FILMSTUDY: Two Key Browns

Filmstudy FILMSTUDY: Two Key Browns

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I rewatched the Browns and Steelers to enjoy the performances of 2 of their best players, DT Shaun Rogers and LT Joe Thomas.  Here’s how I saw them:


Joe Thomas:   He was drafted 3rd overall in 2007 as the Savage wisely did not reach for Quinn.  Thomas made the Pro Bowl in his 1st season and barring injury appears headed for the Hall of Fame.  He’s the complete package as both a mauling run blocker and excellent technical pass rusher.


·       As a run blocker, he picks a target and stays with his block through the play.  He simply does not get caught standing up.  He rarely needs to go for a level 2 block because he continually engages the man across from him.


·       As a pass blocker, it looks to me as if ordinary DE’s have very little hope of getting pressure.  The Steelers rushed:


o     Keisel against him, and he was hurt late in the 1st quarter


Harrison rushed several times from that side and was the most effective, nearly beating him twice with a good speed rush.  On the Browns 2nd drive, it appeared to me Thomas should have been called for a hold on #92.


o     Kirschke then became the primary end on that side and Thomas easily controlled him.  Kirschke only really used a bull rush and may failed to apply good pressure even if

had stood in the pocket for 10 seconds (although I’m sure some other blocking assignment would break down).  He was beaten once by #90 when Vickers interfered with his block, allowing Kirschke to slip outside, but

nonetheless completed the pass to Winslow.


o     Eason has 2 or 3 plays on Thomas’ side and looked every bit as ineffective as Kirschke


·       What did we learn from this?  Ordinary DE’s without a high-octane motor or some specialized move are going to have trouble.  I’m afraid that will include Marques Douglas.  Suggs may be able to get around him, but he’s going to have a long, physical day.  Jarrett Johnson will not personally be able to get pressure 1-on-1 vs. Thomas, but I think he could be very effective at creating confusion in the pass rush as he did for much of 2006 (get his hands on Thomas, then drop to a short  zone, creating overload opportunities).  I particularly want to see how Thomas reacts to overload blitzes on his side, which the Steelers did not use much.


·      John Madden pointed out the unbalanced line, which the Browns ran a total of 7 times.  Each time I noticed it, it was unbalanced to the right with Thomas lining up as an ineligible TE on the right.  Somewhat surprisingly, the Browns ran to the left side on a number of these plays.


·      It obviously was not a great game for the Browns offense.  They ran for just 3.5 yards per play and managed just 2 FG, but Thomas was the best offensive player in the game for either team.  In this context,

’s performance was especially disappointing (44.5 QB rating).


Shaun Rogers:  “Big Baby” was picked up by the Browns this off season in a big trade with the Lions for Leigh Bodden and the Browns 3rd round draft pick.  He addresses one of the biggest Browns needs.  Much was made of

play in this game and his overall production was good (6 tackles, 1 sack), but for the bulk of the game, he was handled in the running game.  Here were his big plays:


·       Q2, 12:21 Rogers was handled by a double team at the LoS, but Pool made initial contact in the backfield and Rogers shook free to clean up Parker for a 2-yard loss.


·       Q2, 7:16 He slipped off his block to register an ankle stop as Parker ran middle for 1 yard.


·      Q3, 14:16 Cleaned up again, this time off Shaun Smith’s initial contact for a 2-yard stuff on Parker.  The TFL was lost when the Browns accepted a holding penalty on Miller.


·      Q3, 13:02 Lined up at RDE on 2nd and 15.  The pass play developed slowly and Roethlisberger was forced to step up in the pocket to avoid pressure from McDonald just as

split his double team to record the sack.  Roethlisberger appeared to hurt his shoulder on the play.  Robaire Smith was also seriously injured on the play and did not return.


·      Q3, 8:11 Delivered a nice QH on Roethlisberger as he threw incomplete on 3rd down


·      Q3, 0:35 Stopped cold by a double team as the Steelers threw on 2nd and 10 from their own 2.  

was pinballed between a double by the RG and C to one by the LG and C.  Roethlisberger’s 31-yard completion to Ward was arguably the game’s biggest play and just the get-out-of-jail card the Steelers needed to sit on their lead.


·      Q4, 11:59 Diagnosed the screen pass on 2nd and 9 and ran down Ward for a 3-yard loss.  

impressively bounced off his block without being redirected.


·      Q4, 11:06 Got a cheap late hit on #7 as he put his not inconsiderably sized shoulder directly into Ben’s after he threw incomplete on 3rd and 12.


·      If you want to see a play where the offensive line handles stunting linemen with textbook precision, check out the Steelers 2nd and 7 play with 7:49 to go in Q1.  

initially got push on Kemo who slid him to the outside.  As Wimbley looped to the inside, Kemo released

to Smith and re-engaged on WImbley to maintain the pocket.


·      He was pancaked 3 times early in the game


·      He’s happy to attack between 2 linemen, doing exactly what a good DT should to pick up a double team.


·      He played all but 9 of the Steelers 53 offensive plays, and perhaps surprisingly from the way

uses big DT’s, he was regularly in there on passing downs and took most of his plays off on 1st and 2nd down.  It makes sense when you look at his 7 sacks last season.  In any case, that’s 83% of plays, which is really too much for most interior defensive linemen.  Ngata played 76% for the 2007 Ravens, but no other Raven DT has played more than 67% in any of 2000, 2006, or 2007.


·      On the last drive, as the Steelers were running out the clock,

looked tired.



often traps himself with his aggressive penetration in run defense.  It looked like he was also effectively handled when 2 blockers initially engage him.  Once repositioned slightly, one blocker can take him and the other can slip off for a 2nd level block.  Brown will have primary responsibility for

Sunday, but he’ll need good support on both sides from Yanda and Grubbs.

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Ken McKusick

About Ken McKusick

Known as “Filmstudy” from his handle on area message boards, Ken is a lifelong Baltimorean and rabid fan of Baltimore sports. He grew up within walking distance of Memorial Stadium and attended all but a handful of Orioles games from 1979 through 2001. He got his start in sports modeling with baseball in the mid 1980’s. He began writing about the Ravens in 2006 and maintains a library of video for every game the team has played. He’s a graduate of Syracuse with degrees in Broadcast Journalism and Math who recently retired from his actuarial career to pursue his passion as a football analyst full time.

If you have math or modeling questions related to sports or gambling, Ken is always interested in hearing new problems or ideas.

He can be reached by email at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @filmstudyravens.

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