Cleveland Browns: Week 4 offensive line report

(Photo by Jason Miller /Getty Images)
(Photo by Jason Miller /Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Browns dropped another bad game on their fans against the Cincinnati Bengals last Sunday. Did the offensive line give cause for hope this Sunday?

Although the final score in Week 4 was bad and the team looked awful on the field, the Cleveland Browns offensive line looked like a group that is steadily moving forward. They have improved each week.

Quarterback sacks have steadily decreased over the weeks. Against the Bengals, the Browns gave up two sacks.

Sack 1: The first sack occurred with 12:33 left to play in the second quarter. DeShone Kizer was in the shotgun with running back Isaiah Crowell to his right and full back Danny Vitale to his right. At the snap both running backs went out on routes.

The Bengals brought a corner blitz, that was disguised well, that had a free shot on Kizer. Kizer was hit before he had a chance to do anything. There must have been confusion in the backfield on protections for this to occur.

Sack 2: With 5:45 left in the fourth quarter, the Bengals recorded their second sack. This sack must be credited to the Bengals defense who sent an overload blitz delayed blitz to the left side of the offensive formation.

The offensive line picked up their responsibility. Duke Johnson picked up the first blitzer. The second delayed blitzer was able to get a hit on quarterback Kevin Hogan. Kudos to the Bengals for creating pressure. Hogan needs to get rid of the ball sooner or scramble.

For the past few weeks, we have been chronicling the play of right tackle Shon Coleman who has been struggling with pass protection. For weeks his footwork has been in need of improvement and his balance in pass protection has been suspect.

The good news from Week 4 is that Coleman played a good game against the Bengals. His footwork was greatly improved. The biggest improvement was found in his balance.

He was able to create distance, keep upright and deliver a blow with power. Coleman is progressing nicely so far this season. He could become a very good right tackle to hold down the position for years to come. Let’s hope Coleman keeps progressing.

The Browns offensive line regressed against the Indianapolis Colts with picking up defensive line stunts and games. However, against the Bengals the stunts and games were picked up nicely. On several occasions, the Browns were able to pass off defenders from one position to two players over. It was very impressive how they interior line handled the games this week. Now the Browns need to put two or three weeks together of solid play.

The Bengals attacked the Browns differently than other opponents. For most of the season, teams have primarily applied pressure through defensive line stunts. The Bengals primarily rushed four defenders and dropped seven into coverage.

The different approach was unique in that it was the first time teams did not try to pressure Kizer into mistakes. Instead, they tried to drop as many people as possible to close down throwing lanes and create confusing looks for Kizer. The Browns offensive line was able to keep the four rush defenders off of Kizer. The seven dropped defenders were unable to confuse Kizer.

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As a response, the Bengals began to overload blitz. An overload blitz is when a team brings more defenders into an area than there are offensive players to block.

The drawback to the overload blitz is that a delayed style blitz, like the one that got Kevin Hogan, takes a long time to develop. However, if a confusing look fools the offense, it is a quick hit on the quarterback like the sack on Kizer.

The Bengals deviated from the normal plan to pressure a rookie quarterback into mistakes.

The change in scheme means teams are starting to respect Kizer’s ability to see the blitz and get rid of the ball to the right position. If that ball is accurate or caught is a different subject.

The offense as a whole is making progress. Kizer has greatly improved in the area of calling the huddle and getting the play off on time. Early in the season, he was struggling greatly with this area. The delay of game penalties have diminished.

Also, last week saw the return of the shifting motions after breaking the huddle. These shifts were eliminated against the Colts to help improve timing. Their return against the Bengals is a good sign that this small but vital skill is being mastered by Kizer.

The offense also began to show glimpses of secondary and tertiary plays. Part of the reason for this was the Bengals keying on the primary play from the formation. The Browns needed to show secondary plays to keep opponents honest. They have been unable to show these plays given the youth of the team. That the Browns are starting to show these plays will make the offense easier to execute moving forward.

Next: Time to run to daylight

The Browns are going up against a great interior defensive line this Sunday against the New York Jets. It will be an excellent test to see just how far this group has improved.