It's time to play the blame game. It's easy to say quarterback Brandon Weeden threw three interceptions and that he needs to take better care of the football. But did a Greg Little drop really cause one of his picks? How did running back Chris Ogbonnaya's missed block affect another?
Let's take a deeper look at the coach's film and find out who is really to blame for Weeden's turnovers in the Cleveland Browns' loss to Miami.
Interception No. 1
The picture above shows the snap of Weeden's interception early in the first quarter. The throw right before this was made late, almost resulting in an interception as well.
As you can see, wide receiver Travis Benjamin was on a go-route. His defender would stay with him downfield. The shallow safety would cover a zone on the far sideline, while the deep safety would cover the deep portion of the field.
The linebacker was coming on a blitz to the left side of the line, and running back Chris Ogbonnaya was supposed to pick him up in the backfield.
As the play developed, the deep safety remained deep. Weeden had to recognize that Benjamin was running directly into double coverage. Ogbonnaya stepped up into the pocket and completely whiffed on the blitzing linebacker, giving him a clean lane to Weeden.
As Weeden was about to take the hit from the blitzer, tight end Jordan Cameron came open on a crossing route. Instead of choosing the open receiver, Weeden decided to force the ball into double coverage near the end zone.
Weeden was hit as he threw, causing the ball to be underthrown by almost five yards. Even if he could have delivered the ball perfectly, however, Benjamin was blanketed by the defensive back and covered over the top by the safety.
Verdict: While Ogbonnaya has to find a way to slow the pace of the blitzer, Weeden must recognize the double coverage. The deep safety never even faked going to another part of the field. He just sat and waited for a poor decision to be made by the quarterback. The proper read would have been to take the seven-yard throw to Cameron. This would have at the very least set up a field-goal attempt.
Interception No. 2
Weeden's second interception came later in the first quarter. Here is the look as the ball was snapped. Greg Little would run a drag route at the first-down marker. The linebacker and corner to the far side would play man coverage, and the other corner would drop into a zone down the middle of the field.
As the play developed, the receiver on the far sideline was double-teamed, leaving wide receiver Davone Bess wide open on a drag route moving toward the near sideline. While Greg Little was not wide open, he had beat his defender, cornerback Dimitri Patterson, by two steps.
With two open routes, Weeden chose Little crossing toward his side of the field.
This should have been an easy pitch-and-catch. Weeden had no pressure to deal with and was able to step into his throw. The ball was placed in front of Little and should have been caught for an easy first down.
Instead, Little had the ball bounce off of his hands, and Patterson was able to make the interception off of the deflection.
Verdict: This one is on Little. While the ball could have been slightly more in front of the receiver, this is a basic catch at any level. If he hangs on to the ball, the Browns have a first down and continue their drive.
Instead, the Dolphins received the ball on a short field and put more pressure on the defense.
Interception No. 3
The third pick came in the second quarter. It was very similar to Weeden's second interception.
This time, Jordan Cameron would run the drag route. Both receivers on the near side of the field would run their defenders straight downfield, allowing Cameron to beat his mismatch, a linebacker, in a footrace to the open spot.
The play worked to perfection. Cameron not only had positioning on his defender but also quite a bit of room to run after the catch. Patterson had been running past the first-down marker, and even though he realized the drag route would be open, he was too far away to stop the play.
If the ball had been delivered out in front of Cameron, he could have easily run for a first down or close to it.
Once again, Weeden had no pressure and was able to take his time and step into the throw. This time, however, instead of delivering the ball to the green circle and leading Cameron, he threw the ball well behind his head.
As Cameron reached back for the ball, it deflected off his left hand and into the arms of a Dolphins defender.
Verdict: There are no excuses on this play. Brandon Weeden made a completely inaccurate throw and caused the turnover on his own. Every other part of the play worked to perfection, and Weeden just missed his spot.
In every interception scenario, Weeden has room to improve. On the first interception, he missed the open crossing route, opting to throw into double coverage. On the second interception, Little dropped an easy catch, but Weeden also missed a more open receiver crossing the opposite way. On the third and final interception, Weeden just threw an inexcusably inaccurate pass.
These are the things offensive coordinator Norv Turner will harp on Weeden about this week. Whether he is able to fix them remains to be seen, but the quarterback needs to be the one putting his team in a position to win, not costing it possessions.
All screenshots obtained from NFL.com Game Rewind coach's film
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