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.
2nd/7, Cin 22. Jeremy Hill will gain seven here and pick up a first down. But holy christ:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- As a matter of fact, as roughing calls go, Mingo got his money’s worth here. [back]
- 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]