The Cleveland Browns finished off their winless season on Sunday, falling to the Pittsburgh Steelers second team, 28-24. It was another tough season to swallow for Browns fans. The season ends with so much anguish and questions about the direction and future of the organization. But, the season finale saw some bright spots that should give fans a little hope going into the offseason.
In this week’s Browns film room, we will take a look at these bright spots that spouted out through the maze of the season finale loss. Specifically, we will focus on the players in their first or second years in the league, who played well versus the Steelers and are looking like a player to build with for the future. It’s the last film room of the season and I appreciate everyone who has come along for the ride. Let’s finish the season off with some hope!
Roll the tape!
This play shows the explosion and speed of Myles Garrett. For this passing play, Garrett uses speed rush. He fires off the line of scrimmage and immediately shoots up field, taking a wider turn than he probably would have liked to have made. But, he uses amazing agility to cut inside without trending more too the back of the pocket. He then uses his flexibility to get underneath the blockers grasp and to the quarterback for the strip sack. Garrett has shown these types of plays throughout his rookie season, becoming a true consistent pass rusher for the Browns. He has improved as the season has gone on. He is the future of the Browns pass rush and the biggest threat the defense has that opposing offenses have to game plan for hopefully the next 10 to 15 years.
This play was a glimpse of tight end David Njoku’s ability to make plays with the ball in his hands. Njoku lined up on the right end of the line and ran a five-yard stick route. He caught the ball in space and turned up the field where he was faced by the closing defender. Njoku does a nice stutter step that forces the defender to dive and miss the tackle, allowing the tight end to use his athleticism to run down field for a big gain. Njoku has had an up and down season with glimpses of his amazing athleticism, but still not completely consistent in his play. He has shown that he can be a mismatch for the offense and create big plays, but will need to be more consistent in doing so.
Jabrill Peppers started off his career in rough fashion, but this play is an example of his improvement throughout the season. In this play, Peppers disguised his role by sticking close to the line of scrimmage at the snap. But, as the quarterback dropped back, he went back to the outside to be the underneath coverage of the wide receiver running a post on the right. He fooled Steelers quarterback Landry Jones, undercutting the pass to the receiver and picking the pass off. Peppers struggled in his initial role as the angel safety in the defense. But as the season went on, he improved somewhat in this role, but also was moved closer to the line of scrimmage to utilize his skill set. He seemed to play better in this newer role and it is definitely a step in the right direction for his future with the Browns defense.
This play is an example of Joe Schobert’s ability to defend against the run. On this goal line play, Schobert is lined up on the right edge. He is the last line of defense on the edge. The Steelers hand the ball off and running back Stevan Ridley tries to go to the right edge behind his leading fullback. But, Schobert makes the stop by swimming underneath the pulling offensive line and diving to trip up the runner for the stop on the play. Schobert has had a breakout year, catapulting a solid, consistent defender for the defense. He is particularly played well against the run, making quick reads to react quickly to the ball. His play is definitely a bright spot in the middle of the defense.
Trevon Coley has been a solid player in the interior defensive line rotation. In the play above, he is lined up in the right B gap for this Steelers run play. Steelers running back Stevan Ridley receives the handoff and heads to the right edge, following his fullback, who trying to help open the hole between the right guard and right tackle. Coley takes on the right guard initially, standing stout and not giving up any ground backwards. He is able to slip the block of the right guard, causing the fullback to have to help out and block him. Coley, though continues pinch down into the hole and is able to collapse the hole with the help of defensive lineman Carl Nassib standing strong on the edge. Coley clogs the hole and stuffs the run play from being successful. Coley has been an unheralded player on the Browns defense, but the young defensive lineman has played solidly in his first season with the Browns. He should be a good rotational defensive lineman for the Browns going forward.
Rashard Higgins has had an up and down season, but the season finale was his best game of his career. For this play, Higgins is lined up in the left slot, where he is designed to run a slant route. Higgins comes off the line of scrimmage and runs up the field for five yards. He then cuts inside, using a slight fake to the outside, which helps gain him separation from the linebacker in coverage. Kizer fires the pass to Higgins, who is just getting past the linebacker not only with the inside advantage, but also getting behind the Steelers defender. The linebacker fails to get a hand on the pass and whiffs on getting a hand on Higgins. Higgins then uses his speed to beat the angle of the deep safety and run all the way for the touchdown. Higgins has had some nice games and then games where he is completely invisible. But, he has a chance to be a third or fourth receiver on the team if he can continue with performances like he had in the season finale.
Highlight of the Week
The highlight of the week versus the Pittsburgh Steelers was receiver Rashard Higgins. Higgins had his best game of his career, catching three passes for 68 yards and two touchdowns. He was a big play producer, including a 56-yard touchdown catch and run. He made a play as a redzone target, scoring his second touchdown of the game in this situation. Hopefully this gives him momentum going into 2018.
Lowlight of the Week
The lowlight of the week versus the Pittsburgh Steelers was the fact the team lost its 16th game of the season and that it completed a winless season. I am just flabbergasted that this team could not win one game because I believe it has the talent to win a handful of games. The talent does not match a winless record. But somehow, this team failed in many areas and was just unable to finish off a single win. 1-31 over the past two seasons is just crazy to thing about.
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)
Week 15 (Hey Hue, you had a good run game vs the Ravens)
Week 16 (Death by a thousand screens and scrambles vs the Bears)