Beating the Miami Dolphins this season has not been easy for teams. Getting wins has not been easy for the Cleveland Browns until their last victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football. The two teams meet Sunday at 1 PM this week.
The Browns will be without LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and TE David Njoku for the game but those might be the least of the team’s worries.
QB Tua Tagovailoa has led his team to victories in every game he has finished this year. He has thrived over the middle this year and Cleveland’s sideline temperature could be a storyline in Miami as well.
Tagovailoa’s success this year has a lot to do with the scheme HC Mike McDaniel has brought to the team and the addition of WR Tyreek Hill in the offseason. Holdover WR Jaylen Waddle was a huge speed threat before Hill’s arrival but the pair create so many matchup problems for defenses.
With the addition of Hill, teams are afraid to matchup against the Dolphins in man coverage:
Dolphins @Tua is the *Best* QB against man coverage in the NFL this year and it's not even close— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) November 11, 2022
Defenses are now so scared of playing Tua in man coverage that they're only playing it 33% of his dropbacks. That's the lowest rate any QB has seen in a season since tracking started pic.twitter.com/DN0kcdudEp
In man coverage, Hill and Waddle are able to win one on one matchups and Tagovailoa is able to dissect defenses quickly if either or both of those players are double-teamed. While CB Denzel Ward is returning for this week’s game, man coverage cannot be the answer.
Instead, the Browns will need to be solid in their zone coverage, especially over the middle, in hopes of slowing down the team. They will also need to get pressure:
Tua #1 in NFL with clean pocket, 15th v facing pressure. #1 when not blitzed. Need to pressure with 4 if u can. He’s cleaned up vs bad fronts recently- Pit, Det, Chi. Clog middle of the field. Mentioned it on the spaces last week but Shanny/Mcd O targets middle of the field a ton— Clevta (@Clevta) November 9, 2022
McDaniel’s system does a great job of spreading defenses from sideline to sideline to open up the middle of the field. A lot of Cover-2 looks to take that away and risk Tagovailoa going deep on the sidelines will likely be the best chance for DC Joe Woods’ group. DE Myles Garrett and company getting pressure will make that more difficult.
Do you believe the front four can get pressure enough to protect the team in zone coverage?