Cleveland Browns Film Room: Scripting the Opening Offensive Series

One of the most telling parts of the gameplan will be revealed to open the game. Those are almost always going to be scripted plays to try and set the tone for the whole game. This week, the Browns were pretty successful to open the game, at least for the first few plays as they grabbed a quick first down. Let’s see exactly what they did and what they might have been telegraphing.

The Browns opened in an almost symmetrical formation. Single back with Trent Richardson, a wide receiver out on either side and a tight end capping both sides of the offensive line. The Ravens countered with seven “in the box” and the safeties seemed to read pass as they weren’t overly aggressive toward the line on the first play.

In hindsight this would be a successful play because Trent Richardson pushed ahead for seven yards, but the Ravens did make first contact with him only about two yards past the line of scrimmage. (Red arrow is Richardson.)

So, thankfully Trent Richardson made the play a success by plowing forward. The Browns didn’t give the Ravens the standard look with the I-formation or even an offset with the fullback. It seemed to keep the safeties wondering at least for the first play.

For the next play, the Browns got into their more typical-looking run formation by subbing a tight end for fullback. This time, the Browns drew an extra man into the box as the Ravens have five at the line to go with three linebackers in the neighborhood of the first five yards.

The play here was a very quick timing slant to Greg Little (top of the screen) for seven yards. Weeden telegraphed it a bit, but still managed to get the ball out while missing the outstretched paws of Ravens defenders near the line.

Next play the Browns open in the shotgun with three wide receivers a tight end and Trent Richardson. This time it was a designed rollout to the right (away from Trent Richardson) to an open Greg Little (48 yard line.) It wasn’t a “gimme” catch, and it was close to the sideline, but I think it probably should have been a completion anyway.

Then the roll-out…

Ball was in the air in this last one and Greg Little gets his hands on it as it ricochets into the bench.

So, say what you will about the play-calling, but even this failed play was designed well enough to give the players a good opportunity at the first down on first down.

Spoiler alert, the Browns ended up punting. On second down, they had three wide and a fullback in the game as Trent Richardson only gained a couple on second down.

On third down, the Browns brought Ogbonnaya into the game and the Ravens brought pressure straight up the middle from the linebackers. Weeden got the ball off, but he didn’t have anywhere near enough time and it fell incomplete way short to Ogbonnaya.

Third and seven is a nice advantage for the defense, more times than not. The Ravens defense certainly loves to see it.

The conclusion? The Browns actually opened the game alright against the Ravens. They got the ball to Trent Richardson on the ground twice. Β They showed run in order to complete their first pass to Greg Little. They used first down to attempt a rollout pass that for all scheming purposes worked even if the execution didn’t come to pass.

In fact, in the game against the Ravens, the Browns got first downs in each of their first three possessions. The Browns had three and outs in their first three possessions against the Bills. Obviously this still isn’t good enough. Additionally, I don’t believe the Browns have had a first quarter touchdown since December 11th, 2011, an overtime loss to the Arizona Cardinals and John Skelton. Seneca Wallace and Peyton Hillis were keys to the TD drive in that game, by the way. And despite the fact that the Browns beat reporters have stopped keeping track, the Browns have two first quarter TDs in their 20 games with this coaching staff.

So pay close attention to how the Browns open against the Giants. It should tell a lot about what the Browns might think their advantage is against the Giants defense, if any.

  • Garry_Owen

    I know the 1st Quarter TD drought is a bad, bad thing, but does anyone else remember the TD drought we had back in ’09? It was something like 9 straight GAMES – maybe more. 20 non-consecutive quarters is bad, but 36 consecutive quarters is worse. It’s small, too small indeed, but it’s “improvement.”

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I feel much better now thank you. πŸ˜‰

  • steve-o

    The Giants, with their DL, will not give us runs up the middle nor will they allow Weeden to stand in the pocket and throw. Their LB’s are just average and they are missing their best safety. A good way to attack them would be quick routes with our TE’s (if they are covered by a S or LB), short dumpoff passes, and screens (if we can actually block). If we put Obey in with Trich one will almost always be open in the flat. I really like the idea of Trich in the open field with one guy to beat for a big gain.

  • mgbode

    ugh. i hate that still-shot of the 1st play. it makes me angry. now, perhaps there was defensive movement, but look how obvious an audible read that should be.

    QBs should count the “hats” vs. defenders within 5yds of the LOS. Take a look at the “hats” vs. defenders for a stretch-run right. It’s 4on2 (4on3 if you count the LBer who is barely outside the 5yd limit but a stretch right makes it a tough play on a physical RB like Richardson). Proper blocking or a broken tackle and that is a HUGE play.


    just to completely nit-pick this to death (and I realize this is scripted, but again they are GIVING us this play). 2nd play: audible to a 5yd out (on the right) as the CB on that side is just giving us the 1st down. Begging us to take it. If he jumps the route, then it should be a read-route to an up (and potential for an even bigger play).

    Watch Atlanta / Matt Ryan. I know Weeden is young. This comes with time. But, these simple reads are ones that Weeden absolutely has to have the trust of the coaching staff to make and take advantage of from the defense. They are basically “free” yards and we cannot afford to lose those.

  • mgbode

    Philly took advantage of their DL last week by attacking the middle. Their DTs tried to get up the field too much and McCoy gashed them by attacking underneath their paths.

    Now, whether the NYG respect us enough to go after it like that is another story altogether. I agree with you on their LBers and their secondary is still banged up.

    I do not understand why this team cannot execute a proper screen play.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Sounds like a plan to me I have no confidence we’ll see much of anything you wrote. In the survey section for this game I mentioned that revolutionary play called a screen. This offense had three TEs last year in Watson, Moore and Cameron and couldn’t make use of them and a year later they still can’t use Watson and Cameron at the same time. You’d think for a team with terrible WRs who are now banged up maybe this offense would borrow a page from the Patriots and put Cameron in the slot along with Watson on the end opposite. It’s just the same old same old.

  • Hopwin

    I was just thinking about that. It got to the point where they started by counting consecutive quarters then stretched it into games…

  • Garry_Owen

    I’m here for you. Turn that half-empty glass upside down!
    Wait. Don’t do that.
    Frown. Turn that frown upside down.

  • Garry_Owen

    Obvious audible? Hmm. Hook and ladder, right? Statue of liberty? Definitely the Statue of Liberty.

  • mgbode

    you can turn the half-empty glass upside down as long as your open mouth is positioned correctly beneath it

  • mgbode

    hey, it worked for Boise State

  • Warburton MacKinnon

    Just take another drink…that will at least momentarily make you feel better.

  • Warburton MacKinnon

    Since week one,excluding the problems with recievers and Weedon staring them down(both issues admittedly McCoy also this post isn’t a call for him),would be that a lot of the dropped passes/bad/forced throws happen when other recievers are wide open either in the flat or on the sideline. Weedon seems,I could be wrong here,to often either follow the exact play he is given..or once he knows who he WANTS to throw to ignores other recievers and DB’s for that matter,what I know I don’t know is wether this is whom Weedon is as a QB or if it’s Shurmer and the fact Shurmer accepts no deviation from his plays. In retrospect,I wonder if that is the real reason Colt wasn’t given another season..he scrambles and on occasion makes broken plays work since he won’t just sit in the pocket…and once he starts to move he will throw to any open player or run it himself.