April 24, 2014

Will We See More Evan Moore?

As expected (hoped?), the Cleveland Browns and head coach Pat Shurmur are using their extended time away from the playing field to do a bit of tinkering with rotations and play-calling.  While the obvious benefactor thus far is wide receiver Greg Little who was promoted to starting “X” receiver alongside Mohammed Massaquoi (replacing Brian Robiskie), another weapon for Colt McCoy will likely come in the form of additional snaps for tight end Evan Moore.

Moore, who had seen a considerable drop in snaps and targets over the past two games – leading to a bit of frustration following the loss to the Titans – appears to be in line for a reversion back to usage rates akin to the first two weeks of the season.  Given Shurmur’s words following Monday’s practice, it appears that not only will Robiskie see a decrease in snaps due to Little’s promotion, but the Browns could in turn use wide receivers even less than they have to this point. 

Truly, it comes down to pure math and the fact that the team would like to keep tight end Ben Watson on the field as much as possible.  See for yourself.

If Watson is a “three-down” receiving threat and the Browns will implement a three-receiver rotation between Massaquoi, Little and Cribbs, until the league allows the Browns a legal 12th man on offense, this leaves two on-field spots that will have to be shared by a receiver, Moore and a running back of choice – Peyton Hillis, anyone?

The team appears to be struggling with Moore and his lack of run-blocking; they do not want his insertion into a formation to signal to the opposition that a pass play is on its way.  This is where Alex Smith comes in – a superb blocker, Smith just leaves a lot to be desired in terms of receiving and (apparently) tackling.  The issue becomes whether Shurmur and his offense should pay the best players which could lead to the highest rate of success (i.e. Smith in run situations), or attempt to create mismatches which can lead to even bigger plays if executed correctly.

Splitting Moore out wide is an obvious option, negating any real liability on the blocking front and – more often than not – providing a mismatch with a small defensive back lined up across from the 6-foot-6-inch end.  Making Moore a part of two-end sets could provide a linebacker in coverage or confuse the opposing defense into thinking a pass is coming and allow for Hilis to do his thing on an unsuspecting front seven.  Throw motion into the mix and look out as Shurmur and Colt McCoy should have options galore, especially when teams combat No. 89 with a nickel back.

Naturally, Moore’s bread-and-butter resides in the red zone.  Unfortunately, it’s getting into said zone that has become a bit of an issue as of late.  Save for a huge drive against the Miami Dolphins and the garbage time touchdown to Watson against the Titans, it will be nearly three weeks since the Browns have had a successful, elongated drive.  Recall, both scores prior to Watson snag were huge field goals by Phil Dawson, both coming from way outside the 20-yard line.

Alas, whether Shurmur does have plans in place to get his playmakers involved or if this is merely coachspeak fueled by reporter questions remains to be seen.  The Browns will get back to work for the next several days before boarding the cross-country flight to Oakland where they will take on an emotionally-charged Raiders team; playing in the black hole will not help matters much.  Here’s hoping that Moore’s frustration last week comes with an ultimate reward.  That reward: a head coach who realizes what he has in his players and is willing to admit mistakes and make the necessary changes even if said change involves the demotion of a third-year, high-second-round receiver from The Ohio State University.

  • -bobby-

    I think at this point, Evan Moore is Joe Jurevicious. A big body, runs decent routes, and has mostly reliable hands (though I question that last part a bit..). I would have him be the “x” with Little in the slot in 3 man rotations. After a while you can bring him in to the line drawing the nickel guy inside. If Moore cant block a DB then thats a problem. I would run man blocking schemes to lock him up on a smaller guy. Eventually the D might bring in a LB against him and if Shurmer allows McCoy to realize man coverage he could audible and get a mismatch. I think when you get to that point you maximize Moore’s ability.

  • B-bo

    Good thing we locked him into an extension before considering things like, you know, how to use him. I like the guy, but that move still puzzles me.

  • Lyon

    agree B-bo. When we signed him to that I thought “good, he’ll be more involved in the offense this year.” I guess it’s my fault for thinking we’d use a guy we just signed to an extension effectively.

  • -bobby-

    I agree with both sentiments here. I was thinking (hoping?) that Moore would be more involved.. esp after his production with starters in preseason. Between him and Gocong extensions I am quite confused.

  • C-Bus Kevin

    A few points…

    1. Our long national nightmare is over. Robo has FINALLY been demoted. You talk about personnel tipping off the defense…here’s what Robo on the field tells the defense: this play isn’t going to work.

    2. I’ve got a great idea…use your best players the most. (Shurmur…you’ll get my bill) Not only should they be on the field the most…they should get the ball in the most important situations. 3rd and 2? Hand off to Hillis behind Thomas. 3rd and 7? Throw to Watson. 1st and goal? Use in this order…Hand-off Hillis; play action Hillis, throw to Moore/Watson, hand-off Hillis (didn’t score yet? You cheated and ran a sweep to Smith, didn’t you?)

    Stop trying to outsmart yourself and play your best players.

  • Harv 21

    Also thought Moore’s extension was premature; that must be the one relly stickin’ in Peyton’s southern craw.

    Seems like a no-brainer to split Moore out if he can’t block. Looks like a potential Dave Logan, a real tall guy who can win the jump balls and go deep as well. But twice this year’s he’s made weirdly passive efforts on catchable deep balls. I’d like to see some consistent ball hunger, like Logan and Web Slaughter and even Brian Brennan: that ball in the air is mine, and I’ll rip it from you if necessary.

  • mgbode

    @C-Bus – but then we can’t rotate 3-4 new players every other play.

    note: even my son’s Kindergarten Flag Football team I coach doesn’t do this much rotating. we let the kids develop a rhythym on offense and rotate either after a 1st down or TD.