The Cleveland Browns finished up their 2018 season with a tough 26-24 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. Yet, the season was a success to say the least. The Browns found their quarterback and have a young nucleus to build around for the future. The team was in the mix for a playoff spot with just a few games to go in the season. A new day was born in Cleveland Browns football.
However, the Browns are not perfect and have areas to work on this offseason. One of the bigger weak areas on the team is the run defense for the Browns. This showed in their loss to the Ravens. Baltimore rushed 47 times for a total of 296 yards, which is a 6.3 yards per attempt average. The Browns were gashed with big plays from the Ravens run game. The Ravens had ten runs of at least ten yards with five of those runs going for at least 20 yards.
In this week’s Browns film room, I will take a look at the five Ravens’ runs that went for at least 20 yards to examine what went wrong for the Browns defense. Roll the tape!
Q1 7:37 2nd-and-3- Jackson scrambles for 24 yards
The Browns run defense was not only hurt by designed runs, but it also was wounded by scrambles from Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson. In this play, the Ravens call a passing play. The Browns pass rush gets a lot of pressure on Jackson. Browns defensive tackles Trevon Coley and Brian Price are the two to watch early on in this play. After a couple of steps, Coley decides to cut underneath of Price. This move allows both players to get free and to collapse the pocket, but it also leads to the big run by Jackson. The deciding move in this play was by linebacker Joe Schobert. Schobert was initially in coverage on the left side of the formation, but when he sees a free lane to Jackson, the linebacker decides to attack the quarterback. But, this sort of does in the Browns defense. Schobert gets to Jackson, but overruns the quarterback, missing the sack. With the decision by Schobert to blitz and Coley to move out of his pass rushing lane, the left side of the pocket has a huge hole for Jackson to escape. There was another defender in the area, safety Jabrill Peppers, but he made one wrong step and took himself out of the play versus the dynamic Jackson. Schobert made a do or die decision and he missed it. Jackson is able to escape out of the pocket and make a big run play with the help of an elusive move downfield to elude another defender’s tackle.
Q1 4:52 3rd-and-4- Jackson runs for a 25-yard touchdown
This is a read option run play for the Ravens. Jackson can either keep the ball or hand it off to the running back to the right. Jackson is reading the unblocked defender, linebacker Jamie Collins. Collins goes with the running back to the outside, causing Jackson to keep the ball and head up the middle. The mistake is by Schobert. Rather than stay inside and to take Jackson, Schobert also heads outside to cover the running back. This leaves a gaping hole in the middle of the field with no one to fill it. Peppers is also in the box for this play, but he goes with the flow of the offensive line and when he tries to get over to help fill in the open lane, he is just a tad late versus Jackson, who is just too fast and is able to speed to the endzone for a touchdown. Overall, this play happened because of Schobert’s mistake.
Q1 1:38 1st-and-10- Edwards runs for 24 yards
This is a great play design by the Ravens. Baltimore spreads it out with four wide, which only allows Cleveland to have six in the box. The Ravens motion a tight end back to the right and snap the ball as he crosses the formation. That tight end then heads toward the Browns right edge defender, Genard Avery, and lays a nice block on Avery. The Ravens call a handoff to running back Gus Edwards, but the threat of Jackson as a runner helps makes this run successful. Defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi tries to penetrate the backfield by heading to the left. With the nice block on Avery, Ogunjobi’s move to the left leaves a huge gap for Edwards to attack. There are two linebackers that could make a play on this run. Collins is on the right side of the ball and is the immediate linebacker called to fill in the running lane. However, the threat of Jackson causes Collins to flow a little too far outside, allowing a blocker to get inside of him and wall him off from the running lane. The other linebacker, Schobert, is on the left side of the formation, so he has to come over to help fill the lane. But, the center is able to get into the second level and to get in front of Schobert to wall the running lane from Schobert. This leaves Edwards to go through the lane untouched for 13 yards. In the secondary, he is able to break a tackle attempt by Damarious Randall to pull off the bigger run gain.
Q1 :21 2nd-and-7- Dixon runs for 20 yards
The Ravens line up in a pistol formation for this run to the right. Baltimore adds a pre-snap motion to the left by a receiver. The motion and the threat of Jackson as a runner causes the defense to have a lot to process, meaning some hesitation is happening on the defensive side of the ball. But, the Browns are still in position to make a stop. Ravens running back Kenneth Dixon receives the handoff and is led by the left guard, who pulls to the right and takes out the blitzing safety, Derrick Kindred, on the right edge. Browns defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah does a good job of staying stout at the line of scrimmage. Ogbah flows to the left with the rest of the line, but as Dixon approaches the line, Ogbah shows himself in the hole, forcing Dixon to kick outside. This is where Collins is in line to make a play. He is in position to react to an outside move, but he is a step slow, causing him to make a tackle attempt that is easily broken by Dixon. Dixon also breaks another tackle attempt downfield, this time from Schobert, leading to even more yards before he is finally brought down.
Q2 10:50 1st-and-10- Dixon runs for 37 yards
This is yet another play where the Browns were in a position to make the stop. The Ravens once again run a pre-snap motion with the tight end moving to the left and then heading back over to the right at the snap. The ball is snapped and the left guard pulls to the right with the tight end following right behind the guard. Collins, the linebacker on the right side of the formation, takes on the guard and causes the running back, Dixon, to cut to the outside. As Dixon goes outside, there are two defenders in the area. The tight end, who motioned to the right at the snap, takes on the outside defender, safety Jabrill Peppers. This leaves Schobert, who was lined up in the middle of the formation about seven yards off the line, as the one defender left unblocked. But, Schobert looks hesitant on the play. He reads the play and heads to the gap between the end of the line and Peppers. He is right in range to burst through it and bring down the running back. But, Schobert stutters just for a second, causing the linebacker to miss Dixon. Dixon heads around Peppers, who was blocked by the tight end, and goes downfield where he breaks another tackle on his way for a huge gain.
The highlight of the game versus the Baltimore Ravens was the fact that the game marked the finish to a season that gave us, as Browns fans, so much hope and excitement for the future. The Browns are back.
The lowlight of the game versus the Baltimore Ravens was the missed opportunity to win the game. The Browns were right there to win this game and to spoil the playoff hopes of Baltimore. But, the Browns just could not finish it off to get the victory.