The Cleveland Browns exploited the Pittsburgh Steelers defense a few times Sunday with backside passes to tight ends off of play action boots on their way to a 31-10 blowout. During his Tuesday press conference, head coach Mike Tomlin was asked to talk specifically about what happened on the first such play to Browns tight end Jordan Cameron and whether or not safety Troy Polamalu was at fault on the play.
Tomlin indicated that he wasn’t.
“He [Polamalu] was in zone coverage,” said Tomlin of his safety on the play. “We lacked a little depth in our zone on the backside of it which probably caused an overreaction on the half field.
“Bottom line is that we can’t allow that guy to leak out and that’s what he did. Our linebackers got caught up in the run action redirecting to the boot and he was able to slip past our linebackers and underneath our safeties and into a voided area and work his way down the field.”
I broke this play down in depth in a Monday post and now I have some animated gifs from the all-22 view of the play in question below that better show and exactly what happened.
While Tomlin confessed Tuesday that the play was a great concept, he also said that it was not foreign to them as they have seen a version of that before when Browns offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan held the same position on the coaching staff of the Washington Redskins.
“We also played it against them when they were in Washington up here as few years ago, said Tomlin. “We didn’t play it very well in the stadium on Sunday and it had devastating consequences.”
If you remember, the Redskins ran a similar concept aimed at getting the football to tight end Logan Paulsen a few times against the Steelers back in 2012 in a game played at Heinz Field.
Tomlin was also asked Tuesday to talk about what went wrong on the long touchdown pass to Cameron with 9:40 left in the second quarter and he put the blame squarely on the back of cornerback Cortez Allen.
“He [Allen] shouldn’t expect safety help based on the down and distance,” said Tomlin. “I think it was third and one and a half. They were in a run formation and personnel group and posture. He’s got to be able to stay on top of that tight end and prevent that play from happening.”
Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer only completed eight passes Sunday against the Steelers and four of those went to tight ends with Cameron having three of them. Three of those four passes went for 31 or more yards.