We’re going to try to look at several of the Browns’ offensive series in the first half to see where the breakdowns happened to prevent scores. Part 1 covers the three plays on the team’s opening drive of the game.
Drive 1, Play 1
The Browns line up with a three-receiver set (not seen). Randall Telfer is the tight end in the game, which could make the defense think Cleveland will start off with a run. Off of the playfake, Telfer runs a post route straight over the middle.
We already know that DeShone Kizer is more than a tick slow in his decision-making, but he loses the opportunity to hit a wide open Telfer because Joel Bitonio, pulling from left guard, is unable to block the right defensive end. This forces Kizer off his spot, and he loses all sight of the field.
To Kizer’s credit, he does deliver a nice little pump fake out to Isaiah Crowell in the flat, which draws a defender over and assists in Kizer getting four yards out of this. But as Kizer was scrambling, you’ll notice that Telfer is still wide open and moving with Kizer right in what would seem to be his line of sight. This should’ve been a 20-25 yard gain at a minimum.
Drive 1, Play 2
Facing a 2nd-and-6, the Browns run the ball out of a read-option look, where Joe Thomas ignores the left defensive end, fakes a double team inside, and then goes to the linebacker at the second level.
A nice hole opens up, but Thomas sold the double team a hair too long and is late getting to the linebacker, who is able to close up the hole and hold Crowell to a gain of 3 yards. With a better block from Thomas, Crowell could have cut this back inside at the second level for a first down.
Drive 1, Play 3
Facing a 3rd-and-3, the Browns lined up with three receivers and Duke Johnson in the backfield. The Bengals were in man coverage, but we didn’t get to see the play because Kenny Britt flinched for a false start.
Drive 1, Play 4
Now facing a 3rd-and-8, the Browns line up with three receivers and one tight end again, and Duke Johnson in the backfield. Kenny Britt is wide left running a go/flag route and Rashard Higgins is in the slot running a shallower out route. On the other side, Ricardo Louis and Seth DeValve are mirroring those patterns on the right.
None of the Browns’ receivers really get open, although you could argue that Kizer should take a shot on third down to either Britt or Louis since they have one-on-one match-ups to the outside. As Kizer holds on to the ball, two breakdowns happen up front. First, Kevin Zeitler is beaten by DT Geno Atkins. In addition, DE Carlos Dunlap, who begins the play over Joe Thomas, does a very wide stunt after the snap and comes free as J.C. Tretter is unaware of it while engaged with his defender.
The Browns had to punt, and it’s discouraging to continuously see such a lack of productivity on plays that are supposed to be “scripted” during practice.