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2015 O-line Grades: Week 1 – NYJ


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Caution: As usual anyone quoting this post in its entirety will be required to post a video of them stepping on a rake and taking the handle squarely in the nuts…

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My Grading “System”…

  • I grade each blocker for each play using:
  • '+' if assignment was achieved;
  • '0' if assignment was not critical to the play; or
  • '-' if assignment was not achieved.
  • ‘?’ if assignment could not be discerned… often accompanied with a ‘-‘
  • If an assignment was key to the success or failure of a given play the grade may be doubled. A doubling is signified by the letter "D", e.g., D+ or D-.
And now without further ado…


2015 O-line Grades: Week 1 – NYJ

Only 10 series including a one-play, kneel-down to end the 1st half.

There were 33 first-half plays and 31 second-half plays... 64 graded plays total.

Astoundingly 17 plays (27%) came in our first drive.


Drive Starting Times

1st Half: S1 - 11:36; (Q2) S2 - 14:15; S3 - 9:41; S4 – 5:54; S5 - 0:26

2nd Half: S6 – 14:56; S7 - 7:51; S8 - 0:29; (Q4) S9 - 10:38; S10 - 7:35

Times are provided to help those that want to find a particular play in a recording they have.

Play code I use is (SeriesX PlayY), abbreviated (SXPY).


Weekly Box Count...

1st : 8+ - 5; 7 - 18; 6 - 8; 5 or less - 2

2nd: 8+ - 6; 7 - 13; 6 - 11; 5 or less - 1

Ttl : 8+ -11; 7 - 31; 6 - 19; 5 or less - 3

Interesting to note that despite the Jets sizeable lead for much of the 2nd half, we never saw less than a 5-man front… and relatively few of those.


The Grades


Joe Thomas: 1st +8-2 net +6 w/ 1D+; 2nd +14-0 net +14 w/ 0 D’s; Game Totals: +22-2 net +20

Joe’s kick step is in mid-season form… My God it is even prettier than I remember. There were times he had already kicked to his back leg and the only other thing to move in the entire shot was the ball. And he’s setting with his pad level was lower than I remember last year.


Joe’s lone D of the day, a “+”, came for taking out 2 pursuers of a delay by Crow (S1P14)… very opportunistic.


Since he only had two, I’ll talk about his –‘s. Early (S1P2) a Jet’s rookie named Williams introduced Joe to his spin move. This Williams kid may end up being pretty good… In our FG drive (S4P6) Joe was defeated with a rip. I did not D this effort as it was not a quick, clean “beat” and should not have materially impacted the play.


Joel Bitonio: 1st +7-8 net -1 w/ 2D-; 2nd +14-5 net +9 w/ 2D+ & 1D-; Game Totals: +21-13 net +8

Joel started slow and had issue with bull rushes much of the day, but NYJ has a set of bulls… Also saw a couple mental errors including slow reactions to blitzers/stunts early. Second half was much better and ended with one of the prettiest efforts I’ve seen. I think Joel warmed up.


Bito’s first D- (S1P4) was for allowing penetration that blew up a run to the middle-left. The 2nd was for Holding (S3). The 3rd was for getting stuffed and stood up on a middle run (S7P2).


On the plus side Bito followed up his last D- with a nice D+ when he picked up and stunt on the very next play (S7P3). Later, on the games next to last play he had his best moment when he had a hand in three pass blocks in one play… a chip inside passing the NT to Mack, a chip outside helping Duke p/u a blitzing OLB and then a solo p/u inside of a looping ILB. I cannot recall seeing a triple before.


Joel, our 2014 designated puller, only pulled once in Week 1. The play did not score as the run was disrupted behind him.


Alex Mack: 1st +13-7 net +6 w/ 1D+ & 2D-; 2nd +11-6 net +7 w/ 1D-; Game Totals: +24-13 net +11

Very mixed bag from Alex in his first game back. I’m more accustomed to seeing Alex posting JT challenging numbers… and we sure could have used them. Can’t speak to whether he was hesitant at all because of last year’s injury, but there a few times he seemed a step slow. Other times he looked quick as ever. And he did look strong. As in 2014 even the biggest bulls may move Mack back one step, but will find trying to budge him back a second is a lot harder.


The other thing I cannot speak to were Alex’s line calls. Just can’t know what, if any, adjustments were being communicated. I will say there were more times than I would like to see when as few as five rushers managed to divide and outnumber half of our O-line. Late in the 1st half (S4P7) Alex joined with Bito to double team a D-lineman who was clearly spying while Greco was getting bulled back into the pocket. I will add that excepting the first drive I cannot recall seeing our QB stepping up to the line with a call. However, I did not routinely look for this.


Mack’s lone D+ came for an authoritative, POA (Point of Attack) block on Duke’s 1st run (S2P3)… more on this later.


D-‘s were earned for: failing to turn a 2nd-level LB on Draughn’s run through the best hole of the day (S1P13) and passing a rusher to an already occupied Bito on a Crow run (S3P1).


John Greco: 1st +11-6 net +5 w/ 1D-; 2nd +8-3 net +5 w/ 1D-; Game Totals: +19-9 net +10

Meet our new designated puller… at least for a week. I find this odd since John looks a tad heavier and a tad slower than his 2014 self. But there he was pulling twice and earning solid +’s both times. One was very pretty; the other pretty ugly, but got the job done.


As we saw last season there were teams that targeted the “stronger” side of our line. It appears that the Jets favored this approach as well. John had more no-play, “0” grades than any other player this week.


The first of Greco’s D-‘s came for his false start on 1st and goal in our opening drive (following S1P14). I initially only gave him a “-“ because Hawk erroneously reset as our double TEs completed their flip from the left end to the right end of the line. All game long we went on a single beat after one or more TEs completed their shift and reset (more on this later). This time it was delayed an additional beat by Hawk needing to shift back to his original position. However, since John was the only one to jump… “D-“ it was.


His other D- came on Bito’s pull (jealousy motivated???) when a D-line shed John and disrupted the play.


Mitchell Schwartz: 1st +11-6 net +5 w/ 2D-; 2nd +13-9 net +4 w/ 2D-; Game Totals: +24-15 net +9

The normally very slow-starting Mitch had a decent first game. Better than the negative nets he posted at the start of 2014 anyway when he hosted regular D- fests. He seemed stiff early, but seemed to warm up as the game progressed. His kick step looked pretty good, especially late. As emerged through last season he seems to be more comfortable pass blocking than he does run blocking.


Here are his D- plays: (S1P4) lost contact with Greco on a Z left; (S1P13) whiffed on a PAP run-block; (S7P2) overran a defender he needed to seal away from a middle run; and (S8P1) whiffed on a seal block on another middle run.


Need to work on the control, Mitch and the D+’s will come.


Cam Erving: Game Totals: +1-1 net 0

Did you spot his Browns’ debut live? I didn’t… and no it was not when he sub’d for the injured Greco. It was on the game’s third play as a TE a roll he filled twice that I noted. Neither play scored.


His two scoring plays came when he filled in for two plays. His first (S6P7) earned him his first, I-got-bull-rushed “-“. Next he leveraged a rusher into a log jam in the middle of the line and evened the score.


Keep hitting the weights Cam….



Other Blockers:


TEs: Not a lot from these guys this week, but not sure I paid enough attention to their work.

Barn: +3-2 net +1 Some solid work and nothing especially bad.

• Dray: +2-4 net -2 w/ 2D- S1P7 as the inside of a 2TEL set he got blown up and S7P1 in PassPro he was beaten badly putting JM under pressure.

Housler: +1-0 net +1 little activity… even counting receiving…


RBs: Some surprising contributions from our Rookie.

M. Johnson: I know he played as I noted 7 I-Formations. A couple were TEs as H-backs, but still… I have no score for our FB. Can say he moves well. Will look harder this week.

• Crow: +2-4 net -2 w/ 2D- D-‘s for the chop block (S2P4+) and for missed blitz p/u (S4P2)

Duke: +6-2 net +4 w/ 3D+ & 1D- Go big or go home… Authoritative blitz p/u’s (S8P3), (S10P4) and (S10P7). Blew one on (S10P6) going at LB too high… but 75% ain’t bad, Rook.

Draughn: +1-0 net +1 for chipping on a D-line (S1P12)


WRs: Hawk thinks he’s 6’6 and 260 lb.

• Benji: ummmm…. No…

• Gabe: +2-0 net +2 w/ 1D+ and an LOL… Moved a DB out on Duke’s 6-yd effort (S2P3).

• Hart: +1-0 net +1 Screened off an LB (S1P13), but going to need more of this kind of effort in other areas (see below).

• Hawk: nada scored, but took on a Jet ILB once… kinda bounced off. Hey, you never know until you try…


General Notes:

1. Our run game

I went into the grading expecting to see miserable grades. When the tallies were done I found good to very good ones. The only ways I can square the grades with the apparent performance is by noting that something went wrong on virtually every running play and many things went right in our PassPro.


When the ZBS is done right, and all but three runs were ZBS, I see strings of +’s across my grade sheet excepting maybe a neutral “0” at one extreme end of the line or the other because it ends up too far away from the play.

Only four times in 64 plays do I see solid +’s… and they were all pass plays.

Only three times do I see a set of 4 +’s and a 0… and they were all pass plays.

You simply cannot execute the ZBS with individual contributions that are as uneven. You cannot rotate who gets beaten.


That is not to say that all our runs failed due to poor line play. Each of our two primary backs had at least one opportunity to break a play, but a wrong hole here, a missed cut there, an arm tackle… or two… Change one of these circumstances and at least a RB should have seen a broken field appear before him. And the Jets played so much man-to-man that big chunks in that broken field were waiting. Unfortunately they were waiting just beyond our reach in Week 1.


Shaun Draughn’s lone carry for 4 yards on S1P13, a ZL (Z Left), epitomized our day. After running through the biggest hole any back saw all day he was 4 yards from Alex Mack’s backside. On the other side of Alex was a Jet LB. If Alex is able to turn that LB one way or the other Draughn can cut off Mack’s ass and be into the secondary. But the LB fights Mack to a standstill, Draughn has to pick a side and the LB sheds to make the tackle.


And please, can we see less Pistol? It weakens the run and the PAP games.


2. Our RB Corps…

There’s promise there and this game is not going to make or break any of them, but there are some improvements I want to see from our big 2.


First: The FB is not always right.

Lead blockers seek contact. Ball carriers avoid it if they can. So do not automatically follow your FB. On S8P1 Duke followed Johnson and the play was stuffed by another LB flowing to Johnson. The hole appeared to be to the right… the area the second LB had vacated.


Second: Patience

Not to be confused with dancing a ZBS RB has to pace his approach to the line. Crow learned this last year and showed signs of remembering it. Duke has yet to learn. He rushed decisions. Case in point was S2P3 a stretch ZR. Immediately after taking the ball Duke cut hard right towards the sideline and presses the logjam at the edge. The play ended up making 6, but I think there was more through the same hole, but the delay caused by the cut and press cost him that opportunity. The very next play, a toss left, he cut up prematurely and was stopped for no gain when there was more to the outside. JT was even free on the outside to escort him around the corner. Both Duke and the game he sees should, and likely will, slow down.


Draughn: I’d like to see a little more of him. The one touch he had was a decisive gain, but then it was though the hole of the day.


3. The McCown injury not discussed…

Josh’s first scramble for a 1st down… the one when he dove for the marker (S1P3). He got his legs twisted by the tackler. And he came up limping. I did not see it at the time, but remembered seeing him limp as he walked to the locker room after his helicopter act. Sure enough… this review showed that he was limping on the field after that first run. Most notably on the way to the next huddle after S1P6, the pretty, 12-yd out to Gabe.


4. Play action

I love it. It’s core to our O. Josh’s one, true, PAP play (S1P10) was pathetic. He did not get the ball within 3-yds of the RB. In part his weak effort was responsible for one of Schwartz’s D-‘s.


By contrast JM play fakes were very strong. He was even carrying out “I still have the ball” fakes while bootlegging after wide hand offs. In S4P2 an LB actualy bit on one. Very rare to see one in the NFL period… let alone one that had an effect. I enjoyed them.


5. Hot reads…

Pretty damn good. Josh was one for one. JM was three for four.


6. Snap Counts

I mentioned earlier about Greco false starting on a rhythm when Hawk delayed the snap. While I understand that after shifting you want to go as quickly as the rules allow to catch the D resetting, if you are so consistent that your O-line is anticipating the snap, then the D will catch on.


While ultimately the same count might earn you a cheap 5-yds at a critical moment late in the game when you decide to delay a beat… it makes it harder for your O than it needs to be leading up to that moment.


7. The Jets’ D

I know I underestimated them… especially up front. Sure Williams (#92) was the new, hot property, but Richardson was suspended so no problem… Really wrong. Harrison (94), Wilkerson(96) and even Barnes (99) all took turns giving our line fits.


What really got me though was their discipline. Yes, on side personnel reacted to our PAP, but rarely the backside. No better example than S4P6, PAPR (right) – ¼ boot left. Before JM had even hit his spot after a fine fake, the back side LB had retreated to a safe position.


8. Prettiest new to me play…

S4P4… JM’s PAPR throwback to Benji swinging out of the backfield. Even the at-home LB could not react fast enough. The play went for 13. Pretty throw, too.


9. Personnel…

Is having at least one TE on the field at all times a new rule? I ask because we did. Even when we were well behind late in the game there was a TE. I’d think a 4 or 5 WR set or two would have been nice… or do we not have that many?


10. Effort…

When Josh landed his helicopter (S1P17) there was one other Brown and a couple Jets in the frame with the loose ball. The other Brown was Hartline… and Hart was jogging towards the play. He appeared to be looking right at the loose ball, but he never broke for the ball. Duke came flying in after the recovery and Mack did his regrettable thing, but not Brian.

Hey, Brian… ever heard of “Play like a Brown”?


Revelation(s) of the week:

Wide ZBS runs were a dying breed late last year. I did not see a single one in Game 1. The one toss left we ran looked more Old School. Also gone was the middle toss that Crow in particular seemed to do well receiving. Some of its absence was doubtless due to more Pistol sets with JM in, but it never showed despite a number of middle zone runs.


I think both of these elements need to find their way back into future game plans.


Putting the wide Z runs back in should make the backs more aware of the total cutback option. Forgive my makeshift terminology; I’m sure there is nomenclature of which I am not aware. An example of what I mean by “total cutback” is when the entire line moves left and the back cuts to the right of the trailing RT. I think this awareness is needed because on a couple plays this looked to be the best option despite the play not extending far towards a sideline.


Rant of the week:

Penalties… No, not the “we did not hold” theme seen elsewhere in the forum. At least on Offense we earned the penalties we received. Rather I am pissed about what is not being called on the D we faced.


First up – Offsides.

Not the jump offsides variety, but the “Lined up in the Neutral Zone” type. It’s the easiest call in the entire world of football and two were missed. Both were on the Jets’ ROLB. One was just his head, but the first was his front foot and head.


Next up – Hands to the face.

Called in every other game I watched over the weekend when a rusher’s hand went to the face mask. Apparently the trick is to get your hand under the mask and on the opponent’s chin, because I saw that repeatedly throughout Game 1 and it was never called.



Weekly Special Request:

Reminder that I do take requests and if what you are interested in interests me and/or does not add significant time to this effort, I may well do it.


Go Browns...

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Thank God JM not a lineman too. Refreshing to hear about the little pieces ;). Tour your time put in could not be worded any better, Thanks. Sleepless was in Seattle, not Texas. Go to Bed!

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"Is having at least one TE on the field at all times a new rule? I ask because we did. Even when we were well behind late in the game there was a TE. I’d think a 4 or 5 WR set or two would have been nice… or do we not have that many?"


4 TE's on the team need to be justified somehow. :P


Thanks for all the time you put into this tour. Always worth the read. I tend to agree that 4 out of 5 usually got it right each play but somehow it all translates to a poor running game either because of them or the ballcarrier making only one mistake almost every down. Hard to run play action if the run game is not a threat. I think we can expect teams to flood the O until we find reliable ways to counteract. Burn them for it early and often so we can open up the game.

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Thanks, Ag...


To be clear there were multiple plays where more than one "-" was dished out... only 7 in all, but a couple were real doozies including S1P4 which from JT to MS reads 0/D-/-/-/D- it was a middle run that gained a whole yard. It was against an 8 in the box look. The others made Joe's 0 look really good...


Of the 7 multiple "-" plays... 4 were runs... 3 were passes.

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Thanks for the time and patience you spent putting that together for us! Nice job - Very thorough.


Great point about under-estimating the Jets front in the absence of Richardson. Not that 2 wrongs make a right; but I joined you in doing that. I thought we'd be dictating a lot more than we did. I also under-estimated how good the Jets' Oline is beginning with forgetting what a stud Nick Mangold is in particular. Danny held his own against him and made some nice plays here and there. That said, anytime you expose a rookie to facing double-teams that include Nick Mangold - it's a challenging day at the office for a rookie. You couldn't ask for a better learning experience than that. During the preseason, Danny turned a lot of doubleteams into Raggedy Ann and Andy so I think week 1 was an invaluable experience for him. There's a reason this guy played 82% of his teams snaps in 2014 when he weighed 360-370 lbs. He got down to 330 lbs in the pre-draft preparations so I'm thinking he's projecting even better muscular endurance in 2015 even if he's added back some weight. Shelton did a lot of magic on 3rd downs in 2014, which is one of many reason he was so intriguing to me. He did that again early in the game on 3rd and 4th down when we stopped NY. NY's entire line did well whether they run blocked or pass protected. I think they can surprise a lot more teams than us.


Also, I'm glad you pointed out the hands to the face episodes that received the blind eye from the zebras as well as some missed offsides that could have been called on a day the same officiating crew seemed all too happy to throw 12 flags on us. They made us try a point after attempt 3 freakin times to the extent I Coons needed to be good from 48 yards out. Frank Wycheck has complained about the ref we just had repeatedly on the local sports radio station here in Nashville. He said this guy consistently loses sight of the spirit of the rules in terms of calling something like holding on the opposite side of the field or 40 yards behind the guy scoring the TD he's liking his chops to impact. And then, he/his crew will miss a blatant encroachment or someone lining up in the neutral zone while making sure they bust the blocker assigned to that guy for holding.

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Thanks Tour!!! A job well done! And a great read! This is fun

Stuff for all us diehards! GO BROWNS!!!

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Really GREAT stuff, Tour !


And it seemed that the Jets took to stopping the run at any cost,

and put pressure on Manziel with blitzes and disguised coverages..


and the Browns weren't ready for that just yet.


We should see huge improvement vs Tenn. Without Bowe in the lineup -

it hurts with no big target, making the release of Pryor all the more confusing,

the Jets didn't seem to worry about the Browns' passing game much. The lb's kept

creeping close to the los...


We know our oline is solid now - the wr's and JM have to step it up, and Dray

needs to catch the football.........


and stepping on a rake? That was LOL.

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Thanks all for the kind words...



The "D" stands for Double... explanation was lacking so I added this to the "System" Intro:

•If an assignment was key to the success or failure of a given play the grade may be doubled. A doubling is signified by the letter "D", e.g., D+ or D-.


I cannot overstate how much more I see in this exercise. Try as I might while watching a game live to focus on any particular aspect of the game, I just can't sustain it... I turn into a fan. So why fight it... I pour a beer, log into The Tavern and (hopefully) have a blast every Sunday.

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Always look forward to this. Was particularly curious to see the grade on Mack. The blurry eye test of mine detected that something was amiss. I appreciated the encouraging viewpoint you brought up from his sub par performance.


Am l wrong, or was Erving in the game filling in for Greco a good chunk of the game? If so, his large non factor grade makes me wonder if we were steering plays away from his side.

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Thanks again, guys...


Hopefully Mack was simply rusty.


Erving only filled in for Greco on 2 plays. But he reported as an eligible receiver and lined up as a TE at least twice.



One thing I think we all have to remember is that the O-line started slow last year. I can check, but off of the top of my head I think it was Game 3 before things really started to come together for them.


Could be one of the reasons that the Wide Zone runs have not appeared yet as they require even more coordination and communication than the stretch and middle zones that dominated game one.


Of course last year was year one of the "new", Shanny ZBS, so it may be reasonable to expect a little faster ramp up this year. Especially if Flip's scheme is as similar as was being billed through OTAs and Camps.

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Thanks all for the kind words...


Try as I might while watching a game live to focus on any particular aspect of the game, I just can't sustain it... I turn into a fan. So why fight it... I pour a beer, log into The Tavern and (hopefully) have a blast every Sunday.




LOL! Welcome aboard. It is just kind of fun to put the tavern on the computer in my lap while watching the game. I find that the play only rewind works very well for later viewing which gets rid of all the "chatter" from the "expert" announcers. Got my Browns T-shirt from mik on and ready for another fun Sunday.

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