5 Impactful Plays and Players Game Film Review: Week 12 Browns/Broncos Game

November 30, 2023

Tony Camino

Impactful Plays from Browns’ Game Against Broncos in Week 12

After winning five of six games to reach 7-3, the Browns suffered a tough loss on the road in Week 12 in the Mile High City. Both sides started slow, and the Broncos had no issue getting out to an early lead. The offense clicked nicely for a bit in the middle of the game, both in the air and on the ground. However, once Dorian Thompson-Robinson exited in the third quarter, the game felt over, and the Browns couldn’t overcome injuries to secure another win. DTR made significant strides in the snaps he did play, but drops ruined his stat line from reflecting that. Here are three important plays from the Browns’ loss to the Broncos in Week 12.

Bad Eyes

With the injury to Denzel Ward (shoulder) forcing him to miss this game, Greg Newsome got a chance to show why he believes he belongs on the outside instead of the slot where he normally operates this year. Courtland Sutton has been having a good year, but he dominated Newsome on Sunday.

The Browns were running a variation of their cover one-man defense here, showing a two-high shell but rotating one safety down in the second level while the other safety plays a deep zone. Everyone else is man-to-man with their defender, and Newsome has Sutton isolated here. The Broncos are running a double post with a dig route, designed to beat man coverage.

Newsome seems to have his eyes back on the quarterback right when Sutton goes to break on his route, creating massive separation instantly. With the deep safety following one of the post routes, there is no help for Newsome, and this pass is completed for a big chunk play early.

The young corner from Northwestern struggled Sunday in both coverage and tackling. He’s had a very solid year up to this point, but he certainly didn’t help his case for playing outside more in this game. The void created by Ward’s absence was notable, as nobody could match Sutton, and there were occasional communication issues.

Trap Runs

Early on, Russell Wilson continued to check into a run play that went for a big gain every time. This play is called a trap run, where the backside guard instantly traps the three techniques while the center blocks the 2i technique, and the play side guard and tackle immediately get to the second level to block the linebackers. Because of Jim Schwartz‘s downhill approach to defensive line play, the Browns are very susceptible to trap blocks if they don’t adjust quickly.

Jordan Elliott boxes this block, meaning he attacks it in a way to force the run inside, expecting a linebacker to fill in and attack on the inside. Instead of attacking the ball carrier, Sione Takitaki takes on the blocker and gets himself caught up in the mess and out of the play. While this could be an issue with how their gaps were assigned, the Browns need to have a linebacker attack the ball instead of a different gap to slow down trap runs.

The Broncos went to the trap run early and often against the Browns, and Wilson seemed to check into it every time they ran it. When he got a certain look, he knew they could create some lanes and trap the interior linemen for a nice gain. The Browns did a solid job adjusting to this play later in the game, but the run defense was overall nowhere near as good as it needed to be.

Zone Q

Similarly to the matchup against the Colts, the Broncos utilized some basic read options with their quarterback to take advantage of the Browns’ edge rushers playing so uphill. The Browns have been susceptible to option runs by the quarterback this year, especially against quarterbacks not necessarily known for their running at this time. While some teams have the edge slow play the mesh, the Browns send their edge to take away the dive from the running back.

It’s an easy read for Wilson, who pulls it with a huge gap off the tackle. If the edge is going to take away the running back dive, somebody from the second level has to be able to take away the quarterback pull. It appears like Grant Delpit should be covering the pull here, and he is definitely in a better spot to make a play than Mike Ford. Instead, Ford has to go through Delpit and doesn’t close the space in time, allowing Wilson to score.

The Broncos used read options all game to take advantage of the aggressive playstyle of the Browns, and they didn’t find any real answers until the second half. Possibly not preparing as much for the option against a Wilson or Minshew compared to Lamar Jackson plays a role, but the Browns have to have better options for stopping quarterback options in the future.

Cedric Tillman Route

Heading into this game, the Broncos’ run defense was ranked near the bottom in basically every metric and was considered a real weakness of this team. Many fans are wondering why the Browns didn’t run the ball more, and this play is a great reason why. The Broncos constantly used five-man fronts, so every lineman had someone lined up over them. They also usually had two linebackers in the box as well, leaving the Browns down at least one man no matter what. It’s hard to run the ball consistently in those circumstances, and the Browns were trying to open up running lanes with the pass.

The Browns are running a flood concept here, which they do so often, where many routes are flooding one side of the field. This concept works perfectly against man since Elijah Moore‘s route acts as a runoff and the sail from Cedric Tillman is difficult to defend one-on-one. Tillman does a great job getting the defender’s hands off him and stemming to create instant separation.

The pocket is clean, and once Tillman stems, DTR hits him right in stride for an easy-looking gain. Tillman had his most productive receiving day and will continue to make plays if he runs routes like this. DTR showed his progression with throws like this one all day and gave a lot of encouraging signs for fans going forward.

Throw Of The Day

While drops hurt him massively and some throws were a bit off, DTR made a lot of very impressive throws for any quarterback at the NFL level on Sunday. On this play, the Browns are in a tough third-and-eight situation, and the Broncos are showing heavy pressure. Denver shows more pressure from the left side and likely gets the protection to slide left. That leaves Dawand Jones to handle the most dangerous man over on his side, but the twist changes who that is immediately and causes pressure in the pocket.

The Browns are running double posts from the number one and number three receiver, with a sail route from Amari Cooper as the number two. DTR has pressure right in his face and has to throw this ball off his backfoot, fading away with two defenders in his lap. Cooper hasn’t even begun to stem from his route yet, but DTR anticipates this perfectly and puts the ball right on the money for a big-time third-down conversion.

This might be the most impressive throw from any Browns quarterback this season, and there were plenty of others in this game that were very impressive as well. While he’s currently in concussion protocol, DTR is without a doubt the best quarterback option going forward, and hopefully, he can get healthy to face the Rams in Week 13.

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