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As Browns fans Joe Thomas Jersey , you are probably familiar with (what turned out to be) the surplus of coaching talent on former head coach Bill Belichick’s 1995 staff. It included coaches such as Jim Schwartz, Kirk Ferentz, Eric Mangini, and Nick Saban (not to mention front office personnel Scott Pioli, Phil Savage, Ozzie Newsome, Michael Lombardi, and Thomas Dimitroff).Many former members of that Browns’ staff have gone on to varying levels of success but arguably none have enjoyed the kind of success that Saban is currently experiencing at the University of Alabama.Oddly enough, one of the adjustments that Saban, Belichick, and company made in Cleveland ended up being one of Saban’s most influential scheme innovations. This innovation has spread so far, in fact, that it appears to have influenced new Cleveland Browns Defensive Coordinator Steve Wilks. This invention was a Pattern Match Cover 3 zone coverage, or more specifically the “Liz/Rip” adjustment to Cover 3. “Pattern match” zone coverage refers to a set of rules for playing a sort of matchup zone, and if Saban and Belichick didn’t invent this concept outright in Cleveland they at least brought it to prominence at exactly the right time. Fast forward 20 years and many of the defensive schemes that are able to contain today’s offenses rely on pattern matching.Speaking at a coaching clinic, Saban explained the reason that 95 Browns staff made the innovation. If a defense covers every receiver and keeps two safeties deep, they have a good chance to cover the pass but they lack the numbers in the box to stop the run. If the defense leaves only one safety deep, they have the numbers to stop the run but are more vulnerable against the pass. This is a classic defensive conundrum, and the 94 Browns were no exception.Above, Saban outlined two passing concepts that are commonly used against a single high safety look. “Seattle” aka “Four Verts” is designed to attack the seams in Cover 3:via the 2001 LSU Defensive PlaybookAnd “Pole” looks exactly like four verticals until the inside receivers break off their routes. Saban continued:via Brophy’s blog“Rip” and “Liz” are calls that Sabans’ defenses make to alert the defense as to which side the safety will drop into the box. And the Rip/Liz concept refers specifically to Saban’s style of Cover 3 match:via the 2008 Alabama Defensive PlaybookAs you might imagine, “Rip” is short for right, while “Liz” is short for left. In this case, the call is to alert the underneath defenders of where a deep safety will drop down and insert himself into the coverage. Note that Rip/Liz is a call that Saban uses exclusively to adjust to 2x2 sets.In Rip/Liz, Saban’s corners are going to take the #1 receiver (the widest receiver to their side) man to man unless that receiver runs inside in the first 5 yards. If #1 is inside Chris Hubbard Color Rush Jersey , the corner makes an “under” call and zones off.move your cursor over the image to slide between imagesThe next defender inside will take #2 (the second widest receiver) man to man unless he runs inside within the first 5 yards. This player has the critical job of keeping their receiver out of the seam. The help in Cover 3 is in the middle of the field, both short and deep. So this defender will attempt to squeeze any seam route from the outside-in, funneling the route to the middle of field safety.move your cursor over the image to slide between imagesAlso of note: this player must maintain outside leverage, which is key to defending the “Pole” concept. If this player plays with proper leverage and technique, he is responsible for defending what Saban considers to be two of the most threatening pass routes vs Cover 3. If #2 is under, this player will drop under a potential curl by #1, then look for work in the flat:The next defender inside will first listen for an “under” call from the opposite side of the formation. If he gets that call, he will cut any underneath crossing route . With no “under” call he will match #3 to his side (in this case, the RB). move your cursor over the image to slide between imagesIf #3 goes the other way and there is no under call, he will zone off:When executed well, pattern matching Cover 3 such as Rip/Liz can handle all of the common route combinations while still allowing the defense to get enough men in the box to stop the run.Up nextI’ll look at new Browns Defensive Coordinator Steve Wilks’ brand of Cover 3, which is one of the most common coverages you are likely to see from the Browns next year. The beer-fueled bash spilled into the streets around FirstEnergy Stadium as delirious Browns fans walked 鈥?some staggered 鈥?while chanting for their new hero, the streak buster.“Ba-ker May-field,” they screamed.They’ve named their new starting quarterback. Coach Hue Jackson isn’t quite there yet.Jackson said he isn’t ready to “officially” identify his starter for next week’s game in Oakland, but all signs point to Mayfield taking over in Cleveland following his dazzling NFL debut on Thursday night.The No. 1 pick in this year’s draft replaced concussed starter Tyrod Taylor late in the first half and led the Browns (1-1-1) on four scoring drives as they erased a two-touchdown deficit to beat the New York Jets 21-17 and end Cleveland’s 19-game winless streak 鈥?the NFL’s second longest since 1970.Jackson seems to only be delaying the inevitable: Mayfield’s the guy.And if Jackson doesn’t’ pick the celebrated and uber-confident rookie, he won’t have to jump in Lake Erie again. Browns fans will throw him in. This one’s a no-brainer.Jackson, who gave his players the weekend off, wants to watch more tape and speak with his staff and general manager John Dorsey before making a decision that Mayfield has already made for him.Although Jackson wouldn’t publicly say Mayfield is his new starter, he gave strong indication he’s leaning that way by telling reporters on a conference call, “I think that you guys all feel good about where things are headed.”It’s Baker time.Out of respect for Taylor, who is in concussion protocol with his third head injury in 13 months, Jackson wants to tell his two quarterbacks his decision in person on Monday before sharing it with the world.Cleveland’s plan was to bring Mayfield along slowly and groom him under Taylor, who guided Buffalo to the playoffs last season. But Taylor’s injury along with his struggles in three starts has altered the Browns’ strategy.Taylor has completed 41 of 84 passes for 462 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, adding 125 yards rushing on 16 carries.But even before he was knocked from Thursday’s game , Cleveland’s offense was going nowhere as Taylor was 4 of 14 for 19 yards and was sacked three times. Jackson sidestepped addressing whether he was going to pull Taylor at halftime, but it had to be running through his mind because anyone watching the game was thinking the same thing.Mayfield’s first regular-season game as a pro couldn’t have gone much better. He completed 17 of 23 passes for 201 yards and was sacked once in just a little more than one half. His stats could have been more impressive if not for a drop by sure-handed receiver Jarvis Landry, and rookie Antonio Callaway letting a long throw down the sideline slip through his hands.“He made some tremendous throws,” Jackson said. “Obviously, he was able to move the team. Played with some rhythm. Got the ball into the playmakers’ hands and gave them chances to make plays. There are some things that he has to clean up, obviously. We can’t have the ball out on the ground. There are some progression things that we will work through.“Overall for his first game out under the lights in that environment in that situation, he handled all of that extremely well and played well.”Most impressively, Mayfield did it on a short work week and without taking any snaps in practice with Cleveland’s first-team offense. In fact, the 2-point conversion try he caught in the third quarter came on the first time he had ever run the play.But just as he did while winning the Heisman Trophy at Oklahoma, Mayfield elevated everyone around him, and in turn electrified 60,000 fans and a national TV audience.Mayfield took it all in stride, displaying humility that some wondered if he had after some questionable on-field antics while he starred for the Sooners. This game ranked with any of his wins.“This one is definitely up there, being the first NFL game that I have played in,” he said. “First regular-season one that actually counts. It is definitely up there for me. I have had some great memories, but I am just getting started.”NOTES: Other than Taylor, LB James Burgess (knee) was the only other notable injury against the Jets. Burgess started for LB Christian Kirksey, who missed his second straight game with an ankle injury. … Jackson said he’s not worried about giving his players so much freedom over the weekend. “We can’t follow them around. We can’t baby them,” he said. “At the same time, we know who the guys are who we have to have an idea of where they are and what they have been doing. They have been good about letting us know, and we will definitely stay in contact with the majority of the guys.”___
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