For the third consecutive year, 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.
Before we roll tape, let me first talk about my method for these pieces. Each week after the game I try to come up with a question to be answered. For example, last season I wanted to know how we were so terrible on third and short situations, or I wanted to know how the young defensive linemen were performing. I take that question and go to game rewind looking for the answer on tape.
I’ve had a number of things in mind for film room since watching the team practice in camp. Those will have to wait. The burning question in my mind after the game was “What the heck happened on the right side of the line?”
It’s no big secret that Oniel Cousins and Mitchell Schwartz both struggled against the Dolphins. I knew from watching the game that the Dolphins had lined Cameron Wake out wide some in order to give him an edge on Schwartz. I also thought that the majority of Cousins’ mistakes were mental, as evidenced by all the penalties.
Let me say this. I honestly do not like to harp on players. These guys are people, and they can have bad plays, bad games or even bad careers and that doesn’t make them bad people. I applaud Oniel Cousins for standing tall and answering questions about his performance. Many unfortunately don’t.
On Sunday against the Dolphins, Cousins was brutal.
I started watching the game and could not believe how many times he was slow, out of position or just plain beaten. It had to be painful to go through that film session with the rest of the team. Alright, let’s go to the tape.
Here we see the Browns on their first drive in their version of the pistol, or diamond formation. The Browns have two tight ends lined up in the backfield. If this was 1985 you would call them wing backs. Whatever. As a reminder, Oniel Cousins is the right guard number 75, and Mitchell Schwartz is the right tackle number 72. Cameron Wake is Miami’s defensive end number 91. The play call is a pass. Notice how wide Cameron Wake is lined up. Randy Starks (94) is the defensive tackle lined up in the gap between Cousins and Mitchell. Paul Soliai (96) is the tackle lined up between Mack and Greco on the left side of the ball. If you had to guess who was going to block who, what would you guess?
At the snap, we see that the Browns are faking the run to Richardson, which will freeze the linebackers and Wake for a moment. They have decided to attack Wake on the outside with the TE Barnidge, and Richardson will also help on him as the linebackers do not rush. But what doesn’t make a lot of sense is what Cousins is doing. Schwartz blocks down on Starks in the B gap. Cousins should be helping there, and looking for a blitz to the A gap, which never comes.
Starks performs a nice spin move on Schwartz, catching him mid-step. Cousins is stepping toward the center, apparently to help triple team the tackle on the other side of the ball.
Spin move complete, and Schwartz is beaten. Meanwhile Cousins is really blocking nobody and Starks is going to pressure Weeden into getting rid of the ball.
Here we have another play on the same drive, it may even be the next play. Again, look at where Wake has lined up. Remember, a DE can wait until the offensive tackle gets set and then adjust themselves. Mitchell can’t move once he’s set. Wake can scoot out as wide as he wants. Barnidge has come from the left side of the field in motion.
At the snap we see that the play is a pitch to the right side. The Browns ran a few successful pitches early on, especially to the left side. Cousins and Schwartz are both pulling. Barnidge is blocking down on Wake.
You can see Schwartz on the end of the line getting a block on the outside backer. Barnidge is getting ready to peel off Wake and hit the defensive back. Oniel Cousins just inexplicably slows down, causing Richardson to run up his back and lose any momentum he had.
Trent cuts inside to look for a crease. Of course, that is where the pursuit is coming from. Watch what Cousins does. Barnidge has been blocking him, so Wake is at least a somewhat stationary target for Cousins who has a couple yards of momentum.
Cousins hits Wake and just bounces off of him like a pinball.
Oof. Have a seat.
Here we see the Browns lined up with a pair of tight ends on the right side of the line. Barnidge is offset and in the backfield just enough not to draw a flag. Note again how wide Wake is lining up. The play is a run to the right.
So at the snap we see Mitchell is not blocking down on the defensive tackle, which tells me the play is designed to go more outside. He helps on Wake before releasing to go block downfield. Oniel Cousins gets eaten alive. If you notice in the presnap picture of this play, the DT is lined up on his outside shoulder. Odrick (98) actually steps inside and beats Cousins to the inside. No way a guy should beat you across your body. Odrick’s momentum is carrying him inside and away from the run. Cousins should ride him inside for all he’s worth.
Instead, Odrick beats him to the spot and Cousins ends up holding to avoid getting Richardson crushed. Flags fly, holding on Cousins.
Passing play. Cameron lined up in the ‘wide 9’ position. The Browns have help for Schwartz if he needs it with Gary Barnidge lined up behind. He won’t really need it on this play.
Paul Soliai (96) bull rushes Oniel Cousins. Soliai is 6’4″ and 345 pounds. Cousins is 6’4″ and close to 320. This isn’t that big of a mismatch. In fact, Cousins is usually a tackle and certainly bigger than the average guard.
Shoved right into the quarterback. Soliai gets his hands in the air and deflects the pass. Now, should Weeden have seen or at least felt this and slid to the right or left? That’s for a different day. I could go on posting sequences of Cousins making mistakes or getting blown up. It won’t help.
So, do you remember the opener last year against the Eagles? Remember all the talk about the ‘wide 9 technique’? Do you remember how bad Mitchell Schwartz looked against that particular scheme? Well, the Dolphins must have. A reminder, Cameron Wake is an excellent defensive end. Through his first four seasons and this game on Sunday, Wake has 45.5 sacks. Oh, and he only started one game his rookie year. He is a beast, even if he isn’t a household name.
Schwartz just doesn’t have the foot speed to catch up to him every play, especially when he lines up that wide. Here the Browns have no help, and Wake pins his ears back and just flies. He just beats Schwartz to the spot and is able to turn the corner.
It doesn’t help that Cousins has ‘blocked’ his man into Schwartz. Weeden is a sitting duck. Of course, it looks like there is a lane or at least a small crease to step into and maybe get a pass off.
No dice. Weeden is sacked.
Here’s another example from early in the game of Wake’s ability to get by Schwartz when he’s out wide. Look how far he is outside. You may notice that on the other side of the ball, Thomas is able to contain Olivier Vernon (50) even though he lines up wide as well. Such is the difference between Pro Bowl tackle Thomas and Mitchell Schwartz, not to mention the drop off from Wake to Vernon.
Take a look at Schwartz’s left leg. He is just not able to get balanced before Wake makes contact with that outside shoulder and gets the edge.
Wake not unlike Browns OLB Paul Kruger, will get his hand to the ground as he’s making the cut around the tackle. It’s just a tough match-up for Mitchell.
There are things that you can do to help the tackle in that spot. We already saw above the Browns give Mitchell help with tight ends and running backs to try and slow down that pass rush. Obviously, you can’t do that every play. You can’t just be a man down every pass play. In Part 2 of this week’s film session, we’ll take a look at some other things the Browns did to try and slow down Cameron Wake.