The Browns are a mess. That is not a question. Buried in all of the mess over the last several days is the Browns loss on Sunday to the Minnesota Vikings, leaving the team at an 0-8 record. Not much is going right for the Browns. But, there are some bright spots littered throughout the team.
One of the least talked about positives is the rising cornerback, Briean Boddy-Calhoun. The second-year undrafted free agent has worked his way up the depth chart and has emerged as a building block in the secondary. In eight games, Boddy-Calhoun has 26 tackles and four passes defended. According to Pro Football Focus, Boddy-Calhoun has the 13th best grade amongst cornerbacks and has allowed the second fewest yards per cover snap in the league amongst cornerbacks.
So, what do the Browns have in their rising player? In this week’s Browns film room we will take a look at the strengths of Briean Boddy-Calhoun’s game and some aspects that he still needs to work on. So, let’s roll the tape.
Man Coverage Ability
These two plays by Briean Boddy-Calhoun show his strong play in man coverage. In the first play, Boddy-Calhoun is lined up in man coverage against Vikings receiver Adam Thielen in the left slot. Thielen is designed to run an inside slant route. But, Boddy-Calhoun covers it perfectly. When Thielen cuts inside, the young Browns corner quickly plants and goes with the receiver, fluidly transitioning inside. Boddy-Calhoun is able to get right behind Thielen and when the pass is thrown, the corner is able to use his long arms to reach in front of the receiver and deflect the ball away from the receiver. In the second play, Boddy-Calhoun is once again in man coverage against Thielen in the left slot. This time Thielen is running a crossing route across the formation to the right. Boddy-Calhoun is a bit farther back from the line then the previous play. But, the young corner reads the route quickly and is able to seamlessly close on Thielen, reading the body movements of the receiver to react correctly to where he is going. Boddy-Calhoun is once again right on the back hip of Thielen and when the pass is thrown, the corner is in position to once again to reach in front of the receiver to deflect the pass. This time the pass was inaccurate, so no deflection was needed.
Boddy-Calhoun is a corner with great short area quickness and fluid hips. This makes him a perfect player in the slot where changing directions fluidly and staying with quick receivers is vital. But, he puts this quickness and fluidness with an aggressive mindset and long arms. These assets allow him to make plays on balls and have solid ball skills. Overall, Boddy-Calhoun has good man coverage ability to cover any receiver because of his quickness, fluidness, long arms and aggressive mindset.
The play above shows the versatility that Boddy-Calhoun gives the Browns. In the play, he is lined up as a safety on the right side of the field. He is called to cover the right backend quadrant in the Cover 2 scheme. Vikings receiver Adam Thielen is running an out route to the goal line. Thielen enters Boddy-Calhoun’s area of the field and the young Browns defensive back reacts quickly, closing onto the receiver immediately. When the receiver scrambles to the back of the endzone, Boddy-Calhoun goes with him and is in position to make a play on the ball. But, the ball is thrown away negating that need. However, Boddy-Calhoun is called for pass interference, which was unwarranted given the lack of real contact and the accuracy of the throw. Nevertheless, the play shows Boddy-Calhoun’s versatility to play in multiple positions, including safety.
The versatility of Boddy-Calhoun is really an asset for the Browns secondary. It allows Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams to move him around the secondary depending on where the team needs him. His ability to move quickly, fluidly and play aggressively are the skills that allow him to play multiple spots on the defense. He has played safety, outside corner, slot corner and even some at linebacker or rusher.
Boddy-Calhoun is not just a cover corner, but he also is an aggressive tackler who can help make tackles in the pass and run game. Here is an example. In the play above, Boddy-Calhoun is in zone coverage versus this Vikings pass play. Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon spills out of the backfield and sits down underneath the zone coverage. When the pass is about to leave Vikings quarterback Case Keenum’s hand, Boddy-Calhoun is already reversing his field and about to close on the running back. When the pass is completed to the running back, Boddy-Calhoun is there to make the tackle before the running back can cut up field. He is the first one to the ball and aggressively brings the pass catcher to the ground.
Boddy-Calhoun is not the biggest player in the world, but he is an aggressive tackler, who shows physicality in his tackles. He does not shy away from contact and can be seen shooting up the field in run support to help stop the run. He is quick to react, closing to the ball aggressively. He is not one of those corners who just wants to play in coverage. Boddy-Calhoun is willing to impact any part of the game and shows in his aggressive tackling ability.
Things to work on
Boddy-Calhoun can be too aggressive in his play. Here are two examples of occasions his aggressiveness can hurt him. In the first play, Boddy-Calhoun is lined up in man coverage against Vikings receiver Adam Thielen. Thielen runs a flag route. When Thielen makes the fake move inside, Boddy-Calhoun bites on the move. He is too aggressive to get in front of the receiver on a possible route inside. When Thielen changes course and shoots back outside, Boddy-Calhoun loses balance and falls behind Thielen, allowing the receiver to get open for a completion. In the second play, Boddy-Calhoun is in man coverage versus Vikings receiver Jarius Wright. Wright runs a slant inside, but then does the scramble drill when he sees his quarterback leaving the pocket. Wright changes direction a couple times to try and get open. Boddy-Calhoun’s aggressive hands use pops up on this play. The young corner gets too handsy and gets called for pass interference when he continues to use his hands to stay with Wright through multiple change of directions.
Boddy-Calhoun is an aggressive player and sometimes can be too handsy while covering. His aggressiveness is a good asset, but he can sometimes try to read the route and aggressively make moves in a certain direction to beat the receiver to a spot, leaving him open to fakes or double moves. His hands usage also needs to be cleaned up. He has the talent to stay with receivers, but he can use his hands to cheat. This is his biggest area to work on.
Highlight of the Week
The highlight of the week versus the Minnesota Vikings was defensive end Carl Nassib. Against the Vikings, he posted three tackles, one tackle for loss, one quarterback hit, one sack and a tipped pass that turned into an interception. Nassib has had an up and down season, showing some promise and then completely disappearing at times. On Sunday, he probably had his best game of the season.
Lowlight of the Week
The lowlight of the week versus the Minnesota Vikings is the continuing struggle of the offense to finish drives in the endzone. The Browns went into the redzone three times, but only came away with a touchdown once. The other trips ended in a field goal and missed field goal. The Browns offense needs to get better in the redzone and finish off their drives with seven points.
Joe Gilbert’s 2017 Season Film Rooms
Week 1 (Run Game)
Week 2 (Ben Watson’s Big Day)
Week 3 (Q2 Big Plays vs Colts)
Week 4 (Game changing plays vs Bengals)
Week 5 (Myles Garrett’s debut)
Week 6 (What are they doing vs HOU)
Week 7 (Spencer Drango)