NFL Week 3 Film Review
|Oakland Raiders vs. Cleveland Browns|
- Goat of the Game: SS Donte Whitner - I truly try to vary who I give the game balls and goat-of-the-game honors to, but Whitner was the biggest letdown to me for the second week in a row. I feel he was involved in way too many of the Raiders' big offensive plays this past Sunday, as you'll see in the review below.
- Awarding the Game Ball: TE Gary Barnidge - Between his fourth-down catch, his touchdown grab, and going over 100 yards receiving for the first time in his career, Good Guy Barnidge was a bright spot, taking advantage of the scouting report that Oakland doesn't defend tight ends well.
- Going After Haden or Targeting Cooper? Last year, QB Derek Carr had no qualms about throwing toward the direction of CB Joe Haden. The same thing happened to begin this week's game, but was he throwing at Haden, or was he simply finding a guy who looks to be the best receiver in this year's class?
Carr went to WR Amari Cooper on the first play of the game for a 13-yard completion. Three plays later, facing a 3rd-and-12, Carr found him again. Cooper is at the top of the screen, running a simple flag route. Instead of finding creative ways to bring pressure this week, defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil seemed to prefer rushing three or four players, which didn't generate an ounce of pressure on Carr.
Carr has no pressure coming at him, so he gets to read his three receivers easily. Haden has fallen behind Cooper, but is playing to undercut a possible throw to the inside.
Instead, Cooper cuts to the outside and is wide open for 18 yards and another first down.
- Run Defense Starts Fine: For the third straight week, it's encouraging to see that the Browns' defenders are not getting blown off the ball on run plays. The guys up front are doing an adequate job -- it's those couple of runs later in the game where, in my opinion, the second- and third-level defenders whiff on tackles where the issues are.
There is nothing particularly special about this play, but it shows NT Danny Shelton pushing a lineman about a yard or two into the backfield.
With Shelton's penetration, RB Latavius Murray doesn't have a clear lane. ILB Christian Kirksey pursues Murray and makes the tackle after a gain of two yards. Murray had 4 carries for 2 yards on the first drive of the game.
- Secondary Not Delivering: Faced with a 3rd-and-8 from the Browns' 46 yard line, Cleveland couldn't get off the field again because of a lack of a pass rush and the trusted secondary not being able to make a play on the ball.
WR Amari Cooper lines up at the bottom of the screen on CB Joe Haden again. Cooper is going to run a simple stick around at the first-down marker. Cleveland is going to drop five plays into coverage on three receivers, but they'll be rushing seven players, including the inside linebacker.
Was there supposed to be a rush on QB Derek Carr? There isn't anybody within 5-7 yards of him. He has a clean line of sight to the middle of the field, and there is enough separation to where he could have gone to the receiver in the green circle. Instead, he comes to Cooper at the bottom.
Let's take another look at what happened to the pass rush. ILB Christian Kirksey is designed to have a lane to shoot through here. Although there are two blocking backs that would likely pick him up, maybe the pressure would've forced a bad throw from Carr. We never got to find out because the Raiders' center blocks DL John Hughes right into the hole that Kirksey was trying to blitz through, negating his rush.
Haden's coverage isn't bad, but as he turns around, he slips. This is our home turf, isn't it!?! Haden basically face-plants, so instead of it being about a 10-yard gain, Cooper's catch-and-run goes for 23 yards and puts the Raiders in field goal range.
- Defense Holds Early: Facing a 1st-and-goal from the 7 yard line, the Raiders went with two run plays for no gain and a gain of two yards.
On 3rd-and-goal from the 5 yard line, QB Derek Carr rolls out to his right and ends up throwing the ball out of the end zone when he doesn't see an open receiver. The point of me showing this screenshot is that Carr still never faced a pass rush here. He only moved outside the pocket to try to see if a receiver could get open in the scramble drill. Otherwise, as you are reading this, he might still be standing in the pocket, unscathed. The Raiders settled for a field goal and went up 3-0 mid-way through the first quarter.
- Instincts Not Proving to be Right: The more we see RB Isaiah Crowell, the more we see that his instincts often are not the best -- either that, or he's trying way too hard to hit the big play every time he touches the ball.
On the first play of game, Crowell gets the handoff and Cleveland's offensive line has generated a good push. If he continues up the middle, he'll probably get around 4-5 yards. Instead, he tries to cut back. The defender who RT Mitchell Schwartz is blocking is swimming that direction right after this frame, though, and TE Jim Dray is being pushed back into that "hole."
Crowell only ends up gaining two yards.
- Let's Try This Again: After getting a first down to a defensive holding penalty, the Browns decided to run the ball again on 1st-and-10 from the 27 yard line.
Once again, the push from the Browns' offensive line isn't bad. The problem here is that the run blocking falls apart. LG Joel Bitonio is going to left a defender slip right by him, as he appeared to be stuck between blocking the guy he let slip by and the guy who was in front of LT Joe Thomas.
The penetration only allows RB Isaiah Crowell to gain 1 yard. On two first-down plays in a row, Cleveland began second down with a 2nd-and-8 and a 2nd-and-9.
- Quick Snapping the Browns: After re-watching the defense, for about three quarters of play, everything was a mess, and that is a combination of poor tackling and being out-coached.
On their second drive of the game, the Raiders faced a 3rd-and-11 from their own 39 yard line. WR Amari Cooper is at the bottom of the screen against CB Joe Haden. At the top of the screen is WR Michael Crabtree, matched up against CB Pierre Desir. Cleveland has called to bring S Jordan Poyer on a safety blitz here, but he and everyone near the line of scrimmage aren't even ready. As soon as the center goes down to the ball, he quick snaps it, catching our entire pass-rushing unit flat-footed.
Not that he needed it, but this bought QB Derek Carr even more time to survey the field.
Carr decided to go toward the direction of Crabtree this time. Crabtree had a step on Desir and a better thrown would have moved the chains, but Desir does enough to help break up the pass and force a punt.
- Rusty McCown: There were three brothers who played this past Sunday in the NFL. Luke McCown started for the Saints, Josh McCown played for the Browns in the second half, and Rusty McCown played in the first half for the Browns.
Between his throws being off-target or making a decision like this, McCown was not sharp in the first half. One could attribute it to him being a bit rusty coming off his concussion, or one could say, "hey, you're going to live with these mistakes when you name a veteran backup as your starter." WR Travis Benjamin is running a dig route with RB Duke Johnson in the flat. The player at the 30-yard line is CB D.J. Hayden, who was on Benjamin in off coverage from the get-go. A linebacker is dropping back on Benjamin, but is about to release him to Hayden and go after Johnson.
McCown probably threw this pass anticipating that Hayden would be playing it safe in fear of the deep ball. Instead, he drives on the ball as soon as Benjamin cuts, and the ball hits Hayden in the hands but he drops the interception.
- Browns Didn't Learn Their Lesson: Maybe we can blame the change in offensive coordinators for this, but Cleveland did not learn their lesson when it came to blocking DE/OLB Khalil Mack.
Last year, the Browns decided to let their tight ends or fullback take on Mack in one-on-one situations for a good portion of the game, and it failed miserably as he blew up plays against the run and the pass regularly. The same thing happened on Sunday, and here is an example. TE Jim Dray is responsible for Mack on the right edge. Dray goes to block him toward the outside, but before you can even blink, Mack knifes through...
...and hits RB Duke Johnson for a loss of a yard on 1st-and-10, setting up a 2nd-and-11 situation.
- Trying to Get the Ball to Benjamin: Even though WR Travis Benjamin only caught 4 passes, I appreciate the fact that Cleveland targeted him 10 times, recognizing the receiving threat he's become this year.
On the next play, the Browns ran a playaction fake with everybody going left, trying to set up a wide receiver screen to the right with Benjamin. The problem is that the outside linebacker, who would typically crash for the run, decided to stay home and got right in the passing lane for the throw to Benjamin.
With McCown taking the sack here, the Browns' two offensive series in the first quarter went for absolutely nothing, but they were still only down 3-0.
- Will Rob Housler Ever Log a Catch? We're going to have a running gag this season: who is going to catch a pass first between WR Dwayne Bowe and TE Rob Housler? And, is it possible that both players end their reign with the club without a catch?
After forcing a three-and-out on the Raiders, the Browns faced a 3rd-and-5 from their own 38 yard line. WR Travis Benjamin is wide right in the trips bunch running a crossing route. WR Brian Hartline is next to him running over the middle, and then WR Andrew Hawkins is closest to the right of QB Josh McCown, running out and then curling back in. At the bottom of the screen is Housler, running a bit of a slant route against S Charles Woodson.
Housler was called for offensive pass interference on this play. At first, I wanted to give Housler the benefit of the doubt and say that Woodson was holding him. After watching the replay, at the start of his route, Housler runs straight up to Woodson and basically tries to throw a block at him before running the slant. What is worse is that Housler gains zero separation with his attempt; in fact, his attempt to engage Woodson actually allows him to defend the pass better.
- No Different Than a Turnover: Even though the game wasn't going Cleveland's way at this point, the Raiders began committing some penalties, allowing for the defense to force what looked to be a three-and-out. After a punt, the Browns could have had the ball trending toward the mid-way point of the second quarter and only being down 3-0.
This is when the Browns roughed the punter. I'm still very perplexed about how this whole play went down. The Browns are only rushing five players as they have two gunners on each side. The last thing you would expect here is for even one player to have a shot at blocking the punt.
A combination of things seemed to happen here. First, the Raiders basically release three of the rushers on purpose -- OLB Barkevious Mingo up the middle is the only one really being blocked. I'd have to assume that the Raiders were trying to release upfield as quickly as possible in fear of the return abilities of WR Travis Benjamin. I think the punter might take a hair longer than usual to punt the ball, perhaps because of how few rushers he saw pre-snap. After the game, though, the Browns admitted that they were indeed selling out to block the punt.
All four players converge on the punter, but they are late. He still gets a 64-yard punt off, and the 15-yard penalty gives the Raiders new life. If the fumbled interception in Week 1 by FS Tashaun Gipson was the defining point when the Jets took command of the game, then I'd say this was the Week 3 equivalent for the Raiders.
- Not the Best Coverage Decision: Facing a 2nd-and-15 a few plays after the penalty on the punt, the Browns appeared to go into a bit of a zone coverage at the bottom of the screen.
CB Joe Haden is on the outside with SS Donte Whitner over the slot receiver (WR Amari Cooper). At the snap, Haden drops back, presumably to defend a route to the outside. Cooper is running a simple crossing route instead.
QB Derek Carr recognizes the soft spot over the middle and fires it in.
Whiter is no match for covering Cooper. FS Tashaun Gipson takes a poor angle to defending this play, again showing a tendency to run first where the ball is headed instead of where he should be going for the tackle. Instead of this being a 15-20 yard gain, Gipson misses the tackle and it ends up being a 40-yard gain.
- Raiders' First TD: Several plays later, facing 2nd-and-goal from the 3 yard line, the Raiders scored their first touchdown of the game.
WR Michael Crabtree is running straight up the middle with SS Donte Whitner in coverage. S Jordan Poyer is giving up the inside route to WR Andre Holmes. CB Joe Haden is on the outside with WR Amari Cooper. This coverage leads me to believe that the Browns think Crabtree is going to run to the outside, with Poyer dropping back.
Crabtree does pick Whitner a tad, as you can see Poyer not really trying to defend the inside route. That allows QB Derek Carr, again facing zero pass rush, to connect with Holmes for the touchdown, giving the Raiders a 10-0 lead mid-way through the second quarter.
- Big Play Barnidge: It's no secret that if there is one thing the Raiders' defense is terrible at defending this year, it is the tight end position. They allowed four touchdowns to tight ends in the first two weeks, and TE Gary Barnidge had a career day against them.
Cleveland's first big offensive play of the game came on 3rd-and-14 from their own 16 yard line. WR Andrew Hawkins is wide right with RB Duke Johnson in the flat. To the left of QB Josh McCown, from inside to outside, are Barnidge, WR Travis Benjamin, and WR Brian Hartline. Everybody is streaking deep down the field, with Barnidge doing more of a post route. When the pressure surrounds McCown, he is going to step up in the pocket, and that forces S Charles Woodson to step up for a second.
Once that happens, Barnidge is behind Woodson and McCown spots him.
The catch-and-run goes for 40 yards and puts Cleveland into Oakland territory for the first time in the half.
- More of Khalil Mack: Here is more evidence of DE/OLB Khalil Mack's effect on the game.
After the Browns picked up another first down via the pass, they ran the ball on 1st-and-10 from the Raiders' 29 yard line. Mack absolutely blows up TE Gary Barnidge about three yards into the backfield. RB Duke Johnson tries to take the run wide, but LB Malcolm Smith is there waiting for him as Johnson loses six yards. If this is the production we're getting out of the running game on first down, we should just pass it all the time.
- At Least One Run Worked: After the previous debacle, the Browns followed up with a 17-yard catch-and-run by WR Travis Benjamin to move the chains.
Facing a 1st-and-10 from the 18 yard line, RB Isaiah Crowell gets the ball and the inside linebackers both get caught up in the middle.
For once, all of the Browns' blockers hit their blocks, so Crowell isn't hit in the backfield when he tries to bounce this to the outside.
S Charles Woodson didn't take the best angle, so Crowell beats him to the edge. His dive to the pylon comes up a yard short, but it sets the Browns up with a 1st-and-goal from the 1 yard line.
- Right Decision, Good Breakup: After being stuffed on a first-down run, Cleveland went with playaction on 2nd-and-goal from the 1 yard line.
TE Gary Barnidge is going to come across the formation, faking a run block before releasing as a receiver. FB Malcolm Johnson goes wider into the flat, and on that same side, TE Jim Dray releases up the field late. On the other side, OL Cameron Erving is a receiving option in the back of the end zone.
After the playfake, QB Josh McCown rolls to his right. Given the defenders bearing down on him, the only real option for him is to try and fit the ball in to Barnidge. The defender on the outside breaks off of Johnson here and gets ready to lay the wood on Barnidge.
Bang. Although Barnidge avoids a concussion-type-of-collision, LB Malcolm Smith gets his shoulder squarely where the ball was thrown and knocks it away from Barnidge. I'll give Barnidge the benefit of the doubt here -- with the timing of the hit and when the ball arrived, not many players would hang on.
- Follow the Fullback: This is the play that stings the most.
Facing a 3rd-and-goal from the 1 yard line, a touchdown before the end of the first half puts Cleveland right back in the game at 10-7, and they'd be getting the ball to begin the second half. Cleveland is going to run it here, and LT Joe Thomas and LG Joel Bitonio will do a good job sealing the outside. C Alex Mack and FB Malcolm Johnson do a good job walling off the defensive tackle, creating the green lane. The cyan lane also "appears" open, but pre-snap, Crowell should see that there are more defenders at the second level on that side.
Which hole is Crowell going to pick?
The wrong one, as he's stoned for no gain. After the game, head coach Mike Pettine said if Crowell would've followed Johnson, he would've scored standing. The Browns were going to go for it on fourth down, lining up five receivers. The snap was low, and the officials ended up calling a false start, so Cleveland kicked the field goal to make it a 10-3 game with 1:48 left in the first half.
- Porous End-of-Half Defense Continues: After a reprieve from poor end-of-half defense in Week 2, the negative trend under head coach Mike Pettine returned in Week 3. First, after a short kickoff, and a 20-yard run, the Raiders had the ball at the 50 yard line with 1:19 left in the half.
Oakland ran a rather simple crossing route and the Browns' zone defense fell apart. I don't know if someone blew an assignment or communicated poorly. WR Seth Roberts is going from left to right, but ILB Karlos Dansby and SS Donte Whitner are both eyeing RB Latavius Murray.
Dansby starts coming up on Murray, while Whitner's eyes are following Murray as he stands in place.
After looking to the middle the whole time, QB Derek Carr flicks a pass to his right, just before the pressure gets to him. Roberts is uncovered and he runs up the sideline for 36 yards down to the 14 yard line. We knew the inevitable would happen after that -- on 3rd-and-9 from the 13 yard line, Carr floated a nice pass to Roberts in the back left corner of the end zone, beating the trailing coverage of ILB Christian Kirksey. So, what we hoped could have been a 10-7 game at the half ended up being 17-3.
- How We Started the 2nd Half: What advantage is Mike Pettine's strategy to always choose to have the ball to begin the second half if the team gives up points to end the first half and then doesn't respond offensively out of the half?
Here is the first play to begin the half -- a rush by RB Isaiah Crowell. Just like the play to open the game, if he just runs straight up, he can probably power through for a 4 yard gain or so. Instead, he tries to bounce it to the outside. Unlike his 17-yard gain earlier, the safety is already at the line of scrimmage here, so it doesn't pan out. Crowell's run only gains 1 yard.
On the next play, WR Travis Benjamin was streaking up the right sideline. The coverage was good, and QB Josh McCown overthrew him. In hindsight, you can see that WR Andrew Hawkins had two defensive backs turned around when he cut to the middle of the field, and this was before McCown released the ball.
- Power Run: Even though the Browns punted, it ended up being a 76-yard net punt (thanks, Andy Lee!) to pin the Raiders back.
Facing a 2nd-and-5 from the 13 yard line, the Raiders had all but one player in a power run formation. No. 45 is going to come from left to right after the snap.
Nobody wins the battle defensively at the line of scrimmage, but SS Donte Whitner once again doesn't do his part as the last line of defense. He takes the chance that this is a pass play as he keeps his eyes on QB Derek Carr. Meanwhile, at this point here, RB Latavius Murray already has the ball and is going to blow right by him.
Murray's run goes for 54 yards. That was the lowest point of the game for me. Oakland ended up settling for a field goal, but a three-possession lead at 20-3 felt like too much to overcome.
- Ugly, But It Worked: The Browns put together the first touchdown-scoring drive of QB Josh McCown's career as the quarterback of the team mid-way through the third quarter. The drive was far from pretty, with a couple of penalties, several incompletions, and then this fourth down attempt.
Facing a 4th-and-2 from their own 45 yard line, the Browns decided to go for it (which was the right move). They sent RB Duke Johnson in motion to the left. With a defender following Johnson, McCown sees it is man coverage and picks the match-up he likes best -- TE Gary Barnidge, who is tight to his left.
McCown's pass is accurate and low for Barnidge, who gathers it in safely for a 6-yard gain to keep the drive alive.
- Touchdown to Barnidge: Several plays later, the Browns faced a 3rd-and-1 from the 28 yard line. They could choose to be a little aggressive with the play call, knowing they'd probably go for it on fourth down again.
Three receivers go into the route here -- RB Duke Johnson in the flat, WR Travis Benjamin on a curl route, and then TE Gary Barnidge on the flag route. The cornerback and the safety both jump Benjamin's route, which leaves the defender in green (S Charles Woodson) having too much ground to cover.
QB Josh McCown faces pressure, so although Barnidge is open, he still needs to throw a good pass.
Because of the placement of the pass, Barnidge is not only able to catch it, but he's able to run the remaining 10 yards for the touchdown, cutting the Raiders' lead to 20-10.
- How Does This Happen? The poor play by the Browns' safeties continued to be on display with Oakland's next offensive possession.
Facing a 2nd-and-7 from their own 23 yard line, FB Marcel Reece is running a curl route on the left with SS Donte Whitner in coverage.
Despite having safety help, Whitner is giving Reece a fairly considerable cushion, so QB Derek Carr throws it his way. Whitner is in the green circle, and once he sees the pass in air, FS Tashaun Gipson charges at Reece.
Here are both of your starting safeties, one of whom held out this offseason because he wanted a big-time contract extension.
Somehow, they let Reece escape, and then he rumbles downfield for a 55-yard gain. At the start of the fourth quarter, RB Latavius Murray scored from 6 yards out, making it a 27-10 game.
- Let's Try This Again: Facing a 3rd-and-17, the Browns called the same play that they hit TE Gary Barnidge on for 40 yards in the first half on 3rd-and-14.
This time, instead of going to Barnidge, QB Josh McCown is going to air it out deep down the left sideline for WR Brian Hartline.
The safety was shading a tad toward the middle, and Hartline has beaten his man.
The throw ends up being right on target for a 41-yard gain.
- Don't Stop Now: If there is one thing I can appreciate about the Browns' effort this past Sunday, it is that like last year against the Steelers and Titans, despite facing a deficit, they understood the importance of hurrying up if they wanted any chance of staging a comeback.
On the very next play, the Browns wanted to go deep again. Pre-snap, you can see WR Taylor Gabriel at the bottom of the screen with no safety help on the right side of the field.
Gabriel stutters for a second and the defensive back charges at him.
I know it's not clear as day to see here, but what you are looking at it Gabriel having completely fooled the defensive back. He would've had 10 yards of momentum separation had the defender not (wisely) reached out to tug on Gabriel, preventing a connection. The move somewhat paid off, as Oakland forced the Browns to settle for a 41-yard field goal with 11:01 to play. I agreed with the field goal because it made it a two-score game at 27-13.
- Time Wrap: Over the next 9 minutes or so, a lot of good happened for the Browns. ILB Christian Kirksey forced a fumble on WR Amari Cooper, and Cleveland struck quickly with a 4-yard touchdown pass to WR Travis Benjamin with 6:32 to play, drawing to within seven at 27-20. The defense forced a three-and-out and were going to get the ball back with about 4:00 to play near midfield.
Benjamin then muffed the punt, sinking the heart of Browns fans. The defense held Oakland to a three-and-out, and their punt that appeared to go in the end zone was ruled down at the 2 yard line.
With 2:26 to play, the Browns took their shot right off the bat. WR Travis Benjamin was the top of the screen, and his double move gets the cornerback to bite.
Here is a shot of the cornerback biting up. However, with no other receivers running deep route, the safety on that side of the field is keeping an eye on Benjamin.
Benjamin gets past the cornerback and is open. McCown airs it out for him.
There is too much air on it, unfortunately, as the safety is able to come over and knock the pass away. I give credit to Benjamin for trying to come back to the ball and jump in front of the safety -- he has gotten so much better at playing the ball than his first two years in the league.
- The Final Play: Cleveland strung together a couple of nice plays to get the ball to the 31 yard line with 0:53 to play and two timeouts. They burned one timeout on a 2-yard dumpoff to RB Shaun Draughn, and then burned their final one with 0:43 left after QB Josh McCown was sacked for a loss of 6 yards.
Facing a 3rd-and-14 from the 35 yard line, Cleveland still had some time to get a couple of plays off, but had to keep in mind that a play in bounds and short of the sticks would force a lot of time to come off and needing to call a fourth down play on the fly. It was indicated that the play was designed for TE Gary Barnidge, who ran a route right to the sticks.
It's hard to see here, but two defenders are on Barnidge. McCown perhaps could have thrown the ball with a lot of zip before Barnidge even turned around, and he might have been able to wedge it in there. However, it was far from "open." The defender on WR Travis Benjamin at the bottom of the screen lets him go to S Charles Woodson. Meanwhile, RB Duke Johnson is uncovered on the short route.
McCown looked left the whole time and then tried to air it out to Benjamin as a blocker was in his face. Johnson would've had a lot of room to run, likely enough for the first down, but with very little time to act, McCown must not have seen him.
Ballgame. Woodson makes the interception. If McCown had been able to get the ball either deeper or more to the sideline, perhaps we're singing a whole different tune this week.
- Special Teams Notes: The Browns had 4 special teams tackles with 1 each from ILB Christian Kirksey, OLB Barkevious Mingo, ILB Craig Robertson, and WR Travis Benjamin. There were 4 assists, with 2 each from ILB Christian Kirksey and CB Johnson Bademosi. P Andy Lee was great again, 52.3 yards per attempt on 4 punts, with a net average of 51.3 yards. K Travis Coons hit a career-long 41-yard field goal.
- Snap Counts on Offense & Defense: If you missed them, here are the links to our snap count trackers for offense (link) and defense (link). On offense, RB Duke Johnson had the most snaps at running back as Cleveland needed a receiving back to try a comeback. On defense, DL Xavier Cooper made his debut and played more than DL Jamie Meder.
- Brownies: The Browns converted 8-of-16 (50%) 3rd down attempts, while the Raiders converted 6-of-14 (43%) 3rd down attempts. ... Oakland out-gained the Browns in yardage 469 to 355. ... Oakland had 12 penalties for 85 yards, while Cleveland had 6 penalties for 50 yards. ... The Raiders had the ball for 32:29 compared to the Browns having it for 27:31. ... WR Marlon Moore made a nice catch on the final drive of the game. ... WR Taylor Gabriel also made a great sprawling catch earlier in the fourth quarter. ... CB Justin Gilbert only played two snaps on special teams the whole game, one of which was on the punt that WR Travis Benjamin muffed and Gilbert nearly bumped into Benjamin on.
Up next, the Browns take on theKeep it tuned to Dawgs By Nature for our coverage leading up to the game!