Analyzing Browns vs. Bills Preseason Game #2
Well this game was what I was expecting. A sloppy, physical contest that featured two defenses that shut down inept offenses. There were some penalties and mistakes made by both teams, which is to be expected at this time of year. It’s now time to break down the final preseason game played at First Energy Stadium in 2015.
Quarterback – Well, unfortunately the Josh McCown that many had come to expect this season was on display at First Energy Stadium. His first two drives ended with poor decisions when tossing the ball – leading to interceptions. Overall, the quarterback made some nice plays, but turnovers are killer. Also this offense is not good enough to overcome multiple interceptions and still win games. Hopefully he can get back on track in Tampa. As a backup, Manziel led a nice touchdown drive – I love seeing his progression, but I’ll wait to excited about his future.
Running Back – There was nowhere to go but up for the Browns’ running attack. Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell did not have tremendous performances, but they at least had some nice gainers not seen since about ten months ago. Those eight-yard-and-over rushes should be expected on a regular basis (we just needed to see them first). My faith has increased in this group, but let’s face it – they still have plenty of room to improve until September 13th.
Wide Receivers – This was not a stat-stuffing contest for the Cleveland Browns’ wide receiving corps. Brian Hartline secured a couple of fine grabs, while Andrew Hawkins was targeted on a few occasions. Other than that, the first team unit did not overwhelm by any means. Travis Benjamin and Taylor Gabriel did not get involved until Manziel came in the game. I would like to see what Terrelle Pryor and Dwayne Bowe add to this offense, but that looks like I will still have to wait.
Tight End – All three veteran tight ends got into the receiving game for the home team. Gary Barnidge made a nice grab early, but tipped up a McCown pass leading to an interception (while leaving the contest with a possible concussion). In his absence, Jim Dray and Rob Housler were able to snare a few tosses as well. None in this unit will ever have a large yardage or reception output, but I just want them to come down with important grabs.
Defensive Line – First, the positives for the group. Danny Shelton and Randy Starks each made a couple of nice plays while forcing the action behind the line of scrimmage. Other than that, there were missed tackles and assignments by the gang upfront. I really hope something can click with this group (and soon) so the line can be a much improved unit. Looking at their counterparts, the Browns still have a way to go until they can replicate the type of performance that the Bills’ defensive line has been displaying.
Linebackers – Paul Kruger was the only visible linebacker – outside or inside – for the Browns in the first half of this contest. He had a sack, a hit on Tyrod Taylor, and a great tackle for loss. Scott Solomon whiffed on a Taylor run and was rather disappointing. I hope some guy can step up soon; the Browns cannot afford to only have one reliable athlete on the outside (Orchard played nicely in the third quarter). It was a quiet evening for the trio in the middle – none really stood out but they were not poor either. I’m content with moving on and reevaluating these guys next week.
Secondary – About a billion injuries to the secondary did not provide a realistic gauge when looking at the back four. Johnson Bademosi is a fine special teams member, but should not be starting in the NFL (at least at this point). Fortunately, he held his own against Buffalo. I hope Jordan Poyer did not have a concussion, but if he did – I look for a quick recovery and for him to be ready to go for the regular season. That, and for Joe Haden, Pierre Desir, K’Waun Williams, Tashaun Gipson, and even Justin Gilbert to be healthy as well.
Special Teams: It would appear that Travis Coons might be the front-runner for the kicking job. He made a nice field goal last week and repeated that performance this contest. I just hope he can continue this all year long. Trading for Andy Lee was a great move by this front office – the Browns need to win the field position battle on a weekly basis, and he certainly helps with that.