Cleveland Browns Film Room: Game 7, Richardson’s Runs

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.

All week I’ve been hearing discussion about Trent Richardson. There’s been talk about his injury. Talk about his lack of production on Sunday. Talk about sitting him for a few weeks. Even talk about him having a running style that doesn’t work in the NFL.

All this based off of 8 runs on Sunday? Let’s take a look first at the runs before we run Richardson out of town shall we?

The first run came on the second play from scrimmage. (The first play was a 9 yard catch and run by Richardson.) The Browns are strong to the left. Marecic is the FB lined up in front of Richardson.

You can barely make out Marecic behind Lauvao the RG. The play is designed for Richardson to follow his FB through the guard/center gap. You may look at this still and think there is a hole between the RG and RT. I assure you, this is an illusion. The Browns are running to the weak side, and they are actually out-numbered.

See how quickly the LB filled that space? Not only that, but the DT has outside position on Lauvao, which is exactly the way it is drawn up.

Here’s the broadcast angle. Richardson reads the LB and DT and follows Marecic into the ‘A’ gap.

He hits the hole and bursts into the second level. Richardson will gain 6 yards on this play.

If Angerer (great name by the way) doesn’t get a good grasp on his waist, this could have been a big gainer. Ok, next run.

Next run, balanced formation. The play is going to be a run left. Notice the defensive formation. There are 8 men in the box, plus a safety just behind the 10 yard zone. Think the Colts wanted to stop the run?

There are 8 defenders and 7 blockers. And Lauvao doesn’t get good position on his man. At this point where would you run?

Richardson cuts to the right to avoid the DT. Unfortunately, he’s headed for the same spot that the DB and LB are about to occupy. No real shot on this play.

Here’s the next run. The back in front of Richardson is actually Jordan Cameron the TE, who went in motion and settled in the backfield.

The play is a delayed hand-off. Again, I ask you where you would run if you were handed the ball at this moment? Lauvao is on the ground. Not the best blocking position. DE is free on the right side. He’s backed up by a DB. The DT on the left side has beaten Grecco.

Just nowhere to run on this play. This ends up in a yard loss.

Next run, and another delayed hand-off. Note again the defense. Seven defenders in the box, but like earlier, there are five on the line of scrimmage. They have taken away the edge by doing this. You aren’t going to get outside.

Trent receives the ball and look at the line of scrimmage. The blocking is decent, not much movement but there is an orange helmet in front of every defender on the line. The linebackers are unblocked though, and moving in on Richardson.

Here is the different camera angle. Richardson eyes the linebackers and decides to try and head between Lauvao and Schwartz.

He cuts through the hole and picks up three yards on a run where there wasn’t a ton of room. Would a power back like Hillis have gotten more yards. Possibly. Had it been a third and one situation, I’m sure Richardson would have just put his head down and rammed the line. One thing Trent tries to do is find the right opening. His decision making will of course get faster as he gains experience and confidence in the NFL.

Next play.

The ball is on the three. Marecic is going to lead block to the outside. The Browns have all eleven players in tight. The Colts respond with 11 in the box.

The ball is snapped and the play begins. Where would you run? I’m looking at that spot right behind Thomas and Watson, and hoping it doesn’t get swallowed up by the collapsing interior line.

That’s exactly where Richardson heads. Unfortunately, as he gets there Watson’s man has gotten around him and is plugging the outside. Richardson jumps inside and puts his head down.

Here you see another view. The defensive end has Richardson by the knees, but he is still able to fall forward and pick up a couple yards.

So how do I conclude?

Richardson himself said that he is hurting more than people realize. Ok, if that is the case then sit. If the pain in the ribs changes your style, maybe it’s best to let Hardesty have a shot. I don’t see that taking place in the film from Sunday, but there has to be a reason that Richardson only played in the first two Cleveland drives.

To say based on the eight runs that Richardson had Sunday that his “style” doesn’t translate to the NFL game is ridiculous. Did he make moves in the backfield before getting to the line? Absolutely. Do I think he ‘danced around’? Not even close. The cuts and jump cuts he made were necessary because there were defenders in the gaps he was supposed to run to.

The Colts were game planning to stop the run. On top of that, they were motivated to stop the run from a particularly bad outing the week before. Let’s give Richardson a little bit of slack. Even if he were healthy, this is just his 7th look at an NFL defense.

Until next week, the film room is closed.

  • Garry_Owen

    I love these.
    1) The fact the Richardson was able to gain anything, let alone 6 yards, on the first play is nearly miraculous.
    2) The only thing that I wish Richardson would do differently, considering his injury, is go down when his forward progress is stopped. I know this goes against everything that we hope to see in “tough guy” players, and against everything that Richardson tries to be as a runner, but having those guys stand him up while other defenders pound his ribs is much worse than just hitting the ground.
    3) I will never, never understand why teams load up 11 guys in the box on the goal line and then try to pound it in. I get that your team should be able to force 1 yard at any time, but this just stacks the odds against you, mass on mass – particularly if nobody is worried about your play action. The Browns have done this for years; Jim Tressel did it the entire time at OSU; and it drives me insane. Spread it out. Create space, mismatches, and opportunities. Some football coach help me out here. I’m just an old, failed “scrappy possession receiver.”

  • David

    Look at Cousins getting destroyed on the goal line play.

  • MrCleaveland

    Random irrational thought: Why do other teams make it look so easy and we make it look so hard?

  • Legitimate question.

  • tsm

    From what I have seen, one issue with Trent is that he seems indecisive in selecting his hole. Many times he would have been better off simply knifing forward to squeeze out a yard or two and he tries to bounce it outside instead. I think this is due to the fact he had no preseason and still is not used to the speed of the pro game. At Bama, he had time to take an alternate route, but not here. I also attribute some of his problems to his injuries. I think the team should rest him until healthy, so he can really show his stuff after the bye. Hardesty has shown that he can be an adequate fill in.

  • Garry_Owen

    I think it’s intentional.
    We had this saying in the Army: “There are 3 ways to do things: The ‘Easy Way,’ the ‘Hard Way,’ and the ‘Army Way’ – when the ‘hard way’ just isn’t hard enough.”
    It’s just the Browns’ Way.

  • Lyon25

    Pat also makes it hard in Trent. He love to motion Marecic to te side we run, letting the D know where it’s going. And it’s not like Marecic is helping too much on that side anyways.

    Great post! Love these

  • mgbode

    #3 – and even moreso when you put that extra OT in an eligible position and he sneaks out into the flat after initially blocking. my favorite goalline play.

    especially if you do a double-play-action by running a scissors play (FB goes right, RB goes left, QB stages 2 fake handoffs to each as they pass him).

  • mgbode

    first 2 runs (and later), Indy is playing a 5-2 defense. didn’t notice that on first viewing. just another reason these are my favorite threads. learn something new each time through them.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    So glad Marecic continues to get opportunities to show his value. Speaking of which I still haven’t heard or seen Brandon Jackson’s name anywhere.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    It’s not irrational all you have to do is watch other teams play and it’s night and day. Even with Weeden and Richardson this offense looks to be a step behind and light years behind. Only one answer: coaching.

  • BrownsFanSF

    Totally agree, playing with a rookie QB is doing Richardson no favors. As Weeden grows, hopefully he’ll be able to check to hot reads and quick passes when we’re facing 8 men boxes and 5 man fronts. (by no means an indictment on Weeden, not his fault either)

  • Honestly if a team is putting 8 in the box like that, we need some audibles to some play action plays over the top. I see a few instances where our receivers are single covered – you’ve got to make them pay for their defensive decisions.

  • The miserable confluence of inept coaching and lackluster talent. Or God’s continuing curse.

  • MrCleaveland

    Agree completely that Weeden should be encouraged to audible out of unfavorable match-ups. But Shurmur is probably so afraid that his rookie QB will make a mistake and lose the game that he’d rather play it safe and lose the game himself.

  • Natedawg86

    I have been waiting for them to let Weeden read the defenses and audible. All of the good QBs audible whenever they need to. Seems like Weeden may be limited by coaches at this point.

  • Natedawg86

    We should have ran a play action pass to the fullback…

  • Natedawg86

    Put the OT in motion and then have him take a pitch for a OT pass/run option…ahha

  • MrCleaveland

    Man, I was in a really good mood before I read this post and started thinking about the Indy game again. Now I’m about to go all Haslam on somebody.

    Breathe slowly . . .

  • mgbode

    sounds like a play I should have at the ready for my son’s flag football game this weekend.

    for the Browns, I assume that Joe Thomas is the OT with the option and I am not going to doubt JoeT 🙂

  • Dee P

    I agree….but….remember that all of these plays happened in the fourth quarter. Richardson by definition is our best offensive weapon….the Colts knew that and thus packed the box….however, just because they do that right off the bat doesn’t mean you abandon your strength. The Browns called run early to make the Colts prove they could stop him. Imagine if they packed the box and we still were effective with the run….where would they go from there. I like they idea of sticking to your strength even if the other team is planning for it. As the game went on, we ran less because the Colts proved that stacking would work.

    It’s kind of like telling Verlander….don’t throw a fastball…the hitter is looking for it. Or don’t give the ball to Kyrie….they are going to double-team him. Your strength is a strength for a reason….use it until they stop it. Browns were doing that here.

  • Dee P

    Not every play is going to work….have to give the defense credit sometimes too. There were plenty of examples of plays where the Browns offense won and if these were in this breakdown they would make them look fantastic.

  • Dee P

    Agree 100%. And I love Richardson. However, if you remember Hardesty struggled with the same thing as a young runner. This year, the light seems to have turned on in that regard. More evidence that backs up your point….it takes time to find the style that fits best in the NFL.

  • mgbode

    what if the batter is Sandoval who is the Venezuelan version of Cerrano in that he jacks fastballs but will swing at change-ups in the dirt? do you tell him to throw the heater?

    cuz, that’s what Verlander did twice to Pablo. it didn’t end well.

  • MrCleaveland

    What if Maggot-Man and the Purple Flamer got into a fight and Maggot-Man wanted to release his super slime but . . .

  • NamedMyKidPrice

    Favorite goal line play is bootleg right with two receivers right. Everyone runs routes right except the tight end chips then leaks out the backside left with a throw back. Open everytime.
    T G C G T TE WR WR

  • NamedMyKidPrice

    It fixed my tabs and spacebars in the formation. Hopefully you get the point.

  • BisonDeleSightings

    That’s called “The Jeff Heuerman.”

  • mgbode

    i do. and that IS one of my flag football plays for my son’s team. it’s 5×5, but same idea.

    C WR1 WR2 WR3

    QB takes the snap and looks right.
    WR1 runs middle seam
    WR2 runs button hook
    WR3 runs sideline-go
    C stands still for a beat, then leaks out left.

    the only plays where it doesn’t work is when the QB overthrows or the C drops the ball (they are 6yo). always open even when we run it 5 times in the same game.

  • BisonDeleSightings

    Huh huh….uuhhhh huh huh….you said Pat makes it hard in Trent. Shut up, Beavis.

  • NamedMyKidPrice

    Thats when it became my favorite play. Im not a football coach but I do coach basketball and misdirection works everytime.

  • Lyon25

    Haha. My bad. Meant Hard On. Oh that’s not better.

  • I agree, to a point. Indy was basically daring us to throw. So throw! If you look at at least two of the formations above, they had one safety deep. Play fake and make them think twice about giving up the deep ball. A game plan is fine, but you need to be willing to adapt to what the defense is showing…especially when you’re a 1-win team with nothing to lose.

  • porckchopexpress

    Reminds me of the time Homer changed his name to Max Power (“I got the idea from the Hair dryer!)
    Homer; “There are 3 ways to do things, the right way, the wrong way and the Max Power way!”
    Lisa; Isn’t the Max Power way also the wrong way?”
    Homer; “Yes! But faster!”

  • Garry_Owen

    He’s the man with the name that you’d love to touch. But you mustn’t touch.

  • Dee P

    Completely agree…..just not on the first drive. Make them prove that their scheme is good enough to beat your strength then adapt when you need to from there. And in reality, that’s what they did.

  • Porckchopexpress

    Well played sir I see that you have the internet on computer now too

  • Garry_Owen

    I do, but that one came from memory. I gave a whole mental database of Simpsons Seasons 1 through about 6, or so.
    Yvan eth nioj!

  • Embarrassing. I think he caught some air.

  • Ezzie Goldish

    There was another goal line run (perhaps with Hardesty?) where Marecic got absolutely destroyed and the play went nowhere.

    Is it just me or does his being in the game always tip “run!!” and he isn’t doing well enough to justify it? The Browns’ running game seems more successful when it’s a single-back set with 3-wide or 4-wide, which makes sense with Trent being so difficult to tackle one-on-one in the open, and because it forces the defense to have only 6 in the box or risk being man-to-man with a single safety.