The Cleveland Browns are in the midst of the playoff hunt. That fact alone is something I am thankful for this Thanksgiving. We have not had many Thanksgivings lately where we were in this position. So, there are a lot of things to be thankful for with the Browns. In this week’s film room, I will showcase some of the things I am thankful for on this Browns team.
Nick Chubb’s Contact Balance
I am thankful for Browns running back Nick Chubb’s contact balance. His ability to take on contact and continue to churn for more yards is at an elite level. There are not many in the NFL with this sort of ability. He is able to break tackles and gain more yardage after first, second or even third contact. The clip above is an example of this ability. Chubb catches the pass in the screenplay and runs upfield breaking two tackles and then carrying another defender for ten or so yards.
Jarvis Landry’s Hands
I am thankful for wide receiver Jarvis Landry’s hands. Landry has great hands to catch contested passes in close quarters. According to Pro Football Focus, Landry has three drops over the course of 92 targets this season. Landry has been the most productive and consistent receiver for the Browns this season. His hands are what make him a valued target. In the clips above, quarterback Baker Mayfield throws a back-shoulder pass to Landry on the sideline. The coverage is very tight, but Landry is able to catch the pass over the cornerback’s head and then hold onto the ball while the corner tries to knock it away.
Kareem Hunt’s Versatility
I am thankful for the versatility of running back Kareem Hunt. In three games, Hunt has 18 carries for 79 yards and a touchdown, while also catching 15 passes for 99 yards. He has been used all over the field as a running back, receiver and even a blocker. His versatility has allowed him to be used alongside Chubb. Hunt is a do-it-all back for the Browns right now. The video above shows this versatility. In the first play, Hunt is in the backfield for a handoff. He gets the handoff and almost immediately cuts to the outside to the right where he sees the edge open. He uses his speed to beat the entire defense around the edge for a touchdown. In the second play, Hunt is lined up in the left slotback spot. When the ball is snapped, Hunt crosses the formation and runs into the right flat to be a receiver in the pass play. He gets the pass from Mayfield and then uses his running ability to churn upfield for a nice gain.
Baker Mayfield’s Accuracy
I am thankful for quarterback Baker Mayfield’s accuracy. After an up and down beginning of the season, Mayfield has had a completion percentage of 64% or higher in every game since Week 8, except one game. He is completing accurate passes to every level of the field. He can throw open receivers with his accuracy. The clip above shows this ability. The first play sees Mayfield is rolling out of the pocket after he is unable to find a receiver early on in the play. He rolls to the sideline and sees Landry coming open toward the sideline. Mayfield is able to accurately throw the pass downfield while moving toward the sideline. The pass does not sail too far toward the sideline. It is thrown right in stride to Landry for a big completion. In the second play, Mayfield makes his best throw of the game. Mayfield does a play-action roll out to the left and sees Landry running an out route to the sideline. Mayfield is able to get rid of the ball right when Landry makes his break. He throws the pass while a rusher bears down on him and gets the ball over the underneath defender and into the perfect spot where only Landry can catch it.
Sheldon Richardson’s Emergence
I am thankful for the emergence of defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson. Over the last several weeks, Richardson has been outstanding. As Cody Suek noted in his Wednesday post, Richardson has graded out as the second-best defensive tackle in the NFL from Weeks 9-12, according to Pro Football Focus. He has emerged on the defensive line in a time the line needed it with Myles Garrett out for the year. The video above shows his strong play versus Miami.
In the first clip, Richardson is on the right edge against this run play. He is able to make the run stop by avoiding the block and then tracking the running back inside where he is able to tackle the runner for a minimal gain. The second play shows his pass-rush ability, along with his playmaking ability and awareness. He starts by rushing from the center to the left guard, but he then sees the quarterback try to escape to the left. Richardson closes on the quarterback, forcing him back in the pocket, but before he does, Richardson gets a hand on the ball and causes the quarterback to drop it, causing the play to end in a sack. In the third play, Richardson again shows off his pass-rushing ability and awareness. After the snap, he is able to get some good push on his blocker, pushing him into the pocket. The quarterback decides to try to run, but Richardson sees it and is able to get off his block to make the tackle.
Also, Richardson is making a difference even when it doesn’t show up on the stat sheet. In the fourth play, he is able to get in the passing lane of the quarterback, causing the quarterback to halt his intentions and then rush his actions to find another pass. This causes an incompletion. In the final play, Richardson is rushing up the middle, penetrating the middle of the protection. The rush causes the quarterback to rush his pass and throw the ball inaccurately for an incompletion.
Joe Schobert’s Playmaking
I am thankful for linebacker Joe Schobert’s playmaking ability. Schobert has been really good this season, especially over the last couple of games. In a defense that needed playmakers, Schobert has shown to be one for the unit. In 2019, he has 97 tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles, nine passes defended and four interceptions. He has had those four interceptions over the course of the past two games. He is seemingly always around the ball and in the right place to make the play. He is making game-changing plays for this defense and it doesn’t always have to be a turnover forced. In the video above, Schobert shows off his playmaking ability. Both plays are interceptions where Schobert was able to make the pick because he was in the right spot. He is in the right spot to make the plays.
Olivier Vernon’s Soon-to-be Return
I am thankful for the soon-to-be return of edge rusher Olivier Vernon. Vernon has been out injured over the past three weeks. With the loss of edge rusher Myles Garrett to suspension for the rest of the season, Vernon is very much needed to come back and be a game-changer on the edge in Garrett’s absence. Vernon has not filled the stat sheet like Garrett, but he has still been good this season. His return will be a huge addition to the defensive line. The clip above is an example of what Vernon can do. In the play, he is able to quickly beat the tackle around the left edge and then show good bend to get to the quarterback for the sack.