CLEVELAND, Ohio — The Dolphins head into Sunday’s game against the Browns after a 35-32 win over the Bears last week. In that game, Tua Tagovailoa was 21 of 30 passing for 302 yards.
The Miami quarterback has shown great improvement and is playing at an elite level. At the start of the season, Tagovailoa relied on simple, one-play RPOs (run-pass options), but progressed to full-featured multi-level concepts that allowed Miami’s offense to explode.
Tagovailoa is getting rid of the football quickly, so the Browns will have to create an A- and B-gap inside pressure. Myles Garret and Jadeveon Clowney will have to raise their hands and keep batting balls if they want to upset the former Alabama star.
Below is a great look at Tagovailoa’s improvement as a quarterback.
On this particular play, he’ll read linebacker Jack Sanborn first, then move on to linebacker Joe Thomas.
In the second photo, Tagovailoa will see Sanborn turn to his left to help receiver Tyreek Hill. As the progression continues, Tagovailoa will read Thomas for a high/low concept between receiver Jaylen Waddle and running back Raheem Mostert.
Once Thomas comes forward, Waddle opens up for a 17-yard gain.
Tagovailoa’s success can be linked to Hill and Waddle. For the season, Hill has 76 receptions for 1,104 yards and three touchdowns. Waddle contributed with 47 receptions for 812 yards and six touchdowns. The Browns’ scouting report should focus on the proficiency of these two elite players.
Here are three keys to the Browns beating the Dolphins:
1. Remove Intermediate Lanes
On film, Miami does a great job working on their passing game in midfield, over linebackers and past safeties. Because of Hill and Waddle, most teams use a very soft cover 2 shell to keep the Dolphins’ speed ahead of them.
Using play action, RPOs, and traditional return passes, Miami works a ton of high/low concepts to get the ball into that 10-25 yard area between hashes. To combat this, the Browns can use a cover-stealer-3 look to take out midfield.
Below is a concept route the Dolphins used against the Bears for a 20-yard completion to Hill.
It’s one of many projects that open up Hill and Waddle in the middle. The diagram shows how the Browns can use thief coverage to prevent roads in the middle of Miami.
The Browns can show a 2 cover soft shell and then set up a safety to “steal” the middle lanes.
2. Limit Miami snaps with the gap run game
The best way to ensure Tagovailoa, Hill and Waddle are contained is to simply not let them have the football.
In early downs, the Dolphins play a real odd front with their big defensive line. The nose guard and the two defensive tackles are true two-spread defenders who play along the line of scrimmage and look to bottle up the run game.
The Browns should look to use their gap patterns with their powerful double teams and angles to move Miami’s big front. The Dolphins’ inside and outside linebackers work great, but are susceptible to a power run.
3. Play action on the first try
At the start of the year, the Dolphins seemed to be applying tons of pressure on opposing offenses. Against the Bears, they didn’t blitz as much, but crowded the line of scrimmage and filled the box with defenders.
When the Bears were on actual personnel and/or formations, Miami had all 11 defenders within five yards of the ball. They are extremely aggressive and fast, which makes them vulnerable to play action, especially on the first down. If the Browns start the run game, the early game action will be very successful.
The play below is an 18-yard touchdown pass to Bears tight end Cole Kmet.
On first down, Chicago will line up in a tight pro formation with 21 staff (2 running backs, 1 tight end). They will run a game-action starter pass from a power-running game.
The Dolphins will line up with all 11 defensemen within five yards of the line of scrimmage. Miami is under men’s cover with security Elijah Campbell in charge of Kmet.
Campbell thinks it’s a racing game and loses Kmet in cover.
What we learned
The Dolphins come into their game with the Browns on a three-game winning streak. Tagovailoa appears to be becoming an NFL quarterback, and the Dolphins are playing a very fine offensive style that is loaded with speed.
That being said, the NFL is all about matchups and the Browns have the edge in many key battles. Their physicality in the running game should keep the ball away from Miami and limit the number of shots for Hill and Waddle.
On the other side of the ball, the Browns’ defense showed weakness against power-running play, which the Dolphins don’t use in their scheme. The Browns will use multiple covers, including robbery, to keep Miami in front of them and protect the midfielder.
This game is a contrast of styles that has the potential to lead to a lot of points.
Lance Reisland is the former coach of Garfield Heights High School, where he spent 18 seasons as an assistant to his father, Chuck, and four as head coach, from 2014 to 2018. In 2018, his team finished 11-1 and appeared in the OHSAA Division II Regional Semifinals. This team went 10-0 and made history as the first Garfield Heights team in 41 years to have an undefeated regular season by beating Warren G. Harding for the first playoff win in league history. ‘school.
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