The Cleveland Browns lost to the Tampa Buccaneers, 26-23, in overtime. Cleveland had so many opportunities to win the game, but those opportunities went by the wayside. The Browns defense was once again a turnover machine, notching four turnovers in the game. The defense has been a huge part of the reason why the team has been able to stay close in pretty much every game this season. However, the Browns offense has taken the defense for granted and have not capitalized on the opportunities the defense gives them every game.
The Browns defense leads the league in turnovers with 20 turnovers so far this season. But, the Browns have only scored 31 points off those 20 turnovers. To make it even worse, the Browns average field position after these turnovers is the opponent’s 49.7-yard line1. The offense is not taking advantage of the good field position and big plays that the defense is giving them.
On Sunday, the Browns offense once again struggled to score after turnovers, posting just seven points after the four turnovers the defense produced. In this week’s Browns film room, I will examine the series that followed the four turnovers to see what is transpiring in this opportunities. Roll the tape!
Following an interception that gave the Browns the ball at their own 25-yard line
Q2 2:19 1st-and-10- Duke Johnson loses four yards
Following the interception, the Browns line up in a shotgun with just over two minutes to go in the half. The Browns decide to start the drive with a wrinkle in that rather than pass the ball, the Browns run a quick draw play to running back Duke Johnson. The ball is snapped and quarterback Baker Mayfield goes back like he is about to look for a passing target. But, he quickly pulls it down and hands it off to Johnson. But, left tackle Desmond Harrison is driven back into the backfield causing Johnson to run into the left tackle. Johnson has to cut to the right where there is a hole. However, the closing linebacker is able to break into the hole before tight end David Njoku can get to him and block him. The linebacker is able to close and tackle Johnson for a loss. This is a poor blocking play that set the Browns’ series up on a bad note.
Q2 2:00 2nd-and-14- Baker Mayfield to Duke Johnson for seven yards
To try and get out of the hole that the first down play made, the Browns line up in a shotgun with four wide. Baker Mayfield takes the snap and sees a potential mismatch happening between Duke Johnson and the linebacker who is about to cover him in man coverage out of the backfield. So, Mayfield knows early where he is going to throw it. When Johnson comes out of the backfield and then breaks to the sideline, the running back gets just enough separation from the linebacker that Mayfield decides to fire it, placing a perfect pass to the sideline where Johnson makes a great catch. There are two other topics that I want to point out in this play. The first is that Mayfield may have had a better option developing just as he threw the ball. Receiver Damion Ratley was running a post route in the middle of the field and he was just entering the middle of the field, which was wide open when Mayfield threw the pass. It may have been a bigger play had he thrown it there. But, the second point is the protection of the line on the left side was just about to break when Mayfield threw the pass. Nevertheless, the completion made a much more manageable third down situation.
Q2 1:54 3rd-and-7- Baker Mayfield sacked for a nine-yard loss
To try and convert this third down situation, the Browns line up in a shotgun with an empty backfield. Baker Mayfield diagnoses the defense and believes he can get a mismatch for tight end David Njoku, who is running a wheel route. But, the route is covered well by the linebacker. So, Mayfield decides to look at the middle of the field where his dump off option is in Duke Johnson. But, Johnson is not looking for the ball yet. Johnson eventually does sit down, but left tackle Desmond Harrison is beaten badly by former Brown Carl Nassib. Nassib is able to bring him down for a sack. Mayfield did not have enough time to let the deeper routes develop before he was sacked. This was unsuccessful due to the good coverage and poor pass protection.
Following a fumble that the Browns the ball at Tampa Bay’s 19-yard line
Q2 :50 1st-and-10- Baker Mayfield incomplete pass
The Browns are in the red zone and looking to score before the half. This play is unsuccessful because of a poor decision and pass by Baker Mayfield. The Browns had two timeouts and line up in a shotgun with an empty backfield. The Bucs are in a zone defense with the secondary backing up to protect closer to the endzone. Mayfield decides to try to go deep in the highly covered deep part of the field. He tries to get receiver Jarvis Landry on a wheel route, but the route is covered well and the pass is off target. Mayfield misses an opportunity to hit David Njoku, who ran a crossing route and sat down in the middle of the field. He is underneath the coverage and wide open. If Mayfield completes the pass to Njoku, the tight end has a lot of space to run after the catch. The Browns had two timeouts, so the middle of the field was available to target with just under a minute to go. This is a missed opportunity by Mayfield.
Q2 :45 2nd-and-10- Baker Mayfield incomplete pass
The Browns once again come out in a shotgun with an empty backfield. The play has similar qualities to the first play of the series. Jarvis Landry is once running a wheel route in this play and it worked better than the first one. Damion Ratley is the outside receiver, who runs a streak route down the numbers on the right side of the field. Landry is inside of Ratley. Landry runs underneath Ratley and up the sideline for the wheel route. Ratley’s route takes the safety out of the play and puts Landry in a one-on-one matchup. Baker Mayfield sees this and fires a jump ball to Landry because the cornerback is not facing the ball. The pass goes through Landry’s hands for an incompletion. I do not mind this pass because the opportunity was there. The cornerback covering just made a nice play in defending Landry from getting the pass.
Q2 :40 3rd-and-10- Baker Mayfield to Damion Ratley for eight yards
For this third down situation, the Browns are in a shotgun with four wide and running back to the right of Baker Mayfield. Mayfield sees that the coverage is in zone coverage, so he quickly knows what he will do. Because Jarvis Landry, who is in the right slot, goes up the middle of the field and sits down in the middle of coverage. This draws the coverage to him and away from the underneath area. Damion Ratley is running a short crossing route across the field. Mayfield quickly sees Ratley and fires the pass. Ratley is able to run after the catch and create a short fourth down situation. The play enabled the Browns to go for it on fourth down.
Q2 :26 4th-and-2- Baker Mayfield scrambles for one yard
Hue Jackson decides to go for it on fourth down. The play call is a sound one. But, the protection throws a wrench in the play. When Baker Mayfield takes the snap, he is almost immediately met with an unblocked blitzer from the inside. Mayfield has to avoid the blitzer and another outside rusher. This pressure forces him to miss two open receivers early on in the play. So, Mayfield leaves the pocket to avoid the pressure. He decides to run and try to get the first down with legs. He has the lane to get the first down, but he is stripped of the ball at the last second, causing the ball to go out of bounds short of the first down. The Browns fail to convert. Another aspect of this play is when Mayfield is running out of the pocket. Duke Johnson is separated from his coverage and running open on the left side of the field where Mayfield was going. Mayfield missed an opportunity to throw it to Johnson, who could have caught it and possibly taken it in the endzone for a touchdown. I was in support of the decision to go for the fourth down, but the execution of the play soured the success of the play.
Following a fumble that gave the Browns the ball at Tampa Bay’s 26-yard line
Q3 14:23 1st-and-10- Baker Mayfield to David Njoku for seven yards
Following the fumble, the Browns line up in a single back set. The key routes are the two on the left side of the field. Tight end/fullback Orson Charles is on the left sideline running a streak route, while David Njoku is on the left end of the line running a stick route. Baker Mayfield fakes the handoff and then looks immediately at the middle of the field. But, he quickly moves his eyes to the left and fires a great pass to Njoku, with the pass going to the outside and away from the defender on the inside. It was also a nice catch by Njoku. But, Mayfield may have missed a bigger play. Charles was running open down the sideline after the corner covering him falls below him and becomes more worried about Njoku. The safety is too far downfield to react to Charles. Mayfield had the chance to throw between the coverage and get a big pass play to Charles. Nonetheless, it was still a successful play to Njoku.
Q3 13:48 2nd-and-3- Nick Chubb rushes for four yards
The Browns have a short second down situation. Cleveland is running a handoff out of the shotgun formation. The ball is snapped and Baker Mayfield hands it off to running back Nick Chubb. Right guard Kevin Zeitler pulls from the right to come over and take on the unblocked defensive end. Chubb cuts inside of Zeitler where a hole formed. Chubb gets a good gain where he is able to reach the first down marker before he is tripped up and finally brought down. It was another successful gain for the Browns.
Q3 13:08 1st-and-10- Baker Mayfield to David Njoku for a 15-yard touchdown
This is the first and only score after any of the four turnovers. The initial motion of the receiver from the left side of the field to the right side opens up the left side of the field David Njoku is the only pass catcher on that side of the field. Baker Mayfield sees that there will be no help over the top on the left side, meaning Njoku is in a one-on-one situation with a linebacker. The ball is snapped and Njoku runs directly to the front pylon for ten or so yards. He, then, cuts upfield, which causes his defender to lose his balance given the change of direction. Mayfield fires the pass to the outside where only Njoku can get it. The tight end makes a nice catch for the big touchdown. It was a nice recognition and throw by Mayfield in this play.
Following an interception that gave the Browns the ball at Tampa Bay’s 45-yard line
OT 6:15 1st-and-10- Nick Chubb rushes for no gain
The Browns got a huge turnover in overtime and were in striking distance of field goal range to win the game. The Browns start the series with a run play out of the shotgun formation. Nick Chubb gets the handoff and at first heads to the left. But, Chubb sees a defender crashing from the left edge unblocked, so he cuts back to the right. The defensive tackle on the right side of the line, though, meets Chubb. The lineman was able to stand Kevin Zeitler up and then get his arm free to help stuff Chubb from going to the outside. The defender who collapsed the left edge is able to come across the line and help bring Chubb down, along with many other defenders. The run blocking broke down on this play.
OT 5:41 2nd-and-10- Baker Mayfield to David Njoku for seven yards
This is a quick-hitting pass play. Three of the five pass catchers in this play are running a five-yard stick route. The Browns are looking to get the ball out quickly. Baker Mayfield reads the defense quickly and finds David Njoku settling in between the coverage on the right side of the field. Mayfield throws the pass to the right of Njoku, so the defender on the inside cannot reach it. Njoku makes a good catch to put the Browns in a manageable third-down situation.
OT 4:58 3rd-and-3- Baker Mayfield sacked for a seven-yard loss
The failure of this crucial play falls squarely on the Browns tackles. When the ball is snapped, both left tackle Desmond Harrison and right tackle Chris Hubbard are driven back and into Baker Mayfield. Before the tackles collapsed onto Mayfield, the routes in the middle of the field all intersected and created no throwing lanes for Mayfield. With the edges of the pocket collapsing, Mayfield tries to move up in the pocket, but the right edge rusher grabs Mayfield for a sack. Mayfield had no chance on this play because of the protection.
Highlight of the Game
The highlight of the game versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was Browns edge rusher Emmanuel Ogbah. Ogbah had his best game of the season against the Bucs. He notched five tackles, one tackle for a loss, two passes defended, two quarterback hits and one and a half sacks. Let’s hope we see this type of performance from Ogbah for the rest of the season.
Lowlight of the Game
The lowlight of the game versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was the Browns pass protection. The Browns pass protection really hurt the offense all day. Against the Bucs, the Browns gave up five sacks. Baker Mayfield was pressured all day and forced to quicken up his processes. The pass protection was not good enough.
- Thank you to WFNY’s Gage Will for this one. [↩]