This play was run early in the game, and the Browns started by blitzing the middle of the offensive line to take advantage of the Bengals’ weakness. In the play above, Dalton managed to hit Armon Binns, aligned to his left, on a route to find a hole in zone coverage. Other times it was more successful, however. D’Qwell Jackson is a thumping middle linebacker than can get after a quarterback.
This play illustrates how the zone-heavy coverage was dropping their linebackers exceptionally deep, likely to avoid a big play from Green. In this play, they successfully closed the window for the post route to Green, a good bet against the Cover 2 because it splits the safeties. What the Bengals did to beat it was find Brandon Tate on a crossing route underneath the linebackers.
It’s a textbook zone read: based on the linebackers’ and safeties’ reactions, one of the receivers will be open. With the linebackers’ depth, Tate was a no-brainer.