Cleveland Browns: QB Score: Week 11
Posted by disappointmentzone on 20 November 2007
The the past two weeks Derek Anderson and the Browns have faced two of the five best defenses in the NFL. All things considered — elite defenses, on the road, division rivals — he’s done quite well.
After facing Pittsburgh, with the league’s second best defense, Baltimore might have seemed like an easier task. Granted, they have the league’s fifth best defense, but Anderson did fairly well.
Yes, he threw a costly interception that was returned for a touchdown and was sacked twice for minus 11 yards. But he completed 63% of his passes — his highest completion percentage of the season — and made a number of huge throws. The biggest throw might have bee the third-and-ten pass to Winslow, but the most impressive was the pass to Braylon Edwards that set up the game tying field goal. The Baltimore Ravens defensive line was draped all over him and yet he still threw a strike down the middle of the field. On the road, against a division rival, in a game with playoff implications, Anderson put his team in a position to win. That’s the sign of a quality quarterback. He has the prototypical size and arm strength to be a very good quarterback. The Edwards pass was a glimpse of that potential. A weak-armed quarterback doesn’t make that throw (Charlie Frye). A short quarterback doesn’t make that throw (Jeff Garcia). Derek Anderson makes that throw.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Browns game without at least one problem, and for the second week in a row that distinction goes to the defense.
In the second half the Baltimore Ravens — owners of the league’s 29th worst offense and 30th worst passing attack — had drives of:
75 yards (TD)
46 yards (INT)
62 yards (FG)
43 yards (FG)
83 yards (TD)
49 yards (FG)
Including penalty yardage the Ravens gained 359 yards on offense in the second half. This is beyond inexcusable and after a first half in which the Ravens had a total of 37 yards on offense it’s also a little baffling.
The Ravens offense scored 23 points in the second half, which is a terrible sign for the Browns defense. Romeo Crennel was touted as a defensive mastermind when he was brought in to lead the Browns back to the promise land. While a defensive coordinator with the Patriots he was able to seamlessly integrate Troy Brown — a wide receiver — into his defense, using complex schemes to hide areas of vulnerability. Contrast that to the Browns. There is absolutely nothing complex about what the Browns are doing. The script is basically the same each week. The defense gets burned for more yards and points than they should and the offense comes to the rescue with more points than anyone ever would have expected. It’s not clear if Crennel has any input whatsoever over what’s happening with his defense.
The most glaring weakness is the defensive line. They are rarely sacking the opposing quarterback and often when they do get pressure it’s the result of great coverage in the secondary. I have no idea of anyone keeps track of coverage sacks but my hunch is that coverage sacks are a high percentage of all sacks for the Browns this season. This is a problem.
Coverage sacks occur when the secondary covers the receivers long enough for the quarterback’s protection to break down. Breakdowns in protection will happen eventually, usually within about four to five seconds, and so these sacks are the inevitable outcome of good coverage. The defensive line gets the credit for the sack, but it’s because of the secondary.
Conversely, it’s nearly impossible for the secondary to cover all receivers for more than four to five seconds. Even the best cornerbacks can’t stay with a receiver for longer than that. It’s impossible. The receiver has too great an advantage. If the defensive line doesn’t pressure the quarterback into a throw within that window then the advantage swings to the offense in a huge way. Big passes and long drives are the inevitable outcome of a poor pass rush.
And there you have the Browns pass defense in a nutshell.
As for the linebackers, I guess they’re still wondering the streets of Pittsburgh looking for a ride to the stadium.
The Browns have one of the easiest remaining schedules in the entire NFL, but if the defense is routinely giving up 20+ points per game (or 20+ points per half) then the burden on the offense and special teams to score might be too much to overcome. The offense is still very young. Not only the key players, many of whom are still within their first three years in the league, but the offense in general: this is only the first season under Rob Chudzinski and it’s only his first season as an offensive coordinator. Still, you’ve got to like our chances.
QB Score: 106
QB Score per play: 2.59
(Historical average is 1.85)