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.
I spent some time going over all 4 of the Browns’ field goal attempts from last Sunday. You probably don’t need reminded that 2 of these kicks were successful, and 2 were blocked. Both of the unsuccessful kicks were blocked by Red Bryant, a 6’4″ 323 pound DE for Seattle. Before we look at the pictures, let me say a couple of things. Red Bryant is bigger than 6’4″ 323. And for a guy that size, he has some impressive agility.
Here’s the formation for the first block. You actually can’t see Bryant (#97) because he is lined up in a three point stance in front of LB David Hawthorne (#57). The Seahawks lined up three big defensive ends in a row and had Hawthorne behind them. They also targeted the left side of the Browns’ line. Pontbriand is the snapper, and Oniel Cousins is playing left guard for the Browns. At least he was for the first FG attempt. He was moved to the other side later.
This shot is actually from the second blocked FG, but I wanted to show you the feet of the line and explain for a moment what the assignment is. Take a close look at the legs of the offensive line. On a normal play the linemen have anywhere from 6 inch to 2 foot splits. A split is the distance between the feet of linemen side by side. Larger splits, say 2 feet means more room in between linemen. On a FG attempt the linemen have zero splits, or negative splits, or staggered splits. They are all the same, but teams call them differently. The center gets in his stance, and then the guards put their inside foot behind the foot of the center next to them. The tackles put their inside foot behind the feet of the guards and so on down the line. It results in the shell looking formation you see.
The reason for this is to protect the inside gaps. You can’t let anyone through these inside gaps or the kick attempt is doomed. If the line does it’s job, everyone protects inside and the outside rushers shouldn’t have time to get to the ball, even if unblocked around the end.
Back to our first blocked FG. At the snap, Seattle’s Anthony Hargrove (#94) stunts around Pontbriand. By ‘stunt’ we mean that he takes a step sideways and rushes through a different gap than the one he is lined up in. If you were Oniel Cousins at left guard, you would expect Hargrove to rush through your A gap, or the space between you and center Pontbriand. Also at the snap, Hawthorne (#57) starts pushing Bryant (#97).
Here we see what the stunt did. It forced Cousins to lean to his inside expecting to block #94. It also cleared some space for Bryant to push Cousins into. Had Hargrove been in that gap, Bryant would not have gotten through. Hawthorne’s pushing certainly helps Bryant get through the space as well.
Anatomy of a blocked field goal. If your center and guard are both on the ground, there is a good chance your attempt is blocked. Cousins would get an earful on the sidelines and would be replaced on that side by Alex Mack.
The second FG attempt, which was good looked like a carbon copy of the first block, except that Bryant came in off balance (probably from the shove by Hawthorne) and fell down in front of the holder unable to stand tall and block the kick. On the Browns’ third FG attempt, which was also good the Seahawks tried the same stack formation on the other side of the line, but this time Hawthorne didn’t push Bryant and they didn’t get penetration.
Which brings us back to this attempt. You can see Alex Mack’s momentum going forward, and Red Bryant’s hand on the back of his neck pushing him down. Bryant jumps through the gap between Mack and Pinkston, again with Hawthorne shoving him through.
What’s the fix? Well, for starters Mack has to have his head up. Take a look at Joe Thomas on the right side (#73) or even Pinkston right beside Mack. No way a defender is going to swim around them. Yes, Mack or Cousins in the first attempt are expecting pressure from the inside, but you can’t anticipate that pressure so much that you aren’t ready for the stunt. You have the advantage on FG attempts, because they have to come through you. Get your foundation correct and stand your ground. All it takes is a second and a half to get the kick away.