Each week this season, we’ll take a seat in our very own WFNY Browns film room and break down a little tape from the previous week. Do enjoy.
This week, it would have been easy to kick off and show you all ’the huddle’ play, but really there isn’t much point to that. The end result would have been something we already know – a time out should have been called. Instead, I’d like to look at something the Browns put tremendous emphasis on in camp: the red zone offense.
If you went to camp, chances are you saw the Browns working on this. They have a couple different packages that they will run, but first, let’s take a look at the successful TD to Evan Moore.
The first thing we should look at is the personnel. On first down, the Browns ran Hillis with Marecic leading for a three-yard gain. On second down, the Browns went with a max protection pass, putting Greg Little, Josh Cribbs and Brian Robiskie into pass patterns. Colt rolled right and threw the ball away as both Robiskie and Little were well covered.
So on third down the Browns bring in Moore, who splits out wide left (top of screen), Cribbs is the wide man on the right, and Little is the slot receiver on Cribbs’ side. Ben Watson is the tight end on the right (strong) side, and Hillis lines up beside McCoy in the shotgun. This is your very standard pro set formation.
At the snap, we see Hillis take off immediately out of the backfield. We also see the Bengals’ safety is cheated towards the strong side of the formation – as he should be - which is going to help open the passing lane to Moore. The Bengals have seven men dropped in coverage. Ben Watson gets off the line without getting jammed.
Here we see why the play is successful: Hillis takes away the extra defender on that side of the ball with his route. Moore is able to get inside position, most likely because Hall is fearful of the fade route on which Moore has him at an extreme disadvantage. Ben Watson occupies both linebackers over the middle, creating a quick window for McCoy to deliver the ball.
Here’s another shot of Watson taking both linebackers out of the play. Also notice the safety is never going to cover that much ground to stop the quick slant pass.
(Sorry for the quality on this one, couldn’t get it just right.) Here we see Moore make the catch with Hall on his back shoulder. It was a perfect throw, and a well executed play. Save perhaps for Josh Cribbs, who got tangled up with his cover man on the other side and fell down.
Fast forward to the third quarter. On their first drive of the half, the Browns move the ball to the red zone again. McCoy hits Watson putting the ball on the Cincy 8-yard line, before Hillis gets a first down with a powerful run off-right guard to the 4-yard line. First and goal; Hillis tries going left and is stopped for a 1-yard gain. The Browns abandon the run at this point.
Does this formation look familiar? The difference here is McCoy is not in a shotgun and Hillis is lined up directly behind the QB. Robiskie is in Cribbs’ spot wide right at the top of your screen. Evan Moore is wide left, with Leon Hall lined up against him again. Moore is 6-feet-6-inches. Hall is 5-feet-11-inches. The fade route here, as before, favors the Browns.
It favors the Browns if it is executed correctly that is. Here the ball is under thrown. On a fade route you have to put the ball where only your player can get it. Moore had the outside position. If the ball is thrown to the back corner pylon, it is a touchdown.
Hall makes a nice play on the ball, there is no question of that. This pass could have still been a touchdown if Hall hadn’t played it as well as he did.
Now it is third and goal on the 3-yard line. Plenty of options if you are the Browns. Hillis. Watson. Moore again. Instead the Browns decide to go with a fade to Cribbs on the other side of the field. This may have been a route McCoy checked to at the line of scrimmage, as he seemed to make an adjustment at the line.
Same formation, same result. Bad execution. The ball comes out of McCoy’s hands very quickly here, and Cribbs doesn’t really have any position on his man. The ball ends up right in between the two, and their hands get tangled. Incomplete pass, and the Browns kick the field goal.
The problem with the fade, is that the ball is in the air before the QB really knows if the WR is going to get position or not. There is no time to look for a second option. Execution of this play has to be perfect, and in this case it wasn’t. That isn’t to say the Browns should scrap it, as they do have an advantage with Evan Moore on the play. McCoy has completed these passes before in practice and game situations. He will do so again.