July 30, 2014

Browns vs. Eagles – Browns Bad, But Phil Taylor!

It was a fall to earth for Colt McCoy and the offense and the Browns couldn’t seem to keep LeSean McCoy in their sites, but this game will be remembered for Phil Taylor.  Taylor has had his name mentioned lately for the wrong reasons as people were starting to doubt the Browns’ first round pick.  He did everything he could to rectify that last night in Philadelphia.

Taylor seemed like he started most plays in the Eagles backfield.  That can be a mixed bag when it happens to flush Michael Vick from the pocket.  It bit the Browns a few times, but it was encouraging to see the big man disrupting plays, drawing penalties and opening lanes for linebackers to make tackles and get hits on the QB.

Speaking of hits on the QB, what an amazing hit by D’Qwell Jackson that resulted in a Mike Adams interception.  The play was called back because the referees felt as if the violent hit must have included some contact to the head.  Replays proved that to be false as D’Qwell hastily got to Vick and put his facemask in the quarterback’s chest just like he is supposed to to keep from creating a helmet-to-helmet situation.  The interception was called back, the Eagles got a first down and later scored, but hopefully it can be chalked up to it being pre-season for the referees as well.

As for the offense and their tough day, McCoy and his mates never seemed to get into rhythm.  Receivers weren’t getting open.  Evan Moore and Peyton Hillis dropped would-be touchdown passes.  Add in a couple of false start penalties on Joe Thomas and Tony Pashos on back-to-back plays and it was a forgettable half of offense for the Browns.

Jordan Norwood and James Dockery both muffed punts, although Norwood’s problem was that he and Sheldon Brown got their legs tangled up.   You could hardly blame Norwood as the ball came down and hit his feet as he nearly went head over heels.  Maybe this is why Pat Shurmur has been so insistent that Josh Cribbs will be his returner this year regardless of duties as a wide receiver.

Speaking of Dockery, it wasn’t all bad for him.  He did alright returning kicks and made a few plays in the third quarter playing corner.  There was a ton of interest in him from a reported 19 teams before training camp and despite some rookie moments, it is pretty easy to see why his services were in demand.

On the bright side of things, Montario Hardesty had a ho-hum group of runs as he took serious contact for the first time in about a year since ripping up his knee.  Hardesty didn’t flash anything spectacular, but he gained 15 yards in 5 carries.  Anyone who has ever had a knee surgery knows that the first step in recovering is almost all mental as you start to trust the knee.

All in all, you wouldn’t call this a great showing from the Browns as a team.  Colt McCoy threw an interception and didn’t lead any scoring drives.  Special teams coughed the ball up twice. The defense gave up two running TDs to Eagles quarterbacks.  Then again, Phil Taylor!

  • The Conductor

    I liked Phil Taylor’s dad on Home Improvement.

  • http://twitter.com/lilOUmikey lilOUmikey

    I think this was a good thing to happen to the Browns. It gives the a lot of film to correct mistakes. I’m sure there were some in the previous 2 games but this gives a few clear points for improvement. I LOVE how pissed Colt was in his postgame interview. I bet he was watching film before the sun came up this morning. Hopefully we see more of MoHard Thursday as well as some MoMass.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com DP

    I wish I had faith that the hit on Vick wouldn’t have been called in the regular season. The NFL has made a pretty declarative statement that their “star” QBs will get the preferential treatment. You know that’s getting called if it’s Manning, Brady, Rodgers, Brees, Rivers, etc.

    I don’t know what else D’Qwell can do there, except maybe get blocked so he’s not running at full speed. I know the Browns’ offense didn’t do much, but that play was a pretty big momentum swing. It’s just sad that ever since Tom Brady’s knee got hurt the year after he set all those records, you apparently can’t touch a quarterback anymore.

    That said, Phil Taylor!

  • Mike E

    Plus the offensive pass interference call was a bit of BS as well, 2 huge penalties that swayed the momentum of the game.

  • Harv 21

    Loved seeing o-linemen trying to double-team our snorting, slobbering, steamrolling nose tackle. Mongo like candy! Don’t care if Philly’s guys were rookies. The middle of the pocket collapsing – it’s a beauuutiful thing.

    Not so beautiful: Grossi writes that Robo was “robbed” of a 43 yard reception. Um, no, he couldn’t separate so he blatantly pushed off, reminiscent of Winslow when his knees were aching. Robo has good hands, but should be relegated to the 4th in a 4-receiver set. The advanced techniques he used in college aren’t enough at this level. We really need some WR pickups when teams make their next cuts. Cribbs may have improved but there’s no precise route runners who will consistently get open and let Colt get rid of the ball before he’s killed. Please, Heckert, we’re facing a potential health issue here.

  • Vengeful Pat

    I guess the torrential rain scared away the first team units because they were supposed to play deep into the 3rd quarter. That’s a shame… would have liked to see if McCoy & Shurmur could make adjustments. The defense looked pretty good. They lost L. McCoy and Vick a little too much, but they got good pressure and the secondary made some plays. That call for “leading with the helmet” on Jackson was just plain awful. That was a form tackle… you know that drill where the defensive player grabs and pushes the sled for several yards? That’s exactly what Jackson did to Vick. If anyone should be penalized, it should be the Eagles’ offensive line for opening up a perfect runway to launch Jackson into Vick. Colt did not look as crisp as he usually does. There’s lots to work on and like lilOUmikey said, there is now some good game tape to work on fixing mistakes.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Scott

    I liked it when Andy Reid challenged a challenge.

    Phil Taylor.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com DP

    I agree, Mike, but at least that one was an actual penalty by the letter of the law. The Vick call reeked of a ref thinking, “Oh God, if he gets hurt, I’m going to be in trouble if I don’t flag this.” They even said during the game later that the explanation they gave D’Q after he was out of the game was that they were “erring on the side of caution.” Umm, it’s football. Caution isn’t really part of the game.

    So, should Jackson have pulled up, let super-athlete Vick get free, and throw a completion? I don’t understand what the defensive player is supposed to do in that situation if not plant his helmet in the chest of the QB.

  • bobby

    Between that DQ hit and the Robo PI call (which I really think was more Nnamdi hanging on him and if it were say Larry Fitzgerald then it would not have been called) there were some tough breaks. Then the Moore drop in open field… looked like he was going for the tip and not the pass.

    Lastly, as for the D, it appeared to me that most problems started when the starting 4 were switched out. Also, the starting S (at least Ward) wasnt playing. My biggest issue with the D was that they still cannot stop a sticking screen pass.

  • NJ

    Just when I was getting excited about the NFL season, that Jackson roughing call comes along to remind me how unfair and arbitrary the litigious NFL headmasters can be. What can a defender do in that situation to make the play and not get flagged? In Goddell’s NFL? Apparently nothing.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/ Rick

    I was kind of floored by two things- first was the penalty on Jackson. Ridiculous. And the second is the reaction of fans to the offensive PI call on Robo. He quite obviously pushed off to me.

  • Harv 21

    The call against Jackson was probably an official’s error, thought he saw something at game speed that wasn’t there rather than a new rule interpretation. Agree with what someone else wrote: these officials get graded by the league weekly and they’re all scared to be the guy who missed a head shot to the league MVP.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com BAJ22

    It’s going to be an exciting year! The offense had several chances for big plays that just missed last night, but will happen more often than not. And that was against one of the best defenses in the league. The defense is playing much better than I expected, especially considering the injuries to key players like Fujita, Gocong, and Ward.

    Hope the injuury to Shaun Lavaou is not serious. He was helping to solidify the right side.

    Overall I have been disappointed in the O-line. Expected them to be the strength of the team, but the running game has been below expectations and the pass protection has been inconsistent at best. Penalties have been an issue as well.

    Also, under Mangini I was sold that special teams in the NFL are very important. So far the special teams have been much worse than the last couple of years under Brad Sealy…but the roster under Mangini/Sealy seemed to be filled with special teams players that couldn’t help the offense/defense much, so maybe it’s a trade off. We’ll see.

  • Vengeful Pat

    @Rick, I think the reason those of us who didn’t think it was a PI penalty were annoyed is that it was going both ways. I absolutely saw Robo push off from Nnamdi, but Asomugha was also holding Robo so that he couldn’t separate… and frankly that was something that was really bugging me last night. The referees were allowing a lot of hand-checking for the defenders. Philly seemed to realize they could get away with leaving their hands on a player before the pass came, but the Browns didn’t adjust to do the same thing.

    Another thing I noticed… Colt needs to mix up his cadence. It seemed like that Philly front-four was already in the backfield once the ball was snapped… the were getting fantastic jumps that looked offside to me, but I will admit that referees usually get those calls right.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/ Rick

    Fair enough Pat.

    I think we need to keep in mind that the Eagles are like the #2 or 3 seed in the NFC, with top flight corners. We were playing without our top WRs. Kind of expecting the struggles.

  • mgbode

    Browns DL > Phillys OL
    Phillys DL > Browns OL

    both our LB corps did not impress. The difference between our defenses was twofold

    1. their DL kept their lanes and caused havoc without creating escape areas (easier said than done with Vick, I know)

    2. their secondary is world class. ours has Haden and well, did I mention Haden?

  • TSR3000

    I think it will beneficial that our last “real” action in the preseason was against a top 5 team.

  • http://serandez.blogspot.com Ezzie

    The call on Robo was absolutely on the mark. I thought it was PI before the flag was thrown.

    The call on DQ was insane, though they said “leading with the helmet”. I thought leading with the helmet is fine so long as it’s not into the helmet!

    To our OL’s credit, I think that Colt held the ball a bit on a couple of the sacks. For that I credit the Philly secondary, which is really incredible.

  • bobby

    I didnt think you could differentiate between the Nnamdi and Robo on that PI call. I liked that robo stepped into Nnamdi to help get separation for the pass and he had hands all over him. I dont see any difference in Robo’s play to Cribbs’ 1st TD of the preseason. If was way too debatable to call IMO.

    I think our D did well, we just never pick up the RB which will come to kill us again this year if we dont fix it. Not too worried about the secondary just yet.

  • DK

    “Another thing I noticed… Colt needs to mix up his cadence. It seemed like that Philly front-four was already in the backfield once the ball was snapped…”

    110% agree…noticed it last week against Detroit, but saw it again this week…they are a step up over the line before Colt even gets out from center…against an elite DE that will be a season-ender for Colt’s blindside, regardless how good Thomas is…

  • crobarred

    I didn’t get to see the game live so I had to wait for the re-air on NFLNetwork. The Philly play by play guy was so bad that he made Bernie Kosar sound like John Facenda by comparison. He called Greg Little “Chris” 3 times. He pronounced Fujita as Fa-Hee-ta. They also went overboard with calling LeSean McCoy “shady” about 11,000 times. I started wondering if that was Eminem in the number 25 jersey.

    What I saw from the game is that the Philly line was able to push the browns around from the left side of the line. I liked seeing D’Qwell back in the middle and making plays. I think he, “Fa-hee-ta” and Gocong will make a solid LB core. I was just hoping that Jauron would have made some sort of adjustment after McCoy caught his 5th pass by possibly putting a spy on him. I know Vick is a handful but Vick would just check down to McCoy when pressured.

  • fan 4 life

    MCCoy actually had some good throws. Deep passes to Hillis, Robiskie and Moore, were all on the money. He also didn’t show any fear of their corners, going right at them. He did hold the ball and feel that you guys are on to something with the snap count. That shouldn’t go unnoticed in the meetings with this coaching staff – hopefully.

    We didn’t really try to force the running game last night, it appears. Give Hillis some looks, give Montario some looks, nothing fancy.

    As already mentioned, some things didn’t go our way and it certainly effected the outcome of the first half boxscore. Moore won’t drop passes like that often, Hillis won’t be covered that well in the flat often, and the pass interfernce calls go both ways. Robo did push off slightly but it wasn’t much and he already had him beat. A lot of hand checking was allowed that normally isn’t.

    Hopefully we can survive the injuries. #10 is down with injury, he was looking so good too for being just a practice player.

    Will be interesting to see if the offense gets more aggressive in the season and more creative. Hopefully they are just doing the basics now to not give anything away during the preseason.