Cleveland Browns Film Room: How the Bills committed to stopping Trent Richardson

Rick is still the man with the film room pieces, and I believe he might still have one this week. But I watched the beginning of the Browns game again yesterday and wanted to share a couple things about the Bills’ defensive gameplan.

The Bills, not surprisingly, committed resources to stopping Trent Richardson from hurting them. It is a rational plan to stop the biggest threat and we saw the Browns using various blitzes and spies during week one to try to neutralize Michael Vick’s scrambling. It seemed like the Bills had at least two guys, usually linebackers, spying on Trent Richardson all day to make sure that they blanketed him. Not that you need the visual evidence necessarily, but check it out. From the first “drive” of the game. The two defenders I circled are the two focusing completely on Trent Richardson. Also notice how far the corner is playing off of Travis Benjamin.

The two spies fill the hole as Richardson takes his first step after the hand-off. Shawn Lauvao picks up one of the spies.

One of the spies makes the tackle.

So, as a result the Browns take the second possession and run play-action to try and take advantage of the spies. The result on this play was Brandon Weeden getting sacked. Something in the timing of the play was off because the two spies bit for a second on Richardson, but the pass didn’t come out on either the first read or the second read and any advantage from play-action was lost as Weeden went down to the pressure.

Linebackers stay at home.

They realize Richardson doesn’t have the ball and start their first reaction. This has to be when the ball is already in the air, but rather than throwing to a spot, Weeden is still waiting for something. I don’t know if the receiver was late on his break, if the throwing lane was blocked or if Weeden just didn’t get the ball out, but the play-action worked from the perspective that two defenders were tied up by Richardson and Weeden still had a pocket.

Notice the clock. Weeden doesn’t throw the ball at 8:23 and then gets sacked 3-4 seconds later at 8:19. It’s tough to blame the offensive line on that one, I think.

Here’s a pic from the coaches film. You decide if Weeden had a lane and just didn’t pull the trigger.

It’s indicative of an inexperienced quarterback, I think. He might get better as he gets more decisive in situations like this. This was the second drive of the game and with slightly better execution and a couple of first downs, maybe the Browns don’t put themselves in a 14-0 hole.

Based on Trent Richardson’s final stat line though, these are the kinds of plays the Browns need to punish other teams on if they’re going to sell out to stop him. It’s probably the only realistic way to open up the game for the Browns’ best weapon.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    You’ll see 6-7-8 in the box all year which is easy to do when you have the kind of WRs this team does. Play one on one verse them and load up against the run. Perhaps we’ll finally see more from the TE position I’ve only been asking for it since game one. But what do I know I’ll leave the tremendous strategies to the two offensive coordinators.

  • Harv 21

    I have no doubt that Weeden is not yet as decisive as a competent veteran QB running of the wco, but it’s really hard to blame him when you can’t see what the receivers are doing or not doing. I think one pic shows MoMass going into his break but you can’t see if there’s a safety approaching off-screen. Currently, our best route runners are MoMass, Jordan Norwood (who barely plays) and Travis Benjamin. Little and Gordon are very rough, to be kind, and that’s hard when the QB needs to release quickly.

    BTW, anyone else notice MoMass pull up short on an incompletion (late second quarter or in the third, I forget) to avoid another head shot? Can’t blame him for the alligator arms, but I wonder if defenders see it too and are targeting him a little.

  • Garry_Owen

    Based on the prior photo, it looks like a safety was, more likely than not, right there. It appears to have been a simple cover 3 on that side (at least from what I can tell), and there are no other receivers in the middle (or left side) of the field. Having said that, though, the ball should probably be somewhere around the 30 yard line in that photo, instead of in Weeden’s hand. It certainly appears to have been his first read. Even with an approaching safety, that would be a completed catch for quite a few yards (8-10). Hopefully, that’s a play that Weeden makes in the future.

  • Harv 21

    tend to agree. If the safety was sitting on the route for an INT because MoMass didn’t fool anyone then Weeden may still be holding the ball because he saw that and his secondary receivers are not where/when they should be. Or maybe he didn’t recognize it and check down instantly. Weeden’s eyes (see last pic, then third last) are on MoMass all the way so he’s primary. It’s an awfully fast game. Probably soon he’ll be clicking through the progressions instantly.

  • mgbode

    by secondary receivers, do you mean 2nd receiver? because, by my count, there are 7 men blocking, Richardson faking, and Weeden throwing. that means only 2 men are out on routes.

    by my same counting prowess, there are only 7 defenders “in the box” meaning that both WRs on routes are essentially double-covered. the play-action may have fooled the LBers, but the defensive call still worked out best for the Bills.

  • Harv 21

    Trent was a checkdown receiving option after the fake, cutting through the middle and then sitting down. I believe Marecic is also an option in the right flat after engaging the LB. There’s your plural, pal.

  • mgbode


    of course, Richardson gets engaged by the LBer and it taken out of the route (could have thrown at his feet though). Cannot see what happens to Marecic on the play, but he is fully engaged in blocking in the last and 3rd to last pics. looks like he may be trying to release to a route? wonder if he was successful.

  • john

    how about pitching the ball to trent quit with the tight formations open up three receivers one side run trent on shuttle.

  • Ezzie Goldish

    Great breakdown, and it is comforting to see the Browns at least trying to make quicker adjustments.

    That said, they need to open up the field more on these play-actions. (And I should add that Weeden’s play-action doesn’t often seem to fool anyone when it’s not from the shotgun, he doesn’t really sell it great – that can be worked on though.)

    On this route there are two WRs against 4 DBs. That’s probably why he held the ball so long.

  • Garry_Owen

    In the Philly and Buffalo games, I could not help but notice that Weeden was staring down his receivers. In the Cincy game, though, he was doing a great job of looking the DBs off. Like you said, it’s a fast game. He’s shown that he can do it, though, and I’m very hopeful that this is all just part of the learning curve.
    On this play in particular, he didn’t have many options (2?). The coverage that the defense gave him certainly provided an opportunity for a quick hit – which actually makes me wonder if MoMass made a wrong read (assuming it was a read play for the WR, as well). It seems like a comeback to the sideline would have been in order here, given the deep coverage from the corner and safety. [Man, this armchair is COMFY!]
    Oh well. We’ve got those Ravens right where we want ’em!

  • Garry_Owen

    (If it was a WR read play, then this could explain why Weeden is still holding the ball in the photo. Where’s Zapruder? I need more film to properly over-analyze this film to the death that it deserves.)

  • Harv 21

    yep, he still stares receivers down but that’s like the last skill a competent QB learns, after he feels comfortable enough, about where his guys are and where their guys are while the pocket is flaming, to suddenly turn a new direction and fire. In college his receiver was generally a yard or two open so who needed to look off a DB when you have a gun. Honestly, I think we can already see him sensing the rush and reacting properly compared to the opener. I think he’ll be fine, his issue seems more cockiness than fearful happy feet, and not even Peyton, Eli, Roethlisberger and Brady had all nuanced skills developed at the end of their rookie years. This ain’t instant oatmeal, regardless of how impatient we are.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    He isn’t usually successful at much of anything, so I’m going to guess “no”. (sad trombone sound)

  • steve-o

    I was at the game and while i don’t remember these specific plays, i can tell you what the recievers were doing in the entire first half – they were being blanketed by defenders while running poor routes.