5 Impactful Plays and Players During The HOF Game

August 8, 2023

Tony Camino

Standout Plays from the Hall of Fame Game versus the New York Jets

After an exhilarating 21-16 return to action on Thursday, the Browns had their initial opportunity to assess backups and fringe roster players. In my opinion, the 2023 draft class had a fantastic start in this game, as several players showcased great moments, even though the first pick was made in the third round. It’s still too early to solidify these selections as legitimate, but there were numerous encouraging signs in their inaugural real action. Here are five standout plays from the Hall of Fame Game victory against the New York Jets.

Luke Wypler getting to the second level

On this run play during the first half, the Browns execute a variation of the inside zone scheme. The responsibility of the right tackle is to neutralize the defensive end and prevent him from penetrating to the inside. Simultaneously, the right guard is engaged in a combination block with the intention of sealing off the defensive tackle from the interior gap. Luke Wypler, positioned at center, participates in a combo block on the defensive tackle to secure the first level of the defense. Following this, his objective is to quickly transition to blocking the linebacker, creating an opening for a five-yard or greater gain. Meanwhile, the left guard effectively blocks the opposing tackle from the interior angle, and the right tackle continues his combo block to ensure the creation of a running lane at the first level. To manipulate the positioning of defender #53, the tight end flares out, enticing him to move to his right and away from the primary action.

As the play initiates, Wypler demonstrates excellent technique by pushing the defensive tackle toward the outside, effectively ensuring that the guard can obstruct his path and prevent him from infiltrating the running lane. In the meantime, defensive end #99 is deliberately left unattended, as he is running a surf technique along the edge. This strategic approach is employed to deter Kellen Mond from executing a potential quarterback keeper outside the pocket.

He then proceeds to advance to the second level and delivers a superb block on linebacker #43, culminating in a substantial gain for the play.

This instance was just one of the many impressive repetitions showcased by the sixth-round rookie hailing from Ohio State. Throughout the entire game, Wypler consistently demonstrated remarkable athleticism as he effectively reached the second level in both running plays and screen scenarios. His performance in pass protection was notably reliable, and he exhibited a diverse range of exceptional plays throughout the entirety of the match.

During his college tenure, concerns primarily revolved around his strength, as larger defenders often exploited vulnerabilities in his chest. Remarkably, this issue did not surface in the first game but is something to monitor going forward. Furthermore, collaborating with Bill Callahan is likely to yield even greater success in the future.

Dawand Jones Snatch

Continuing with Ohio State offensive linemen, the performance and imposing stature of fourth-round rookie Dawand Jones stood out significantly. Jones, towering at 6’8″ and 274 pounds, presents a striking contrast next to his smaller counterparts. Despite his considerable size, he displays exceptional agility in footwork and emerges as an insurmountable barrier in both protecting the passer and contributing to the run game.

Illustrating this point, in the following instance, Jones adeptly employs his footwork to stop the defender’s attempt to exploit his speed advantage. He then executes a snatch move that conclusively drives his opponent to the ground, effectively nullifying the defender’s involvement in the play. This sequence highlights Jones’ remarkable ability to not only match the speed of defenders but also exert dominance over his matchups.

Jones undeniably emerged as one of the standout performers in the initial preseason game, showcasing a plethora of impressive instances that underscore his exceptional blend of size and agility. However, it’s worth noting that his downfield speed could benefit from refinement. On certain occasions, he was vulnerable to being exploited, particularly in scenarios involving screens and outside zone runs – both prominent elements of the team’s offensive strategy. In instances requiring spatial maneuverability, Jones’ performance is slightly less proficient, occasionally resulting in a slight delay in his reactions. Nevertheless, his presence as a formidable obstacle in pass protection remains unquestionable, highlighting his significance within the team’s offensive scheme.

Siaka Ika Third & short stuff

In this particular instance, a pivotal play by Siaka Ika, the third-round selection from Baylor, proved instrumental in halting a drive on a crucial third-and-short situation. Ika’s positioning places him as the three-technique, stationed on the outer shoulder of the guard. The Jets employ a blocking scheme that emphasizes the front level, with a particular focus on the play-side linebacker. To facilitate the advancement of the ball carrier to the second level, the Jets execute a combo block involving both defensive tackles. The intent behind this approach is to create a favorable one-on-one situation between the center and the lone linebacker in open space, ideally leading to an uncomplicated first-down conversion.

Ika initially finds himself engaged in a double-team situation, where any loss of balance on his part would likely result in an effortless conversion for the opposing team. However, Tony Fields #42 swiftly exploits an available gap, demonstrating excellent instinct by advancing into the open space promptly. Capitalizing on this opportunity, Ika deftly maneuvers through the vacated area as the center disengages from the double team, cleverly maintaining the guard on his left side. With precision, he wraps his arms around the running back, executing a superb play that effectively forces the defense to exit the field.

Although Ika delivered a commendable performance throughout the game, he encountered challenges in consistently generating forceful penetration against the offensive line. Despite possessing notable balance and adept spatial awareness that contribute to his ability to disrupt plays, Ika encountered difficulty in effectively driving vertically through the defensive structure. To become a substantial threat to opposing offensive lines, he will need to enhance his ability to penetrate vertically and consistently impose pressure.

Cedric Tillman Route

In this specific play, Cedric Tillman, the Browns’ first rookie draft pick of the year, finds himself in a man-to-man coverage situation against a cornerback who is tightly pressed up on him. Notably, there seems to be safety coverage positioned deeper downfield, indicating potential help over the top. Given this defensive alignment, Tillman’s objective is to create separation by maneuvering towards the outside and away from the looming safety coverage. To execute this, Tillman initiates a brief stutter step, momentarily causing the cornerback to become flat-footed and ensuring an opportunity for Tillman to break toward the outer boundary.

Exploiting his speed advantage, Tillman swiftly outpaces the cornerback, prompting the cornerback to shift into a full sprint to prevent a potential touchdown. Just shy of the first-down marker, Tillman exhibits remarkable agility as he abruptly halts his momentum and executes a sharp cutback toward the ball. This maneuver catches the defender off guard, causing him to overshoot and making him unable to contest the pass effectively. Moreover, in addition to creating significant separation, Tillman’s adept play drew a holding penalty from the defender.

Tillman’s performance was highlighted by several standout moments throughout the game. He not only adeptly defeated defenders with his route-running prowess but also demonstrated an ability to identify openings in zone defenses, leading to impactful receptions. This impressive showing marks a promising start to the career of the rookie hailing from Tennessee. With continued development, Tillman has the potential to emerge as a valuable asset within the wide receiver corps, contributing as a dynamic and productive weapon.

Dorian Thompson-Robinson 2&16 throw

It would be wrong not to highlight the remarkable performance of the fifth-round rookie quarterback, Dorian Thompson-Robinson, from UCLA. In this particular play, DTR is tasked with executing a hi-lo read, with his focus directed toward reading the actions of defender #43. The outermost receiver is set to run a deeper dig route, extending beyond the scope of the current image, likely spanning around 15 yards. Concurrently, the running back initiates a release and proceeds to run an out route underneath the coverage.

Upon recognizing that defender #43 follows the running back’s movement out of the backfield, DTR identifies the potential opening for the dig route, particularly against the man coverage scheme. Despite encountering pressure from the left side, DTR adapts his arm angle to evade the pressure and execute a clean throw. This skillful execution showcases his ability to handle pressure while remaining in the pocket, resulting in a successful pass completion despite being behind the sticks.

While Thompson-Robinson’s proficiency as a runner and his capacity to make plays outside the pocket was evident from his time at UCLA, it is his composed response under pressure in this game that stands out. The fusion of his natural instinct as a ball carrier, his arm talent, and his capability to improvise under duress is inspiring for his potential to exceed expectations set on draft night. This performance offers exciting indications that DTR possesses a more complete skill set than initially anticipated.


The Hall of Fame game delivered not only a satisfying win but also a much-needed dose of football excitement to satisfy our cravings for a week. The rookies unquestionably left their mark on specific plays, showcasing their potential and contributing positively to the team’s performance. Looking ahead, the next game is anticipated to feature a blend of starters and second-string players, promising a higher level of competition. It will certainly be intriguing to closely observe the rookies as they continue to gain valuable experience against tougher opponents. This evolving dynamic adds an extra layer of interest to the upcoming matchups, as we track the progress of these promising newcomers and their ability to shine in more challenging circumstances.

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