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!