OBR Film Room: Breaking Down All 9 Browns’ Sacks


OBR Film Room: Breaking Down All 9 Browns’ Sacks

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Browns defense listened to the noise all week. They heard the murmurs around the city and the NFL about their lack of production and below-average performances. They felt the pressure. Well, they responded. Not just responded that doesn't do it justice. They turned historic.

The Browns defense did something rarely seen in the NFL, let alone the entire franchise, as they held the Bears offense below 50 net yards for the entire day, and their efforts in producing sacks led to just one, yes one, net passing yard. It's the fewest yards Cleveland has allowed since 1946.

Joe Woods’ defense set the tone while Chicago ran 42 offensive plays Fields' sack yardage led to 67 yards lost. Myles Garrett reminded us just how dominant he can be with half of those sacks. It is difficult to do much better than that in the NFL. Coming into the game, the defense had recorded just three sacks, but they broke out in a massive way as a group.

The Browns had just three sacks in the first two games, including just two by the defensive line.

Garrett had a career-high and set a Browns single-game sack record with 4.5 sacks, passing Andra Davis who had four on Nov. 3, 2003. Garrett led the Browns with seven tackles, 4.5 sacks and six quarterback hurries.

Garrett was excited to get the record.

“It feels good, but knowing that we can be even better," he said. "It is tough. That is the worst part about it is had a great game, but there are always going to be the ones you miss or the ones you are close on. Glad to be able to ball out with those boys. Glad to see them stay hungry and go feast, but there is still more to come.“

But things didn’t stop with Garrett. Jadeveon Clowney also had two sacks of his own and the duo formed a dynamic pass rushing presence many thought could happen when the former No. 1 pick signed with the Browns.

The Browns defense pressured Justin Fields on 55.2% of his dropbacks, tied for the 4th highest pressure rate by any team in a game since last season.

Myles Garrett

?? 7 QBP on 25 pass rushes (28.0%)

Jadeveon Clowney


?? 8 QBP on 25 pass rushes (32.0%)#CHIvsCLE | #Browns pic.twitter.com/Z3rXksph2Q

— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) September 26, 2021

Even past the EDGE rushers, the Browns were able to get home through combined meetings at the quarterback for half sacks for Takk McKinley, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah,Malik Jackson, and Ronnie Harrison turned in his own full sack when Fields booted his direction and he was waiting on him.

The Browns had been no stranger to pressure over the first two weeks ranking among the NFL’s best in pass rush win rate, but the conversion of just two sacks was clearly irking the talented group. They flipped the narrative today and it left clear mark on the rookie quarterback.

Let’s use the All-22 film and peek at how each sack came to be through coverage and pass rush wins.

In Chicago's second possession of the game, following another Browns turnover-on-downs, the defense set the tone. Fields dropped back to read the two-man side to the boundary with a smash concept and before those routes can develop--or even throw the hitch with anticipation--Garrett and Malik McDowell have bull-rushed their men into Fields' lap, and Clowney wins clean inside with an initial wide alignment that shows his left side strength keeping the shoulder and arm locked and creating the necessary angle. This is pure rush talent here as Fields had very little time to process any move or drop it off to his running back. 

This is a great 2nd and 9 call here. The Browns are playing man coverage with a low-hole robber from Ronnie Harrison and a MIKE linebacker (Malcolm Smith) who is also chasing middle as well.

OBR Film Room: Breaking Down All 9 Browns’ Sacks

You will notice that Owusu-Koramoah is playing man coverage on the tight end and when he reads the tight end's pass set, he is on what is known as a "Green Dog" and has the green light to blitz the quarterback if his man stays in. Watch his eyes process the tight end initially, then burst. This is not a designed blitz, but rather a read by Owusu-Koramoah. So, Fields' middle of the field option is cut down by the rotating safety and Smith chasing middle. Takk McKinley wins inside to eat the double to the field side, then Owusu-Koramoah shoots the gap and Garrett also easily wins inside and the two meet at the quarterback. Great coverage and nice late pressure here. Word to the wise as well....never block Myles Garrett one-on-one with a tight end.

The Browns get the Bears to 3rd and 14 and decide to play simple Cover-3. The Bears run a 3-man downfield concept with three sit routes at the sticks, a popular anticipation throw scheme that the Browns used to get Odell Beckham Jr. his first catch of the day. The coverage here is perfect as Greg Newsome covers the left side isolation route well that Fields is staring down, Grant Delpit is rolling down in the middle read to bracket the slot's route, and Troy Hill and Denzel Ward are playing the two-man side to perfection.

OBR Film Room: Breaking Down All 9 Browns’ Sacks

Garrett has a fantastic rep here where he works past the initial chip block from the running back and then defeats an interesting decision to try to cut block him on a downfield throw. This is nothing fancy and all effort. If Garrett didn't have him, McKinley on the looping stunt was there as well. Again, no blitz, just coverage, and pressure generated. 

The Bears are in 3rd and 5 here and the Browns decide to challenge them. They run man-free or Cover-1 and do it with their BOSS front that is designed to overload a side and create one-on-one matchups upfront. 

OBR Film Room: Breaking Down All 9 Browns’ Sacks

The Bears run an empty set with two-side pivot routes and an over route from No. 3 to the field (wide) side. The Browns cover this well from the rip and John Johnson III cuts the over route and Fields is left dancing trying to find the right spot to pick up the first down.

OBR Film Room: Breaking Down All 9 Browns’ Sacks

The bracket from Johnson and the perfect drop from Elijah Lee into the throwing window means Fields doesn't feel comfortable pulling the trigger. Again, no blitzing, just great coverage and generated pressure. Garrett gets the initial pressure with a right arm club/rip to move Fields off his spot and then the hustle to finish the sack as well. 

The Bears found themselves in another 3rd and 10. The Browns go back to their familiar BOSS front formula and it works again. They play Cover-3 cutting the middle perfectly once again. The coverage forms a triangle sitting over Allen Robinson's over route and leaves Fields with only two options and those are working off the middle to his one-on-one throws up the sideline.

OBR Film Room: Breaking Down All 9 Browns’ Sacks

 Fields could have thrown the right side 9-route but it would have been pre-determined and he didn't do much of that on Sunday. He is swarmed on this play by two things: Garrett's twist with Malik Jackson forms immediate chaos in front of him (watch Garrett destroy the unsuspecting center) and Takk McKinley wins off the edge with a nice bull rush to rip under combo.

Jackson and McKinley share the sack. Again, no blitzing. 

Again, 3rd and long. You can sense a theme here. This is the Browns' first sack with a 5+ man blitz. They bring five here as Malcolm Smith is walked down and mugging the guard opposite the BOSS front. He loops from his initial alignment to backside A-gap and Fields feels the interior pressure and bails out left.

The coverage is a very simple off-man Cover-1 that the Browns don't hide pre-snap. They just cover things well. Ronnie Harrison is sticky on the tight end running a middle basic route and Grant Delpit covers Allen Robinson's slot speed out as well to the boundary.

OBR Film Room: Breaking Down All 9 Browns’ Sacks

Fields is left with no easy choice and decides to run. Garrett's hustle working inside rush turns into yet another sack. Should be noted McKinley's bull rush is what forces Fields to feel the pressure first and bail. This ball could be thrown into tight windows, but the coverage is great.

Following a rough pass interference call on Johnson for the Bears' best yardage gain of the day, they ran for five yards, and then tried to run this quick snap boot scheme but the Browns sniffed it out easily. The Bears sprinted to the line to try to catch the Browns relaxing but they were prepared and everyone did their job. Ronnie Harrison sat on the backside boot rollout and was there for Fields right away.

Johnson sniffs out the slice action from the tight end, Malcolm Smith is over top as well. There is a small sliver of a throw Fields could maybe get off to Robinson on the delay pivot, but that window is small and risky. This is covered quite well all-around.

OBR Film Room: Breaking Down All 9 Browns’ Sacks

Yet, again.....you guessed it....third and long. The Browns are playing wide-9 techniques and mugging the A-gaps with both linebackers. This is meant to cause all kinds of protection confusion. 

OBR Film Room: Breaking Down All 9 Browns’ Sacks

This is a game played well here. You will notice Owusu-Koramoah act like he doesn't know he is rushing, delay a slight second to send the center away from his rush and then attack downhill right now.

By this point in the game, Fields is seeing ghosts and has no option to throw the football with ease. The right side routes are played physically by both Johnson and Ward and those quick-throw options are moot. Johnson looks like an edge rusher initially in the blitz scheme but peels late for the back out of the backfield and takes away Fields quick throw option. Then to the left side, they send Smith out late to bracket any quick in-breaking routes and they form the perfect triangle over the three-man side.

OBR Film Room: Breaking Down All 9 Browns’ Sacks

Garrett simply beats Peters to the high side on a great rush line and has a head start to chase down the panicking Fields. An easy sack off a five-man pressure scheme that is covered very well. Flat out good defense and a great scheme by Joe Woods. 

Forcing Fields to throw off a 5-step drop on a 4th and 10 this late in the game is a fireable offense for Matt Nagy. The Browns were just collecting stats at this point and it got ugly quickly.

They have to push routes deep downfield that need time to develop (left side site, middle over, and backside dig), and when Fields hits his fifth step it's over. The Cover-3 once again does its job by cutting down those middle crossers the Bears love and forcing secondary reads for the quarterback. By the time the routes even have a chance to develop, the pressure is home.

OBR Film Room: Breaking Down All 9 Browns’ Sacks

Garrett does what he has done all game to this point, out-class Peters at left tackle with speed and he narrowly misses the sack. The Browns did once again go BOSS upfront with a nice five-man pressure but the quick win from Garrett and then the clean-up from Clowney makes me genuinely feel bad for Fields on this day.

There was a clear uptick in 5-man pressures brought by Woods this week. Preliminarily I have the Browns at nine for this game and that is an uptick from the three blitzes last week. I will confirm the data throughout the week, but one thing is clear: the Browns stepped up the aggression at all levels of the defense on Sunday. They felt the right kind of aggressive in both man and zone coverages and played with physicality in the back half. Their total pressures and pass rush win rates remained high, but with a confused young quarterback lacking quick throwing options, those pressures converted into sacks. 

It was a historic day in Cleveland for the defense as a whole and Garrett individually, but Joe Woods didn't overhaul the scheme. They did uptick those blitzes to an extent, but as you could see here, they were a small percentage of the sack production. The difference was a secondary playing what felt like a different brand of coverage and a well-scouted and prepared attack for the Bears' favorite route concepts. 

This is the marriage between pass coverage and rush skills we all envisioned for the 2021 Browns defense. It all converged for the perfect storm and a historic day. They won't all be like this moving forward, clearly, but if they can give these kinds of efforts where they not only stop the run all day but get pressure in both blitz concepts and regular rush situations, they have a chance to be special and on this day they were historic.

They have a nice test coming with the Vikings next Sunday to prove this was no fluke.