Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Weakest Link

I have decided that during the season when I'm able to do so I will throw up a "Weakest Link" post every week revealing whom it is on the upcoming opponent's offensive line that I believe is their....you guessed it, weakest link. Obviously this will only be possible when I get to see the upcoming opponent's game from the previous week and that will not always be the case. But every time that it IS the case I will endeavor to put one of these up.

This week we have the Cleveland Browns coming in to Raymond James Stadium. In anticipation of this game I recorded the Browns' third game of the preseason against the Detroit Lions. Traditionally the third game is where a team's starters put their best foot forward as if it were a dress rehearsal so to speak. For that reason I felt it was the game most appropriate to watch in order to judge the play of the Browns' offensive line.

Now before I go any further I want to throw out the disclaimer that these are generally going to be observations based on only one game. In an optimal situation I would get to view 3 or more games before I came to these conclusions but that ain't likely to happen. Also while I will talk about the "Weakest Link" and how they can be beaten, I will ALSO talk about the rest of the offensive line and what we can expect from them as well.

For the inaugural "Weakest Link" we have....

Browns right tackle Tony Pashos

(cues fire works and game show music)

Pashos is a HUGE guy and you can tell he's as strong as an ox. But he also is slow footed and he's one of those throw back right tackles that relies heavily on his punch. Now because he is so big sometimes guys get fooled into running into him instead of running around him. This should be avoided as all costs because as I previously noted HE IS AS STRONG AS AN OX. But because he tries to stay squared to the line of scrimmage when he pass blocks AND because he is slow with his kick step, AND because he relies heavily on his punch, running around him is the way to go.

There are plenty of moves that will work. A straight dip and rip. A long arm stab to a rip. A guy can also line up a tight to him and make what I like to call a "Cadillac turn" where they come off the line of scrimmage wide to avoid the punch then make a hard right turn. Thing of it is, when he sees a guy lined up tight to him he generally will try to jump them at the line of scrimmage and if he misses he is terrible at recovering. Basically you can leave him standing there at the line of scrimmage.

A quicker defensive end could also try a quick hands inside move on Pashos but it's dangerous. If the miss knocking his hands down on the punch they will likely wind up on the ground. If it were me I would just keep running around him until he started bailing out of his stance off the snap. Once he starts turning during his kick steps back instead of trying to keep his shoulders squared to the line of scrimmage that's when he will get out of balance and you can get him upfield and swat him by as you come back inside.

What I wouldn't do however is try to bull rush him. Why? Because as I said before HE'S STRONG AS... I think you get the picture.

But here's the rub, who on our team can actually speed rush at left end? As far as I can tell only Michael Bennett. Or rather he's the only guy I've seen do it consistently this preseason. Kyle Moore and Tim Crowder could feast on this guy in the passing game but they are going to have to burn the corner. Running into the guy is playing right into his hands this week. So it will be interesting to see if they can capitalize on Pashos' poor technique.

As for the rest of the offensive line, Joe Thomas at left tackle is the real deal but he is beatable. He is very quick out of his stance and he gets set up so quick that unless the defensive end he is facing is equally quick with their get off on the ball he usually ends up just waiting for them to come to him. But when they are quick off the ball he tends to turn his shoulders. But most of the time he is just inviting he pass rusher to go inside so he can then grab them and hem them up. To me the way to attack him is to get off and bull rush him back then quickly rip off to the outside. Also because he likes riding guys by on a speed rush I would consider spins a LOT this week but only later on into a rush. Spinning early on this guy might get you embarrassed.

The left guard, Eric Steinbach seems to set back a little softer than the right guard, Floyd Womack. What that means for the defensive tackles (and others) rushing them in a practical sense is that its probably going to be a little easier to bull rush Steinback but its also going to be harder to make a finesse move. With Womack they will have to be ready to make a move right off the snap most of the time and he shoots his hands wide so its going to be hard to knock them down. The center, Alex Mack, shows a true slide to one side or the other on pass protection but he's nothing special.

Soooo as I'm writing this post I noticed that the Cleveland Browns released their depth chart and it turns out Tony Pasho's isn't starting!


Oh well, I'm not unwriting all this good information. I have no idea of how the actual starter, John St. Clair, will look but obviously the Browns saw the same things about Pashos that I saw. LOL Oh well, hopefully next week I will have better luck.

I will say this though, one thing that still holds true is that Thomas and Steinbach do not handle pass rush games well. Primarily I would look at running TEXs on them because of how each guy sets but EXs will work also. If we are having problems getting pressure with individual rushers I would definitely consider going to the pass rush games on that side early and often.

And with that, I'm out :)


  1. Steve,
    Epic fail, bro, but only because you had 300 solid words worth of insight before you checked the depth chart.
    As always, you make me look like a genius when I talk football with my sons.
    You're the man, Steve.

  2. Actually I DID check the depth chart before hand but they didn't list the O Line at that point and I was ready to write. Oh well, I'll get it next time lol

  3. Steve,

    I think we all agree the rush defense has to be much improved this year. Cribbs runs the wild cat, but generally what type of running team is Cleveland - zone blocking, power O, etc.? Just curious, what tendencies do they show on the running game. I'm assuming their going to really challenge the Bucs on the ground considering their WRs are nothing special even without Talib playing.

  4. @Trox

    I would caution against trying to figure out a gameplan from preseason games. You can see how individual players play but there is no way of knowing if they will run a lot of the same plays. Probably the only prediction I would make there is that they seem to like to have Steinbach pulling more than Womack so I would expect most of the traps to be run to the defense's left. After that there just is no telling. Either way I think we will be much improved against the run anyway.

  5. Steve,
    You covered pass rush games for us some point less than a year ago. I hope its not inconvenient, but could you repost or post a link to the entries you did on pass rush games?
    Even better would be you breaking down game film...
    I'd love to understand you better, but it's not happening for me yet! Keep up the awesome work, man. Thanks.

  6. @Safety

    Here's a short explanation from joebucsfan.


    I'm not sure if I wrote more than this before but I'll look again if you need more info.

  7. Thank you for the link Steve.

  8. St. Clair's been on/off more football teams than Paris Hilton. Still remember him getting owned when he played for the Rams. Curious to see if he's improved.