By Alex Kozora
Game notes from a wild Week One Pittsburgh Steelers 30-27 victory over the Cleveland Browns.
– Browns’ first run. Overpursue by Lawrence Timmons. Needs to play inside out. Running back cuts the run back. Ryan Shazier missed the tackle and it turns into a big gain.
– Browns have two receivers stacked. Steelers only have one DB in the vicinity. Run is the call but easy decision for Brian Hoyer to chuck the swing pass. Easiest five yards they gained all day.
– Isaiah Crowell’s first touchdown. I don’t think this is the sole reason but it played a big role. Defense wasn’t set. Cam Thomas didn’t even have his hand in the ground yet. Still standing up on the snap. Easy to leverage. Center gets into his pads and seals him.
– Steelers’ second half drive starts. Not pretty. 5, 10, 20, 20, and a couple others I don’t have recorded. None were good field position, though. One of the many reasons why the team struggled.
– Swinging gate on punts was a new one. Never showed that in training camp. It paid off, obviously.
– Some bad luck here. Shazier caught up in the wash of a cut block, falls down, and the back hurdles him. Otherwise, the lane fill here isn’t bad.
– Get to see the athleticism and recovery speed from Shazier. Playing zone under, dives for the ball, misses, gets up, and trips up the receiver. Though the gamebook doesn’t appear to be giving him credit for the tackle, he certainly did.
– Two things I didn’t like on Crowell’s second touchdown. Have two defenders spilling the run with no one to spill to. Troy Polamalu and Cortez Allen are stacked. Not doing the team any good.
Other issue is with Lawrence Timmons. Beginning of his rough second half. Feet are in concrete. Can’t have that versus a ZBS. Doesn’t take his first step to the flow of the play until the handoff. Late in getting to the edge. I was originally thinking it could be due to not having a linebacker in the backside gap with Shazier on a run blitz but I saw it multiple times throughout the rest of the half.
– Look at this dart by Big Ben Roethlisberger. Talk about leading your receiver. Good coverage but nothing the corner can do. Equally good catch by Antonio Brown. Didn’t think he came up with it when I saw it live. Wow.
– Kelvin Beachum with the hurdle. And he sticks the landing! 9.5/10.
– Back to the swinging gate. Robert Golden was responsible for checking the gunners/jammers. As has been stated, he has the option to kill any fake. Whenever Cleveland flubbed and left the gunners free, it was an easy fake.
– Steve McLendon lined head up on Alex Mack. Immediately sheds, gets penetration, records the TFL. Advantage of an athletic nose tackle. Asset versus zone teams.
– Great play by William Gay. Zone coverage, passes the No.2 carrying vertical. Eyes on the No.1 running the dig, breaks the pass up.
– Man-free. Not sure who is responsible for Jim Dray, the tight end who makes the grab. Wide open though and picks up 20.
– Zone blocking scheme principles. Run it where they ain’t. Timmons lined up as the 10 tech (linebacker lined up behind the pretend one tech) so the Browns run it to the 30 tech gap.
– Another “must” to defend the ZBS. ABC. Always be chopping….your feet (I tried). Can’t stop moving. What happens to Jason Worilds here. Looks good at first but he stops and doesn’t seal the edge. Only a one yard gain but still, poor execution. Have to keep moving from the immediate snap to the whistle. Lane integrity is vital. Can’t get caught out of position.
– Confusion again, this time in the secondary. Like before, one DB versus a two stack look. Ike Taylor throwing his hands up to Mike Mitchell. Cleveland throws the swing/bubble and gets eight.
Side note: Brett Keisel makes the tackle. Why he’s here. Still moves well and has an instaitable motor.
– Had there not been miscommunication on Cleveland’s end on 3rd and 2, the FB dive probably would have been successful. Cameron Heyward slanted and would have been sealed.
– Marcus Gilbert with flatback. Jabaal Sheard wins the edge.
– Will be more thorough with my sack breakdown – assuming I don’t pass out into my notebook – but Marcus Gilbert with poor weight transfer on this sack allowed early in the 4th. Weight is on his heels instead of being balanced. With the bulrush, it’s no surprise that he got walked into the pocket.
Picture below. Check the toes. You can see space underneath. Shows the weight on the heels.
– Having trouble figuring out the coverage here. Cover 0, maybe? Anyone can help me out?
– Don’t like Ryan Shazier’s angle to the ball here. Needs to be working over the tackle. Takes himself out of the play. Running back has an alley in the “C” gap.
– Shazier’s head was spinning in the second half. Like the rest of the defense. Out of position, in some zone window as Timmons. Dig is wide open.
This is why Dick Lebeau is hesitant with his rookies. A rookie dealing with the no huddle for two quarters is going to bite you.
– Game-tying TD. Ike Taylor opens up the gate too late.
– Paul Kruger swims over Heath Miller on this split zone. Makes the tackle.
– Sheard ripped Palmer’s helmet off while the two were on the ground. Might have taken exception to a Palmer cut block. That’s why he got flagged. Dumb penalty.
– Worth nothing that while Justin Brown has been dogged for his drop in the 4th quarter, ‘ol reliable Jim Leonard made a great play. Knocked the ball out at the catch point. If there is such a thing forgivable drop.
– The 4th quarter is pretty wonky on the Coaches Film. Plays out of order. Thanks NFL Rewind. This ain’t a cheap subscription…
– Timmons just guessing here. Ugly. Jumps out of the lane as the back is about to press it. No reason. Gain of nine.
– Next play, 29 yard gain by Terrance West. Timmons meets the back in the hole but misses the tackle. Off to the races. Didn’t do a good job of bringing his legs.
– Drag route was open on 3rd and 7 as Cleveland was driving late. Thankfully, Hoyer never sees it. Gay again passing off the receivers correctly and drives on the throw.
– David DeCastro with a key downfield block on this Le’Veon Bell screen.
– Effective trap block by Ramon Foster to spring Bell.
– Infamous draw on 3rd and 1. Roethlisberger’s fault. Needs to check out of the raw versus this aggressive front with each gap covered. Especially with the Steelers’ running Power O which creates gaps that the defense will slant through and penetrate.
– Cam Heyward leveraging Mitchell Schwartz, creating the sack. Grown man strength. Only a three man route by Cleveland that is defended well.
– William Gay is so underrated. Hopefully this performance opened some eyes. Main cog on back-to-back plays that gave the Steelers the ball back on the eventual game-winning drive.
– Markus Wheaton has strong hands. Can hold onto the ball at the catch point. Makes the grab above his body while getting hit by Justin Gilbert. Hangs on, moves the sticks.
– Like the idea of having the RB on the side on the spike. No need to waste time getting him lined up. Did it before the half, too.
– Look how happy Stephon Tuitt is at the game-winner. Rookies first win. He’ll never forget it.
– What a comfort it was to have Greg Warren back for this one, yes? Game-winning kick, having a trusted, veteran long snapper.
– Believe Justin Brown replaced Shark at gunner. Weird. Thought DHB would.