July 30, 2014

Browns Beat Packers, Show Signs of Depth

The Browns aren’t definitively headed to the Super Bowl this season even after beating the defending Super Bowl Champions 27-17 in their opening pre-season game.  That being said, this weekend, they showed up and did their jobs on the field better than most probably thought they could.  We’ve been hearing about how the Browns, out of all NFL teams, would be behind the eight ball with a new offense, defense and without training camps.  Those thoughts were well-founded, but the Browns did their best to dispel it as myth this weekend against the Pack.

Colt McCoy and the first-team offense’s overall efficiency has been very well-documented since they left the field on Saturday.  McCoy’s ability to work the ball around to Ben Watson, Josh Cribbs, Greg Little, Brian Robiskie, Evan Moore and Peyton Hillis is encouraging to say the least.  The Browns might not have “The Greatest Show on Turf” levels of talent on their roster, but that doesn’t mean as a unit they can’t do some serious damage by being smart and efficient.  They at least showed the beginnings of that this weekend.

For me, the real takeaways from this game were on the defensive side of the ball from a depth standpoint.

I have been concerned about the thin linebacking corps.  I want D’Qwell Jackson to be the player I’ve always thought he could be, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have concerns about his prospects for staying on the field.  Scott Fujita is a clear leader on this defense and changed games last year, but he is an elder statesman at 32.  Chris Gocong isn’t thought to have a serious injury, but he missed Saturday’s game with the lingering effects of his neck “stinger.”  That put Kaluka Maiava in the starting lineup for the Browns.  I like Kaluka Maiava.  I think he can be a solid NFL pro.  The fact is that he is a former fourth round draft pick and due to injury last season, this is basically only his second year on the field.  That concerns me.

That’s why I was so pleasantly surprised to see Maiava play pretty well in Gocong’s place.  I was elated to see Brian Smith, undrafted from Notre Dame, find his way into the backfield and strip the QB.  It was good to see Titus Brown scoop the ball up and rumble for a touchdown.  That one play aside, Titus Brown showed some serious toughness clogging lanes with his big 6’3″ 250 pound frame.  Obviously it is just one pre-season game, but all these guys can do is pass the tests that are in front of them.  They passed this first quiz, I’d say.

I also have concerns about the depth in the secondary for this Browns team.  It was nice to see guys like Buster Skrine, Ramzee Robinson, and James Dockery make plays, amongst others.  This team still has loads of question marks, but you have to feel good when you start looking at potential holes and find out that they aren’t bottomless pits the way some people describe them.

  • Pale Dragon

    McCoy’s pass to Robiskie was a thing of beauty. He had a very tight window to hit, and he threaded the needle like a veteran. The offense as a whole looked very comfortable.

  • BuckeyeDawg

    Certainly something to build on…McCoy looked comfortable and the defense looked capable enough for a quarter. The real test comes when we see if they can sustain those levels of play as the game moves on and teams make adjustments. If I’m not mistaken, DelHomme looked pretty good in the 1st quarter of last year’s preseason opener as well…

    So far so good, though…

  • jimkanicki

    i went through the nerdy exercise of screen-capping the first couple drives. there is a lot to like with the offensive play-calling and execution.

    (not intended to be a work of art –> http://www.jimkanicki.com/misc/Blog/Entries/2011/8/14_browns_vs_packers%2C_8_13_2011.html )

  • mgbode

    I agree that our CB depth looks pretty good. Surprisingly too.

    I’m still very worried about our depth (and FS starter for that matter) at safety.

    I’m still very worried about our LBs, but, as you mentioned, there were some bright spots. Titus Brown is growing on me.

    I’m still very worried about our depth (and starters) at DE. DT looks to be much better both as starters and depth.

  • EdgewaterJoe

    The entire team, from Colt to the coaching staff, just went out and did their jobs with efficiency and a lack of fuss. They looked professional – and when was the last time you could call a Browns team that?

    Definite progress.

    There. Week’s over. Back to work!

  • tsm

    Remember – we’re talking about “practice”.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com DP

    I’ll say it.

    Sheldon Brown worries me sick. I thought the Pack’s first 3-and-out was more rust on Rodgers’ part than anything the Browns were doing. I thought he missed two throws that were wide open. Brown looked b-a-d BAD trying to guard Greg Jennings.

    This is the position group that scares me the most of the entire roster.

  • Vengeful Pat

    @DP, totally agree. Sheldon Brown did not impress in his first preseason game. And I agree, an in-form Aaron Rodgers completes his two misses in that game. I do think that Brown had pretty good position on Jennings on the TD throw… that was just a perfect throw to the outside of the WR.

  • jimkanicki

    @DP/Pat — ramzee robinson (dont laugh) looked very good to me.

  • Vengeful Pat

    @jimkanicki this is a good point, although let’s temper that point by remembering that he looked good against Matt Flynn and the 2nd team GB offense. My favorite thing about Robinson was the huge crush he had on himself. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a player celebrate his work more than Ramzee Robinson celebrated routine tackles on receivers who just completed passes.

  • mgbode

    Lauvao was so impressive that Yates is just going to up and retire telling Shurmur about the RG-spot “You’re good”