For the second time this preseason, QB Robert Griffin III and WR Terrelle Pryor connected on a deep pass. Against the Falcons, it went for a 50-yard touchdown pass. Let’s take a look at the series as a whole in our second film study session of the game.
Click here to see the film study on the Browns’ first offensive possession vs. the Falcons.
2nd Offensive Series
SUMMARY: Browns gain positive yards on every play, leading to 50-yard touchdown pass.
Play 1 (1st-and-10 @CLE 19): 14-yard scramble by RG III
The start of the second series saw the Browns run a playaction fake to get QB Robert Griffin III to the outside with the option to pass or run. We’re going to see a lot of that this season, but its success will depend on the defense biting for the run.
On this play, the Browns pull RT Austin Pasztor and RG John Greco over to the left side. That is usually a tipoff that the running back is going to go in the direction of the pulling linemen, so the defender in the cyan circle is going to come off the backside and commit to RB Isaiah Crowell, ignoring the threat of a playaction even though he could get to RG III if he had guessed correctly.
TE Randall Telfer is lined up to the right of Pasztor. He is going to chip the outside linebacker before running a route toward the sideline, pulling the defender with him. WR Taylor Gabriel sprints up the right sideline. On the left side of the field, TE Connor Hamlett runs a route right up the seam, while TE Gary Barnidge fakes a block in the scrum and then emerges across the field on a shallow route.
Below, you can see the cyan defender chasing after Crowell and the magenta defender following Telfer to the sideline. When Griffin keeps the ball, he’s not going to have any defender near him, and Barnidge is going to start sneaking open.
Griffin holds the defense by threatening to throw to either Telfer or Gabriel, and then he just takes off. It’s great to see how fast Griffin is still after his knee issues. He wisely slides after a 13-yard gain; he could have gotten more, but no need to risk it given it’s the preseason and his injury history. He could have thrown it to Barnidge here, but when the running lane is this big for Griffin, go with your instinct and run — because the next time, a defender might come off of a receiver to pursue Griffin, and then Griffin can pull up and hit a wide open receiver.
Play 2 (1st-and-10 @CLE 33): 7-yard run by Isaiah Crowell
On the second play, Hue Jackson continues to show his love for pulling linemen, and that makes me ecstatic. It keeps the defense guessing, and to see us so coordinated at doing it in the preseason is a big bonus. One of my biggest gripes last season was that the Browns had five very talented individual offensive linemen, but the chemistry between them was awful.
Anyway, back to the play. This time, we have LT Spencer Drango (subbing one play for the injured Dan France) taking the outside man and LG Joel Bitonio pulling over to the right. FB Malcolm Johnson is going to focus on sealing the outside defender so he can’t cut the play down in the backfield. TE Gary Barnidge will initially assist RT Austin Pasztor for a double team before breaking off to the second level. Bitonio will eventually come around to get the other inside linebacker.
Here is the play developing — unlike last year, there is no penetration in the backfield to cut down RB Isaiah Crowell before he can even get going. There are no blown blocks. Crowell stumbles a bit (as he often does), but everything is still executed well enough for him to run between the blocks of Bitonio and Pasztor for a gain of 7 yards.
A hard count by QB Robert Griffin III drew an encroachment penalty, giving the Browns a fresh set of downs.
Play 3 (1st-and-10 @CLE 45): 5-yard run by Isaiah Crowell
This time, the Browns line up in the pistol formation with one receiver split wide to the left (not pictured) and everybody else packed in — this includes TE Randall Telfer far to the right, TE Connor Hamlett next to him, and then TE Gary Barnidge next to him before you get to the normal offensive line.
Hamlett, RT Austin Pasztor, and C Cameron Erving will each give chip blocks at first to help on a double team before leaking to the second level to take on a linebacker or safety. Everybody else up front blocks the guy in front of them.
RB Isaiah Crowell gets the handoff and cuts to the left. There is a nice opening. It closes a bit when Greco’s defender is able to navigate toward the hole and tackle Crowell, but I’ll take five yard gains every day of the week.
Play 4 (2nd-and-5 @50): 50-yard TD pass to Terrelle Pryor
WEWS was showing a replay of the previous run play, so when they cut to this play, the snap had already happened. WR Terrelle Pryor is wide right with TE Gary Barnidge in the slot. At the bottom of the screen, WR Taylor Gabriel is wide left with WR Marlon Moore in the slot. All four receivers are streaking upfield. Atlanta only has a single-high safety, and because their linebackers shade shallower toward Pryor’s side instead of where Moore is, the safety has to shade toward the left side of the field.
Apparently, even against a cornerback like Desmond Trufant, if Terrelle Pryor is even...
...he’s leaving. Pryor burns Trufant for the 50-yard score -- there’s not much else to diagnose here (it was a pretty plain defense by Atlanta, though).
Let’s go back to pre-snap, so we can take a look at the protection. The Browns will have all five linemen blocking along with RB Isaiah Crowell. Atlanta only brings a four-man rush and they do nothing exotic defensively. You can see the single-high safety shading toward Moore’s side at the top of the screen.
Griffin’s protection is perfectly fine, and he’s able to relax as it probably felt like a no-touch-training-camp-session when he chucked this pass down to Pryor.
The touchdown made it a 7-6 game. After a false start by OT Austin Pasztor on the extra point, K Patrick Murray kicked the extra point from 38 yards, though it just barely got inside the right upright to tie the game at 7-7. On Monday, we’ll take a look at Cleveland’s other scoring drive.