Saturday, August 28, 2010

Browns Sloppy in Loss to Lions

Thoughts about the Browns after the 35-27 loss to the Lions in Pre-Season Week 3…

Jake Delhomme had a great day statistically (10-25, 152 yards, 1 TD) but did look a little “off” on a number of throws. Brian Robiskie, Josh Cribbs and Evan Moore all bailed him out with great catches on off target throws. That being said, Delhomme still has a presence that we haven’t seen in a long time in Cleveland. You have to LOVE on how fired up he was when he got face-masked and head-slammed Ndamukong Suh. He may struggle from time to time but the guy won’t let failure deter him.

Seneca Wallace was up and down making some really nice plays with this legs and arm but looking ragged at times as well. Running him out of the Pistol Formation is definitely intriguing. Keep in mind we still haven’t seen the “Flash” or “Cyclone” packages with he and Cribbs yet. If Delhomme falters, it’s Wallace to the rescue but it will be interesting how they incorporate him into the week to week game plans during the season.

Colt McCoy is not going to play this year. Period. If both Delhomme and Wallace both go down the Browns will grab a free agent, veteran QB. The kid looks overwhelmed at the pace of the game. I haven’t seen him throw down field effectively and when he doe it has not been pretty. The kid is going to make the team but shouldn’t see the field unless the Browns are up by 28.

I am a big Jerome Harrison honk, but this fumblitis the last two weeks is cause for concern. The guy is a warrior especially at that position and at his size but with Montario Hardesty getting healthy and Peyton Hillis shining in the pre-season Harrison better check himself or he will be seeing a lot less of the field than he wants.

Speaking of Hillis, seeing he and Vickers in the backfield makes me salivate. Two big backs., both wearing numbers in the forties, both who rather hit you then juke you. Old school. Love it.

Hard to believe but I am pining for the days of the Human Parking Cone Kevin Shaffer. My detest for John St. Clair as a player is well documented and Tony Pashos did nothing to impress me today either. Guy stunk when he was at Baltimore and, sadly, they are good judges of talent. Throw in that he can’t stay healthy in the last three years and it is a concern. Save us Pork Chop Womack, you’re our only hope! (I just threw up in my mouth a little bit typing that.)

The defense is getting more and more worrisome. Joe Haden and T. J. Ward do look like ball players but they are young and need time to develop. They will evolve over the year but it will take time. The front seven’s inability to generate pass rush will put even more pressure on the young ones.

No Shaun Rogers definitely hurts and other that Ahtyba Rubin no one else on the defensive line has looked impressive, although Brian Shaeffering did look solid today. The linebackers will be mixed and matched and I hope Eric Mangini and Rob Ryan are holding back a bunch of looks for the regular season. It will be interesting on who makes this squad after Thursday’s final pre-season game. The David Veikunes, Kaluka Maiavas and Jason Trusniks of the world need be worried.

Javid Best exposed the Browns lack of athleticism up front and they need to make that up with scheme and technique. The Lions are an up and coming offensive team but no where near the quality of offense that the Browns will face during the regular season. They need to step it up big time if they are going to be competitive on that side of the ball.

So it goes with the Browns. I come into camp worried about the offense and I leave peeing myself about the defense. Such is life. First cuts down to 75 on Tuesday, the Bears on the Thursday and final cuts to 53 Saturday. It will be interesting on how Tom Heckert shapes up this roster. Eric Mangini went through a lot of guys last year but no longer has control over the 53 man roster. Those in spots 45 an below must make a showing on Thursday as the starts will play little if at all.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Browns Top Packers 27-24

Well, after the Browns ended the 2009 season on the strength of a stifling defense and power running game it only makes sense that they would open the 2010 exhibition season throwing the ball all over the place in a 27-24 win over the Green Bay Packers. The only thing that makes sense for the Browns since their reincarnation in 1999 is that they never make sense.

Taking the opening kick-off and never looking back, Jake Delhomme temporarily tabled talks of his sub-par Training Camp with a 6 for 7 effort that spread the ball around to Mohammed Massaquoi, Brian Robiskie and Evan Moore. Delhomme look sharp, decisive and in control, qualities that have rarely been associated with a Browns quarterback in the past few years. It was Delhomme’s only series on the night but it was a refreshing sight to see the Browns offense come out strong from the beginning for once.

Delhomme looked good but Seneca Wallace may have looked even better. Undersized but athletic, Wallace kept the Green Bay defense off balance by rolling out of the pocket and keeping plays alive with his legs. He hit Robiskie in the back corner of the endzone for one touchdown and then threw a perfect pass down the seam to Tight End Ben Watson for another. If Delhomme does falter at some point it appears the Browns do have a viable option in their back pocket.

Colt McCoy did a good job of putting the minority calling for him to get more snaps to bed as he looked awful in almost two quarters of work. Five for ten for only 25 yards and two awful, awful interceptions showed why he needs to “redshirt” in 2010 and learn from the veterans. Some of the pundits thought he might be he top QB prospect in this year’s draft but he does need to sit and learn for at least a year. Tim Couch and Charlie Frye would agree with that sentiment wholeheartedly.

Other than that it was good to see the Browns pick up some short yardage with Jerome Harrison running behind Lawrence Vickers and the offensive line. They may have thrown it around the field yesterday but the Browns are still going to want to stuff it down the opposition’s throat during the regular season.

Peyton Hillis also flashed his patented hands on a few screens and may be a nice third down option out of the back field. Moore lined up in the slot a lot which is a nice option in two tight ends sets with Watson. I have a hunch these guys are going to catch a ton of balls this year. The best sign was that despite the presence of any big names at the skill positions the Browns spread the ball around and kept the defense off balance… without any Wildcat or Cyclone packages. That is a very good thing.

The defense however did not fair as well on the day. Aaron Rodgers, and Matt Flynn after him, and his receiving core picked apart the Browns defense for their entire stay. Rodgers was 10 for 10 with a TD in the first two Green Bay drives on the night. Greg Jennings burnt rookie T. J. Ward on the first score and fullback Jon Kuhn bulled over Ward from 2 yards out for the second. Ward wasn’t the only offender on the tackling front and the Browns seemed to have trouble wrapping up and taking down the Packers all night.

The only good things that stood out were the fact the Browns were stout against the run all night across the board. Ahtyba Rubin forced a fumble on Green Bay’s first play from scrimmage and makes the whispers of Shaun Rogers moving to end make sense. Ward was everywhere despite being picked on at times a delivered big hit from the safety position that the Browns have not seen since 1995. Marcus Bernard or Jason Trusnik may not make the team due to the linebacking depth the Browns have, but both guys are high motor guys that are all over the place that will find a place elsewhere if not here.

Kudos to Phil Dawson for drilling field goals of 58 and 46 yards to win the game (and prevent the dreaded pre-season overtime). Joe Thomas and Josh Cribbs are special players, but after them Dawson may be the third best player on the team since their rebirth. He’s clutch, has made ridiculous kicks in adverse conditions and gets better as the years go on.

With Dave Zastudil out Reggie Hodges was hit and miss with punting duties and it wouldn’t surprise me if Zastudil is not ready that the Browns scour the waiver wire after cut to find a more reliable option. Zastudil, like Dawson, quietly spoils us with his consistency at an often ignored position. Dropping over HALF his kicks inside the twenty before getting hurt last year is a sick statistic, especially when you consider how much the Browns punted last year.

Its back home for #1 pick Sam Bradford and the St. Louis Rams next Saturday night. Hopefully we’ll get to see a little more of Delhomme and the first team O and the defense can step it up. It was a very impressive debut and let’s hope things get even better. A brutal regular season schedule awaits in 3 weeks and the Browns need all the confidence going into 2010 that they can generate.