3 Impactful Plays and Players From Pre-Season Game 2

August 16, 2023

Tony Camino

Standout Plays from the Game versus the Washington Commanders

Browns First Team gets first reps on film and impresses.

Even though they lost 17-15 after a super long weather delay, the Browns starters really caught my eye in the short time they played against the Commanders. Deshaun Watson finally got on the field and seemed confident in himself, leading a strong drive right off the bat. The first-string defense was all over the place, making it clear that the new guys on the line are going to shake things up this year.

Here are three plays that stood out from the game:

  1. Deshaun Watson and Elijah Moore display endless possibilities.

Right from the start, the new wide receiver Elijah Moore demonstrated his potential impact on this offense. In the opening play of the game, Moore positions himself alongside Watson in the shotgun formation, right next to the running back. This unconventional alignment, characterized by a pass-heavy lineup, immediately introduced an inventive dimension to the game.

Moore motions out to the boundary as the number two receiver, and Watson notices his leverage over the defender lined up on him. Showing one-high safety, Watson knows the outside corner shouldn’t play that outbreaking route, and Moore should be open.

Thanks to his speed and the advantageous position he had, this play turned out to be a simple and smooth pass-and-catch situation. Watson delivered the throw right on target, allowing Moore to maintain his momentum and gain some solid yardage.

In the following play, Moore once again positioned himself next to Watson in the shotgun formation, this time receiving a handoff that resulted in an impressive 18-yard gain. While this formation might not be a regular occurrence in a team featuring Nick Chubb, Moore’s rapid pace and versatile skill set were notably evident from the outset before his departure. When coupled with the other exceptional talents on this offense, Moore appears to seamlessly complement Kevin Stefanski’s offensive strategy.

2. New defensive additions making plays.

After the unsuccessful attempt to convert on fourth down at the Commanders’ one-yard line, the Browns’ defense assumed control and certainly lived up to expectations. Immediate pressure, courtesy of Ogbo Okoronkwo, led to an incomplete pass on first down, setting the stage for a crucial second-and-long scenario. Positioned in a 3-technique, Dalvin Tomlinson lined up over the guard’s outer shoulder, while Juan Thornhill took his position over the tight end playing man-to-man coverage.

Seeing the tight end pull back along with the other down blocks from the offensive linemen tells Thornhill it’s a run play, and he stays home in his gap. Tomlinson engages with the guard and looks to shed to whichever side the back runs through.

Tomlinson easily shakes off the blocker and slows down the runner, while Thornhill bursts through the gap and wraps up the tackle, pushing them back for a loss. This sets up a tough third-and-long situation.

The Browns’ first unit gave us a taste of what they’re capable of this season, especially with the beefed-up defensive line. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah was all over the place, and the secondary brought a level of physicality that’s kind of new. The Jim Schwartz defensive scheme has been looking solid in the limited action we’ve seen. Let’s hope it keeps up when the regular season kicks in.

3. DTR continues to shine

Dorian Thompson-Robinson, the fifth-round rookie, is showing some serious skills in the preseason, way beyond what anyone might’ve expected from his UCLA days. In this play, the defense is in cover 2, as you can tell when the safety on the boundary starts moving back after the motion across the field. In cover 2, the prime targets in the passing game are those spots in the middle-thirds between the safeties and that tricky area between the cornerback and the safety. I’ve marked that dead zone in red on the image.

The Browns are running a spot concept which is drawn above and includes a spot route from the number one receiver, a seven route from the tight end, and a flat route from the running back. DTR is reading the corner circled in red and throwing it opposite where he plays.

The flat corner plays the route out of the backfield more, leaving a window to the tight end on the seven routes. Great throw from DTR here to get it to him in a window that shrunk in a hurry.

His mechanics reads, and ability to make plays with his arm and legs have really stood out through two games of tape. If he continues to make waves this season, he could earn QB2 behind Watson sooner than later.

Final Observations from Game

All in all, the Browns’ starting players had a solid showing in their short time on the field, both on offense and defense. Deshaun Watson and Elijah Moore showcased a promising connection that has the potential to take the Browns’ offense up a notch. On the defensive side, the upgraded defensive line and the increased physicality were quite evident; the players seemed to be more at the moment, just playing their game. Dorian Thompson-Robinson once again stood out, and it looks like he’ll be the one keeping us entertained for the last couple of preseason games.

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