Thaddeus Lewis makes his second career NFL start on Sunday for the Buffalo Bills. His first came last year in the Browns season finale. While it played out as a meaningless game, it now stands as some of the only tape the Bills and Bengals have to go on, in gearing up for Sunday.
Jeremy White fires up the All-22 review to take a look.
I would like to issue a few disclaimers when talking about this week’s All-22 Review. As is the case every week, I don’t know the play calls. Each week as I look at the Bills tape I can see patterns emerging. I can see loose sketches of the game plan. With this one game that Thaddeus Lewis played for the Cleveland Browns, the All-22 will serve a bit of a different purpose. This will be primarily observational, rather than analytical.
What did the Browns have him do?
What did he do well? Poorly?
Did he favor one side of the field...or one target over any other?
How was he with pressure?
Sample size? PFFFFFFTTH! Screw sample size! This is all we’ve got!
*Second disclaimer - Last year's All-22 wasn't HD. Apologies for the quality of this Tecmo Bowl-esque film.
Stat Line - Thaddeus Lewis - 22/32, 204 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 1 fumble, in a 24-10 road loss -
Lewis played on the road against a 7-8 Steelers team that entered with the NFL’s #1 ranked defense. The Browns were 5-10 heading into the game, and elevated Lewis from the practice squad, to starter. He got his first start on the road, as a member of a terrible team.
Last year’s Browns offense was terrible:
Yards per Pass: 27th
Yards per Rush: 24th
First Downs: 29th
Thaddeus Lewis played on a terrible team, and didn’t get much help in his only NFL action. Twice...yes, that’s right, TWICE he completed a pass to a receiver who then fumbled the ball.
The following chart gives a good look at just what Lewis’ workload was. Column one is a completion/incompletion...followed by yards, style of drop, and where the throw went.
Sacked on blitz
Sacked again and fumble.
I’ll show you a few of these plays to give you a good idea of Lewis’ skill set.
Let’s start with the TD pass. The Browns used an awful lot of play action in this game. I’d say that Lewis does a good enough job with play-fakes, but none of them are read option. While the Bills say he can run the read option, most of the work that he did in run-fakes came out of traditional formations. You’ll see the theme developing over the course of this piece.
The Browns face 2nd and goal. WR Greg Little motions across the formation from left to right, and then heads to the back of the end zone. As the throw isn’t immediately there, he then starts to drag across the back of the end zone. Little is the only receiver in the play, and Lewis rolls out to his left. He then finds Little in the back of the end zone on a very nice throw. Add in James Harrison’s vintage “Harrison Hit” where he tries to smash Lewis’ face off his body...and you come away fairly impressed with the play. Game tied 10-10.
*When should I mention that the Browns drive only happened because of a 35 yard gain on a fake punt. Ok. Just did. Hashtag - 4th down.
You see Troy Polamalu at his very best on Thad Lewis’ interception. Polamalu reads the QB the entire way, and takes the ball away quite easily.
Looks like a bad read, a bad throw, and it’s bad all around. Lewis throws while on the run, but didn’t need to. He had time, and other options.
Other highlights to take a peek at:
Thad Lewis did not look overmatched in his NFL debut. He made a number of quick decisions with the football, and put his play makers in a position to run after the catch several times. He was working with Greg Little, Ben Watson, Josh Gordon and Travis Benjamin.
Well....he had Trent Richardson, right? No. Leading rusher on the day for the Browns was Brandon Jackson with 54 yards. Behind Jackson, was Montario Hardesty with 37 yards.
Lewis showed some good things in NFL action. All in all, it’s not all that surprising to see that he was given another shot to play. It’s certainly not an ideal situation, but it could be worse. His arm isn't great. Accuracy is good, considering his place in the quarterback food chain. He timed out at approximately 2.2 seconds per dropback to throw. His number would have been even lower if he weren't spending so much time running play action.
He delivers quickly. Sunday we'll see if any of what he did last year carries over.
My prediction - If Thaddeus Lewis gives us a carbon copy of his performance of Week 17 last year...very few are complaining about the QB.