Review of Titans @ Browns – Game #2
Well, the Browns got out-gained by the rush and the pass and lost the time of possession battle – however there was more to the story. The home team played mistake-free football and came away with a huge win. It was up-and-down for the Browns, but they made the plays when it mattered most. Let’s review what
Quarterback – The coaching staff put Johnny Manziel in a spot to only toss shorter throws with a greater percentage of a completion. The second-year pro pretty much executed that game plan well, going eight of fifteen passes for 172 yards – toss in some timely deep touchdowns, and it was a solid outing. I don’t know if he will start next week, but he continues to display improvement.
Running Back – I was extremely glad to witness Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson finally resembles viable running backs this season. The duo combined to eclipse the one hundred mark on the ground, while Crowell’s touchdown was exceptional for the orange and brown offense. If they can keep it up, then the odds for this offense will be much greater.
Wide Receiver – It was Travis Benjamin and that’s about it for the wide receiver corps. On Sunday, that was all home team needed in the passing game, as his two deep scores was the difference in the score. Andrew Hawkins also had three receptions, but totaled just forty-three yards. I look forward to seeing Brian Hartline contribute more in the passing game beginning next week.
Tight End – Gary Barnidge’s lone reception was the only bright spot for the tight end group – as least in the passing game. I recall seeing a couple of great blocks on the edge by Jim Dray, but that’s not going to be on any highlight reel. Hopefully this unit can make it easy on the quarterback by securing multiple grabs and moving the sticks regularly.
Offensive Line – I think the five guys (and sometimes six) upfront finally got a push. The Browns’ line finally paved the way for the running backs, while keeping the guy under center clean during drop backs. This appears to be the starting point of improvement by this group, should they get back to where they were in the middle of last season – then the sky is the limit for the offense.
Defensive Line – Sacks, hits on the quarterback, and a fumble recovery? The Browns’ defensive line appears to have turned a corner. Many guys contributed to this game, not just rookie Danny Shelton. I was really glad Jamie Meder and Randy Starks get it going – whether being a younger athlete or an aging veteran, the team needs all hands on deck.
Linebacker – As far as impact is concerned, the guys in the middle were more impactful for the home team’s defense. Karlos Dansby and Craig Robertson tallied to most and fourth most tackles with the team, while Chris Kirksey made some plays as well. I was a bit disappointed by Barkevious Mingo (a whiff on Mariota in the open field) – maybe things can change next week though. It would have been nice to see a guy in this unit actually cover a tight end, but they apparently refused to (maybe next week?)
Secondary – Joe Haden definitely bounced back from the season opener, as the veteran was always around the football and made a great fumble recovery. Tramon Williams looked like a viable starter as well in this matchup. Personally, I would have liked to see the safeties a bit more active in this contest (outside of a few stops by Donte Whitner). Perhaps they will be included more in the defensive game plan next week.
Special Teams: A punt return touchdown, several great punts, and great coverage – I would say the Cleveland Browns won the special teams battle. This type of domination should not be expected every week, but it was very great on Sunday. Just keep it up and there will be no complaints.
Coaching: This was a solid game plan by both sides of the ball. John DeFilippo limited Manziel’s passes and potential for a mistake, while Jim O’Neil put pressure on Marcus Mariota. Both worked out well and the Browns got to a 1 – 1 record. This was a great win, but the team still has miles to go to be great.