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In Cleveland, hope dies last

Archive for the category “positive signs”

Brownie Bites

Here are a few Brownie bites to serve as appetizers on a pre-Thanksgiving Wednesday.

According to Cold Hard Football Facts:

  • The Browns were effective moving the ball against the Jaguars on Sunday, as their last four drives all went at least 60 yards. Colt McCoy led touchdown drives of 87 yards and 85 yards, one 60-yard drive that ended with Phil Dawson’s field goal that was good but was ruled incomplete, and a 69-yard drive that ended with a McCoy interception.
  • McCoy and the Browns may not be putting as many points on the board as we’d like, but they are doing a good job protecting the ball, especially McCoy, who has yet to have a multiple-interception game this season. Meanwhile, 34 of the 44 starting quarterbacks this year have a multi-interception game. Add in relievers Mike Kafka and Jon Kitna, and there’s 36 quarterbacks in total who did that. Overall, only three teams haven’t thrown multiple interceptions in all 10 games: the Browns, Rams and 49ers.

According to Pro Football Focus:

  • Left guard Jason Pinkston seems have turned a bit of a corner. Pinkston had a negative grade in through the first eight games, but against Jacksonville he posted his second consecutive solid performance. He pulled left (something missing from the playbook since Eric Steinbach went out) to cut block Paul Posluszny on Chris Ogbonnaya’s touchdown run and only gave up one pressure in pass protection – a season low.

A few nuggets to chew on:

  • Even though he wasn’t in the starting lineup until recently, receiver Greg Little is first in the NFL among rookie receivers with 42 receptions. That’s three more receptions than former second-round pick Brian Robiskie has in his entire career.
  • Defensive tackle Phil Taylor is fifth in sacks among rookies (first among defensive linemen) and ninth in tackles (second among defensive linemen), while defensive end Jabaal Sheard is 11th in tackles (fourth among defensive linemen).
  • The Browns are eighth in the league in red-zone defense. Cleveland has given up 12 touchdowns on 28 drives inside its own 20-yard line. In the Browns’ four wins, they’ve allowed 12 points in the red-zone.

That’s probably too much positive stuff for some to take, however. Because if you listen to some fans, the Browns are losers, Pat Shurmur isn’t qualified to coach a junior high JV team and every decision Mike Holmgren makes is wrong.

Yep, no progress is being made at all.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Thoughts on Browns-Rams

While not as affirming as their opening preseason game against Green Bay, the Browns walked out of Saturday night’s tilt with the Rams with some positives.

It was a strange game, with the rain, the offensive struggles in the first quarter and a general feeling while watching the game that the team wasn’t playing very well.

But looking at the stats, the Browns outgained the Rams 285 to 172 and held St. Louis is 1.7 yards per rush. So they have that going for them.

The Good:

  • It looks like the team has a starting quarterback in Jake Delhomme. The veteran QB delivered a solid performance for the home crowd, completing 12-of-16 for 127 yards, a TD and a QB rating of 118.5.
  • Peyton Hillis showed that he’s going to become a fan favorite with some tough inside running.
  • Ben Watson made a nice TD catch in the second quarter.
  • The team overcame some early mistakes that resulted in a 13-0 hole to eventually take a 17-13 lead at the end of the third quarter.
  • Even though it seemed like his name was hardly called, T.J. Ward had another solid game, as did Joe Haden. The rookie duo broke up back-to-back passes in the second quarter to stall a Rams’ drive and force a field goal.

The Bad:

  • No sacks on defense.
  • Five turnovers – three fumbles and two interceptions – on offense, plus another two fumbles that the team recovered.
  • Only 3.6 yards per carry on the ground, after only gaining 3.9 per rush against Green Bay. Not a good omen for a team that is banking on being able to run the ball this year.
  • Eric Wright dropped two interceptions.

It some ways this may actually have been the kind of game the Browns needed. By making some avoidable mistakes, the team opened up an opportunity for the coaches to work the team this week and provide some teachable moments.

“We’re gonna turn the sprinklers on (at practice) or dunk the ball in water. It shouldn’t be like that,” coach Eric Mangini said in published reports, talking about the team’s inability to hold onto the ball.

The team needs to work this week to get its mojo back and correct some of the mistakes in time for Saturday’s game vs. Detroit. The third preseason game is generally the game where the starters play most of the way as they make their final preparations for the season opener.

Hopefully the team can bring it’s A game for 60 minutes at Ford Field.


What everyone else is saying:

Thoughts on the Browns Exhibition Opener

Some thoughts on the Browns preseason opening win over Green Bay:

The Good:

  • Jake Delhomme looked sharp on the team’s opening drive; hitting 6-of-7 passes and keeping the team moving – and no penalties.
  • The offense looked like it actually had a plan, something that was not always the case last season.
  • The defense forced two turnovers.
  • The offense only gave up one sack.
  • Phil Dawson appeared to be in regular-season form, hitting two field goals – including a 58-yarder.
  • Seneca Wallace made nice plays on his two TD passes.
  • Rookie defensive backs Joe Haden and T.J. Ward got their first taste of game action and Ward showed off his tackling skills, especially when he stopped Donald Driver short of a first down.

The Bad:

  • With several new players seeing their first game action on defense, the Browns were beat up pretty good by Green Bay’s offense as the Packers had 22 first downs and 340 yards of total offense.
  • Ward was beaten by Greg Jennings on a 25-yard TD catch and couldn’t bring down John Kuhn on a short TD run.
  • The defense only recorded one sack.
  • Colt McCoy hurt his passing hand when he hit a lineman’s helmet.
  • Mohamed Massaquoi spent time on the bench with his knee being iced.

While the Browns struggled on defense, it’s really not all that bad or surprising. Green Bay has one of the better offenses in the league, they were ranked seventh in passing last year, and with all the new pieces on defense you’d expect some problems.

Conversely, Delhomme and Wallace combined to complete 10-of-15 passes for 138 yards and two TDs in less than one half of action against a defense that was ranked fifth against the pass last year.

It’s really hard to judge a team during the exhibition season, especially during the first game. You never know how much of their offensive or defensive packages the other team is running, or how much/how hard the team’s top players are working during a game.

Based on what the Browns showed on the field last night, the team definitely has something to build on as it heads toward the second exhibition game on Saturday.

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