Browns, Cleveland Browns Film Room

Browns Film Room: Hey Hue, you had a good run game vs the Ravens

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)

  • Eric G

    Nice to see Flash trying to be helpful in those top two runs

  • MartyDaVille

    Hue doesn’t care about winning with your stupid running game. Hue cares only about his System. Because it’s his System, and that makes it the best System in the whole gosh-danged world. And his System would work here if he weren’t surrounded by so many incompetents. Hue’s genius is being completely wasted. It’s a crying shame.

  • paulbip

    1. QB (I would rather have Mayfield but I know it will be Rosen)
    2. RB or S/CB (Barkley but if gone (Fitzpatrick)
    3. WR (would love to get Harras if Barkley gone)
    4. WR
    5. S/CB

  • Harv

    dry and salty. Like it.

  • Harv

    Really good coaches in any sport are flexible, can tweak the plan as the situation and personnel warrant. The most impressive coaching I saw on the Browns since ’99 was Norv Turner pivoting from Brian Hoyer’s quick reads and releases to Weeden’s big arm cluelessness and making it work for a few weeks, until opponents had enough tape to squash that smoke and mirrors act. But for a little while it was nimble and impressive work by one of the greats.

    Seems apparent that Hue is so worried about not racking enough wins to keep his job that he panics when facing a second half deficit. All the nods to the running game that he spews at pressers notwithstanding, when he looks up at that scoreboard he can’t help himself from trying to get that lead back NOW. And he has nobody there – no OC, no “assistant to the head coach” – to calm him the hell down. You can’t tell me his jitters aren’t felt by his players, who play like they’re sure another loss is going to drop like an anvil.

    Maybe Hue would do fine in Cincy, but don’t think he exudes the self-confidence in the Sunday part of his job to convince a young team they can win. Another in a long line of guys who are at their best coaching up the fans and media.

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  • bossman09

    You know what they say…. Draft for need regardless of what’s available.

  • bossman09

    When you look at the play calling of the game, two things jump out at you –

    1) the browns didn’t have a ton of plays in the second half so there is a grain of truth too “we were way behind and needed to score quick so we didn’t run the ball”. The passing #s were also slightly elevated because of two possessions late in 1st half.

    2) With that said, there are two sequences that reaffirm the “Hue is a pass first guy in the worst way” mentality:

    2nd possession, 11:01 remaining in 3rd quarter. 1st and 10 FROM THE 4!!!!
    1st play – Deep route to Gordon incomplete
    2nd play – hand off to duke for 1 yard. (I hate that duke doesn’t get the ball more, but Crow is your “move the pile” guy
    3rd play – pass incomplete
    4th play – punt.

    WTF. There is almost a full half of football left, you are on your own 4 yard line. this sequence is “unconventional” at best. Way to put the game in the hands of your rookie QB and not the RB who is doing well against the defense. Remember this sequence when we look at the next one…

    3rd possession. 7:06 remaining in 3rd, 1st and 10 FROM THE 4!!!! (Again) Defense has stopped Ravens twice to keep the game close
    1st play – Deep route to …. in doesn’t matter!!! fumble recovered for a ravens TD. Game over

    So on back to back possessions, Hue calls for deep routes on 1st and 10 from the 4 yard line. No effort to move the chains or even improve field position, he goes for it all putting the results of the game in the hands of the rookie QB. Then he says “Kizer has to improve”. It’s criminal what this guy is doing. It’s also ironic that the other time we were 1st and 10 from the 4, we handed of to Crow for 59 yards. I’m starting to believe that success in the running game makes Hue want to pass the ball more. I’m starting to believe that his brain says “Ha! I’ve got them now!!! They think I’m going to run because it’s been working so they will never expect a deep pass now”!!!!

    Except that every defensive coordinator in the NFL knows that Hue doesn’t run the ball even when he is averaging over 5 yards a carry and they play max coverage. horrible.