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What can we expect in Dyami Brown’s second season?

Breaking down Dyami Brown’s rookie season and projecting his impact in Washington’s offense this year

Washington Commanders Off-Season Workout Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

With all the hype surrounding newly acquired receiver Jahan Dotson, Terry McLaurin’s absence over contract issues, and intrigue surrounding Curtis Samuel’s groin injury; second-year receiver Dyami Brown has often gone unmentioned in conversations. Yet, Brown’s rookie season was just as tumultuous as Samuel’s; the hype behind Brown’s name when he was selected and the praise Washington received when they drafted him told the fans and media that he could be ready out of the gate. Unfortunately it didn’t work out that way in 2021, and like Samuel, Brown is looking for a mulligan as well.

Brown’s 2021 statistical season was unimpressive, and his game logs suggest that his snap count decreased as the weeks went on. But as you look at the numbers in front of you, understand that on film, Brown displayed impressive traits as a rookie, suggesting he’s in for a much better year in 2022. I took a look at a few of his 2021 games, and here are my takeaways from what I found.

Let’s start in order, beginning with his release at the line.

In this particular situation, Dyami Brown faces a Cover 1 man cornerback playing Off-coverage. So in this situation, Brown must close the cushion as quickly as possible and find a way to create separation. At the snap, Brown displayed good acceleration at the line of scrimmage to close the cushion and utilized a jerk stem as he climbed upfield to give the defender the idea that he could either break inside or outside. Throughout the games I watched, Brown consistently closed the cushion between him and the Off-coverage defender due to good foot speed and acceleration. Secondly, Brown’s route stems against this coverage enabled him to create a leverage advantage versus the defenders across from him.

At the breakpoint, Brown blows by the defender with good explosion and a subtle head fake to break free on the third level of the defense. Unfortunately, his quarterback Taylor Heinicke was unable to see him downfield.

What about Brown’s hands?

Recently, several people argued with me that Brown’s ability at the catch point was poor and that he could not catch. But, I disagree entirely. On this play, against this cover-two defense, Heinicke allows Brown to make a play in the middle of the field. Brown displayed several traits that flashed throughout the 2021 season on this one opportunity. Brown has natural hands, with good concentration and good grip strength at the catch point, which enables him to catch through contact and other situations. Brown has also displayed courage and willingness to extend above his frame fully and very good competitiveness to high point passes or secure them in traffic. Brown also has good body control and adjustment, adjusting to inaccurate passes and high and low passes for passes around his frame. In all, Brown’s hands and adjustment ability create a very good catch radius.

Brown’s hands and adjustment ability were among the top two reasons Rivera and his staff fell in love with the idea of him in the first place. Brown had one drop this past season against the Buffalo Bills in a blowout loss. However, throughout the season, you saw a receiver who did not lack any confidence attacking the football.

Where did Brown face issues last season?

When Brown wins, it is primarily through his stem, athletic ability, and his understanding of leverage. However, Brown struggles in his ability to win through physicality and fully understanding certain coverage concepts. For example, in the first clip, Brown fails to create separation at the top of his break when he needs to push off against the defender. Washington used Brown on drags several times throughout the season, mostly against man coverage. What helps some receivers in these instances is a long arm into the defender’s chest and above-average play strength to go along with this. Nevertheless, Brown has to develop separation techniques that help him separate against tight man coverage, whether through manipulating at the top of the route or through play strength. These particular issues against tight man coverage also showed themselves against squat technique cornerbacks.

Another issue that popped up watching Brown was against Press/Jam cornerbacks. Brown has to continue working on reducing his surface area, which is the amount of chest/midsection that he exposes to a defender. Brown has to make that smaller. In this example against Atlanta Falcons cornerback A.J. Terrell, Brown does a good job of fighting through pressure to get into his route. However, because Brown’s hands were late to the fight against Terrell, the route is essentially dead at the line of scrimmage because Terrell was able to get into his chest and control Brown’s tempo.

With Brown’s issues being what they are, how is OC Scott Turner working around those issues?

Scott Turner did a good job scheming up free releases for Brown at the snap with stacked alignments or pre-snap motions. Stacked formations, in most instances, give the Off receiver a free release at the line of scrimmage, and pre-snap motions give receivers a running start at the snap that provides defenders with a much harder time getting their hands on the receiver already sprinting at them. In the example against the Kansas City Chiefs, Brown and Terry McLaurin do an excellent job against man coverage to make the stem of their routes precisely alike. Typically, both corners work together to take whichever receiver breaks in/out or who stems vertically/horizontally. However, because Brown initially mirrors McLaurin’s release, his drag route is wide open, and the cornerbacks were unable to be in a position to defend that in man coverage.

Conclusion

From an athletic standpoint, Brown has a lot going for him, and the tape showed me that he is a true vertical threat for Washington. However, Brown is still developing from a mental standpoint in processing the coverages he is up against and what separation techniques will work against them. Furthermore, Brown is probably working to refine the techniques he struggled with last year and his use of hands.

Carson Wentz, as we know, is an aggressive quarterback that loves to target the intermediate and deep levels of the defense. Flashback to the reason Dyami Brown was a valued draft prospect, his ability to stretch the field at North Carolina was as good as it got in the nation. While Terry and Jahan Dotson are three-level threats, as it stands today, Dyami is a two-level threat. Brown primarily ran Go’s, Post’s, and Dig’s last season, and I don’t expect that to change this season either. But with the help of Scott Turner, though, Brown has a chance to be an effective player on all three levels of the defense. We will know if Brown’s progressed once the season starts, but it was never all bad for Brown, and his quarterback has the right skill set to prove it potentially.

Watch the full Dyami Brown film session on the Trap or Dive YouTube channel.