Game #1 Review – Browns @ Eagles
Ahh, another year is upon; and yet another season is complete without the Browns winning their opening game. They are now a record one win and sixteen losses in the first game of the campaign – when will the madness end? We will have to wait another year to answer this question; for now let us look back at Sunday’s debacle.
Quarterback – It could have been much worse for Robert Griffin; the signal caller had a decent outing, and was able to find the end zone. The problem occurred in the latter stages of the contest – when Griffin airmailed several tosses by substantial amount. I still have a decent amount of confidence in the quarterback, but he could have played a bit better on Sunday.
Running Back – As expected, the Browns gained most of their yardage when the game did not matter (mostly long gains by Isaiah Crowell). I felt Duke Johnson was underutilized in this matchup and would have liked to see him given opportunities to succeed. Alas, that was not the case and the Browns had to settle for yet another disappointing outcome.
Wide Receiver – Terrelle Pryor continues to be a bright spot for the wide receiving unit. The veteran had a couple of great grabs, including a down field haul early in this matchup. I am rather impressed at his turnaround from the 2015 season. Rookie Corey Coleman could have played a bit better – the wide out had a few drops and did not make the most of his opportunities in this matchup.
Tight End – Speaking of poor outings, what was up with Gary Barnidge? The tight end coming off a Pro Bowl appearance had a pair of drops and then did not have a target the rest of the campaign. I understand the Browns’ passing attack does not have to revolve around Barnidge, but having him as an option would be a welcomed sight.
Offensive Line – I thought the guys upfront held their own in the first half of this matchup. Meanwhile, the Browns trudged their way though this contest, and the offensive line had their issues later in the contest (including Joe Thomas surrendering a sack). The horrible snap surrendered by Cameron Erving was the game changer – and not for the good. It could have been better for this unit, and I have no idea if they will improve going forward.
Defensive Line – Outside of Carl Nassib giving pressure on the edge, were there any other athletes playing along the defensive line? It was hard to find an athlete or two who could disrupt the offensive sets of the Eagles on a consistent basis. Danny Shelton made one or two nice plays, but that is not nearly enough for a first round selection. This unit needs a great deal of work going forward.
Linebacker – The linebacker corps appears to be a mess; in the middle only a handful of plays appear to be memorable. Christian Kirksey and Demario Davis had their hand in a few stops, but were not nearly as important as I would have imagined. Emmanuel Ogbah, Joe Schobert, and Nate Orchard were rather underwhelming as outside pass rushers. I hope their lack of experience is the reason why they struggled and the group continues to improve as the season moves along.
Secondary – Well Jamar Taylor and Tramon Williams did not accomplish anything to give me any sort of excitement. Meanwhile, Joe Haden was rather quiet until surrendering another deep touchdown pass. I can’t recall anything from the safety postion of notes as well; Derrick Kindred had a solid hit or two but that was about it. Overall, the Browns’ secondary was abysmal and I am extremely worried that they will be torched on a weekly basis. This is a passing league and the Browns cannot defend it.
Special Teams: Outside of a poor punt coverage in the first half, the Browns and Eagles had an even matchup in the battle for special teams. I think Andy Murray did an adequate job as a kicker, and Brittion Colquitt was not perfect – but far from terrible. In the end, the Browns still have room to grow but immediate improvement would be preferred.
Coaching: I would have liked to have seen more blitzes by the defense; they showed (in limited opportunities) that they could be effective, but the Browns did not utilize them too often. Meanwhile, the play calling could have featured more of swing passes to Duke Johnson and in routes (maybe the early drops curtailed this). Nonetheless, the Browns did not do enough and lost yet another opening game. Now, it’s on to week two.