The Browns began the game with three straight 3-and-outs, which we covered here. Now comes the fun part of the film study, though: watching a touchdown drive unfold! This was the Browns’ only touchdown drive of the game.
4th Offensive Series
SUMMARY: The Browns gained 74 yards on 7 plays, with 2 penalties on the drive, taking up 3:19 of clock.
Play 1 (1st-and-10 @CLE 25): 11-yard completion to Terrelle Pryor
The Browns began the drive with a two-receiver, two-tight-end look. WR Corey Coleman was wide left with WR Terrelle Pryor wide right. The Eagles load the box with eight defenders.
Griffin runs a playaction fake, and all eight potential blockers for the Browns hit their blocks appropriately. LG Joel Bitonio and RG John Greco help their fellow linemen with the initial chip block before looking at the linebackers potentially coming from the second level. After RB Isaiah Crowell sells the fake, he fills the gap where the other potential rusher could have come from.
Pryor runs a comeback route, but there’s a little more to it than that. The defensive back was not in press coverage, so Pryor gets a full head of steam and then takes one very subtle step to the inside that gets the corner’s hips turned. Pryor then crisply runs the comeback with plenty of open cushion for an 11-yard completion and Cleveland’s first first down of the game.
Play 2 (1st-and-10 @CLE 36): Incomplete pass to Corey Coleman
One thing that Hue Jackson likes to do a few times per game is completely switch an alignment, which makes a defense think on their feet, making them prone to missing an assignment.
Below, you’ll see a colored “X” over each player, and then a corresponding color “X” to indicate where they eventually line up. At the top of the screen, we’ll have TE Gary Barnidge (yellow) and RT Austin Pasztor (red), with WR Terrelle Pryor behind them. At the bottom of the screen, we’ll have WR Corey Coleman (green) and LT Joe Thomas (magenta), with TE Seth DeValve (cyan) behind them.
Below is the alignment after the shift. The Eagles shade more defenders to the top of the screen, which makes it more likely that QB Robert Griffin III will look left. For some reason, and this is where the confusion factor comes into play, a defender ends up engaging LT Joe Thomas at the line of scrimmage and staying with him, despite the fact that he’s useless out here. I guess that’s where the confusion factor comes into play.
DeValve runs a bit of a wheel route and Coleman does a short post route. The defender back there is in between both of them.
Griffin makes the right decision and fires a strike to Coleman, but he drops it. This would have been a minimum gain of 15 yards, and when Coleman is in the open field, you never know how far it can go.
Play 3 (2nd-and-10 @CLE 36): 16-yard completion to Duke Johnson
Despite the drop, Cleveland persevered on second down with a screen pass to RB Duke Johnson. WR Corey Coleman is wide left with WR Andrew Hawkins in the slot next to him. TE Gary Barnidge is tight right with WR Terrelle Pryor wide right.
Johnson is going to delay for a 1.66 seconds before he and C Cameron Erving release over to the right. Griffin, as the pressure starts coming, shortly after rolls to his right. I don’t know if that part was by design or not, but I think the mini-rollout works better for this screen pass.
It might not look like Pryor is in position to deliver a block at this point, but when the cornerback turns around, he’s not trying to shield off Pryor; he’s looking to stop Johnson. That allows Pryor to get to the other side and raise his arms in the air to ensure he’s not flagged for any hold, but it’s still more-than-enough to spring Johnson free for 16 yards and a first down.
Play 4 (1st-and-10 @PHI 48): False start on Terrelle Pryor (loss of 5 yards)
On the next play, Cleveland had both RB Isaiah Crowell and RB Duke Johnson in the backfield. However, WR Terrelle Pryor took off for a false start. I’m not sure what happened; no one else on the Browns or Eagles gave an impression that a snap was imminent.
Play 5 (1st-and-15 @CLE 47): 44-yard completion to Terrelle Pryor
No worries, says WR Terrelle Pryor, who makes up for his false start gaffe with a 44-yard catch on the next play. Pryor is lined up wide left, and the safety is going to let the cornerback handle him one-on-one. To the right side are WR Andrew Hawkins (slot) and WR Corey Coleman (wide) again.
There really isn’t much to dissect here for such an exciting outcome. Pryor ran a go route, the defensive back was in his hip pocket, but Pryor stayed focused on the ball, jumped to high point it, and hauled it in for a 44-yard gain.
Play 6 (1st-and-goal @PHI 9): 1-yard run by Isaiah Crowell
In our first goal-to-go situation of the regular season, Cleveland began with a running play. All 11 players on offense are packed pretty tight, despite three wide receivers being in the formation. After the snap, the Browns send WR Terrelle Pryor to deliver a block on the backside of the play, giving the illusion that WR Corey Coleman could be getting an end around.
What they actually do is hand the ball off to RB Isaiah Crowell.
An end around looks like it might have worked for a few yards at least, and maybe a touchdown. C Cameron Erving can’t quite keep his defender contained, and he meets RB Isaiah Crowell in the hole for just a one yard gain.
Play 7 (2nd-and-goal @PHI 8): Incomplete pass to Andrew Hawkins
On second down, the Browns line up with five wide, and they decide to stick a linebacker, Jordan Hicks, on WR Andrew Hawkins, who is the closest player to the left of QB Robert Griffin III, running a flag route. If the Eagles play man coverage, which they end up doing, that should be Griffin’s pre-snap read to who he wants to go to.
To Hicks’ credit, he does a fantastic job for a linebacker to stay with Hawkins. Griffin throws the ball in-line with where Hawkins is standing, but it’s rocketed and is four feet above his head. A better timed touch pass to the corner of the end zone would have been a touchdown, though.
Play 8 (3rd-and-goal @PHI 8): Incomplete pass to Duke Johnson (pass interference)
Now facing a third down, I’m not sure what the heck this play was supposed to accomplish. WR Corey Coleman and WR Terrelle Pryor are wide to the left. They kind of run about 6 yards and engage the defender a little without actually running much of a route. TE Randall Telfer and TE Gary Barnidge are on the right side; Telfer is the only one who goes to the end zone, where he’s double covered, and Barnidge’s route is only half the distance. RB Duke Johnson goes out into the flat.
After QB Robert Griffin III rolls to his right, Johnson spins and runs to the end zone before coming back to the front part of the end zone to give him an outlet to throw to. The defender is ruled to have run through Johnson, giving Cleveland the ball at the 2 yard line on a pass interference penalty.
Let’s look at the blocking for a second on the play. LT Joe Thomas had bumped the magenta defender originally, and C Cameron Erving does a good job picking him up after the defender moves inside. RT Austin Pasztor loses his man and basically commits a hold before (not shown) tackling his guy to the ground. No flag is called for the hold.
Play 9 (1st-and-goal @PHI 2): 2-yard TD run by Isaiah Crowell
Now facing a 1st-and-goal from the 2 yard line, the Browns are able to punch it in via the ground game. TE Randall Telfer seals the edge and FB Malcolm Johnson is going to end up delivering a nice block on a defender who was attempting to shoot through for a diving tackle. OL Spencer Drango is the extra tight end in this set, to the left of LT Joe Thomas.
I hate to seem like I keep picking on C Cameron Erving, but his defender is the first to start getting free. When Crowell sees this, he decides to completely bounce this to the inside instead of running up behind Johnson and Drango.
Bang — there is Johnson lowering the boom on his defender. A little bit after this screenshot, Telfer blocks his guy to the ground. Some defenders still chase Crowell laterally at the goal line, but he has enough speed to get to the pylon for the score.
Even though this was just an extra point, I thought it might be interesting to see which players are being used on the field goal protection unit this year, given all the issues from a year ago. Remember that last year, NT Danny Shelton and C Cameron Erving were often close to the long snapper on either side. This time, Shelton isn’t part of the lineup, and Erving is on the far right end.
From left to right, the protection is:
OLB Emmanuel Ogbah (90), OL Spencer Drango (66), OL Austin Pasztor (67), OL John Greco (77), LS Charley Hughlett (47), DL Jamie Meder (98), OL Joel Bitonio (75), OL Alvin Bailey (78), and OL Cameron Erving (74).
Conclusion: The passing game had its moments on this drive, but the mistakes that stand out include the drop by WR Corey Coleman, the end zone overthrow to WR Andrew Hawkins, and the odd third-down play call at the goal line. There were only two running plays attempted, so I don’t think it’s enough to evaluate RB Isaiah Crowell and the ground game in general. We got a touchdown and had some momentum on the next drive too before Griffin’s interception.