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Film Study: Browns’ offense vs. Steelers, Part 1

We take a look as some of plays that worked against the Browns’ offense in the first half of Week 1.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cleveland Browns Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The next part of our film study from Week 1’s Browns vs. Steelers game focused on the offense. We’ll look at a handful of plays in Part 1 from the first half of the game, followed by some plays in the second half in Part 2.

Crowell’s Big Loss to Begin the Game

The second play of the game is a handoff to RB Isaiah Crowell. Before the snap, the Browns motioned TE Seth DeValve to the left of QB DeShone Kizer. After he sets, Kizer also motions TE David Njoku from his right split back spot over to his left side for a potential screen pass, where DeValve and WR Corey Coleman would’ve been the lead blockers. That’s the deception portion of the play, but the Steelers’ defense doesn’t bite for it, so they actually have more defenders keyed in to stop the run.

Unfortunately, the big problem here is that this goes for a loss of 9 yards! Crowell’s average was bad in general on the day, but this play exacerbated it. In my opinion, this play is ruined by TE Randall Telfer, who is lined up next to RT Shon Coleman. The play is designed for both guards to pull to their right. Telfer is supposed to come back inside and block down on No. 91, pushing him to the inside. Then, Telfer can release to the second level, and pulling LG Joel Bitonio can pick up No. 91.

Instead, No. 91 gets outside leverage on Telfer right away, which means Bitonio can’t get there in time.

Not Letting it Rip

The biggest thing we hope to see QB DeShone Kizer improve on is getting the ball out a tick quicker, especially if he spots a receiver one-on-one on a medium route. This play is the first one that Kizer was sacked on. WR Corey Coleman is wide left and runs a go route that he converts to a comeback when he sees Kizer trying to scramble. WR Kenny Britt lines up in the slot, and RB Duke Johnson is beside him.

You can’t see it here, but Johnson was trying to communicate with Britt as some pre-snap motioning of the offense were taking place. I’m not sure if there was confusion on who was doing what, or if everything was just peachy. Britt and Johnson run to a similar spot, and Kizer *appeared* to be staring at Britt. I’m thinking he wanted to throw it to him on a short post, but that Duke’s route and defender were too close for comfort.

However, I did freeze the clip for a second when Johnson comes out of his break. That was the best opportunity to hit a receiver, but Kizer bailed from the pocket once his window to Britt closed.

Missing Duke Johnson Deep

QB DeShone Kizer tried to hit RB Duke Johnson deep twice in the game, but missed both times. Here, you can see Johnson lined up slot left, running a fake out and then streaking upfield. After the snap, Kizer does a good job looking right, which draws the single high safety to that side of the field.

A better throw makes this either a big play or a touchdown. It’s an example of why Johnson is a dangerous weapon if teams don’t have the right defenders matched up on him.

A Little High to Seth DeValve

In the second quarter, the Browns pretty much went back to the same play that we just highlighted with RB Duke Johnson. This time, QB DeShone Kizer looks to his right, where he has TE Seth DeValve starting in the slot and running the out-and-up.

This is nice timing by Kizer, getting the ball out just after DeValve’s break and recognizing he’s going to be open. However, it’s just a bit too high; DeValve gets his fingertips on it, but the defender behind him knocks the ball away before he can secure it.

Corey Coleman in the Open Field

This was a great game for WR Corey Coleman, but here is another play that QB DeShone Kizer would love to have back. Kizer fakes the handoff to RB Isaiah Crowell, and then TE Randall Telfer comes back across the formation to block and give Kizer a clean pocket to step in to.

I freezed the GIF for a second because you can see four! defenders followed RB Duke Johnson. Kizer then hits Coleman for 19 yards on a deep crossing route. Streaking up the left sideline was WR Kenny Britt, with a deep safety back there. Coleman had significant separation by NFL standards on CB Joe Haden. If Kizer had thrown this pass in stride to Coleman, which he should have, given there being no pressure on him, then this could’ve turned into a 40-yard gain or even a touchdown if he makes the right open field move.

At the very least, a better throw gets Cleveland into field goal range. Instead, the drive stalled and the team punted. That’s at least a three-point mistake.

The first half highlights show missed opportunities, but there is some optimism to that if you believe that Kizer and the rest of the offense can polish things off just a hair. We have receivers who can get open, and in the second half, we’ll look at a few more plays that demonstrate that.