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In Cleveland, hope dies last

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Thoughts on Browns-Lions

The Browns final real preseason game (is that an oxymoron?) left the team with as many questions as answers.

Once again, while the offense put together a solid effort, the defense continues to struggle.

The Good:

  • Jake Delhomme continued to show fans what an NFL-caliber QB looks like. He completed 20-of-25 passes against Detroit, with one TD. In three preseason games, Delhomme has completed more than 79 percent of his passes and has a QB rating of 110.5. Most importantly, he has yet to throw an interception.
  • Delhomme completed passes to 10 different receivers.
  • In the first half, when the starters were playing, the Browns scored 17 points, had 17 first downs and controlled the action, running 41 plays to Detroit’s 18.
  • Josh Cribbs had a nice sideline catch on a TD drive in the second quarter. He’s showing that he may finally be ready to be productive as the third wide receiver.

The Bad:

  • Matthew Stafford had a big day for Detroit, completing 13-of-17 passes. In three preseason games, the Browns defense has allowed opposing QBs to complete 30-of-36 passes.
  • The Browns have only one sack in three games.
  • The run defense regressed. After holding opponents to 2.6 yards per carry in the first two games, the Browns allowed the Lions to rush for 4.1 yards per carry.
  • The Browns have turned the ball over eight times in the past two games. That simply has to stop.

Overall, there are certainly reasons to feel, if not good, then better about this team after three games:

  • Delhomme appears to have settled the quarterback position; he’s taking control of the offense, he’s spreading the ball around and he’s not making any mistakes.
  • While the defensive secondary has struggled at times, the group should continue to improve. Rookies Joe Haden and T.J. Ward are getting game experience that will pay off when the season starts, and Sheldon Brown is a solid pro who’s play will rub off on the younger players.
  • Most importantly, the coaching staff – primarily head coach Eric Mangini and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll – seem to have cottoned on to what the preseason if there for. Unlike last year’s baggy-pants farce, the coaches are using the preseason to work on different aspects of the game – the no-huddle offense, going for it on fourth down, etc. – to prepare the team for the regular season. You actually see the offense come out with a plan and work to execute it.

The best part of Saturday’s game is it means we are now only two weeks away from the season opener.

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