The Cleveland Browns are hoping that a healthier roster and time for Deion Jones and Sione Takitaki to adjust to their roles will be the salve to their defensive issues. That side of the ball played fairly well the two weeks before Week 9’s bye but now must face the vaunted Miami Dolphins offense.
The Dolphins have found success under former Browns assistant coach Mike McDaniel. The team has added speed on top of speed all over the field by trading for WR Tyreek Hill this offseason and adding RB Jeff Wilson at the trade deadline to go along with WR Jaylen Waddle.
Miami’s three losses came in games where QB Tua Tagovailoa didn’t play or left the game early due to an injury.
Tagovailoa is the engine that makes the Dolphins offense go. Like a point guard in basketball, the former Alabama star has been highly successful in getting the ball to his playmakers on time and letting them do the rest. He may not take the team’s offense over the top with his physical traits but his timing, accuracy and decision-making are top-notch.
If you are interested, you can see all of his completions from Week 9 against the Chicago Bears:
If you noticed that many of the above completions were to the middle of the field, great eye for the game. For the season, Miami’s quarterback has been most successful throwing to that part of the field:
It has been even more pronounced over the last three weeks where you can see a lot of green dots near the line of scrimmage or closer to the hashes than the sidelines:
As you can see in the above pictures, Tagovailoa is still completing passes in different areas but the line of scrimmage and the hash marks are his favorite spots, in general.
For the Browns defense, figuring out how to handle the speed of Hill and Waddle while not forgetting about the rest of the Dolphins weapons will be difficult. Matching up in man coverage generally leads the best corners to get beat by the speedy receivers while some zone coverages open up the areas that Tagovailoa has been thriving in.
Miami’s offense is going to put a lot of pressure on the linebackers and safeties to be disciplined in their zones while hoping that Myles Garrett and company can get home while just rushing four. Dropping into Cover-2, which generally opens up sideline throws but shores up the middle of the field, might be the team’s best bet.
In the last two weeks, Tagovailoa has thrown for over 300 yards and three touchdowns in each game leading the Dolphins to over 30 points in each. Cleveland’s defense, along with help from their offense controlling the clock, must do better than that. It starts with controlling the middle of the field.
What gives you hope for the Browns containing Miami’s offense on Sunday? Can they win even if Tua leads the home team to 30 or more points?