The Orange and Brown Report Film Room: X's & O's and First Overall Selection Myles Garrett

The OBR Film Room returns to breakdown the Browns' 2017 draft class through college game tape! What are each player's strengths and weaknesses? How do both show up on the field through scheme, concept, and technique? Join us as we continue to look at the number one overall selection in this year's NFL Draft, Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett.

Over the next several months The OBR will break down the Browns' 2017 draft class through film study with a focus on each prospect’s strengths and weaknesses. Rather than approaching each breakdown using the traditional approach of a draft profile or scouting report, we will take a detailed look at what each prospect was asked to do within their college scheme. The goal is to illustrate each player’s attributes –both positive and negative—through the X’s & O’s of the game.In the first episode of "Meet the Rookies", The OBR looked at first overall selection Myles Garrett's explosion.Our second installment stays with the All-American defensive end to break down a trait the Browns' front office appears to place a premium on, "athletic".Myles Garrett moves -- and tests -- freakishly well for a 6-foot-5, 270-pound man. The former Texas A&M Aggies' rare blend of speed, strength, and agility allowed the top prospect to impact the college game on multiple levels.Play the run?Check.

Rush the quarterback?


Turnovers and tipped balls?


Drop back in coverage to guard the curl/flat in a zone blitz?


Garret excelled at most of the things he was asked to do by his college defensive coordinator, John Chavis. It's that simple. Let's jump into the tape to analyze how Garret's exceptional athleticism translated to his college scheme, defensive concepts, and techniques.

Inside Zone with a backside read is likely the signature run play of the college game. Let's revisit a previous article to nail down the specifics of the concept: 

Inside zone is likely the simplest zone concept to block and run. Each offensive lineman is assigned a certain ‘area’ to block. If there is a defender in that area (known as ‘covered’) block him using a zone technique known as a 'reach' block (short lateral/45 degree step towards the play, aiming for the defender’s outside number).

If the gap is vacant (known as ‘uncovered’), the OL will take a lateral step and read the next near defender. If the defender moves outside (Figure 1) climb to the second level looking for a linebacker. If the defender moves inside (Figure 2), double team him by engaging the near shoulder, getting hip-to-hip with the other blocker, and moving the eyes to the second level in case a linebacker shows (note there are MANY ways to read and teach Inside Zone blocking technique; each coach has his/hers own preference).


The tailback will read the blocks on an interior defensive lineman (again these rules vary by coach) to determine which hole to hit. Many coaches will teach the tailback to read the playside interior lineman.This defender's action will dictate a bounce, bang, or bend read.

The ‘option’ component of the play comes when the offense elects to leave the backside (away from the play) EMLOS (End Man on Line Of Scrimmage) unblocked, allowing the quarterback to read defender’s movement at the mesh point. The quarterback has two choices with the read:

  1. If the read man squeezes inside to play the running back, pull the ball and run outside through the area the defender has vacated. Read the defender’s shoulders. If they are pointed inside away from the line of scrimmage keep the ball.

  2. If the defender stays wide to play the quarterback bootleg, handoff to the running back, eliminating the chance of the read man chasing the play down from behind. Again the defender’s shoulders are the key. If they stay parallel to the line of scrimmage, give to the tailback as the defender will need to flip his hips to chase the ball.

In our first example, the Redskins’ offense aligns in a ‘Double-Tight’, using 12 personnel (tailbacks/tight ends) from the Pistol formation. The read man is the 6i defensive end (#84) aligned over the inside shoulder of the tight end to the left of the formation.

Remember, if the read man holds his ground by staying square to the line of scrimmage Griffin will give to the tailback running Inside Zone. If the read man squeezes inside, Griffin will pull the ball and run through the area the defender just vacated.

Focus on the read defender in the GIF below:

With these conceptual and technical points in mind, let’s watch Garrett blow up a Split Zone play with his superior athleticism.

Our first clip comes from the Aggies’ 2015 38-17 victory over the Arizona State Sun Devils.

The offense is running the popular ‘Split Zone’ concept. The play is blocked and read like Inside Zone, with the added dimension of a Tailback/Y-off crossing the formation to execute an arc block on the first defender past the read man.

The art block is integrated into the play to seal the backside cutback lane for the tailback should he get a bang read from the interior lineman. The block also aids the QB boot because the boot defender may need to disengage from the block before he can chase the quarterback outside.

The offense has decided to run Split Zone away from Garrett, assigning him the unenviable task of being the read man and navigating the arc block coming across the formation

Garrett and Co. know that Inside and Split Zone is coming going into the game. Any good defense that expects to see the read game (Inside/Outside Zone, Power Read, Speed Option, Veer, etc.) will have a variety of run stunts in the game plan, often referred to by coaches as ‘gap games. The can be as complex as a full line slant and as simple as a single gap-plug blitz.

To combat the Sun Devils’ run game the Aggies defense will utilize a backside gap game that shows up over and over in their 15’ and 16’ film, the scrape exchange.

Remember that the read man is the QB’s pull/keep key. The idea is to "show" the quarterback a keep”read so he pulls the ball and executes the bootleg.

To trigger manipulate the QB into a pull, the read defensive end and the backside linebacker will trigger a pull read by exchanging gap responsibilities.

Here’s how it works.

A technically sound defense will always have a defender assigned to the tailback dive and quarterback bootleg. Due to the defense's alignment and offense's choice of play direction, Garrett will be responsible for the dive while the WILL (#33) has the QB boot. In order to correctly execute the gap game, both defenders must read their keys and recognize the play in order to get to their spot.

From their initial alignment, Garrett has C-gap force and the WILL has the B.

Garrett is likely reading the left tackle for his run/pass and play direction/type key, while the WILL is likely reading a combination of the guard, tailback, and quarterback.

The tackle to the read side will usually jump through to the second level looking for a linebacker to block. The defensive end should attempt to get hands on the climbing tackle, then replace his hip by squeezing down the LOS towards the tailback. If the tailback attempts to cut the ball back, the squeezing defender is in perfect position to make the play.

As this is happening, the WILL should recognize the run concept by the reach blocks and climbing tackle. As soon as he thinks “ZONE”, he must fast flow outside to replace Garrett as the C-gap defender.

Image courtesy of Matt Bowen

When executed correctly the technique acts as a trap. The quarterback will pull the ball because he is receiving a “pull” key from the squeezing defensive end, while the WILL loops around as a free hitter on what should be a very surprised QB.

Let’s watch it in real time. Remember, Garrett becomes responsible for the tailback dive as soon he reads the concept and direction.

Though no fault of Garrett, he does not get hands on the climbing tackle due his loose 5 alignment and the blocker’s two-inside steps. You can see first round pick leading with his left arm in an attempt to disrupt the climb, but there is simply too much distance to cover.

Move to the linebacker. You can see his aggressive outside steps as he recognizes the zone run. The blocker has no chance of reaching the WILL due to his inside steps at the snap.

Focus on Garrett’s athletic stance as he approaches the mesh point. The shoulders are square, the hips are low, the knees are bent, the feet are shoulder-width apart and most of the weight is on the balls of the feet. The body is a coiled spring ready to move in any direction.

As soon as Garrett recognizes the mesh-point pull, he immediately changes direction and chases the ball.  Few defensive ends possess the elite COD to execute their assignment, then quickly change direction to run down the ball carrier.

The linebacker fulfills his role as the force player, maintaining a clean outside shoulder to attack the QB outside-in. Garrett completes the tackling leverage by chasing the QB inside-out.

With nowhere to go and Garrett in his face, the ball is wisely thrown into the dirt. Another important point to note is Garrett’s lack of stats here. Garrett will receive no credit for this play although his supreme athleticism made it happen.

If Garrett had not changed directions and moved through space so quickly, the QB would likely have gained yards by cutting into the alley as the force man had to contend with the arc block from the tailback.

The offense did create numbers at the point of attack (POA). Garrett’s ability to do the job of two players without freelancing saved the defense.

Our second example shows Myles Garrett out of his element as he is asked to execute a ‘blitz peel’ technique on the tailback.

The Aggies are showing an overload the left side of the offensive formation. The defensive coaches likely want to force a check in protection as the offense will need to slide the OL away from Garrett towards the threat. On the white board this should leave Garrett one-on-on with the right tackle. If the tailback stays in to help the tackle Garrett has now occupied two blockers, clearing the way for his teammates to make a play.

The front’s window dressing is impressive. Pre-snap there are eight defenders close enough to be a credible threat,  however credible does not mean coming. As we will see shortly, the crowd around the LOS is only an act.

The defense ultimately brings three pass rushers while dropping the outside linebacker to spy the quarterback and rob inside-breaking routes.

With the tailback aligned to Garrett's side, he has dual responsibilities because the defense is playing man coverage behind the blitz. Garrett’s key is the tailback’s actions.

  • If the tailback becomes part of the protection (remember the goal it to trigger a protection change) Garrett will blitz.
  • If the tailback releases into a route, Garret will ‘peel’ his blitz to cover the releasing back in man coverage.

At the NFL level only the most athletic defensive ends are asked to play pass coverage. Generally, the assignment is a small area behind a zone blitz concept. You will rarely see an end asked to man up a tailback and chase him around the field.

The Browns’ shiny new toy is a different animal (at least at the college level).

Garrett will not be an All-Pro cornerback anytime soon, but his coverage is credible enough. Notice the subtle tug on the tailback’s inside hip (hidden from the ref) as he turns the corner. From there, Garrett does a good job of using his arm and body that would force the tailback to work around him on any throw to the back of the end zone. The ability to stop on a dime and flip the hips to chase a skill player down the field is very impressive.

A creative defensive coordinator like Gregg Williams will scheme Garrett into position to make plays, particularly through his zone blitz package. Don’t be surprised if Garrett comes up with an interception this season by dropping into a boundary flat and robbing a hot route behind a zone blitz.

Our final cut looks at a beautiful interception off a tipped ball.

Garret is well-known for his active hands. Over a three-year college career he racked up six fumbles/fumble recoveries and five passes defended. The day-one-starter will get his hands on the ball one way or the other.

Facing a third and long the percentages say the offense will likely throw the ball at this down and distance. Knowing this, Garrett can tee-off on his pass rush as he probably won’t need to defend the run.

There aren’t any X’s & O’s to breakdown here. This is a freak athlete making a play.

The Ole Miss offensive coordinator makes a great call here, exploiting the Aggies’ aggressive pass rush with a tailback screen.

Most edge defenders are getting caught midway between the quarterback and the tailback, forcing them to chase the ball down from behind. Garrett probably recognizes the screen when the tackle releases flat down the LOS, but rather than peeling back he trusts his speed in space to get to the quarterback before the ball is out.

Garrett is all over the Chad Kelly pass, tipping the ball, tracking it through the air, and making the interception. 

This level of athleticism cannot be taught. Thank goodness Myles Garrettt is a Brown.

Keep an eye out for our next session in The OBR film room as we dig into Myles Garrett’s pass rushing moves.

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