which leaves LG Cameron Erving fending off the guy who lined up over him. I think the Browns want this to look like a stretch to the outside, but with RB Duke Johnson having the option to cut back. No. 50 gets a free rush in the cutback lane, though.
When Johnson bounces to the outside, Erving commits an obvious holding penalty. The confusing part is that Thomas is now trailing back to see what happened to No. 50. Was Thomas supposed to pick up Erving's man initially, and Erving get No. 50? Either way, something appears to have broken down in communication again with who is blocking who.
- Late Blitzer Ruins Outside Run: I'm going to sound like a broken record, but Pittsburgh didn't care -- they wanted to prevent our running game from ever getting started.
The execution of this particular run on 2nd-and-3 from the 35 yard line. When I first saw the play live, I wondered, "what the hell happened," because it looked like four defenders swallowed RB Duke Johnson right up the middle for a loss of four yards. Upon replay, No. 20 (the safety) times the snap count and blitzes from the safety position off the edge. Cleveland's blockers were setting up for an outside run here, and if the safety hadn't come up, WR Andrew Hawkins (not seen in the slot) would've been able to run upfield to chip him.
Instead, Johnson sees that he can't go outside, so he tries going the other way. None of the blocking was set up for that, so Johnson takes the four yard loss, serving as a drive killer of sorts.
- How'd He Get Free? On the Steelers' next drive, they faced a 3rd-and-2 from the 6 yard line.
With the game still being 6-3 near the end of the first half, holding Pittsburgh to another field goal would inspire some confidence heading into the half. ILB Christian Kirksey immediately sacked QB Ben Roethlisberger for a loss of three yards, which stunned me. How did Kirksey get there so quickly, and how did Roethlisberger not avoid the rusher like he usually does? Upon replay, I saw what happened -- this was a designed tight end screen to TE Heath Miller. The lineman over the middle let Kirksey come free, with the intention of Miller catching the pass here. ILB Karlos Dansby sees it developing, though, and holds on to Miller to prevent him from getting into the route as Roethlisberger has to eat the sack.
- Nail in the Coffin: The Steelers kicked a field goal to make it 9-3, but the points were taken off the board when a "leverage" penalty was called against DL Armonty Bryant on the field goal. That's the risk you take when you try to jump over a lineman -- if you land on people, it's a foul, plain and simple.
The Steelers capitalized with a touchdown pass on the next play -- 1st-and-goal from the 4 yard line. WR Antonio Brown goes in motion from left to right and stops as the closest receiver to the right of QB Ben Roethlisberger. This creates confusion among the trio of Browns defenders in the area -- they don't seem quite sure who should pick up who in man coverage.
Brown starts to the outside, and CB K'Waun Williams overcommits to the outside. Then, Brown just sneaks back over the middle for a skinny post...
...and Roethlisberger delivers a nice pass for the touchdown, giving Pittsburgh a 14-3 lead with 3:27 to go in the first half after they convert the two-point conversion (also to Brown).
- More of the Same: On the Browns' next offensive play, WR Andrew Hawkins fumbled, giving the ball right back to Pittsburgh. Cleveland's defense actually stopped the Steelers on a 4th-and-goal from the 1 yard line with under two minutes to play, but the Browns went three-and-out and punted.
Facing a 1st-and-10 from the 32 yard line with 0:42 to go, here we go again -- it's WR Martavis Bryant streaking upfield (from wide right) again on CB Pierre Desir.
Desir stares at the quarterback and does nothing to press Bryant, despite lining up over him at the snap...
...and Bryant smokes Desir to the end zone for the score. With it being 21-3 at the half and how easy things were going for Roethlisberger, you knew Cleveland stood very little chance of rallying.
- Finding the Hot Read: One has to wonder if offensive coordinator John DeFilippo will try incorporating some more of these plays into the playbook if defenses continue to blitz a defender off the edge late (they come up at the snap).
The Browns got the ball first in the second half. Facing a 2nd-and-17 from the 23 yard line, QB Johnny Manziel fakes a handoff to RB Isaiah Crowell. When the linebacker steps up, Manziel quickly fires to WR Brian Hartline in the right slot position, alas what QB Andy Dalton kept doing to the Browns two weeks ago.
The play goes for 15 yards, and the Browns picked up a first down on the next play.
- More Confusion Leads to Sack: Once the Browns got to near midfield, more confusion on the offensive line led to a sack.
This was a 2nd-and-10 play from the 43 yard line. LG Cameron Erving first looks left, where LT Joe Thomas ends up taking the outside rusher. C Alex Mack and the rest of the line block the rush coming from the right side.
We have another situation where Mack is releasing a guy to Erving, but Erving isn't expecting it. Manziel hasn't even received the snap yet and this is what he sees, so he has to tuck and cover for a loss of 8 yards and an eventual punt.
- Successful Screen Pass: The Steelers tacked on a field goal on their next drive, making it a 24-3 game mid-way through the third quarter.
On Cleveland's next offensive drive, they faced a 3rd-and-4 from 32 yards away from the end zone. RB Duke Johnson initially lined up next to the left of QB Johnny Manziel. After pausing a moment to act like he's going to block, he comes across and releases toward the right, where three offensive lineman also time things up right to go out as lead blockers.
The ball placement is pretty good to Johnson, leading to a 10-yard gain and a first down.
- Houdini Act Stymied by Officials: Facing a 1st-and-10 from the 11 yard line, QB Johnny Manziel pulled off a nice little Houdini act that makes him the exciting player that he is.
The Browns set up with two shallow crossing routes and a couple other receivers running to the front part of the end zone.
At this point, the Steelers are in zone with a lot of traffic over the middle. Manziel doesn't like what he sees, so he tries to spin and roll out to his left.
The Steelers get a piece of Manziel, who then spins back the other way and breaks free before starting to run up the middle. That draws one of the zone defenders up...
...and Manziel makes that guy miss. WR Andrew Hawkins is breaking free over the middle, but I'd like to see him stop where he is and raise his arms for Manziel. Instead, he kind of drifts into the end zone but toward the defense.
Manziel is probably in too rushed of a mindset to throw this ball to Hawkins, since he's already dodged several defenders and for all he knows, another one could be right behind him. He beats No. 94 with an out-and-in move, but the defensive lineman chases him down from behind to the half yard line.
- Can't Punch the Ball In: The worst thing you want to do on 1st-and-goal from the half yard line, besides fumbling, is committing a holding penalty. If you get beat for a loss of two yards, 2nd-and-goal from the 3 isn't so bad.
On their first down play, RB Isaiah Crowell wants to run this ball inside. OL Cameron Erving is actually lined up as a tight end on this play, trying to seal off the inside by anchoring his defender to the outside. FB Malcolm Johnson will meet a linebacker in the hole.
Johnson doesn't really get a helmet on his man, and instead gets taken out, creating a pile up where Crowell wanted to go. Crowell then bounces to the outside, which is a good alternative to at least attempt here. Unfortunately, Erving again commits a very obvious holding penalty with a tug of the jersey once he sees Crowell trying to go outside.
If Erving doesn't commit the hold, it's either a short loss, a broken tackle leading to no gain, or maybe a broken tackle leading to a score -- who knows. The hold sets the Browns back to 1st-and-goal from the 10, and before they know it, they have 2nd-and-goal from the 25 on the final play of the third quarter. Trying to make something happen on fourth down, QB Johnny Manziel gets picked off (I give him an A for effort -- not a dumb interception), and poor WR Andrew Hawkins gets leveled for a concussion.
- Touchdown With Timing: After QB Ben Roethlisberger was picked off by S Jordan Poyer on the Steelers' next drive, Cleveland had great field position.
This is a 2nd-and-6 play from the 7 yard line. TE Gary Barnidge is one-on-one wide right with no safety help, so QB Johnny Manziel makes the decision pre-snap that he's throwing the fade.
Manziel literally waists no time. The second he gets the ball, he's already throwing the fade to Barnidge. Barnidge does a good job shedding off his defender to prevent and jam...
...and the throw is absolutely perfect. A quarterback in the NFL couldn't have made a better pass. The touchdown made it a 24-9 game (missed XP by K Travis Coons) with 12:28 left in the game. Manziel had three very nice end zone throws on the team's next drive. One of them (to WR Travis Benjamin) should've been caught. The others -- to WR Brian Hartline and TE Gary Barnidge -- were solid NFL throws that required contested catches, but I'm sure both receivers would tell you they'd like to have those plays back.
- Using the Pump Fake: I'm sure you guys don't mind that I skipped the front-flip 54-yard touchdown by WR Antonio Brown, which made it a 30-9 game (Pittsburgh also missed an XP) with under 10 minutes to go.
Another nice element to QB Johnny Manziel's game was seeing him use the pump fake to try to move defenders. This is a 1st-and-10 play from the 37 yard line. Manziel's first read is to pump to the left, where he doesn't see anything enticing enough. On the other side, RB Duke Johnson is leaking out to the flat, and WR Travis Benjamin is running a bit of an out route.
Manziel pumps again to Johnson, drawing the underneath defender on Benjamin up toward Johnson. Then, he's going to zip a pass toward the outside for Benjamin...
...and he gets it there. Another defender makes the mistake of trying to undercut a pass to Benjamin, who goes for 22 yards on this play. Benjamin actually appeared to go all the way, but the officials ruled that he stepped out of bounds at the 15 yard line. The All-22 film shows that he was definitely close to the sideline at the 15, but it's not close enough to make any ruling. The CBS broadcast had their damn infographics in the way, so you couldn't see Benjamin's feet on the replay.
Cleveland couldn't punch it in, but that's when Manziel had the three nice end zone passes I mentioned in the previous bullet point.
- Special Teams Notes: The Browns had 1 special teams tackles, coming at the hands of OLB Barkevious Mingo. P Andy Lee averaged 40.0 yards per attempt on 4 punts, with a net average of 40.0 yards, as three of them were inside the 20. K was 1-of-1 on field goals, connecting from 23 yards out, but missed his second extra point of the season. The Steelers also punted once, and WR Travis Benjamin did not have an opportunity to return it.
- Snap Counts on Offense & Defense: If you missed them, here are the links to our snap count trackers for offense (link) and defense (link).
- Brownies: The Browns converted 5-of-13 (38%) 3rd down attempts, while the Steelers converted 3-of-10 (30%) 3rd down attempts. ... Pittsburgh out-gained the Browns in yardage 459 to 342. ... Cleveland had 12 penalties for 188 yards, while Pittsburgh had 5 penalties for 50 yards. ... The Browns had the ball for 32:43 compared to the Steelers having it for 27:17. ... RB DeAngelo Williams had 29 of his 54 rushing yards on the team's final drive. ... RB Duke Johnson averaged 26 yards per return on two attempts, while WR Marlon Moore averaged 24 yards per return on two attempts. ... I'm wondering if TE Randall Telfer is going to get an activation soon to help with some of the run blocking issues.
Up next, the Browns have a bye week before hosting a Monday Night Football game against the Baltimore RavensKeep it tuned to Dawgs By Nature for our coverage leading up to the game!