The Cleveland Browns lost their 14th game of the season on Sunday, falling to the Baltimore Ravens, 27-10, in the home finale at FirstEnergy Stadium. Not much went right for the Browns, especially on offense. But, the run game was pretty good against the talented run game.
In the game, the Browns had 19 rushes for 130 yards and a touchdown. More specifically, the Browns had 12 run plays to either Duke Johnson or Isaiah Crowell, netting 95 yards on those twelve carries. The problem was that Browns Head Coach Hue Jackson forgot that his run game was humming and pretty much ditched the run game in the second half. After scoring the touchdown on the run-happy drive midway in the second quarter, Jackson called just five more run plays in the game.
In today’s Browns film room, I am going to remind Coach Jackson about what he had in his run game. Of the 12 plays to the running backs, seven of those handoffs went at least three yards. I am going to showcase these seven handoffs and illustrate how the run play was successful.
Roll the tape!
Q1 7:59- RB Isaiah Crowell rush for 6 yards
The Browns are in an I-formation with a tight end on the left end of the line and a receiver motioning to the left slot back position. The play is a power run up the middle of the offensive line. Running back Isaiah Crowell receives the handoff and the play is blocked pretty well. Left guard Joel Bitonio comes down and helps double team the defensive tackle in the left tackle with center J.C. Tretter. Left tackle Spencer Drango walls off the defensive lineman in the left C gap from getting inside, creating a hole for Crowell. Fullback Danny Vitale leads Crowell into the hole and takes on the Ravens linebacker who came down to fill the running lane.
Bitonio did a good job to get to the second level to block the other linebacker in the play. Crowell decides to follow Vitale and then cut right behind the block of Bitonio. The running back cuts underneath and to the outside of Bitonio, allowing him to finish off a gain of six yards.
Q2 11:11- RB Isaiah Crowell rush for 59 yards
For this big run gain, the Browns come out in an I-formation with two extra blockers lined up on the left end of the line. The play is blocked perfectly. Austin Reiter is an extra blocker on the outside of the left tackle. Reiter does a heck of a job in the play. He first helps tight end Randall Telfer on his outside with the defender in left D gap. Reiter, then, slips to the inside to help form the inside wall of the running lane, pinning the defensive lineman in the left B gap inside. Telfer tries to get a hold of the defender he was tasked to block, but was unable to sustain the block.
Luckily, fullback Danny Vitale enters the gap and takes out that defender, who was getting free from Telfer. Right guard Kevin Zeitler pulled to the left and took care of the defender on the edge, stopping him from collapsing on the run play. With left tackle Spencer Drango taking care of business versus the defensive lineman in the left B gap, Reiter continues his move through the line, slipping into the second level to take on the linebacker, who tried to fill the running lane. That blocked sprung Crowell to make this huge run. Crowell went through the hole and went inside of Reiter’s block, where only green grass was. Crowell rushed 59 yards on the play until a Ravens defender was able to stop him.
Q2 9:25- RB Duke Johnson rush for 3 yards
For this run play, the Browns line up in a shotgun formation with a tight end on the right end of the line. The call is for running back Duke Johnson to run through the right A gap. The hole is being formed by a pair of double teams. Center J.C. Tretter and left guard Joel Bitonio double up on the defensive lineman in the left A gap, while right guard Kevin Zeitler and right tackle Shon Coleman take on the defensive lineman in the right B gap.
The hole is initially opened in the right A gap, but Zeitler is unable to sustain his block, allowing the defensive lineman to slip through and fill the hole. But, Johnson cuts to the right and avoids the defensive lineman, scampering tightly through a crack. The play only goes for three yards, but it could have been stopped for nothing. It was not a well-blocked play, but Johnson made a play to make it semi-successful.
Q2 8:18- RB Duke Johnson rush for 12 yards
For this play, the Browns got a solid combination of good blocking and playmaking ability by the runner. Cleveland lines up in a shotgun formation with tight end on the left end of the line. Left tackle Spencer Drango and left guard Joel Bitonio combo block the defensive lineman in left B gap. Tight end Seth DeValve takes on the edge rusher in the play. The key block on the play is from right guard Kevin Zeitler. Zeitler pulls over to the left side and is assigned to take on the defender in the gap that is forming on the outside of Drango.
Zeitler is faced with two defenders in the hole. This is where DeValve, Zeitler and running back Duke Johnson all do their part. The defensive back comes up into the hole, but Zeitler and DeValve get a little contact on the defensive back. That slight contact slows down the defensive back and helps Johnson to quickly cut to the outside before the defender could touch him. DeValve does a nice job of keeping the edge rusher contained, springing Johnson for an easy touchdown around the left edge.
Q3 7:06- RB Isaiah Crowell rush for 3 yards
This play should have been an even bigger gain. The Browns line up in another shotgun formation with a tight end motioning to the right end of the line. The play is a zone run with a backside block by the tight end. The ball is snapped and the entire offensive line moves to the right. This leaves an unblocked Ravens defender on the left end of the line. But, tight end David Njoku comes over from the right end to cut block the edge defender on the left edge.
Njoku gets enough of the edge rusher to keep him from collapsing inside on the run. Left tackle Spencer Drango is able to get to the second level and block the linebacker, who is the only defender filling in the running lane formed on the backside of the offensive line. Isaiah Crowell trips on the foot of left guard Joe Bitonio and falls for a shorter gain than he could have made. The hole was wide open and it gave Crowell a chance to pull off a huge gain. Nevertheless, it was an OK gain, but it could have been better.
Q3 5:18- RB Duke Johnson rush for 5 yards
The Browns are in a shotgun formation with a tight end on the left end of the line. The play is a zone run to the middle of the offensive line. When the ball is snapped, the entire offensive line steps to the right. There are two key blocks in the play. Left guard Joel Bitonio takes on the defensive lineman lined up over him, while left tackle Spencer Drango takes on the strong side linebacker. Initially running back Duke Johnson heads to the inside of Bitonio, but he sees the blocks setting on Bitonio’s outside. He stops and cuts to the outside of Bitonio where a hole made by Bitonio and Drango. Johnson is able to gain a nice five-yard run before he is stopped by the safety in the second level.
Q4 6:41 Duke Johnson rush for 4 yards
For this final play, the Browns are in a shotgun formation with a tight end on the left end of the line. The Browns offensive comes off the snap and moves in two different directions. The center, right guard and right tackle move to the right, while the left guard and left tackle move to the left. The play is a read play for quarterback DeShone Kizer. He has an option to keep, hand it off or even pass it. Kizer chooses to hand it to running back Duke Johnson. He does this after seeing a huge gap formed by the offensive line. The right side of the Browns offensive line is pinning the defensive lineman lined up in the right A gap and the right edge rusher to the outside, while left guard Joel Bitonio is blocking the defensive lineman in left B gap.
The strong side linebacker gets fooled by option play and goes back into coverage to defend against a possible pass by the Browns. This leaves only one linebacker on the right side of the field to take on Johnson. I think Johnson makes a mistake and cuts to late to the inside. His move forces him to be too tight against the right edge of the blocking, causing him to run himself into the weak side linebacker for an OK gain of four yards. Had Johnson cut inside sooner, Johnson could have had a better chance to elude the linebacker and pull off a bigger gain.
Highlight of the Week
The highlight of the week versus the Baltimore Ravens was running back Isaiah Crowell. Crowell rushed five times for 72 yards, including pulling off the offense’s biggest play of the game, a 59-yard run. Crowell was really good in the limited touches he had in the run game. It is criminal how few touches he had, especially with how well he was running in the game.
Lowlight of the Week
The lowlight of the week versus the Baltimore Ravens was quarterback DeShone Kizer. Kizer took another step back and played one of his worst games of the season. He completed just 20 of 37 passes for 146 yards and two interceptions. His performance held back the offense and took the team pretty much out of the game with his big mistakes.
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)
Week 8 (Briean Boddy-Calhoun)
Week 10 (DeShone Kizer’s Best Game)
Week 11 (What I am thankful for on the Browns)
Week 12 (The success of the run game vs the Bengals)
Week 13 (Finding blame for Kizer’s 17 incompletions)
Week 14 (What could have been vs the Packers)