April 23, 2014

Tracking the Browns Defense: Blitz totals for week 2

Last week I went back and charted each pass play by Miami to see how many rushers Ray Horton’s defense was sending. The data told an interesting story last week I thought.

Bryant4

Desmond Bryant leads the team with 2.5 sacks.

This week I’m sure that is the case. For one thing, the Browns only brought four rushers the majority of the game. For another, the Ravens did the majority of the damage in the second half on the ground. In fact, Baltimore only attempted eleven passes in the second half. Eight of those attempts came in obvious passing situations (3rd and long and one first and 22).

So here are the numbers for this week. I will keep tracking them this season unless I don’t think that they are useful. Here is a reminder on the method.

I went through each pass attempt and counted the number of players that appeared to be rushing the quarterback. Inside linebackers that are keying on the running back aren’t counted as rushers, only players that are after the QB.

Here are the totals.

rushers week 2The Browns sent four rushers a total of 24 times. Baltimore converted six of those into first downs. The Browns sacked Joe Flacco twice while bringing only four, and batted down a pass. They also stopped a swing pass for negative yards.

Nine time the Browns rushed five players. Baltimore converted six of those plays into first downs. Cleveland batted down a pass while rushing five, and stopped a WR screen for a negative gain.

Twice the Browns brought six rushers. Once the pass was incomplete, and the other was a five yard touchdown pass.

The Ravens attempted eleven passes on third and long (more than four yards to gain). The Browns rushed just four on nine of those plays. Four of them were converted into first downs.

Here is the cumulative chart for the season through week two.

rushers chart STD wk 2If you are looking for a pattern, the biggest one I found is on second and long (seven or more yards) where the Browns predominantly rush only four. That would seem to make sense, and likely would be the trend around the league I would imagine. It does raise the question whether Horton’s defense is ‘attacking’ as much in Cleveland as it did in Arizona.

Keep in mind that even though the Browns may be bringing four rushers on the majority of pass plays, those four rushers aren’t always the same. The three down linemen usually rush, although we have seen a few zone time blitzes in which the defensive ends and even the nosetackle have pulled back into a zone.

The nature of the defense is to keep the offense off balanced, not knowing which players are coming on a given play. All six of the Browns sacks this season have come on plays in which they only rushed four players.

Rookie Barkevious Mingo saw his first regular season action this week and recorded his first sack. Desmond Bryant and Jabaal Sheard shared a sack.

(Photo: Candice Vlcek for WFNY)

  • MrCleaveland

    T.J. Ward must be hurting. He missed two open-field tackles Sunday that he had no business missing.

  • vespo09

    I really enjoy this piece, and hope you run it all season long.

    Not sure how much work goes into creating this, but I would also be curious about the pressure the Browns offense faces. Weeden was sacked a league-high 11 times in the first two weeks. Is the line struggling against only 4 rushers? Is he not getting rid of the ball when they bring extra men?

  • saggy

    great work. now, can you do something that shows how many times the Browns took their best offensive player off the field on 3rd down?

  • Vindictive_Pat

    I think that stat is something like “60% of the time it works every time”

  • mgbode

    Joe Thomas should never leave the field.

  • Mongoose

    The defense has looked OK. I’m concerned about allowing offenses 50 percent success on 3rd down, though. According to “http://www.teamrankings.com/nfl/stat/opponent-third-down-conversion-pct” Cleveland is ranked 29th in this category.