Originally written on Waiting For Next Year  |  Last updated 11/18/14
Like we did last year before it became fashionable, 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. “We did a study on it and we’ll keep our results to ourselves. On third and one you need to be able to execute at a very high percentage for one yard. We’ve had a combination of things that have happened to us and it’s not always on the runner, but we need to enforce our will and get a yard. I’m aware of those numbers and we’re working on it to get it better.” – Pat Shurmur, earlier this week, on what he thinks the main problem is with Richardson only converting 2 of 7 third and one situations. Sounds like a film room study to me! (I promise, not to feature Richardson next week…) We’ve already broken down one of these runs. It was against the Eagles, and it is found here- the second play reviewed. Let’s start with the most recent, against the Chargers. So many things to talk about here. First, the formation. This is not the typical looking 3rd and 1 formation for the Browns. Scroll through and take a look at the other formations. Double tight ends. Unbalanced lines. All under center. Some kind of lead blocker. Not this time. Shotgun formation, single back, three receivers to the left, one to the right. If you look at all the previous third and one situations with Richardson in the backfield, you will see several trends- the primary one being the direction Richardson runs. Up until this run, they have all been between the tackles (or at least drawn up that way.) Also interesting to note, the Browns always throw on third and 2. Always. My guess is that the Chargers were a bit surprised by this formation on third and one. They likely expected a pass, or that delayed hand-off to Richardson up the middle. Which is why I love this play call. The play is a quick pitch around left end. At the snap, Watson and Cribbs block down. Watson seals the edge, which is huge for this play. Little is going to lead around the end, with Greco and Alex Mack pulling. Take a second to admire this shot. The edge is set and the Browns have three blockers in front of Richardson. Take a second and identify the Chargers that could possibly stop this play. #20 Jammer. #38 Gilchrist. Maybe the MLB #56 Donald Butler. I mentioned this week in my Winners and Losers piece that I thought Greg Little did an outstanding job blocking against the Chargers. This is one of those blocks. Now, he doesn’t square up and contain the back, but he does put a shoulder into Jammer’s hip and takes him out of the play. Greco does a nice job getting a chip block to make sure Richardson is sprung. Richardson zooms past Mack and Jammer on his way to an 11 yard gain. Great play call, great execution. The Browns would use this quick pitch a few times against the Chargers, and I really like the play. You can’t do it that often in a game, unless you are just that much quicker to the corner. In the NFL that isn’t very likely. Here’s the next third and one Richardson run against the Chargers. This time, things do not go so well. Notice the formation- strong to the right with Alex Smith as the lead blocker. The Chargers have 8 in the box. They are clearly ready for this kind of play. At the snap the linebackers attack the line. If you are Richardson, you are watching things unfold in front of you. The play is designed to follow Alex Smith. There appears to be a slight opening to the inside as well, between Mack and Lauvao. Alex Smith usually does a good job blocking in my opinion. This is not his finest play. He completely whiffs on the linebacker. Richardson will have to make a move on him in order to get the yard, or go through him. He decides to cut left and try to get around the left end. Not a good idea. Richardson had to slow down making his move, where the linebacker just came right at him. Joe Thomas had position inside of the DE. When Richardson tries to go outside, the DE easily releases and pursues. The ends in a loss and a punt. We go all the way back to the Bills game. This is actually the second time Richardson gets the ball in a third and one situation. The first time is the Eagles play referenced at the top. Note the formation. This really is the exact same as the play right above it. Watson is the TE on the right, Cameron is lined up as a wing off the TE, and Marecic is your lead blocker. At the snap, Pinkston pulls down the line. At least he tries. Ben Watson gets blown two yards back, wrecking the lead block of Pinkston. Marecic actually trips over Cameron’s feet. Richardson runs right into the back of Watson and Pinkston. Obviously, you don’t want your back running into the back of his lead blockers. Count how many blue jerseys are on the left side of the blue line marking the line of scrimmage. I see four, and two more really close. This is domination by a defensive line. When Shurmur says ‘you need to impose your will on the defense’, I’m pretty sure this is the kind of thing he’s talking about. Next play against the Giants. Here is a double tight formation, again with Marecic leading Richardson. Pay attention to the blue line of scrimmage again. This is just ugly. There are five Browns on the right side of this screen capture blocking three Giants. And the Giants are on the Browns’ side of the ball. Richardson has a choice to make. Should he try to get outside? Personally, I don’t think he makes it, but it still may be his best shot. He could also put his head down and try to plow through the middle between Mack and Pinkston. This is one of those plays that fans point to when they say Richardson dances in the backfield. He tries to find a hole, when he really just needed to bull through and get a yard. Get low and try to win the leverage battle. Here’s a play against the Bengals. Note your formation. See what I meant earlier when I said the Browns looked predictable on third and one? These are the same films the Chargers studied leading up to last week’s game. The same films the Ravens are looking at. The Browns win the line of scrimmage here. Notice how many Browns are past the 25, the line of scrimmage. Richardson follows his blocks to the left tackle spot. Notice the block of Little again at the point of attack. This block is the difference between a two yard gain and a six yard gain. Here we have an attempt against the Colts. The formation is strong right, but they are going to run left, with the tight end motioning to the hole. Not to sound too repetitive, but look at where the Colts end up. I get that you aren’t going to push the defender off the ball every time. I’ve played the line. I know that isn’t realistic. But on these short yardage plays, you have to at least stand your ground and give your back a fighting chance to get past you. Mack and the tight end (I believe Watson) get blown back and the line backers fill the hole. Just no where for Richardson to go. Something else I noticed while researching this. Weeden is 100% when using the QB sneak to get the first down. Perfect. Just sayin. Until next week, the film room is closed.
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