3 Impactful Plays and Players From Pre-Season Chiefs Game

August 31, 2023

Tony Camino

Standout Plays from the Game versus the Kansas City Chiefs

The starting defense shines in extended time, offense shows flashes

The preseason has finally concluded, ending with positive momentum on both sides of the ball. Deshaun Watson took 20 snaps and appeared comfortable in the pocket, displaying improvisational skills with his legs. Amari Cooper executed a big play, and Elijah Moore ran very precise routes in the passing game. However, the run game faced challenges in the absence of Nick Chubb and Joel Bitonio. On the defensive front, the line demonstrated dominance once again, and the secondary delivered impactful plays. While the depth players didn’t show the same level of sharpness, the main rotation holds promise for the upcoming season. Below are three standout plays from the starting unit.

Martin Emerson Jr. & Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah lockdown for a pass breakup

The Browns used a lot of man-to-man coverage in this game, which can work great if done right. You really need sharp technique and good communication, and in this game, the Browns starters nailed it when it came to man coverage.

There’s the number one receiver (the closest one to the sideline) doing a little stutter step right into a slant route. At the same time, the number two receiver (second closest to the sideline) releases outside as part of a swap route.

When you’re dealing with man coverage, defending against swap routes like this can get tricky. It’s super easy for defenders to accidentally run into each other or get blocked by another receiver. You’ve got to have your technique down pat, or it’s basically a free completion for the quarterback.

Martin Emerson does an impressive job here by stepping up to press his man as soon as he notices the outside release. This approach helps him steer clear of Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and maintain tight coverage of his assignment. JOK promptly closes the gap on the slant route, leaving no room for the offense to exploit. He swoops in just as the ball is thrown, resulting in a well-executed pass breakup. Throughout the play, Emerson remains firmly attached to his man, and he even benefits from safety support over the top. If the Browns can consistently employ a significant amount of man coverage and find success, it can pose a considerable challenge for opposing offenses to generate open space.

Deshaun Watson and David Njoku combine for a nice touchdown

On a well-executed red zone snap, the Browns line up with a two by two formation, featuring Elijah Moore positioned in the backfield. On the active side of the play, David Njoku runs an out route toward the goal line, while Donovan Peoples-Jones swiftly follows with an in route, right off Njoku’s path. Simultaneously, Moore takes off with an out route from the backfield.

Once Peoples-Jones breaks in and notices his defender sticking closely to him, he recognizes that the Chiefs are playing man coverage. The sole cornerback assigned to cover Peoples-Jones stands as the lone man on the outside, which leaves Njoku with an isolated right side of the field, only facing one safety.

With a ten-yard gap and no assistance available, this play orchestrated by Kevin Stefanski is a brilliant move to secure the precise matchup they desire within the red zone. Notably, the safety handles the situation adeptly, but Deshaun Watson delivers a perfectly placed high-point throw, accessible solely to Njoku, resulting in a touchdown.

Such plays offer a glimpse of the offensive potential realized through the combined talent and coaching this year. Stefanski skillfully positions them exactly as intended, and both Watson and Njoku execute flawlessly, propelling the Browns into the lead.

Za’Darius Smith comes up with big run stuff before a big play

In this particular play, Za’Darius Smith is positioned in a six technique, indicating that he’s aligned directly over the tight end. The quarterback lines up in shotgun formation, and the running back is positioned away from Smith. Observing the positioning of the running back, the only plausible run play in this scenario would likely involve a draw or a play directed back toward Smith.

The Chiefs execute a variation of power in this situation, with the entire offensive line down-blocking to their left, while the backside guard pulls and assumes the role of a lead blocker. Smith initiates contact with his block and disengages as he gets within reach. He successfully stops the play, preventing any gain. Right after this, Juan Thornhill intercepts the ball and scores a touchdown on the ensuing third down.

Teaming up with Myles Garrett and the remaining defensive linemen, Za’Darius Smith is poised to deliver a significant impact throughout the upcoming season.


During the preseason finale, the first-string offense saw the most snaps of the preseason, and it certainly lived up to expectations. While not flawless, the offense showcased Deshaun Watson’s poise and several impressive throws. On the defensive side, the defensive line excelled in both pass rushing and run defense. The predominant use of man coverage effectively restricted Chiefs’ receivers, leaving minimal space to operate. The team appears well-prepared for the first week, setting the stage for an exciting initial challenge.

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