The Cleveland Browns lost to the Denver Broncos in a game where the offense could not finish off drives. Cleveland outgained Denver by almost 50 yards, showing that the offense was able to move the ball, but as the 19 points illustrate, they could not finish the series with touchdowns. In five trips to the redzone, the Browns scored just one touchdown. The other four saw three field goals and a turnover on downs. So, what was the problem in this area of the field for the Browns? Well, in today’s film room we will examine the four redzone trips, which netted the Browns less than a touchdown, to see what went wrong.
Q2 first-and-10: Chubb runs for three yards
Play No. 1 saw the Browns run a handoff to running back Nick Chubb. At the snap, the offensive line gets a good push, however, no linemen were able to get to the second level of the defense to help seal a hole for Chubb. Chubb tried the right side, but the linebacker was right in the hole ready to pounce, so he had to cut to the left and find just a short gain on first down.
Q2 second-and-7: Chubb runs for two yards
In play No. 2, there are a couple of things to look at. First off, I’m not a huge fan of running the ball on second and longs. Nevertheless, the Browns had an opportunity to be successful in this play. Cleveland went three-wide out of the shotgun, which helped spread out the defense. At the snap, the Browns pick up every defender in the box. But, I believe Chubb took the wrong hole. He decided to cut to the left of left guard Joel Bitonio, instead of to the right. The right saw a wide hole where center J.C. Tretter was able to get downfield and block the linebacker. I think Chubb missed a big opportunity for a nice run. The left side was too narrow, leading to a minimal gain.
Q2 third-and-5: Mayfield throws incomplete pass
In the final play of this series, the Browns go three-wide out of the shotgun. I believe this play failed due to a wrong decision by quarterback Mayfield. Pre-snap, the decision looks to be a good one for Mayfield to target receiver Antonio Callaway on the post route because the corner was on an island with no help in the middle of the field over the top. But, the coverage was excellent and I am not fond of targeting Callaway on a third-down play where he has to make a contested catch. Had Mayfield waited and turned his attention to the right side, he would see receiver Jarvis Landry coming open across the middle of the field. He had the time to wait and target Landry.
The failure of this series in the redzone is caused by execution. The play execution in each play could have been better. The opportunities were there for the Browns.
Q2 first-and-10: Mayfield completes pass to Callaway for nine yards
The first play here is a nice quick hitter on first down. The Browns are facing zone coverage on the left side of the field. Callaway runs a nice route and finds the void in the zone coverage. Mayfield finds him for a completion to start the drive off.
Q2 second-and-1: Chubb runs for five yards
The Browns put together another successful play on this second down play. Cleveland runs a handoff to Chubb with Bitonio pulling to the left to lead the back into the hole. The blocking is solid on the play, allowing Chubb to hit the hole and run for a nice gain. Chubb gets a yard or so more with his tough finishing ability.
Q2 first-and-4: Chubb loses five yards
This is a crushing play for the Browns. I quite frankly do not like the play call here. In an I-formation with just one receiver out wide, the Browns run a stretch handoff to the left. I don’t like horizontal runs near the goal line. Nonetheless, the play is blown when Tretter gets plowed into the backfield, allowing his man to clog any sort of running for Chubb. It ends up being a big loss for the Browns. The play call and execution were not good.
Q2 second-and-9: Mayfield throws incomplete
This is just a horrible play by tight end Demetrius Harris. The Browns have the right play called against the zone coverage. Harris is able to get behind the coverage and Mayfield fires an accurate pass to the tight end. But, Harris has a lack of body control and awareness to make the catch in bounds. He jumps in the air when he does not need to and loses any awareness of where he was on the field. This should have been a touchdown.
Q2 third-and-9: Mayfield throws incomplete
The failure in this play is the blocking. The Browns have an opportunity for a touchdown with a nice play design. Landry runs his route behind tight end Ricky Seals-Jones. The tight end runs a corner route, which causes the safety on the side of the field to take a few steps to the corner. That allows Landry to follow right behind Seal-Jones, but to the other direction, where the field is open. However, the line breaks down and does not give Mayfield enough time to throw the pass with the right accuracy and timing.
For the most part, this series can be blamed on execution. There were opportunities on the final two plays of the series to get touchdowns, but the execution by a player or players causes the play to fail.
Q2 first-and-10: Mayfield throws incomplete
This is a bad decision by Mayfield. He decides to throw the short stick route to receiver Rashard Higgins instead of the post route to Seals-Jones right behind that one. Anyways, the pass to Higgins is rushed and thrown before the receiver was ready. Mayfield should have thrown the pass to Seals-Jones right when he made his break inside because the tight end had a cushion to make the catch.
Q2 second-and-10: Mayfield throws incomplete
For this play, I blame the play design. The Browns once again run a five-wide set. There is absolutely no one open in this play. Three of the routes are short ones with little space to maneuver and not much point to them if the catch was made, while the two deeper routes are covered tightly with no real openings. The play does not create any open targets for Mayfield.
Q2 third-and-10: Mayfield completes pass to Seals-Jones for seven yards
In this final play of the series, I think Mayfield is at fault. He has two options I think that could have been successful, but he chose neither of those. The first option was Higgins on the slant route. Mayfield could have thrown a quick pass to Higgins and allowed the receiver to run with a lot of space. I think he could have gotten a lot closer to the first down marker than the actual pass did. The second option was the best one, though. Landry was running a streak route down the left seam. The receiver became wide open when the left safety decided to crash inside to cover the inside routes. Landry was wide open for a first down and probably much more.
Much of the failures in this series can be blamed on Mayfield. The quarterback missed opportunities that were there. He simply missed the plays.
Q3 first-and-10: Chubb runs for one yard
I believe this is a miss by Chubb. I think the running back was too quick to cut to the right. The Browns blocking was just about to make a hole on the left side of the line with Tretter getting to the linebacker to seal off the final defender on that side of the line. Had Chubb stayed the course and ran through that hole, I believe he would have picked up a good gain.
Q3 second-and-9: Mayfield completes pass to Landry for six yards
This is a good second down play. Mayfield has good patience to allow Landry’s route to develop. Landry runs a good, crisp pivot route that gets him separation from his cover man. The plays put the Browns in a manageable third-down situation.
Q3 third-and-3: Hilliard runs for two yards
This is all on coaching. Somehow in this key third-down play, they have running back Dontrell Hilliard in the game to take the handoff instead of Chubb. Hilliard misses a clear hole for the first down when he hesitates to hit it after the handoff. Chubb should have been in that position to receive the handoff, not Hilliard. The play failed because of that personnel decision.
Q3 fourth-and-1: Mayfield runs for no gain
This play has a lot of layers to it. First of all, I think the quarterback sneak by Mayfield netted a first down and that the spot was a bad call by the ref. However, I cannot believe the Browns went a second straight play without Chubb in the game in a short-yardage situation. That is inexcusable.
I ultimately have to blame the coaching decisions for the derailment of this series. Not having Chubb in the game for the last two plays of the drive is completely baffling. That is crazy to me.