Manziel’s first four drives.
Decided to have a look-see on the offense. Maybe there’s some mitigating factors that weren’t obvious in real-time? Some positives or explanations for that disturbing regression? Let’s see. (Hint: no. The answers to those questions are “no.”)
First drive, 3/out: run, run, scramble.
On the 3rd/1, we get a look with four WRs bunched on one side with Josh Gordon alone on left. No running backs. Seems to be an obvious slant. Johnny doesn’t/can’t pull trigger before Gordon comes out of his break.
It could be Johnny had his passing route taken away by the safety Nelson who had crept up to the line. But this next pic is odd. That center is running with purpose past the line of scrimmage. So it seems like this was a designed run.
Yuck. Too cute Shanny, too cute.
Second drive, 3/out: run, zone read, 3rd/13.
The zone read play was pretty botched. First, the idea of zone read is to leave a defender uncovered thus giving you more blockers at the point of attack and at the same time negating the effect of an edge rusher (usually one of the defense’s best athletes). Here’s what you’d expect to see:
But on this play I can’t tell what the plan is. The RBs look like they are setting up for an inside zone read, but the blocking leaves a DE uncovered which is normally the plan for an outside zone read. In any event Manziel needs to be reading the attacker with the ball in Crow’s belly. Pic 1 shows that he’s not. Pic 2 is when Manziel looks up to try to read the attacker but it’s way too late. Pic 3 shows that Gilberry actually has both options snuffed.
That sets up a 3rd/13. This is the scramble floater that Manziel gets to Hawkins but it’s such a duck that Hawkins gets buried and can’t hold on to ball. But I do see –I think– a problem. In this picture where Johnny has some time a cornerback has just snuck forward to stop his scramble opportunity. Looks to me like there is a wide open zone to throw to where you’d have to like Josh Gordon’s chances to make a play.
Third drive. Penalty, run, penalty/1st down, INT.
The hallmark of the Reboot Browns, and I think we all can agree on this, is that when the chips are down and their d-line is killing our front,,, we always have that Cleveland Browns Screen Pass in the playbook. A very consistent play it’s been for us too. (Cue Kolonich rant.) It matters not what QB or center either. I mean I don’t think Ryan Seymour and Johnny have more than a dozen snaps between them in a Browns jersey. And yet, they’ve already mastered the CBSP. In an ever-changing world, it’s comforting to have a touchstone and this truly is all ours.
And keeping with our heritage, the next play seems a nod to past OCs like Pat Shurmur or Maurice Carthon because,,, you got it we’re running off tackle on 1st/15. That sets up 2nd/11. Manziel seems to call a play at the line, gets time in the pocket and delivers this stink bomb to Gordon.
But hey: first down on a sketchy illegal use of hand penalty. Our first first down in the Manziel era. Next play is a run up the middle. There was a hole but Ryan Seymour was way out in space while Rey Maualuga is filling said hole. Second and eight.
The play is another sketchy read-option but it actually does freeze the Bengals’ right side (pic 1). Decent pocket (pic 2). Starting to collapse on Schwartz’ side (Dunlap was a beast all game; pic 3). Has Hawkins open on the drag (pic 4). And the horrific floater behind the receiver (pic 5).
The floater ball is a problem, he definitely doesn’t have reliable mechanics and in the heat of the game one tends to fall back into their usual habits.. so that’s a problem. But jeezum crow: you’ve been a QB for many years and you don’t yet know that the sideline is your friend? Manziel might actually get away with the floater if he puts the ball on the sideline. Horrible horrible throw. It’s not about over-reading, holding the ball too long, or moon-ball tendencies — just common sense tells you to use all the open space available.
Miraculously the defense holds the Bengals right there and it’s still a three possession game.
Fourth drive. 3/out.
Let’s look at one more. First down is what seems to be a bubble screen to Josh Gordon. You know how the Falcons ran this play against us with Jones and they got two aggressive blocking WRs out in front of him and it goes for like 20 yards? This wasn’t that; Dunlap kinda rag dolled Schwartz then released off him to drop Gordon for a three yard loss.
Second/13 so you know what’s coming. Correct, run up the middle. Eight yards though. Might have been more if Jim Dray were in instead of Cameron who failed to
sustain his do any second level blocking.
Third/5. Good pocket. Breaks pocket. Scrambles right. Overthrows Dray.
That’ll do. Do we want to break down the high ball to Benjamin pick (saved by an offsides call) or the red zone pick at the end of the half? It’s just more grimness. I’ll say one thing: check out his feet and follow through on the Benjamin pick here:
Observation: he looks like he been coached up and too much.
A lot of Manziel’s footwork was shit leading to these floater passes. By ‘shit’ I mean he does not step toward his target nor does he follow through toward the target. It’s not a case where there is pressure. The reason I suspect he’s being ‘coached up’ and likely ‘coached away’ from his TAMU plays is the way he holds the ball in the pocket. It just looks forced. And a quick comparison to his TAMU posture shows a difference.
Could be nothing, but could be something. But would it surprise you if Dowell Loggains fucked something up? It wouldn’t me.