Monday, October 20, 2014

The Cleveland Browns lost to the Jacksonville Jacquars on Sunday, but it is last Sunday's win by the Browns against the Steelers that people are still talking about, Browns offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and Steelers offensive coordinator Tod Haley were the winner and loser respectively in last Sunday's game between the Browns and the Steelers, By Cleveland Urban News.Com Sportswriter Karl Kimbrough

By Karl Kimbrough, Cleveland Urban News.Com Sportswriter ( Cleveland Urban News. Com and The Cleveland Urban News.Com Blog, Ohio's Leaders In Black Digital News . Tel: 216-659-0473 
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Cleveland Browns Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan (left) and Pittsburgh Steelers Offensive Coordinator Tod Haley

CLEVELAND, Ohio- The Cleveland Browns lost 24-6 on Sunday at an away game against the Jacksonville Jacquars. But it is their win last Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers that people are still talking about, a comeback from a lost to the Steelers in the season opener. By beating the Pittsburgh Steelers  last week, the Browns compiled a then 3-2 record, and their loss on Sunday to the Jacquars makes their season record 3-3.
Browns offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and Steelers offensive coordinator Tod Haley were the winner and loser respectively in last Sunday's game between the Browns and the Steelers where the Browns won 30-10 at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, a high energy game between two rival NFL football teams.
It was third and one for the Steelers at their own 22 yard line in their first possession of the game. The  Haley called a running play, a pitch to the left to running back Le'Veon Bell. All but one of the Cleveland Brown defenders were caught out of position to stop Bell before he got the first down. Suddenly, that one Cleveland defender, Tashawn Gibson, slipped by the block of tight end Heath Miller and dove to make a surprise ankle tackle on Bell for a one yard loss. 
Now it was fourth down and two and the Steelers were forced to punt. The roar of approval from the crowd allowed every Cleveland fan to hope, could it be, could this under achieving Browns defense be ready to turn the corner and step up to stop the early game bleeding by the defense which they have allowed from the beginning game of the season. You see, teams have tendencies or habits that are sometimes good or sometimes bad.
This Browns team has had a tendency to start poorly, letting their opponents jump on them offensively, getting a lead, and establishing a rhythm early, then having to call on every fast twitch muscle in their bodies to get back in the game to have a chance to win in the second half. In  the Browns previous four games this season, before the win to the Steelers and their lost on Sunday to the Jacquars,  they either won or loss by by three points or fewer.
In the first game this season against these Browns, the Steelers scored 22 points in the first half. So the way the Browns would begin in this rematch  would be very significant. One big play made by one player or more could turn the game in the Browns favor. That said, it is clear that when Gibson made that tackle on Bell to stop the Steelers opening drive it could have set the tone and stage for the Browns to turn things around defensively. Unfortunately, Gibson's tackle only postponed the Steelers successful plan to run the ball more against the Browns. Haley's decision to run the ball often against the Browns was not surprising because Bell was second in rushing in the NFL going into the game. Also, he was going against the second worst run defense in the league. But it was surprising that the Steelers ran the ball as much as they did, especially when you consider that they were also ranked sixth in the NFL in passing.
They would run the ball so much that Haley became the Browns ally rather than their opposition. The Steelers moved the ball inside the Browns 20 yard line on their second and third possessions. But, they would only score three points with the assistance of Haley's predictable calls. Twenty plays were run on those two drives and only four of the 20 were passes. Every play inside the red zone, or 20 yard line were running plays. Even the poorest run defense can stop an offense when they know what's coming.
The Steelers offensive coordinator continued to call more running plays than pass plays even after the Browns had taken a 14 to three lead in the second quarter as 22 out of the Steelers first 28 plays were runs. What really makes Haley's game plan to run almost exclusively and takes  the football out of Steeelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger hands is amazing is the success Pittsburgh had in game one, throwing the ball all over the field against Cleveland.
You might think they would pass to opened up the running game for them. Although they seem not to know it, Pittsburgh is a team who's passing game sets up the run, as it has all season. As the old saying goes, if it's not broke don't fix it.
Roethlisberger completed 16 out of 19 passes in the first half of game one for 273 yards and two touchdowns. He also had completions of 41, 40, 35, 30, and 25 yards in that game in Pittsburgh. Steelers fans have to be asking themselves why would their coaching staff handcuff their franchise quarterback who had won 18 out of 19 games vs Cleveland. Roethlisberger ended this game with a stat line of 21 out of 42 passes for 228 yards, an interception and no touchdowns. But he did most of his passing after Cleveland had a 24 to three lead in the third and fourth quarters,  and when the defense knew he had to throw,  like they knew when they were going to run earlier in the game. 
The Cleveland defense was happy to have Haley on the other side line and seemingly on their side. In contrast, the Browns offense,  like the Steelers defense,  has  been slow to start each game this season. But, unlike Steelers 
offensive coordinator Tod Haley,  Browns offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan has brought rhyme to his reasons for slow starts. The full effect of Shanahan's zone blocking and play action pass offense is not seen until it's third or fourth possessions. That's when the opposing defense gets lulled into watching the backfield for the run so closely that receivers get behind them in the open field and the play action becomes more effective.
In the first quarter in last Sunday's win by the Browns over the Steelers,  the Cleveland offense was on the field a grand total of three minutes and three seconds and did not come close to crossing the 50 yard line. But that didn't matter because although their runs were not very successful, they were setting Pittsburgh up for the kill. 
On their third possession, the play action fake to the running-back worked perfectly, sucking both safeties in toward the line of scrimmage expecting a running play. The play action opened the entire right side of the field for Browns tight end Jordan Cameron to roam free. He was so free that when Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer's lob throw took what seemed like all day to come down, and land in Cameron's hands he was still open by six yards. The very next play running back, Isaiah Crowell, ran a six yard sweep to the end zone which gave Cleveland a seven to three lead. On their fourth possession the Browns play action fake again caught Steelers linebackers, safeties and corner backs looking in the Cleveland back- field expecting a running play.
Hoyer faked a hand off to Ben Tate and then threw a strike down the seam of an unaware Steelers defense, that was once again out of position to defend the pass. This time the pass to Cameron went for a 51 yard touchdown because he didn't have to wait for the pass to get there. He caught it in stride and was too far ahead of the defensive backs for them to catch him. The wonderful design of the play is what set the gullible Pittsburgh defenders up so well. On both of the long pass plays to Cameron the Browns used a three tight end set that they run out of more than they pass. In addition, Hoyer does a great job of selling the fake hand off. It worked so well to set up the Browns first two touchdowns that they used the play action on their next drive as well. This time the pass went to wide receiver Taylor Gabriel who, like Cameron, was wide open crossing the defense from right to left, picking up 24 yards on the pass play. That play, like the previous two long passes, was the long gainer in the drive that led to a touchdown. By making just the right mixture of run to pass plays and use of play action off of the runs, Shanahan was able to befuddle the Steelers  defense and put 21 points on the score board in the second quarter.
Of the 17 pass plays that Shanahan called in the game, eight were play action, five of which were completions that totaled 179 of Hoyers 217 passing yards on the day. With a 21 to three deficit at the half Haley would scrap the Steelers plan to call a run dominant game in the second half. But with such a large lead the Cleveland defense knew that Pittsburgh would go to more passing which in turn took away the possible element of surprise. Also, Roethlisberger struggled to find a rhythm with his receivers the entire game, some  of which had to do with his team running the ball so much. Even though he called 22 running plays out of his first 28, Haley did not use play action to surprise or throw the Cleveland defenders off when he did call a pass play. So not only did the Pittsburgh offensive coordinator call a bad game, he also used a poorly designed scheme to attack the Browns defense.
The Browns thank you cards should already be in the mail to Haley. We often hear coaches talk about putting players in the best position to succeed. Well, the win by the Browns against the rival Steelers on the Browns home turf last week was a perfect example of one offensive coordinator coach,
specifically Kyle Shanahan, coach setting his players up to win and another offensive coordinator coach, Tod Haley, 
setting his players up to fail. So far this season a lot of the Cleveland media outlets have been giving Hoyer a great deal of credit for the success of the tram's offence.  Well, Shanahan should be applauded for getting the most out of Hoyer and his teammates in an offense that is averaging 27 points per game.( / (