No one can replace DE Myles Garrett and few can do what DE Jadeveon Clowney does to help Garrett be successful on the other side of the ball. With the Cleveland Browns already ruling out Garrett and Clowney questionable for the game after not practicing all week, DE Alex Wright will be first up to take snaps off the edge.
A developmental player out of UAB, the Browns selected Wright with their second pick in the third round, after CB Martin Emerson. Instead of getting a chance to develop as a rotational player behind Garrett, Clowney and Chase Winovich, injuries to Clowney and Winovich forced him into the starting lineup in Week 3.
After Garrett was ruled out on Saturday, I went back and watched every snap that Wright took against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday Night Football. This quick look at those snaps is not evaluating Wright’s future in the NFL but what Week 3 might tell us about what we can expect in Week 4.
- Wright is very active and rarely is not chasing down plays and rarely gives up on his pass rush until the play is over.
- His size and length present some similarities to Cleveland’s starting edge rushers.
- He is aggressive in run pursuits.
- When asked to drop into coverage, surprising for his size, Wright seemed mostly comfortable.
- DC Joe Woods trusted Wright enough to line him up at DT a few times throughout the game to try to get more pass rush.
- He had one play where he bent the edge and got pressure on the QB but didn’t try it again in the game.
- Did not looked planned but when he and Garrett ran a two-man game upfront it often freed one of them up.
- The young edge rusher rarely had a plan of attack getting at the quarterback and often just tried to bull his way through blockers.
- Tight ends were able to block him 1 on 1 on multiple occasions.
- His aggressive play against the run led to a number of misdirection runs having easy access to his side of the field.
- Some body control issues with finishing plays by himself.
Concerns Against Falcons:
Three concerns really stand out with Wright going into Week 4’s game. First, without Garrett and, likely, Clowney, he will get the majority of the attention from the offensive line. He struggled to beat 1 on 1 blocks from tight ends last week so its unlikely he’ll be able to do significantly more this week.
Second, his aggressive play in the run game could lead to significant gains by either Atlanta’s running backs or mobile QB Marcus Mariota. It is possible we will see some zone-read plays looking to target the rookie defensive end. If I can see it on film, the Falcons offensive coaching staff knows it was a problem last week as well.
Finally, the lack of a perceived plan of attack often led Wright and Garrett to the same place or actually running into each other. With up to three new starters on the defensive line, it could be problematic if they are all just doing their own thing.
As a late third-round pick, Wright has shown some positive things on the field since training camp. As a starting defensive end for a team that needs to pile up wins early in the season before a rough stretch, Wright seems to be out of his depths going into Week 4.
Hopefully Week 3 was a learning experience for the young, athletic Wright and he proves me wrong in Week 4.
Below are my simplified notes for each play on Wright. Nothing sophisticated here but, if you are so inclined, you could watch all his plays and see what you think versus what I did. There is a chance I missed a play but hopefully not.
This is my “show your work” portion:
- Cut blocked
- Stoned 1 on 1
- Chased WR screen well (stood up, not hand in the dirt)
- Allowed inside on a QB rolled outside of him, took it
- Off to start next series
- Back in when PITT hits redzone, playing in place of Garrett as LDE
- Keeps contain on run his side, falls inside to help with tackle
- Run play to opposite side but still doubled
- Garrett returns, Wright to RDE
- Run goes opposite for TD
- Doubled on short roll to his side, fine no pressure tho
- Overruns a counter after beating pulling blocker
- Drops into a zone/spy situation
- Good pursuit on decent run away from him
- Again overruns a counter play, loses contain for big gain/first down
- Blocked by TE 1 on 1 on a middle run play
- Came down too hard on a Claypool end around that went for a first.
- Replaced by Rochell in redzone
- Playing DT inside Garrett on next drive
- Late loop/switch leads to late Garrett pressure
- Stone by LG, doesn’t give up in pursuit of QB but no pressure
- Back to RDE
- Shows some bend to get some light pressure and force incompletion
- Only three rushers, gets doubled, never gives up. No pressure but winning through effort
- Doubled/tripled on rollout his way, gets pressure, incompletion
- Quick bubble screen, nothing for Wright stays active
- Rollout away from him
- Moves inside Garrett at DT for a play
- Occupies two blockers, maintains pursuit, closest to QB when ball released for INC
- Quick bubble screen away
- Pursues inside run to join the pile on tackle
- Comes down on run, leaves containment open outside but run stays inside
- Stood up, joined tackle late on run play
- Sifts through traffic and runs down RB on swing pass, good effort low impact
- Gets late pressure forcing dump down, finally beat TE 1 on 1 block (seemed tired)
- Plays QB on shovel pass as he should, Long gain
- Replaced by Rochell for one play
- Short roll and quick throw away from his side
- Replaced by Rochell to start the drive
- Back in next series, crashes hard on another counter, gets washed out of play
- Chip and release by RB, stopped by RT on pass rush
- Inside Garrett at DT, stoned by RG until QB steps up into his area
- Short roll his way, doubled no pressure
- Slow to engage RT with any kind of move, stutters about time QB releases
- Drops into zone coverage slightly better dropping than I expected, no impact on play
- Inside Garrett at DT
- Doubled, wants to get outside but Myles there
- Wright, Garrett ran into each other trying to make moves
- Passed off by LG to C, no impact with pass rush
- Doubled by LG and C, no pressure
- Moved inside Rochell
- Chases quick pass to WR after getting stoned
- Quick snap, no pressure stopped by RG
- Back at RDE, takes on blockers, opens up looper for pressure