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.
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.
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.
Mingo forces Ponder up in the pocket, where Winn is ready to shed his man and get the sack.
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.
Ok, next play. Look how far outside Mingo is on this play. Look at how tight the inside backers are to the line.
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.
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.
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.
Here’s another play. The Browns have already been burned in this situation by Ponder taking off out of the backfield and scoring.
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.
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.
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.
This is my favorite. Keep your eye on John Hughes and Phil Taylor inside.
At the snap both tackles execute an inside swat, literally at the same time. They couldn’t have rehearsed this any better.
Both use the swat to get inside position. Taylor gets in the hole just a half step quicker than Hughes.
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.
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.
Here is the Mingo sack that got a lot of attention during the broadcast.
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.
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.
Back on his feet Mingo pursues Ponder and gets him.
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.
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.
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.