Browns, Cleveland Browns Film Room

Browns Film Room: What could have been versus the Packers

The Cleveland Browns lost their 13th straight game, falling to the Green Bay Packers, 27-21, in overtime. The Browns held a 14-point lead going into the fourth quarter, but the team could not withstand the Packers’ comeback. It was another lost that could have possibly been a win for Cleveland had a few plays turned their way. But, those plays did not happen.

In this week’s Browns film room, we will take a look at six plays in the fourth quarter and overtime that could have turned the game in favor of the Browns. Any one of these six plays could have been the difference in the Browns earning their first victory. But, none of these six plays went the way of the Browns, resulting in another crushing loss.

Let’s take a look at how the plays went in the way of the Packers.

Q4 10:19 (3rd-and-2)- Running back Isaiah Crowell rush for one yard

This was the first possession the Browns had since the Packers cut the lead down to 21-14 early in the four quarter. The Browns were faced with a 3rd-and-2 situation with the ball positioned close to midfield. Cleveland lined up in a single back set with three tight ends on the left end of the offensive line and a wide receiver out wide to right. The play call is an inside handoff to running back Isaiah Crowell. Two things happen that stop this play from being a success and stop the Browns from getting the first down. The first is the failed block attempt by tight end Randall Telfer. Telfer falls off his block and allows the defender to fill in the running lane that Crowell was about to run through. The second thing to happen is Crowell losing his footing and tripping. The running back saw the defender fill the running lane, so he stopped and tried to jump cut to the right where a hole was formed by left tackle Spencer Drango, left guard Joel Bitonio, and center J.C. Tretter. But, Crowell trips on Drango’s foot and falls to the ground, short of the first down line. There was a lane to get the first down, but Crowell got too close to Drango and tripped over the offensive tackle.

Q4 2:59 (3rd-and-4)- QB DeShone Kizer incomplete to TE David Njoku

After the Browns defense got a stop on the previous drive to keep the Browns lead at seven, the Browns offense was faced with another huge third and short situation. This time the Browns were in a 3rd-and-4 situation where if they could convert, the Browns could run a lot of time off the clock and limit the chances the Packers could tie the game up. Cleveland comes out in a shotgun formation with three receivers out wide, a tight end on the left end of the offensive line and a running back to the right of quarterback DeShone Kizer. Once again there are two facets to the Browns failing to convert on this play. The first is on Kizer. When the ball is snapped, Kizer stares down tight end David Njoku on the right side of the field. With his focus on Njoku running a short slant route, Kizer misses tight end Seth DeValve, who is wide open in the middle of the field after running a 5-yard stick route. The closest defender in the area of DeValve was the safety, who was almost ten yards back of the tight end. But, Kizer had narrow vision and strictly focused on Njoku. The other facet of this play is that in the end, Njoku drops a catchable ball that could have converted the first down. Kizer throws a strike right between the oncoming defender from the inside and the cornerback covering the tight end. It was placed into the chest of Njoku, but the tight end simply drops it. The Browns had two chances on the play to convert the first down, however both of those chances were flubbed by the Browns.

Q4 2:57 (4th-and-4)- WR Trevor Davis punt return for 65 yards

Following the failed third down by the Browns that we just covered, the Browns were forced to punt and give the ball back to the Packers to try and tie the game up. A good punt and punt coverage could have put Green Bay in a hole that would be too tough to get out of to score a touchdown before time ran out. But, the Browns punt coverage fails. Browns punter Britton Colquitt booms a 53-yard punt to the 10-yard line, where Packers returner Trevor Davis catches it and begins his return. At the end of his return, Davis is 65 yards down field and the Packers are set up to get a touchdown to tie the game up before time expires. The key to the success of Davis’ return was the horrible tackling and angles taken by the Browns coverage players at the beginning of the play. Four Browns coverage team players, either simply missed a tackle or took a horrible angle to not be able to get in position to tackle Davis. One defender missed twice in a matter of seconds. Once Davis eludes those four players, the last factor that extended the return even more was the defender at the 30-yard line falling down, allowing Davis to get the edge and continue down the sideline. This play set up the beginning of the end for the Browns.

Q4 :36 (3rd-and-2)- QB Brett Hundley rush for five yards

With just 36 second left in the game, the Packers were faced with a 3rd-and-2 from the 6-yard line. As the WFNY’s Jake Burns illustrated earlier in the week, the Browns defense played off-man coverage for most of the game. For this play the Browns were in this alignment against the five-wide formation from the Packers. These two factors were a recipe for disaster for the Browns on this play. Every defender was pretty much lined up on the goal line. With five pass catchers out wide, the Browns two safeties and four rushers were the only two not in man coverage to a route runner. Both safeties were in the endzone on either side of the field. So, the middle of the field was empty of a free defender. With the five defenders in man coverage standing on the goal line, it set up an easy conversion for quarterback Brett Hundley to run up the middle. All Hundley had to do was escape the pocket. The Packers blockers did an excellent job of double teaming Browns defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi inside to wall off the inside lane. With Browns defensive lineman Carl Nassib rushing too far up field, Hundley had a huge running lane to go through and easily get the first down before any of the secondary players could close on him.

OT 8:43 (3rd-and-2)- QB DeShone Kizer intercepted by DB Josh Jones

In overtime, the Browns won the toss and got the first chance to win the game. The Browns were faced with a 3rd-and-2 situation early in the opening drive. For the play, the Browns came out in a shotgun with four-man bunch set in the left slot and single receiver out wide to the right. This play is all on Kizer. Kizer receives the snap and immediately focuses his attention to the receiver Josh Gordon on the right, running a quick slant route. But, Gordon is covered and probably held by the cornerback in coverage, causing Kizer to panic. Rather than stay in the pocket and turn to another read, Kizer leaves the pocket and runs right into the pressure on the right. He scrambles around and then sees Crowell running wide open on the left sideline. Kizer tries to throw the ball to the running back, but he is hit while throwing and the ball floats up for an easy interception by the Packers. He should have just put the ball away and taken the sack as he clearly saw the rush just about to hit him. The other thing he should have done before he scrambled and rushed out of the right side of the pocket is move to the left side of the pocket where it was clean. Had he done that, he would have had time to see Crowell get open and fling it to him for a big play. The coverage got messed up on the left side of the field and only two defenders were in coverage versus the three Browns targets on that side.

OT 5:05 (3rd-and-6)- WR Davante Adams 25-yard TD reception from QB DeShone Kizer

This final play was a 3rd-and-2 situation for the Packers offense on the 25-yard line. If the Browns got the stop, the Packers would have to kick a field goal to win the game, far from a given at that distance. After a late shift, Green Bay lines up in a single back set with a tight end of the right end of the line and a three-man bunch set on the left side of the field. The Browns were in man coverage on the three receivers in the bunch set with a deep safety 20-yards down field. The Packers call a quick screen to receiver Davante Adams, who was lined up on the outside of the bunch set. Adams catches the ball and shoots up field. The Browns first chance of stopping the play is from edge rusher Myles Garrett. As Adams cut inside around his receiver blockers, Garrett had a chance to corral Adams, but Garrett dives and misses Adams. The second chance to stop the Packers from a first down is from defensive back Mike Jordan, who was the furthest defender of the three defensive backs in coverage against the bunch set. Jordan comes up and dives to tackle Adams, but the receiver makes a spin move and breaks the tackle. Once away from Jordan, Adams is free to the endzone because safety Kai Nacua takes a bad angle that takes him out of the play.

Highlight of the Week

The highlight of week versus the Green Bay Packers was running back Isaiah Crowell. Crowell surpassed 100 rushing yards for the first time this season. He rushed 19 times for 121 yards, while also catching three passes for 10 yards. Crowell was able to pull off some big plays in the run game, helping propel the offense for most of the day.

Lowlight of the Week

The lowlight of the week versus the Green Bay Packers was the overall collapse of the team. The Browns offense was humming after going up 21-7 in the third quarter. The defense was playing well since allowing the opening series touchdown. But, then the Browns completely fell apart and did almost everything they could to lose the game. This was the best chance of a win the Browns had all season.

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)