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Problems I saw with EJ @ Browns


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#1 Bangarang

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Posted 05 October 2013 - 01:21 PM

So here's a little something I put together based off of what I saw with EJ during the Browns game. I don't know what he's being coached to do or what he's doing based off of what he sees or thinks. I'm sure, or hope, that these were all things that were saw during film review and are being worked on to be corrected.

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So here we have a simple play action bootleg play. It looks like EJ is going to his first read the whole way here (Stevie).

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The problem? Well, if EJ hadn't already made his mind up about going to his 1st read and waited just a split second longer he would have seen a wide open Scott Chandler

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Another play, a 3rd and short no less. Manuel is lined up in the shotgun and sees some pressure. The problem?

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Well, as you can see, EJ has quite a bit of room to move up into the pocket and there is a hole to escape away from the pressure (refer to the black arrows). If you'll notice the giant red circle showing the amount of space EJ has to work with once he's escaped the pocket. He has a few options once he's there.

He can either try and run for the 1st down (sliding after he's gotten it of course)!

Or he can try and get it either of his 2 receivers at the top of the screen if either of their defenders break off to try and make a play on EJ.

Now here's what EJ eventually does. It's not pretty at all!

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He runs backwards a good 12 yards from the original line of scrimmage and ends up throwing the ball away out of bounds.  It's an example of a rookie, not having the experience (or smarts?) to move up into the pocket to avoid the pressure.

Bottom line, if he's going to succeed (or the team for that matter) he has to be aware of these things and convert on these 3rd and short situations to move the chains!

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Let's move on shall we?

Here's another play where EJ is only reading 1 side of the field. He doesn't take long to throw and I question whether it's because he knows where he's going before the ball is being snapped (a recipe for disaster in the NFL).

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The problem?

Well, if EJ takes a moment to survey the rest of the field, he would see a wide open TJ Graham and Lee Smith with at least 5 yards of open field ahead of them (and a lead blocker in TJ if he goes to Lee!). EJ is well protected so there wasn't really a need for a quick throw here either. Is this Hackett protecting EJ only making read half the field? Again, we don't know.

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And finally, another 3rd down play that NEEDS to be converted. It can't be stressed enough. EJ needs to make this play if he's going to be the guy this franchise desperately needs him to be.

3rd and 4 and EJ is going to get pressured up the middle. He has Robert Woods coming across the middle right where the 1st down marker is and doesn't have a defender anywhere near him.

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The problem? EJ sees the defender coming and rushes his throw off of his back foot and sails the throw not even coming close to his intended target of Woods and nearly gets picked off by the linebacker Kruger who you see on the 42 yard line. As you can see though, when EJ makes his throw, he still has a clean enough pocket where he can step into it and deliver it between the numbers for a big gain and a 1st down! Instead he throws off his back foot and misses badly

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Conclusion? EJ makes some really nice throws and does some really good things. But, his inexperience really shows. Whether it's only reading half the field. Not waiting enough for routes to develop and better options to get open. Not avoiding pressure by moving up into the pocket. Or just getting sloppy with his footwork and throwing off his back foot.

Can these be corrected? Of course. However, I don't think we're going to see these things get polished up until after the season is over and EJ has another off season to go over all the tape again and really work on these issues.

The talent is there. Unfortunately for us fans, more patience might be needed before we see a real return on the investment.

#2 JR in Pittsburgh

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Posted 05 October 2013 - 01:29 PM

Real nice job on this!

The only play that is less clear is the second to last one. Looks like EJ is rolling left, so maybe that's just a designed quick read play, even though two guys are open way to the right. Tough to know for sure from the still frame.

But, you're right-- he has some correctible mechanic and read issues. I think part of it is not getting happy feet with the pressure on; he oftentimes had more time than he thought throughout the game.

#3 Green Lightning

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Posted 05 October 2013 - 01:34 PM

Nice work Bang. I am less concerned about his anxious throws like the Woods miss than I am about the half field reads. I see it happening fairly often. I do like that he improves week to week so this injury is a big set back.

#4 Mike B. in VA

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Posted 05 October 2013 - 01:40 PM

Nice work!

These are all things I've noticed, too, but they're all fairly normal rookie issues. I keep wondering how much of his not getting his feet set is being worried about his knee? Guess we'll find out now.

Regardless, it's all correctable. Rodgers had this same "happy feet" issue coming out of college IIRC.

I agree that he needs to look to step up more often, but in the case you document he at least did the smart thing and threw the ball away rather than forcing a throw that could have ended in disaster (a la Tuel).

Overall, though, good analysis.

#5 mead107

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Posted 05 October 2013 - 01:40 PM

He is a rookie. Will only get better as time moves foward. I love what he has been able to do so far.

#6 K-9

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Posted 05 October 2013 - 01:42 PM

Good stuff. All of this is readily correctable with experience. I've seen EJ make in-drive adjustments a few times to take advantage of open stuff that he previously missed or by faking something he previously hit to draw coverage. Like most young QBs, if he sees his first read in the progression is open, he tends to go there. Nothing necessarily wrong with that, but I can't wait until he sees something that's more right more often. That will come with experience. As will doing a better job of setting his feet.

GO BILLS!!!

#7 BrooklynBills

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Posted 05 October 2013 - 01:42 PM

The first play to Chandler:  Looks like a LB(#??) and a CB(#22) are both there in zone coverage, the LB looks like he is in the passing lane and 22 is there to close to his right.  Stevie is 1 on 1 with a CB.  You have to think that they like that matchup all day.

#8 HoF Watkins

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Posted 05 October 2013 - 01:52 PM

This is nicely done, but these seem like the kind of mistakes that every rookie that ever played in the NFL has made. I wonder how many examples there are of virtually the same situations, that he made the correct or better play? Plays where he went to the next read, moved up in the pocket, or ran for the first. I think it's a matter of experience. I think he will get better at these kinds of situations.

My main worry is his accuracy.

#9 over 20 years of fanhood

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Posted 05 October 2013 - 02:04 PM

This is a simple case of the game needing the game to slow down for him.  But even though it's easy to freeze frame and point out space it sort of ignores how fast people are moving and in on direction.  For example I don't think there is as much room as indicated in the example with the red circle and the suggestion he should have stepped up in the pocket.  

But again, this stuff can all be coached up if he's willing to listen.  His accuracy can be very good so the coaching just needs to get him to where it's consistent.

#10 PearlHowardman

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Posted 05 October 2013 - 02:15 PM

A much bigger problem for EJ:  He is injury prone.

#11 HoF Watkins

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Posted 05 October 2013 - 02:35 PM

View PostPearlHowardman, on 05 October 2013 - 02:15 PM, said:

A much bigger problem for EJ:  He is injury prone.

I think the read option is the wrong offense for him. He isn't a very graceful runner, and with his size, he seems easy to hit, and not very good at preparing to take a hit. A big target.

He seems better suited to a Roethlisberger type approach.

#12 Max997

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Posted 05 October 2013 - 02:37 PM

The one big concern I've seen from EJ especially in the two road games is that he is scared of the pressure

QBs can either handle the pressure or they can't

#13 YoloinOhio

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Posted 05 October 2013 - 03:12 PM

I see a lot of similarities between EJ and Jake Locker. Locker was drafted # 8 overall and has had injuries and just OK production until this year, his third year. All of a sudden he has 6 TDs and no INTs in 4 games and with a  99 QB rating and Kurt Warner has him as his #5 QB in the league. Now he is hurt again, because he really puts himself out there. I think this is likely why the Titans invested in Fitz. But Locker has been really good this year - he needed time to adjust and get the experience. I have always heard that as a QB, you are what you are by Year 3. I hate the term "injury prone." Designed runs are not part of EJ's game as they are RG3's. RG3, Vick, etc will always be worried about getting hurt because they run so much in the game plan. EJ is more like Luck in that they are both fast and mobile, but there aren't plays designed to hace them run the ball. This injury could be a blessing in disguise. It is just long enough to scare the sh**t out of him that he needs to slide and get out of bounds, but won't keep him out the whole year and really hurt his growth. Any time away is not good, but I have a feeling it will end up being 3-4 weeks and it may depend on our record at that point on when they bring him back. If we lose all those games, they may just keep him out longer because we aren't making the playoffs anyway. If we are on decent footing in the conference, they bring him back as soon as they can. ALSO, not to beat a dead horse but a NFL-caliber LG would help him out immensely.

View PostMax997, on 05 October 2013 - 02:37 PM, said:

The one big concern I've seen from EJ especially in the two road games is that he is scared of the pressure

QBs can either handle the pressure or they can't
Brady is also scared of pressure.

Edited by YoloInTheBlo, 05 October 2013 - 03:11 PM.


#14 RealityCheck

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Posted 05 October 2013 - 04:09 PM

Great analysis, but in the end these are rookie mistakes. As for being injury prone, I think that players who don't get injured are the exception, not the standard. Most players have numerous surgeries at the end of the season that never make it to even the local medias attention. Playing the game is not proof that a player is not injured. Look at the lack of press coverage in the game. Why? Because Leodis and Williams are playing injured, and it showed.

#15 jr1

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Posted 05 October 2013 - 04:13 PM

Thanks for doing this

#16 Max997

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Posted 05 October 2013 - 04:20 PM

View PostYoloInTheBlo, on 05 October 2013 - 03:12 PM, said:

Brady is also scared of pressure.

You hv to be kidding me

No QB likes to be pressured but they can either handle it or they can't and I'm pretty sure Brady can handle it

#17 BillnutinHouston

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Posted 05 October 2013 - 04:48 PM

This just in - EJ is a rookie and we have to be patient with him.

#18 Jkgobills

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Posted 05 October 2013 - 05:11 PM

View PostMarauder, on 05 October 2013 - 02:35 PM, said:



I think the read option is the wrong offense for him. He isn't a very graceful runner, and with his size, he seems easy to hit, and not very good at preparing to take a hit. A big target.

He seems better suited to a Roethlisberger type approach.

Agree with you on this.  His build is more like Big Ben (or for that matter Dante Culpepper per weight gain), than it is like the QBs who are more elusive when running the ball.

Also, thanks to the OP for putting this thread together.  

His accuracy and footwork issues go hand in hand.  They were both there at Florida State, and he never got them corrected.  Lets hope we have someone on staff that knows how to fix this when he gets healthy.

#19 3putt

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Posted 05 October 2013 - 05:23 PM

I am curious why it is assumed his mechanics, and in particular footwork is correctable?  Numerous predraft reports focused on his inability to make basic throws and execute threw progressions.  The defense was that his coach at FSU didn't ask him him to do much. If you look at todays film you will see this same coach asking a freshman to throw outs, deep flies, posts screens.  Maybe Jimbo knows something we don't. EJ is very athletic, and seems likable.  But without mechanics teams will catch up, see: Kapaernick, Colin.

The slowing down of the game, I will agree will happen.  When it does it wont matter if the mechanics are flawed.

Oh and nice workto the OP , great analysis.

#20 RyanC883

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Posted 05 October 2013 - 05:39 PM

Great analysis.   The missed reads are the big problems to me.  Particularly reading only half the field, and not even quickly looking at his second option.  Hopefully we bring in a vet that knows he is only there to replace/backup EJ and that can teach him these things.  BTW, you should forward your hard work to Hackett.  E-mail it or mail it.  Can't hurt.  Thanks again for spending the time on this.  It's awesome.