Cleveland Browns Film Room Game Three: Pressure!

For the third consecutive year, we’ll take a seat each week in our very own WFNY Browns film room and break down a little tape from the game, with a specific focus.  Do enjoy.


So, first a bit of an explanation. There was no film room last week. Actually there was, but it was never published. Here’s why. I spent three days working on the question ‘Who is the better third down back, Ogbonnaya or Richardson’? I put the finishing touches on it about an hour before the trade went down. A low point in film room history to be sure.

This week I wanted to get over to the defensive side of the ball. I’ve wanted to study this defense since Horton was named the coordinator. What better place to start than the times the Browns got to Ponder this week. Let’s go to the tape.

Winn sack presnap

For all the talk of exotic blitzing schemes, the Browns have been getting their best pressure when they rush just four. I’ve been tracking the number of times the Browns send more then four rushers on the quarterback. Here’s an interesting stat for you. Eleven of the Browns’ twelve sacks this season have come when they rush just four players. The other sack came while rushing five.

This play is in the first quarter on a third and ten.

Winn sack snap

Here you see that the four rushers from the defense’s left to right are Jabaal Sheard, Desmond Bryant, Billy Winn and Barkevious Mingo. Against a quarterback that takes a little longer to make decisions and get rid of the ball like Ponder, this was a highly productive defense. The secondary was able to cover five receivers with seven defenders.

On this play Winn gets the sack, but it is set up by Mingo’s speed rush outside.

Winn sack pt 3

Mingo forces Ponder up in the pocket, where Winn is ready to shed his man and get the sack.

Winn sack pt 4

Winn is able to grab Ponder and drag him down. It was Winn’s first sack of the season. One more thing to note on this play. The offensive guard (#74) essentially blocks nobody on this play. At the snap he has to see if D’Qwell Jackson is coming up the middle. That’s the real benefit of bringing more than four players half the time. The offense has to account for them every play. No way he was going to be able to help the tackle on Mingo. Should he have been able to help on Winn? Probably.

Taylor sack presnap

Ok, next play. Look how far outside Mingo is on this play. Look at how tight the inside backers are to the line.

Taylor sack snap

At the snap Mingo rushes in, and Sheard chucks the tight end and goes into coverage as do Jackson and Robertson. Look at the first step from Phil Taylor in the middle. He has the center’s arm hooked and is already turning him.

Taylor sack pt 3

Helping matters is that Ponder executed a play fake and just now turns his head to see Phil Taylor blowing by his center. He can’t just move up in the pocket because his running back is there.

Taylor sack pt 4

He tries to go outside, but is contained by Mingo, and Taylor makes an absolutely athletic play to pull Ponder down. This is an example of the Browns just having better players on the defensive front. Taylor can be an absolute beast.

Sheard sack presnap

Here’s another play. The Browns have already been burned in this situation by Ponder taking off out of the backfield and scoring.

Sheard sack stutter step

Take a close look at Jabaal Sheard’s right leg. He comes off the edge with a kind of stutter step that gets the tackle off balance. I wish I could embed the video for you to watch. It is so quick and very effective on this play.

Sheard sack pt 3

All he needs is a little advantage to the outside and he has got his man beat. Notice the interior linemen and Craig Robertson keeping their heads up and on Ponder. They aren’t about to let him run up the middle for another score.

Sheard sack pt 4

Mingo has the edge sealed on the other side, and the interior tackles have good position to clog running lanes. Sheard gets around his man and strip sacks Ponder. This was a huge play given the field position the Vikings were in.

Hughes sack presnap

This is my favorite. Keep your eye on John Hughes and Phil Taylor inside.

Hughes sack double slap

At the snap both tackles execute an inside swat, literally at the same time. They couldn’t have rehearsed this any better.

Hughes sack pt 3

Both use the swat to get inside position. Taylor gets in the hole just a half step quicker than Hughes.

Hughes sack pt 4

I don’t think this was a designed stunt, but if it was kudos to the Browns. I think that Hughes felt Taylor getting position and decided to shoot around him and his blocker.

Hughes sack pt 5

It worked to perfection as Hughes slingshots around the center and just smothers Ponder. This is the only sack this season in which the Browns sent more than four.

Mingo sack presnap

Here is the Mingo sack that got a lot of attention during the broadcast.

Mingo sack snap

The offensive tackle decides to cut Mingo as he comes off the edge. It seemed to me from watching the play a few times that this was his plan all along. I don’t think Mingo was faster than he expected. Perhaps the play was designed to be a quick hitter and for whatever reason Ponder doesn’t pull the trigger.

Mingo sack pt 3

Whatever the reason or plan, Mingo was certainly more athletic than this tackle expected. In one smooth motion, Mingo puts his hand down on the ground and pushes himself back up, kind of like a baseball player sliding into second and popping right back up.

Mingo sack pt 4

Back on his feet Mingo pursues Ponder and gets him.

Bryant sack presnap

Last sack of the game happened to come on the last play of the game. Mingo is lined up so far outside he isn’t even in the frame here.

Bryant sack snap

Note that the Vikings left a back in the backfield to help on Mingo. This is a Hail Mary play, and the Vikings are giving up a receiver.

Bryant sack pt 3

Kruger and Mingo get outstanding pressure from the outside forcing Ponder up into the pocket. Desmond Bryant is waiting there to shed his man and pick up the sack, giving him 3.5 on the season.

We saw several ways that the Browns were able to do more than put pressure on Ponder. They were able to make plays that helped the Browns win the game. They did it with a combination of scheme and raw ability. Six sacks by six different players this week. On the season the Browns have a dozen sacks by eight different players.

It could be a fun year to watch the defense.

The film room is closed.

  • 1moreuser

    I’m starting to like the new front office. The Mingo pick and Kruger signing are looking pretty smart.

  • MrCleaveland

    Rick, so who was the better third-down back?

  • MrCleaveland

    It seems like there should be a way for offensive coordinators to figure out how to beat those wide splits by the outside rushers.

    In the meantime, it IS fun to watch our D pound some QBs. There’s a lot to like with our speed, athleticism, and depth.

  • Patrick Veverka

    Is that a facemask on the last image?

  • vespo09

    Classic response to the wide-9 is to run at that space between the DE and DT, especially because the DE’s are so focused on pass rushing. Here’s a more thorough explanation:

    Of course, if we’re only going to run the ball a handful of times and throw the ball 50+ every game, we might need to figure something else out (especially to help out Schwartz, who got roasted by Wake lining up way outside in the Dolphins game).

  • BenRM

    I love how Sheard is playing right now! Mingo looks like he could be an absolute beast. I hope that he continues to develop beyond this year and doesn’t end up being one of those “only one move” type guys.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    Agree, would be a shame for that work to go to waste. I for one would still be interested.

  • mgbode

    I am especially interested if the answer is the guy we still have on the team.

  • mgbode

    shovel pass also works in that space

  • mgbode

    you are allowed to say the name Wimbley.

  • BenRM

    It still haunts me.

    What haunts me more, is that Wimbley should have been Nata.

  • woofersus

    If Cousins hadn’t been so awful in that game Richardson might have been able to exploit that gap. Schwartz had a bad game to be sure, but locking up a faster guy in space like that is hopeless for a lot of tackles. That’s sort of the point of the Wide-9. You have to help with a RB or TE on pass plays, (which ours failed at) and take advantage of his aggressiveness on running plays like you mentioned. Wake was always going outside, so if Cousins can seal off that gap for 2-3 seconds there’s a lot of running room. It just never happened.

  • mgbode

    or that he regained being a decent player once he left the Browns. sort of like Gerard Warren.

  • mgbode

    rick, great breakdowns as usual. what I love is that you showed a bunch of the plays that demonstrates WHY our DL has been so good. they are so instinctual (Winn seeing when to shed, Hughes using blocker to get to QB, Mingo realizing he can bounce-back up). you can teach alot of things, but it’s so hard to teach instincts like the ones demonstrated above.

  • WFNYRick

    Ha. Obi is the better blocker, but that is kind of like saying he is the taller midget. My conclusion was that the threat of Richardson making a play out of the backfield was better than the slight improvement in blocking that Obi would have given.

    Moot now.

  • WFNYRick

    Thanks Michael. No question that we have a deep, talented front seven. That’s why nobody is in panic mode because of the injuries to Sheard or Rubin or Groves. So many weapons there.

  • WFNYRick

    By the way, if the group would like to chip in for an I-pad for me, I could use the telestrator app. No? A guy has to try.



  • mgbode

    I’ve got a few bucks lying around. We get enough people and I’d be in.

  • bupalos

    >>>the threat of Richardson making a play out of the backfield>>>

    Assuming a conclusion not in evidence. Unless you mean “other teams acting like there was a threat of Richardson making a play out of the backfield…”

  • bupalos

    >>>the threat of Richardson making a play out of the backfield>>>

    Assuming a conclusion not in evidence. Unless you mean “other teams acting like there was a threat of Richardson making a play out of the backfield…”

  • WFNYRick

    I was going by what the team had done with T-Rich on first and second downs out of the backfield, and his ability to make defenders miss. Again, doesn’t really matter now.

  • Ezzie Goldish

    Time to use MS Paint. :)

    How awesome is Game Rewind, though? Would love to see you break down the Browns’ run D, it’s really incredible to watch from the coaches’ film.