The Cleveland Browns beat the Carolina Panthers, 26-20, earning their fifth victory of the season. The Browns were able to produce big plays on offense and just enough stops on defense to take the win. There were many reasons the Browns were able to outlast the Panthers, like the play of quarterback Baker Mayfield and the play calling of offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens. But, one of the biggest reasons was the Browns ability to score touchdowns when they reached the redzone.
On Sunday, the Browns reached the redzone twice and converted both of those appearances into touchdowns. The Panthers reached the redzone five times, but only scored two touchdowns and two field goals with one appearance ending in a turnover on downs. The ability of the Browns offense to capitalize on their redzone appearances with touchdowns on every trip, while the Panthers could not do same, was a big factor in the game. The success of the Browns offense in the redzone has been a positive trend over the last several games. In their last 12 redzone trips, the Browns have scored 12 touchdowns.
In this week’s Browns film room, we will take a gander at the plays the Browns ran in the redzone that helped them be so successful versus the Panthers. Let’s take a look!
Q1 8:29 1st-and-goal: Nick Chubb rushes for three yards
The Browns come out in a pistol with a bunch formation on the right end of the line, a receiver on the left and running back Nick Chubb behind quarterback Baker Mayfield. The run was originally called to go in the middle of the line, but as Chubb approached the line, a Panthers defensive lineman had collapsed into the middle of the line and clogged up the running lane. So, Chubb stopped and cut to the right where he saw the players in the bunch formation crashing inside to wall off a possible run to the right end of the line. Chubb cut to the outside of the blockers where he was met by an unblocked defender. Chubb trekked forward through the tackle, gaining three yards on the run. The original play did not work out, but Chubb’s vision to see the blocking set up on the outside helped make it a positive play.
Q1 7:48 2nd-and-goal: Baker Mayfield throws incomplete pass, but the Panthers are called for defensive offside
This play does not count due to the defensive offsides by the Panthers, but I still want to illustrate the play. The Browns come out in a shotgun with four out wide and a running back to the left of Mayfield. The two inside wide receivers on the right are running stick routes to the goal line, while the outside receiver on the right is running an in route at the back of the endzone. Mayfield is clearly focused on that side of the ball for this play. At first, Mayfield looks at the two stick routes, but the Panthers are in a zone coverage with defenders on both sides of the two receivers, causing there to be no throwing lanes for a completion. With those shutdown, Mayfield scans the entire field quickly to try and find an option. But as he does, the pocket is starting to collapse, so Mayfield throws it out of the back of the endzone as a throwaway to limit any mistakes that could happen. It was a smart decision to just throw it away and live another day.
Q1 7:44 2nd-and-goal: Jarvis Landry rushes for a three-yard touchdown
This may have been the best play call of the game by offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens. The Browns line up in single back set with a three-man bunch formation on the left end of the line and a tight end on the right end of the line. The play is a misdirection of sorts. When the ball is snapped, wide receiver Breshad Perriman runs a motion to the right across the formation. Mayfield fakes the handoff to Perriman and hands it off to wide receiver Jarvis Landry, who is following behind Perriman in another motion across the formation to the right. While handing it off, Mayfield is running to the left with running back Duke Johnson, making it look like a toss to the left is coming. The motion of Mayfield and Johnson to the left causes most of the Panthers defense to hedge that direction. This left two defenders on the right, but the play design is perfect because Perriman picks up one defender when he motioned around the line. The call also had left guard Joel Bitonio pulling around the right edge to pick up the final defender, giving Landry an easy stroll into the endzone. It was a beautiful play design with great execution.
Q4 13:10 1st-and-goal: Nick Chubb rushes for a four-yard touchdown
The Browns line up in a pistol with two receivers on the left, a tight end on the right end of the line and a receiver on the right. The play calls for a handoff to the right to running back Nick Chubb. When the ball is snapped, the Browns blocking flows to the left, creating a running lane on the right end of the line. Chubb sees the blocking set up and heads to the right of the tight end on the end of the line. When he gets to the line of scrimmage, he heads straight downhill, lowering his head to try and get into the endzone. He is met at the one-yard line, but Chubb’s power and leg drive allows him to fight through the tackle and fall into the endzone for a touchdown. The play was blocked well and Chubb ran with the style needed for a short yardage goal line run.
Highlight of the Game
The highlight of the game versus the Carolina Panthers was quarterback Baker Mayfield. Mayfield was excellent on Sunday. He completed 18 of 22 passes for 238 yards and a touchdown. Of his four incompletions, the pass catcher simply dropped an accurate pass from Mayfield for three of the incompletions. Mayfield outplayed Cam Newton.
Lowlight of the Game
The lowlight of the game versus the Carolina Panthers was the Browns troubling ball security. The Browns had three fumbles in the game, losing two of those three fumbles. One of the lost fumbles led to a touchdown. The Browns’ ball security was not great versus the Panthers.