The following is repurposed from the official Cleveland Browns Message Board from a poster named Versatile Dog, he is a former football coach who understands the game, including in-depth offensive and defensive concepts, from a coach's point of view. Why is this important? Because we as fans do not have access to game film, we do not understand why certain play calls are made at certain points in the game. We have never been in the coach's chair and have never game planned for an opponent and do not understand the hows and whys behind playcalling. The following was written after the Buffalo game.
This post is NOT for the know-it-alls. It is for the guys who pm me and ask football questions. It's for guys who want to learn. It's for the guys that just read the posts and have an open mind. This post it not intended to confront all the guys who think they understand play calling. You guys are just too ridiculous to even speak to at this point.
--There is an old rule among people who really know play calling. You never, ever try to take more chances, speed the game up, get more careless w/the football, etc when you have talent that is inadequate. To do so is suicide. You are then putting the game in the hands of athletes......and you will get KILLED!
--Instead, you try to slow the game down. You call plays that limit the risk of a turnover. You keep the game close and hope the other team gets impatient and makes mistakes. You out-fundamental them. You outwork them. You do NOT try to out do them high risk/high reward play calling.
--The above is not limited to just offense. It also is about the defense. You don't blitz too much. You do not leave your corners on islands. You play fundamental football and make the other team drive the length of the field. Offensively, you stick to conservative plays. You pound the ball even if it is not working. You mix in some play action and occasionally throw the ball deep on obvious running plays. You work real hard to win the field position battle. A punt can be a victory.
--Once again, you have this strategy when your talent is inferior. Which ours is on most Sundays.
--If you believe your talent level is close to most teams, but perhaps lacking somewhat.....you work to develop an identity. That identity is typically having a strong running game that is very physical. You pound, pound, pound. After awhile, you throw in some trick plays. You catch the other team off guard. But again, you do NOT get in a up-and-down track meet w/the opponent.
--If you think you have superior talent most weeks, you look to attack the other team as often as possible. You try to speed up the game and get them into a scoring contest. A contest they can't possibly win. You want them to air it out, to take chances, to try to score quickly. Your superior athletes will soon overcome any creativity they come up with and you will win in a route, much like NE has been doing in recent weeks and Indy did for years.
--For those of you who like to learn; who like to think; who like to get to the real truth of things.....please consider the above and think about where this team is at right now and how the talent level might affect play calling.
Game Plan for the Snow
--I think eotab knows way more about football than almost all football fans, but I think he and others are wrong about last week's game plan.
--I don't think we game-planned exclusively for the snow. Instead, I think we looked at Buffalo's strengths and weaknesses on defense. We thought we could exploit their front seven by running the ball down their throat. We saw that they actually had some talent in the d-backfield.
--Combine that w/our offensive strength which is our running game w/Hillis and throwing short passes to Hillis.
--Now, combine that w/one of our weaknesses, which is receivers who get little separation [did you see the replay w/the overhead shot? Everyone was covered and Jake smartly threw the ball high and out of the back of the endzone. Remember?]
--Combine that w/our another weakness--a qb who gets real nervous and makes bad decisions when he has to hold the ball longer than he likes. Kinda hard to avoid when you have receivers who don't get open.
--Finally, add in the adverse weather conditions.
--All together, you have a recipe for a conservative game plan.
Was Daboll Perfect?
--Nope. In fact, I thought it was his worst performance. I thought he limited himself and the O a couple of times on third down. I thought he was thinking too much in the 2nd half. He frustrated me a couple of times. Then again, don't all coordinators if you are looking at it objectively? Don't they all make you wonder? Perhaps not, but only because you don't care what they do.
--Truthfully, I think Daboll has done an excellent job w/the little bit of talent he has on offense this year. It is almost incredible. I'm telling you that our offensive talent is horrible! I sometimes wonder how the heck he ever gets us to look productive.
The Blame Game
--Once again, this is only for the objective posters. I'm not arguing w/the mob. Guys, have you ever come on here and read that we were too conservative? Have you ever read that we didn't stick w/the running game long enough? Have you ever read where people were complaining about why are we trying to spread people out? Have you ever read people complaining about us not challenging teams w/our passing game and being too predictable? I have........and I read them all after the same game. LMAO
--Which is it? I don't think any of them know, but they sure as hell sound smart when they say the play calling sucks and that we need to fire the OC.
Why Do We Run the Ball So Much?
--One reason is because of what I stated in the beginning of the post. Right now, our team is between the absolutely pitiful talent level and the just below average talent level. We are closer to the pitiful level, but our coaches have done a good job of making these guys believe in themselves.
--A second reason is that is the strongest part of the offense. We have a decent, powerful back in Hillis and a pretty good OL. Combine that w/our qb and WR play is terrible.
Why Do We Sometimes Spread Teams Out?
--That's a valid question and concern. It kinda goes against what I have been talking about. However, there is a reason to the supposed madness. Instead of just giving you the answer, allow me to pose a question: "What would you do if you were the defensive coordinator of a team who is playing the Browns?" You have watched the game tapes. You know the Browns love to run the ball. You know that Hillis is a tough runner. A productive runner. A guy who catches a lot of short passes. You also know the OL is pretty stout. You learn that our qbs don't have great arm strength and don't threaten teams on those intermediate to longer routes that are not bombs---the 18-22 yard routes. You also note that our WRs get very little separation and can be covered by one man. So, what would you do?
Probably the same thing opposing D-coordinators are doing---which is stacking the LOS w/7, 8, and 9 guys. How do you run against that front? How do you throw screens? Run draws? The answer is you try to spread them out occasionally. You make them cover the field even if you don't call a risky play. You make them substitute to cover the outside guys. You then try and speed the tempo up and switch back into your normal set and try to not give them time to substitute and adjust. Tell me you haven't noticed that? The problem is that speeding up that tempo is tough when you are coaching a team w/3 new qbs, a new RB, a new TE, a new starting WR, and another raw WR who is in his second year. Additionally, our team has been forced to switch qbs multiple times throughout this year alone. Is anyone understanding what is going on here? Anyone?
The moral of this story? Please take a step back and look at the situation from an analytical viewpoint, not an emotional viewpoint. There are only so many things the Browns can do with such little talent.