I thoroughly enjoyed the Browns at Ravens game on coaching tape, but it was a curious one in that it was the offences and the personnel/formations that caught my eye on coaching tape, and only a few stand out plays caught my eyes on defence, mostly by the Ravens.
The Ravens’ offence was not impressive in the passing game, but had a field day running against the Browns defence. Initially they weren’t too impressive out of obvious running formations, but were able to get things out of 11 personnel early on in the game, and as it wore on were able to run consistently well in 12 personnel. Joe Flacco was able to get seventy-eight passing yards to Kamr Aikens, but forty-eight of those yards came on one play, and he was only able to hit him four times out of nine attempts, missing several deep strikes where Aikens had generated separation. They only gave up one sack, but the Browns were only rushing four on that play, and linebacker Armonty Bryant was able to get matched up with Justin Forsett and push him back into Flacco and get the sack.
There was not a lot that grabbed my attention from the Browns defence, the Ravens struggled to move the ball against them, but as I said, Flacco missed several deep balls that were available to Kamar Aikens. However, they bottled up the rest of the Ravens receivers, but that was the only good thing that could be said. The only other note I have about the Browns defence is a pass that was well deflected by linebacker Nate Orchard, but you can see why they are ranked as lowly as they are.
However, the Browns offence does seem to be coming together nicely. They moved the ball okay in the first half, but were only able to finish it with three field goals. However, they did establish that 11 personnel in various formations was their most effective way of moving the ball, and move the ball they did totally over five hundred yards, and Josh McCown throwing for over four hundred and fifty yards. His leading receiver was tight end Gary Barnidge who was lining up all round the formation, and ended the game with eight catches from ten targets for one hundred and thirty-nine yards and a touchdown, whilst Travis Benjamin caught six balls of twelve targets for eighty-three yards. However, the Browns also had Taylor Gabriel chip in seventy-five yards including the Browns’ longest play of fifty-six yards and Andrew Hawkins also gave them fifty yards from the slot. The passing game was what won them the game, as they were not able to rely on the run although Isaiah Crowell was able to maintain a reasonable yards per carry average, but the Ravens were solid against the run despite the rest of their defensive problems.
The Ravens defence gave up over five hundred yards in this game, and could not cope with the Browns passing game. The coverage after the game was that once they lost Elvis Doomervil, the Ravens were unable to generate a pass rush, but they did in fact manage to get four sacks and a further six quarterback hits, but they had to manufacture this by blitzing, and even on one play made it look like they were sending six before a linebacker dropped back into coverage. Their front seven was sold against the run, and tackle Brandon Williams was a handful all game logging a sack, tackle for a lost, and a quarterback hit, whilst frequently getting penetration and disrupting the browns. However, they could not cover the Browns well enough and it is telling that the only coverage note I made was a play where Jimmy Smith had tight coverage on a deep ball, but he was also second on the team for tackles behind linebacker Daryl Smith and didn’t have any passes deflected.
The Browns look like they have the offence to give a lot of teams trouble, even if they are ranked twenty-seventh in rush DVOA, the passing game is what has got them to their 2-3 record, and we will have to see how far it will get them.
The Ravens front seven is not getting enough pressure with a straight rush to give their back end a chance of covering, which meant they got gashed in the passing game, and this could be an ongoing problem. If they can get Steve Smith Senior back on offence, then things will pick up on that side of the ball in the pass game, but this is a team with flaws on the outside of both sides of the ball, and so far this has cost them. They do not look like your average 1-4 team, but their defence could have issues all season.