About our defense in yesterday’s first quarter…

That was a disaster and no mistake.  Five freaking first downs.  FIVE?!  Out-rushed 244-53.  One for ten on third down converts.

It was the old Shurmur-ball snowball effect wherein the defense gets behind, the offense gives the ball right back, the now-tired defense has a harder time stopping the opponents, offense gives ball back again, and the now-gassed defense starts yielding point and gaudy statistics by the bushel.

The trick is to avoid falling behind.  To do so, your defense has to do its job.  Unsaid but also vital:  the referees to do theirs.

That didn’t happen yesterday.

Consequently, the Browns were down 10-0 heading into the second quarter due chiefly to poor officiating.  If you think it’s sour grapes and/or soft-lame to blame the refs, that’s fine.  And piss off.  We did get jobbed in the first quarter yesterday and while it probably wouldn’t have affected the final outcome, it might have.

First drive.

2nd/7, Cin 22.  Jeremy Hill will gain seven here and pick up a first down.  But holy christ:

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 7.33.21 AM

Walt Coleman’s view of the second play yesterday.

This is not an irrelevant penalty like so many we see called.  This is a clear hold that prevented Paul Kruger from tackling Hill.  Plain and simple.  Assuming Walt Coleman was watching the ball, the picture above is the view he had.  This would’ve set up 2nd/17.  Curious about Andy Dalton’s performance delta on first/ten versus 2nd/10+?  So was I.  Without boring you with a lot of arcane data, Dalton is about 50% better on 1st/10 — QBR  91.2 vs 64.1 for 2nd/10+.  Pretty significant non-call.

If you're getting a roughing call, this is the one to get.

If you’re getting a roughing call, this is the one to get.

3rd/6, Cin 47.  This is the Mingo penalty for roughing.  He definitely got helmet to helmet.  The argument about whether it should be a penalty and what exactly is a pass rusher coming full speed at another 6-4 body-armored pro athlete supposed to do is for another place.  Can’t complain about this flag.1 But we can point out this is a drive extending third down earned not by Cincy offense ‘carving’ Cleveland defense.  It was simply Andy Dalton being a tackling dummy.

4th/4, Cle 32.  AJ Green gets full extension of his 34.4″ arms in pushing off Joe Haden to create enough separation so that even Andy Dalton can get him the ball.

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 12.38.20 PM

“Within this five-yard zone, a defensive player may chuck an eligible player in front of him. A defensive player is allowed to maintain continuous and unbroken contact within the five-yard zone until a point when the receiver is even with the defender.”

If you’re the guy who says Haden is touching him too so good non-call — piss off.  Haden is allowed to make contact within five yards.2

So we don’t even need PFR’s Advanced Stats on this one.  It’s the Browns’ ball if the correct Offensive Pass Interference call is made.  Johnny Football debuts with the score 0-0 instead 0-7.  The takeaway is that the defense played well enough to get off the field, not the carving up as some Browns reporters actually tweeted.

Second drive.

Cincy went on to get a touchdown, converting a 3rd/7 on a screen pass that on further review shows Justin Gilbert taking a hideously bad angle, basically saying to Gio Bernard:  here’s an additional five yards and I’ll just tackle you from behind instead of in front.


Speaking of horrible, Manziel’s first drive was three and out (run, run, scramble) giving the ball back to the Bengals at their 27.

2nd/7, Cin 43.  Hill rips off a 20 yard chunk pretty much getting Cincy into FG range.  I’ve looked at this run and seems like there are three penalties that should have been called.

  • In the third pic, you can see Kirksey being held.
  • Fourth pic (and this was the one everyone at the bar was screaming for) it’s Robertson being held.
  • Then finally in the fifth pic you could also call illegal use of use hands or block in the back against Robertson too.

1st/10, Cle 37.  And finally the Browns were this close to taking the ball back with Joe Haden’s almost-terrific play on typically hideous Dalton pass.

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 1.16.27 PM

Ooh. Close.

Here’s the net net.

I’ll save the screed on “refereeing in general” for later and to be sure it will include a special focus on the complicity of ESPN and many fans on my twitter timeline with respect to their shitting on the replacement refs so that Ed Hochuli can continue to lawyer full time and ref part time while simultaneously boxing out prospective newer and better referees.  But that’s for another day.


I’m not saying we would’ve have won yesterday if the first quarter were called correctly.  But to say the defense sucked yesterday is to get it wrong.  And to say that the Manziel offense would play with more swagger if the score were still 0-0 after their two three-and-outs is reasonable.

Repeat:  not saying this cost us the game.  Am saying it cost us a fairer chance at the game.

  1. As a matter of fact, as roughing calls go, Mingo got his money’s worth here. [back]
  2. Linked rule:  “Within this five-yard zone, a defensive player may chuck an eligible player in front of him. A defensive player is allowed to maintain continuous and unbroken contact within the five-yard zone until a point when the receiver is even with the defender.” [back]
  • jdoepke

    I suppose this is what I get for being in a pool that consists of mostly Browns fans but my god. I’m sure every call on the Thursday night domination by the Browns was fair, no holding or PI or anything of that nature. If I had time I’m sure I could go back and find pictures. Regarding the AJ pushoff, find a video please because if you watch that play past the freeze frame you provided Haden has his arms around AJ’s hips while the ball is on the way. Good no call. All you people who thought the Browns were spectacular after winning in Cincy: Did you realize that Dalton played the absolute worst game of his career? Did you think that would happen again? I’m not saying the guy is great, or even good but he was god awful in that game. Surely you expected a slight bounce back this time around…

    Finally, as I’ve been saying to the rest of my Cleveland friends, be thankful you have Lebron. The Browns ain’t that good. They’ve overachieved and like the Bengals, have benefited from a ridiculously soft schedule vs. the NFC South. My friend Zac said many weeks ago: “The Browns aren’t winning anything this year.” At least one of you is reasonable….

    • all of these jpgs are screeenshots take from video feed.

      i dont know what the earlier cincy game has to do with a non-called hold which provided andy daltion with a 1st/10 vs a 2nd/17.

      this has nothing to do with any other browns fans or the pool. this is my own opinion and — in my opinion — these are bad calls and game-altering calls by any objective measure. the point being made is intended to counter the simplistic ‘defense showed up flat’ horse crap i’ve read so much of and offers about a dozen imagse to prove the point.

  • zarathustra

    Funny you should mention hochuli. Yesterday when I emailed you re: cheddar I included a sarcastic remark about the officials not being held accountable for their poor performance and no joke 10 seconds later hochuli bailed out the Seahawks on 3rd down in the red zone and effectively ended the game. Zero people witnessed this that didn’t think it was an awful call. The league has even acknowledged it was incorrect. Yet good old ed has only dug in his heels and issued a statement that he still thinks it was the right call. Only a man that will never be held accountable for his actions could feel so emboldened to act like such an asshole.
    It is why the whole replacement refs media frenzy was so pernicious. Those replacement refs were no worse than the part-time officials the league employed before or after yet the labor dispute, but the impression was created that these guys are somehow indispensable to the fielding of a quality product and the league now has no incentive to ever challenge them again. Unless of course there were market pressure from consumers and that’s never happening. I may complain about the shit product, but I have no intention of altering my obsessive consumption of the product and I highly doubt anyone else will so it is sadly kind of pointless to even bother complaining. We can just hope that the unpredictable magic yellow flags go our next time….but I don’t think even that will help the browns these next two weeks.

    • pernicious. yes.

      • zarathustra

        I attribute it mostly just to lazy thinking and attaching to the dominant narrative at the time. What I have yet been able wrap my head around is how selective it was. My opinion was and still is that there was no noticeable difference in officiating during the replacement period. It wasn’t necessarily good, just no worse than usual. But that was the only time we’ve seen any media outrage over poor officiating. Again, it is in no way better now and while there is some criticism it is nonexistent compared to the hyperventilating that was going on then. I really don’t get it.

  • Nice job pointing out what everyone outside of the local media was seeing yesterday. Couldn’t believe the comments on Twitter about how great the Bengals looked without acknowledging the assistance they were getting from the officials.

    On the flip side, holy crap did Manziel look totally over-whelmed and unprepared. Still think Pettine made the right call as Hoyer has hit his ceiling, but if there is anyone who still believes the Browns would have beaten Buffalo or Indy if only they had Manziel at quarterback needs to be evaluated.

    The one bright spot is Manziel has no where to go but up. You know, just like Brandon Weeden after his rookie debut.

    Oh crap.

    • yeah i didnt want to get into that but once i started looking at the game i couldn’t not dig into manziel (see new post) and it’s not good.

  • Sam Gold

    Wow, I saw some officiating blunders but this paints it much worse than my initial take. As you said, not sure these would have changed the outcome but it would have been nice to find out.

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