Loss at Lambeau – Looking Back
It was hardly pretty, but I feel better about the Cleveland Browns following this preseason opener than I did a season ago. Let’s take a look into what went right and wrong for each position group.
Quarterback – Good – The back shoulder fade touchdown from Cody Kessler to Rashard Higgins. I know it was just one play, and it was against guys who might not make the final roster – but that was a thing of beauty.
Bad – The goal line interception tossed by Robert Griffin. The signal caller took a chance and it did not work out. Hopefully, he is smarter with the ball in the regular season.
Ugly – The possibly concussion that Austin Davis might have received in the third quarter. He slid headfirst and got a knee into his head; all football fans hate seeing that. (Kessler’s first safety is an honorable mention – come on rookie!)
Running Back – Good – The twenty-seven yard rush by Raheem Mostert. It was the only long play on the ground by the Cleveland Browns. I want to see these type of runs going forward, but it might not be by the same player.
Bad – It came on special teams, but Mostert’s fumble on a free kick (following a safety) is unacceptable. He showed flashes of speed as a returner last season; however security of the ball is vital to make the roster.
Ugly – The lack of output by the running game. I’ll give them a little bit of a pass, as this was likely done by design (to reduce opportunities for injuries). Garnering seventy-seven yards on just seventeen carries is not spectacular though.
Wide Receiver – Good – The first offensive play of the game. The forty-nine yard bomb from Griffin to Terrelle Pryor was a fine sight to see. Should this be a staple of the offense in 2016? It would be a nice option, if it can consistently work.
Bad – The drops by Rannell Hall. The athlete is fighting for a job and his mistakes are not helping his chances. Hall must overcome this in practice and next week’s game if he wants to make the final squad.
Ugly – I cannot really think of a play for this category (which is obviously positive). The team refrained from dumb penalties or mistakes at the position. Maybe this is growth at a previously underwhelming unit.
Offensive Line – Good – The starters were not noticed in this contest. That means they were not beaten or committed penalties. I understand this is just a preseason contest – but I will take it from these guys upfront.
Bad – I guess it would be the three sacks that rookie Cody Kessler endured in the pocket. There is ample blame to go around for sacks, but the guys upfront should be doing a better job of protecting the quarterback.
Ugly – Two penalties for guys making contact for hands to the face. Really? Those are drive killers and are completely unnecessary. It’s fortunate that the starters did not commit these errors.
Defensive Line – Good – The play of Jamie Meder. The veteran might have secured his reserve role at nose tackle. He notched a safety and tallied four stops in the contest – I am eager to see him continue to develop.
Bad – The run defense as a whole. The Browns surrendered 151 yards on the ground, which is not stellar. Couple that with the fact that teams usually do not run in the preseason, and this could be an early red flag.
Ugly – Nothing of great note in this category for the Browns. I would like to see them garner more sacks, but that will come when Ray Horton designs them in his game plan.
Linebackers – Good – The play by rookies Dominique Alexander and Joe Schobert. The inside linebackers had a combined nine tackles, two of them going for a loss. The latter was drafted while the former was not; however both are fighting for their spot on this team.
Bad – Not making the Packers pay for using their reserve signal callers. Aaron Rodgers and Brett Hundley did not suit up for this contest – I would have liked to have seen the Browns put more pressure on Joe Callahan and Marquise Williams.
Ugly – Seeing the Packers reserve runners getting to the third level. This refers to the linebackers not making tackles on Williams, Brandon Burks, or Brandon Ross – and witnessing the secondary having to bring down the athletes.
Secondary – Good – The interception by Eric Patterson at the goal line. I admit, I was unaware that the guy was on the team before the game. Will this help him make the final roster? Who knows, but I was glad seeing someone nab one of the Packers signal callers.
Bad – The play of veteran Tramon Williams. He was beaten on a few plays and was not impactful at all. I hope this was the fact that he was underselling an exhibition game (though that attitude cannot rub off on the younger guys).
Ugly – Nothing too ugly for the Browns’ secondary. Were they lockdown? Nope, but they were not giving up longer gains – typical of years past. I want to see a guy or two stand out (in a good way) next contest.
Conclusion: It was not a pretty game, but the Browns did have some bright moments. I think they are miles ahead of where they were in 2015, but still would like to see further improvement next Thursday.