Cleveland Browns Film Room: Week 4 Covering the Tight End

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.

Well, you knew that no subject I picked this week would look pretty on film after that game. The Browns were torched on Sunday by the Titans’ tight ends. Torched to the tune of 105 yards and 2 TDs. In fact, for the season the Browns have seen tight ends catch 15 passes for 225 yards and 4 TDs. That’s a 15.0 yards per catch average from the tight end spot. Even if you took away the 80 yard TD from Sunday, opposing tight ends would still be averaging a first down per reception (10.4 yards). This is just not going to work. (By the way, Cleveland has given up 7 TD passes total this season.)

Let’s take a look at the first score:

First we look at the Tennessee formation. Pretty standard pro-set shotgun with a tight end (Stevens) on the left side. Wide receivers split wide on both sides. Joe Haden locks up with the widest player on the top of the screen, and Mike Adams slides over to the double receiver side. Sheldon Brown is on the receiver at the bottom.

The tight end is going to be covered by either a safety, or a linebacker on 90% of pass plays. Fujita, the outside backer on the bottom picks up Chris Johnson coming out of the backfield. Stevens is headed downfield with D’Qwell Jackson on his hip. The Browns have rushed only four, leaving Chris Gocong free in the middle of the field in underneath zone coverage. The Titans have 5 receivers in the pattern, and the Browns have 7 defenders.

Here’s where it falls apart for the Browns. Stevens plants and heads left on a post-out route. Jackson is going to let him past, as if he has help deep from the safety TJ Ward. (You can see Ward behind the CBS logo.) The problem is that Ward is too far towards the middle of the field, and has no chance of catching up to Stevens before the ball is delivered.

Touchdown Titans. My opinion is that Jackson should have stayed with Stevens. Ward has to be able to help deep, especially on the crossing route in the end zone that Nate Washington is running on Joe Haden. Gocong is in the middle to help on something short, but truth be told there is no route there anyway. The running back is out wide, which Jackson had to see happen at the snap. Now whether Jackson is able to keep up with a TE on that kind of pattern is up for debate, but he certainly shouldn’t have stood on the five yard line as a TD pass sailed over his head.

Now the second:

Here we have a tight to the right side of the Titans line, but actually the slot, or wingback on that same side is a tight end as well that came in motion. That’s Stevens up behind Cook on the line. This is kind of a stack formation, and you would think it would be a run to the right side with all the blocking there, and since the Titans had ripped the Browns on first down runs. The Browns respond by moving TJ Ward up on that side. The Browns have 8 men ready to play the run.

So naturally, it’s a pass play. Jackson bites hard on Johnson up the middle, and you have to think Fujita was thinking run first as well. Cook just blows right past him, and sad to say Fujita just couldn’t catch up.

Here’s the real problem on the play though.

Usama Young is the safety on the right side of the Browns defense on the play. That’s him with the circle. The ball is already in the air, and Young is running to the correct spot.

Unfortunately, Sheldon Brown is also running towards that spot, and instead of letting Brown pass in front of him, Young decides to hop in front of Brown to try and get the angle on Cook, who is now steaming towards the sidelines.

Here you can just make out the end of the hop I was talking about at the bottom of this screen grab. Now, Young is not in ideal position to make a tackle. Fortunately, all he has to do is push Cook out of bounds, or slow him up so that Fujita can help with the tackle.

As we certainly remember, Young takes a bad route to the ball carrier, and absolutely whiffs on the tackle. Touchdown Titans. An embarrassing play all around really. Fujita looked bad. Young probably looked worse.

  • Lyon

    ugh. This is the type of poor LB play I was talking about last week when DQwell won his award. We really neeed to address this in the draft/FA.

    And really Young? you can’t make enough contact to push him a lil offbalance to step out? pathetic.

  • fan 4 life

    Those two blunders, plus the one against Cincy that gave them the TD are just embarrassing. Other than that, I am actually surprised by our D this year. Not saying they are world beaters but they are clearly the strength of the team. The offense has enough to move the ball and chains but are not getting it done. We can’t have mental lapses like the D did on those two plays, in combination to a poor O and win. Had our offense moved the ball, we still could have won despite those two huge errors.

    The season is not lost but if this keeps up, will be quite frustrating.

  • Ezzie

    I keep flipping between frustrated and hopeful about this defense (and team in general). So many mistakes, like the ones above, are simultaneously the “How can you make that mistake!?” type, which means they’re also the “OK, that was a brainlock, but they can otherwise play great D, and it’s still early and they’re young and learning” type.


  • MrCleaveland

    YESSSSS! Another excellent schooling from the Czar of the Screen Grab.

  • mgbode

    Mike Adams thanks you for focusing on the TE TDs so that his absolutely pathetic play where he literally sat on his heels for 2 seconds waiting for the runner was not broken down.

    Usama Young and Adams can swap stories about who took worse angles on Sunday (not only for tackles but also plays on the ball to WRs too).

  • mgbode

    also, completely agree on the first TD breakdown and would add that Hasselbeck very well may not have thrown that ball if DQ stayed there (he seemed to key on DQ turning his hips to release, once he did the Hass was throwing that ball)

  • Foghorn Leghorn

    The first play. If Gogcong is sitting over there in the under cover on the right with no one running through his zone and Haden is on Washington, why does Ward not recognize this and shift his focus to the left side of the field??? If Hasselbeck wants to throw right it has to go over Gocong, and past Haden. If he wants to throw left it has to be beat Jackson and a Sheldon Brown who is busy covering someone else.

    If you ask me, it looks like TJ didnt recognize that the defense had the right side covered as best they could and that we needed his help on the left, and he was too late to react. Not a physical failure, but a mental one. Hope someone is in these kids’ ears about technique and not just raw physical skill.

  • Joe

    I love these articles. They give a great look at what is happening during these plays. I do have to say I don’t think it was Jackson’s play on the first TD. The Browns look like they are playing Cover 2. The two deep defenders are Ward and Haden. The weak spots in this coverage are in the middle of the field between the safeties and on the sideline at about 15-20 yards deep. This is where offenses want to attack. The safety can’t get to either spot without vacating the other. That is why a LB (Gocong) must drop deep enough to help with the deep middle and a CB (Brown) must help with the deep corner route that scored on this play. I know that Sheldon was covering another WR, but once the TE broke out of Jackson’s zone he should move out to cover the shallow WR on the sideline since he doesn’t have anyone else to cover. That allows Sheldon to drop deeper and pick up the WR. Ward is really late on the play, but Sheldon should have been there. Some offenses call that a “Smash” or “China” route. It is a cover 2 beater, and it worked really well against us. I also don’t know why Fujita has to jump the RB out of the backfield before the ball is thrown. If he sits a little bit off of the line of scrimmage, and then breaks on the ball he would have still been able to make the tackle.

  • Tim

    Great breakdown and article. has the coaches tape for about 20 plays per game as part of their game rewind service. There is also a survey about it to get the coaches tape of all plays, I encourage everyone to stuff the ballot box to get it added.

    On the corner route TD, Browns are playing a basic Cover 1 Robber on this play. Gocong and Ward are both responsible for middle help. Simply, Jackson blows the coverage. It looked he anticipated a hook or an out, broke off his coverage, and the TE kept going. There’s no way Ward can cover that kind of ground, and with a balanced formation from the Titans, it’s tough for him to anticipate to one side of the field.