Reviewing Preseason Game #4 – Browns vs. Bears
Well it was a game that meant very little for the Browns, but they had to play it anyway. The starters flexed their muscles against the opposing backups, as they should. Whether it was false hope or not, it was excellent to see the orange and brown be dominant on both sides of the ball (at least early on). Let’s take a look back at what was…
Offense: Brian Hoyer led a magnificent drive for his only one as a signal caller. He converted multiple third downs on the team’s touchdown drive. Hoyer also was able to hit several receivers on different patterns – I hope this can continue in a week and a half. When Manziel can play the way he did at A&M, he succeeds. That’s exactly what occurred on his touchdown drive; scrambling and finding a way to make a play. We’ll see what happens going forward.
Ben Tate looked about as solid as he has been all preseason long, which is a positive. Terrance West and Dion Lewis ran extremely hard; their continued desire makes fans feel a bit better about this offense. The running back position appears to be locked up and reliable – I really have high hopes for this group.
Andrew Hawkins, Jordan Cameron, and Taylor Gabriel each contributed on the first scoring drive for the Browns. Perhaps Gabriel is really clinging on with this team and can be a part of the first unit. Charles Johnson continues to disappoint, the only memorable play he was a part of was one where his helmet got knocked off.
The positive for the offensive line was that they were not extremely exposed. The vanilla offense did not show a large amount of complexity and therefore couldn’t prove their ability. I believe the starting unit will be fine and some backups could help provide depth in the regular season.
Defense: Billy Winn and Ishmaa’ily Kitchen were two reserve defensive linemen who stepped up in this contest. The starting group didn’t see a tremendous amount of time on the field and the guys after them on the depth chart filled in admirably. I wouldn’t be surprised if a trade came from this group, as the Browns have a surplus at defensive line.
It was excellent performance by the first groups of the linebackers. Barkevious Mingo notched a sack, while Craig Robertson took down the opposition. It’s really hard to gauge this position group on a game like this – but playing well (even against backups) is definitely a positive.
I’m extremely torn on Leon McFadden; the second year pro is so hit-and-miss. He has shown an ability to break up passes with ease, but also commits penalties and allows receivers to secure passes on him. The other secondary was not really picked on, so I can’t really evaluate their performance. I just look forward to the days with Joe Haden and Buster Skrine.
Special Teams: The punting and kicking units appeared to be in midseason form for the Browns. Taylor Gabriel continues to excel as a returner; I feel he can definitely compete with Travis Benjamin. The coverage units were solid as well, that needs to be the norm during the regular season.
Coaching: Shanahan opened up the playbook a little more this contest, and it definitely showed. Hoyer and Manziel each flashed ability on looks not seen in the previous few weeks. I really hope this preseason was one giant tease and the Browns are actually a competent offense. Nonetheless, the exhibition season is over and now it’s time for some real football!