I want to start off by saying that I notice a large number of people pass judgment before doing even a little due dilligence; I'm not one of those people. I admit that I was not floored by the hire, not because I wanted Option A or Option B, but because I knew that the Browns struggled last season and wasn't thrilled that we picked up the guy at the controls. But believe me, don't judge this book by his cover.
I watched one or two of their games during the regulary season, mainly because I was a Colt McCoy fan when he was in college, but didn't really pay much analytical attention to their scheme. I decided to go back and watch some of their 2010 games to review their offense and get a relative sense of what we can expect to see next season. I must say, I'm excited about the possible complexion of our offense in 2011.
These are a few things I noticed:
* They ran a large number of 3 and 4 WR sets (seems exponentially more than what Henning did with us)
* He tried to create mismatches and isolations with crossing routes, shifts and misdirection. His plays seemed to be designed to fool the defense. He'll do things like run a play-action naked bootleg to the right. Have the WR from the left, run all the way across the field to the side McCoy is rolling to, then have the TE (lined up left) run a wheel route up the left sideline, trailed by the HB (play-action) who then cuts to the middle of the field. This forces the free safety to cover the TE up the sideline, SS or LB to cover the HB in the middle, but leaves the CB one on one with the WR running across to McCoy's side.
That's how you give your guys a chance to make plays!
* I'm pretty impressed with his route combinations (sure beats 4 routes we ran all season long)
* He was aggressive, they attempted the deep pass several times a game. I must say, the Browns WRs are so terrible, it makes me so appreciative of the WR core that we have. Colt McCoy also wasn't very accurate on a number of those deep passes.
* The one bright spot for his offense was Hillis, and he used it to his advantage. I like his combination of running plays. Even though everyone knew that Hillis and the running game was all they had, they still couldn't stop it (big credit to Hillis' tough running and the Oline). A number of his running plays would be run out of 3 WR sets and a TE (sometimes TE split as a slot WR). That forced the offense to cover the personnel on the field, which left less defenders in the box. This also left the defense very susceptible to the play action, which to me, seemed to be the only time the Browns receivers had any real separation.
* Besides the wildcat, he added in some trickery that utilized the athleticism of McCoy, which was interesting to to see the aggressive play call. They ran a sweep to Hillis, while McCoy slipped out the back door, and Hillis tossed a 15 yard backside pass to a wide open McCoy. If it wasn't as underthrown as it was, he may have gained possibly another 10 yards, and this was against the Saints (which they beat pretty handedly). They also ran a play, where they had their lineman and all of their receivers kinda stand around as if they were setting up. Chauncey Stuckey lined up in the FB position and Hillis as the HB. Cribbs was lined up in shotgun as if it was a wildcat play, then he walked to the line as if he was about to audible. He then received the snap, catching the defense off guard, he handed it to Stuckey, almost 'statue of liberty'-esque, while he, Hillis and most of the line ran to the right. Stuckey and 3 lineman ran left, and the defense had no shot. He scored from 11 yards out.
* The thing I see that I like the most is the number of formations he uses. They would do things like line up with an empty backfield, 4 WR, Hillis as a 5th WR and McCoy in the Shotgun. Then motion Hillis back to line up with McCoy in the backfield, then run a delayed draw. This, again, forced the defense to cover the personnell, which left less defenders in the box, and Hillis gained 8 yards.
I also wanted to mention something the comentator (I believe Rich Gannon) said during the Saints game. He said that McCoy told him that he had to be really careful with his eyes because Darren Sharper is really good at reading the QB, so he was very conscious of looking him off. Now this is a rookie QB saying this! That made me wonder how much of that was Daboll's doing. Chad P mentioned how instrumental Daboll was in his development as a QB, maybe this was his development of McCoy? Something to think about.
Also, In the Patriots game, Gannon also said "as a young QB, you have to love the play selection of Brian Daboll. He's giving you opportunities to make a big play". This was on a 1st and 10 in the red zone, and he dialed up a deep shot to TE Ben Watson, which McCoy overthrew (This was his 2nd start).
After reviewing just a few games, I have to say that I'm sold Daboll. I wouldn't let the fact that a very untalently Browns team was ranked 30th (or whatever they were ranked) derail me from the big picture. Daboll is aggressive, creative, and he seems to really understand how to confuse defenses. I'm really excited to see what he can do with a far more talented offense.
Kudos to this front office for having the guts to remove the "sexy hire" shades and see what a real asset this guy can be. Watching McCoy run this offense, I'm starting to think that even Henne can get the job done in this system. Now I liked McCoy at UT, but he was still a 3rd round pick, on a pretty terrible Browns team, and even he looked pretty darn good. I think even if Cam Newton slipped to us, he could flourish in this system.
Just wanted to share my revelation.