Cleveland Browns Film Room: Game 1, Richardson’s Debut Part 1

Like we did last year before it became fashionable, we’ll take a seat each week in our very own WFNY Browns film room and break down a little tape from the game, with a specific focus.  Do enjoy.

Finally. Some actual football to break down. With so many question marks surrounding this team, we should have endless topics for the film room this year. I was curious about several aspects of this game, and debated several topics. Ultimately, my curiosity about Trent Richardson and the struggles of the running game won out. What exactly did happen to the number three pick in the draft, and should we be concerned about his 2.1 yards per carry average?

Let’s start at the beginning-

This is the first offensive snap for the Browns, and the first live game action for Richardson since the National Championship game. The Browns have three receivers split wide, and Marecic is in the pro slot behind Joe Thomas. The Eagles are in the now infamous ‘9-wide’ with 4 down linemen and 3 linebackers. I actually like this formation for the Browns, as we will see later, it gets more difficult to run when the box is packed, and this helps spread the defense out and create natural lanes. See that giant hole that Mitchell Schwartz is lined up in? That’s where the play is designed to go.

At the snap, Mack and Lauvao double team the DT and get a good push on him. Pinkston at RG engages the DT on his side and actually creates a nice lane for Marecic to get through. DeMeco Ryans #59 is the Eagles MLB, and a really good one at that. His read is Richardson and he mirrors his steps. Mitchell Schwartz is locked in on #93 Jason Babin who is no slouch himself. If Schwartz is able to keep his body between Babin and Richardson, the play should get something. I’m not wild about the double team because it leaves Ryans unblocked. You can’t expect Marecic to get there in time to block the MLB.

I’m pretty sure I don’t have to tell you the major malfunction of this run. Babin sheds Schwartz and steps to the inside. Now, let’s talk for just a second about rookies. We have to be willing to let rookies develop. We have to let them learn from mistakes agreed? I’m not trying to harp on any one player. Mitchell will learn from this week and get better. Trent Richardson will learn from this week and get better. Here he is in deep trouble just after getting the handoff. It is possible that he could see this happen and make a cut inside? Maybe someday. Tough for a back to stop like that and go the other direction, but we’ve seen it done.

Richardson fights with Babin, but Marecic whiffs on Kendricks #95 and is a sitting duck for the clean up. Notice Ryans? He is completely laying in wait for Richardson. He is pushing on the back of the DT in front of him ready to pounce whichever direction Richardson goes. Rather than double team, I’d have liked to see Mack try and get out to block Ryans, or at least screen off Kendricks. Result of the play: 1 yard gain.

After a 24 yard pass play, the Browns had the ball first and ten on the Philly 26. Richardson gets his second carry. (By the way, the Browns ran the ball the first 5 plays they had on first down.)

Alex Smith motioned to his position in the above picture. He brought the linebackers with him. They shifted right on the motion. Here the Browns have a TE on the right side of the line (left side of your screen) and they are lined up in an I formation in the backfield. Despite the Browns having 10 men in your picture, the Eagles still only have 7 in the box, with an 8th sneaking up.

At the snap the Browns have a blocker for every defender in the box. This should be a successful play. Pinkston gives a chip on #94 Landry in order to help Mack get position on him before heading downfield to pick up a linebacker.

So what in the world happened? Well, for starters the line doesn’t get any push on the defense. Jordan #56 is in the hole where they were designing the play to go to. Ryans is also there, with Pinkston unable to get in front on him. There is no hole there. Now, what I would hope Richardson would do (he’s under the arrow) is perhaps try to bounce the run outside, or at least try a cut back a little earlier. I suspect that with a little time to adjust to the speed of the game, and a little more confidence in the knee he will.

What is pictured here is a second chance for Richardson to bounce outside. The defense and blockers have stacked up and nobody really has a grip on Trent. If he looks at all outside of Joe Thomas he will see a whole lot of daylight. Instead he tries to cut back to the center of the field, where our good friend Jason Babin is going to get him. Result of the play: 1 yard gain.

Ok, now on to his third carry (and no, I’m not going to break down every carry here today.)

This is a toss sweep to the right (well the left of your screen). I heard a lot of people say the Browns should have run more outside with Richardson, which would be a great plan, if they could execute. Here again we see the Eagles in the wide nine. (I also heard a number of people say that the Eagles weren’t in the wide nine that much. I don’t know what game they were watching.) Alex Smith again goes in motion bringing the linebackers with him.

Mitchell Schwartz is leading the sweep around the end. The arrow is above Alex Smith, who does an excellent job of pinning the wide nine DE. In fact, Smith was one of the most consistent blockers I saw on film this game. Shawn Lauvao does a good job to engage and twist his trunk to get between his man and the hole. Greg Little is trying to block Ryans #59. That isn’t going to go well. But worse is what Schwartz is doing, or not doing however you look at it. He passes up the safety Nate Allen to try and get out to the cornerback.  You can’t pass by a defender. You have to hit the first man that comes your way. Have to.

Not only does he not block Allen, but he will eventually whiff on the corner as well. Allen will force Richardson back inside where Kendricks and Ryans will finish him off. Result of the play: 2 yard gain.

In order that this piece not be a mile long, we’re going to break it up into two parts. Part 2 will publish in a half an hour.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Alex Smith is clearly their best run blocker. I find it interesting that Richardson’s first professional carry depends heavily on fellow rookie Schwartz to go one on one with Babin in order for the play to ever have a chance. Marecic in the pro slot is in no position to help with that run I mean he blocks #95 or tries to while Ryans #59 is totally unaccounted for in the play. An audible to flip the play going strong side behind Marecic would have been more acceptable but even then it appears there would be an unaccounted for LB.

    Based on how Weeble played in the opener I;m going to venture a guess that he doesn’t have the ability to audible. Teams will continually load up on the run until this QB and WRs can show something, anything. I don’t see it happening which is why I said from the night he was drafted Richardson holds the key for this team on offense.

    Lastly maybe against Cincinnati we’ll see the TEs incorporated more or at least I hope so.

  • cmm13

    There are three things I look forward to every fall:
    1. Buckeyes football
    2. Halloween flavored Oreos
    3. Ricks gamefilm breakdown

    Awesome stuff. Agreed with Sham that Smith is the much better blocking option than Marcecic. Plus gives you another hands option out of the backfield to make TE defense respect.

  • mgbode

    great job per usual on these. love them.

    that 2nd screen shot (1st play) is picture-perfect. great grab. if Mack properly reaches to push Lauvao to the 2nd level, then it looks like a big gainer. of course, that doesn’t happen and Schwartz couldn’t handle Babin either.

    2nd play must have been a dive called because the screen shots look like he may have been able to bounce it outside alot easier had he followed Alex Smith up that hole.

    last play here was just a cluster. man, we just couldn’t handle their defense. they beat us nearly at every man on that play (other than Alex Smith).

  • Is richardson going to be a dud?! I can’t decide to play him or not this week

  • Harv 21

    Thanks again for doing these, Rick. Can’t get enough of the nuts and bolts stuff.

    Hard for me to fault anything Trent did on his first ever carry in any sort of NFL game. With zero exhibition season his heart had to be beating like a rabbit
    and he probably hoped he’d just cleanly grab the handoff, follow the designated block and hang on when he was hit for the first time in many months. Sometime in the next few weeks we’ll see him start reacting with power and confidence. Schwartz, on the other hand, is going to have some rough patches. There’s no right tackle depth and nothing to do but let him get schooled every week as he figures it out.

  • Harv, I couldn’t agree more with your assessment.

  • Thanks again guys for your support of these.

  • cbrockman9

    Love this stuff. Thanks guys!

  • steve-o

    Really enjoy these breakdowns. Some observations:
    1) Our left tackle is an all-pro stud, so naturally we run a sweep to the other side and ask our rookie RT to block their best veteran lineman. You know, to keep them guessing.
    2) Having Marecic on the field is like playing with 10 men. A FB with stone hands should either be laying guys out or on the bench.
    3) Is there any reason why Smith can’t be converted to FB/HB?
    4) If Trich can get positive yardage with poor blocking he’d do serious damage with just average blocking.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    No offense but if you are in a position where Richardson is a possible starter at the RB spot then something went terribly wrong in your draft.

  • i won so it was awesome