The Browns are still searching for their first win of the season after the team was unable to come back from an early game deficit against the Indianapolis Colts. Cleveland lost the game due in large part to the defense’s poor performance in the second quarter. In the quarter, the Browns allowed 21 points, giving the Colts a 21-point lead that was too much to overcome. The defense gave up big plays that allowed the Colts offense to quickly get down the field and score touchdowns. In this week’s film room, I will showcase the big plays that the Browns defense gave up and examine what went wrong in the play
So with that, let’s roll the tape!
Frank Gore 21-yard run
In this play, the Colts line up in an I-formation with a tight end in the right slot back position and a receiver on both sides of the field. The Browns have two deep safeties with seven defenders in the box. The Colts run to the right in the zone blocking scheme with running back Frank Gore reading the hole. The Colts block it perfectly. The Colts offensive line shoots to the right and a hole between the center and left guard, who both are sealin the walls of the hole. Without any of the Browns defensive linemen getting free quickly, the key defender on the play are linebacker Christian Kirksey. Kirksey was the weak side linebacker and had the position to fill that the hole. irksey was pushed just enough by the Colts left tackle to over pursue and get swept up by the incoming Colts lead blocker. Schobert read the run to go to the outside, so he went to the hole between the right guard and right tackle, taking him out of the play. With no penetration from the defensive line and the safeties 20 yards down field, Gore sped through the line for a big 21-yard gain.
Jacoby Brissett 25-yard pass to T.Y. Hilton
The Colts come out in a single back set with a wide receiver on both sides of the line and two tight ends on the end of the right side of the line. The Browns come out in a blitz package with eight defenders rushing the passer. That leaves a deep safety and single man coverage on the two receivers out wide. The route to watch is Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton’s post route versus the off man coverage of Browns cornerback Jamar Taylor. For the Browns to have success on the play, the Browns needed to get quick pressure with the eight rushing defenders and either get the sack or pressure quarterback Jacoby Brissett enough to force a rushed throw that lacks accuracy. The rush just does not pressure Brissett fast enough, allowing Brissett to have time to wait for Hilton to turn inside on his post route.
The technique by both Taylor and safety Jabrill Peppers was not good on the play. Both players played Hilton’s route toward the sideline, leaving the inside vulnerable to be open. Taylor faced the sideline, preparing to go downfield rather than staying square to Hilton. With his hips already turned, Hilton’s cut to the inside forces Taylor to have to completely spin around to chase Hilton, allowing the receiver to get wide open. With Taylor playing the sideline, that should have made Peppers have to stay inside to cover the middle of the field. Peppers played it like it was going to be a deep streak. Already 25 yards deep, Peppers turned and headed backwards for another five yards deeper. His first move backwards leaves the middle of the field wide open. The safety just was too deep to react quickly enough to break in time to make a play on the post route. Hilton grabs the easy catch and heads up field for a big 25-yard gain.
Jacoby Brissett 7-yard touchdown run
This play is all about contain and tackling. The Colts line up in a compact shotgun formation with three receivers out, a tight end on the end of the right side of the line and a running back to the left of Brissett. The Browns send six defenders to rush the passer with man coverage in the secondary and Peppers as the safety in zone. Brissett gets happy feet in the pocket after his first read was taken on the right. He begins to look to escape to the right, but Nate Orchard keeps good contain and forces the quarterback to go underneath him on the edge where three Browns defenders are waiting for him. Brissett does a nice spin move and takes advantage of the three defenders leaving their area on the field to chase him on the right side of the pocket. All three defenders did not stay square to the quarterback and were moving to the right. Brissett was able to take advantage of that and spin away from those three, who all got off balance by the move, leaving Carl Nassib as the only rusher on the left side of the field, but he was too far up field to make a play on the scrambling quarterback. Brissett has a clear lane to the end zone with a blocker in front of him to help clear any possible defender. Brissett strolls in for a touchdown.
Jacoby Brissett 34-yard pass to Donte Moncrief
The big play is all about bad technique. The Colts come out in a shotgun with three receivers out wide, a tight end in the right slot and a running back to the left of the quarterback. The Browns rush six defenders, press man coverage on the four route runners and a deep safety over top. The rush gets solid pressure on Brissett, causing him to rush his throw. Brissett underthrows the pass, which turns out to be a great thing for the success of the play. Browns cornerback Jason McCourty is in press man coverage on Colts receiver Donte Moncrief. He stays pretty tight to the inside hip of Moncrief, but McCourty makes one bad mistake. The cornerback never turns his head around to look for the ball, causing him to not know where the ball is going and allowing Moncrief to stop and go get the underthrown ball. Peppers takes a really bad route to the ball, causing him to be out of the play. The safety sees that the pass is going to Moncrief and reacts pretty quickly to the throw. He should be in position to make a play on the ball. But, Peppers either does not notice that the pass is underthrown or he misjudges the depth of the pass because Peppers runs over top of the pass and is not in position to make a play on the ball. He should have been, but he took a bad route to the ball.
Jacoby Brissett 61-yard pass to T.Y. Hilton
The Colts come out in a compact shotgun with three receivers out, a tight end in the right slot and a running back to the left of the quarterback. The Browns rush six on the play with man coverage on all four of the route runners and a deep safety over top. The Browns actually get quick and good pressure on Brissett, but there is a breakdown in the coverage that gives Brissett a target to throw to before the pressure gets to him. The breakdown is on cornerback Jamar Taylor who is in man against Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton. Starting from the outside on the right, Hilton motions before the play inside the receiver he was lined up next to. Hilton runs a 10-yard out route. Taylor and linebacker Christian Kirksey seemed to be twisted up on this play. Kirksey is in coverage against the tight end running a 10-yard in route. Taylor is in off man coverage, while Kirksey is in press man coverage.
Both the tight end’s and Hilton’s routes start out almost right next to each other which causes confusion for Kirksey and Taylor. Because Kirksey was in press, Taylor moved to the inside of that route, so he would not run into Kirksey. Because he did that, Taylor was too far away from Hilton to break when Hilton went to the outside. Hilton gained large separation from Taylor, giving Brisset an easy throw for a completion that should have just been a 20-yard gain. Peppers comes up and takes a horrible angle to try and tackle Hilton, allowing the inside open for Hilton to cut inside and go for a touchdown. After getting beat, Taylor seemed to pull up and not try to make a tackle attempt on Hilton, who was in range to be tackled. Taylor seemed to think Peppers would get the tackle and he eased up, which is a horrible thing to do in the NFL. Never assume.
Jabrill Peppers pass interference on T.Y. Hilton
The Colts line up in an unbalanced line in a single back formation with two receivers out wide to the left, a tight end in the left slot back position and a tight end in the right tackle spot. The Browns rush six on the play. This play should be stopped by the Browns defense easily. The Colts have just two players, the two receivers on the left, running out to be pass catchers. I had a hard time reading what the Browns were in, but I got some help from my WFNY colleague Jake Burns. Jake called the defense a sort of a Tampa 2 invert. Safety Derrick Kindred comes down hard on the play to be a spy over the middle of the field with a blitzing cornerback on the right side of the field. Peppers had the deep right zone over top and Schobert had the deep middle zone to cover. The Colts play action completely destroys the Browns defense. With the fake handoff, almost every Browns defender bit hard on the fake, including Peppers and Schobert. With Schobert and Peppers thinking run and coming in a bit, it allows Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton to run a deep post route. Schobert and Peppers leave the back end of the defense wide open for Hilton to run to. Peppers could not recover so he contacted Hilton and caused the pass interference, which was better than giving up a touchdown. The lack of discipline on the part of Peppers and Schobert caused the breakdown.
Frank Gore 4-yard touchdown run
In this final play, the Colts line up in a shotgun formation with running back Frank Gore to the left of the quarterback, a tight end in the right slot back position and three receivers out wide. The Browns come out in a four-man line with six in the box. In their zone-blocking scheme, the Colts have the line slide to the right with the tight end on the right pulling to the left to lead Gore into the hole. Indianapolis once again blocks the Browns defensive line well leaving one defender to make the play, linebacker Joe Schobert. Schobert is on the left side of the formation and in line to fill the hole that Gore was trying to get through. The linebacker takes a very weird approach to the hole. He seems to be concerned about getting beat inside that he lets the outside open and tries to tackle Gore with just his arms rather than driving his body through the tackle. Gore gets past Schobert for the touchdown.
Highlight of the Game
There was no highlight this week versus the Colts. The Browns lost a winnable game to a 0-2 team with quarterback Jacoby Brissett.
Lowlight of the Game
The lowlight of the game versus the Colts was the play of the wide receivers. The Browns receivers had a drop fest in the game with a lot more times where a receiver could have made a difficult play for the young quarterback. Besides Duke Johnson, who technically is a running back, Kenny Britt, who caught just three passes for 54 yards a touchdown, led the Browns receivers. All three marks led the receiver unit. That’s not great. Someone needs to step up.
Joe Gilbert’s 2017 Season Film Rooms