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Film Study: Browns’ offense vs. Steelers, Part 2

We look at some of the missed opportunities and successes of the Browns’ offense in the second half.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

In Part 1 of our offensive breakdown for Cleveland’s Week 1 game against Pittsburgh, we looked at five plays from the first half. Now in Part 2, we’ll look at five offensive plays from the second half.

Hesitation Misses TD Opportunity, Leads to Sack

This is a 2nd-and-8 from the 9 yard line on the Browns’ first drive of the third quarter. After some more pre-snap alignment confusion, WR Corey Coleman is wide left, WR Ricardo Louis is next to him in the slot, and then WR Kenny Britt is tighter left.

QB DeShone Kizer looks left the entire way, but he hesitates and ends up taking a sack. The protection from both tackles wasn’t the greatest, but Kizer still had 3-4 seconds to make a decision, and we know how quickly things can close up in the red zone.

If you look at Louis’ route, he runs a fake out and then tries to cut back inside. My guess is that Kizer wanted to time up a throw to him as soon as he broke to the inside, but the problem is that the defender anticipated the route and was glued to the inside. Meanwhile, the outside cornerback had his eyes on Louis too, and kind of lets Coleman blow right by him. It’s easy to see this on the film, but it’s difficult to process it on the field so quickly because these things (Louis being covered, Coleman opening up, and then the sack) all happen in about a 1-2 second span.

What Happened on the Interception?

The interception has to be one of Kizer’s most disappointing plays of the game. Not including RB Isaiah Crowell leaking out late to the right, this is a two-man route with everyone else giving max protection and Pittsburgh only rushing three defenders. That means that QB DeShone Kizer could have held on to this ball forever.

Let’s talk about the two receivers. WR Kasen Williams lined up wide left with WR Ricardo Louis in the slot. I heard the crowd gasp on TV, and it’s because Louis is released to the safety. I personally think that’s a tight and risky throw to fit the ball to Louis’ inside.

Instead, Kizer looks at the one-on-one match-up with Williams at the bottom. I believe that if Williams had gotten better position, Kizer would’ve thrown this up as a jump ball to the left corner of the end zone. Because the coverage is good, though, Kizer anticipates running a back shoulder play. Williams seems a little late to recognize this, and then Kizer’s throw is just well short of the mark, allowing OLB T.J. Watt to go up and high point it.

Ultimately, once he’d gotten to that point, this is where it would’ve been nice to see Kizer tuck and run up the middle for 5-6 yards and then slide. It was a 1st-and-10 play, so setting up a 2nd-and-4 is a good thing.

Not Much to Break Down on Britt’s Drop

The Browns caught Pittsburgh playing in zone coverage on the deep crossing route by WR Kenny Britt. The protection on the four-man rush is good, QB DeShone Kizer steps up and then delivers a perfectly on-target pass.

I could nitpick and say that the ball was a hair behind Britt, forcing him to stop his full stride, but that should be OK here because players are often timid about getting clocked by a safety over the middle and would rather catch the ball in the open, safe area. This killed another drive.

Zipping it in to Louis

There are some similarities here to what happened on the earlier play in which WR Ricardo Louis was left uncovered off the line, with the safety coming over. QB DeShone Kizer makes a perfect throw here to avoid an interception, and it goes for 29 yards in the fourth quarter to help set up the touchdown a little later.

Corey Coleman’s Touchdown

The Browns had a four-man bubble screen on the right on this fourth down touchdown play. All I can say is thank God they didn’t throw it right, because I hate this overloaded screen play (mainly because we never make it work). QB DeShone Kizer fits the ball in perfectly on the one-on-one slant to WR Corey Coleman, who hangs on despite the hit from safety J.J. Wilcox.

There’s enough to be optimistic about the offense, but Cleveland needs to turn the corner so that these “what ifs?” turn to positive highlights. It involves an improved effort from everyone.