The Browns definitely missed Joe Haden yesterday. Dimitri Patterson gave Raiders receivers a bit too much room and they made some catches in front of him. That being said, the horror story that could have been written about the day the Browns were without Joe Haden wasn’t written because Patterson proved to be an adequate backup. You don’t expect a guy to come in and replace a first round talent like Joe Haden. You assume there will be a dropoff. The quality of the backup is measured by how much of a dropoff it appears to be. In this case, Dimitri Patterson did a fine job, I thought. That’s the way I felt about the whole defense yesterday.
They got gashed badly on the Raiders’ first drive. McFadden set the tone on the first play as he went for 24 yards. The Raiders moved methodically after that. Well, it helps to be methodical when you burn two timeouts on your opening drive, I guess. The Raiders finally capped the 88-yarder off with a McFadden running score and a seven point lead. That was really the only meaningful drive the Browns defense gave up all day. The Raiders scored on a kickoff return and a fake field goal following a fumble. Other than the one long drive to open the game, the Browns gave up a Janikowski field goal, but there is no shame in that.
Granted, we don’t know what would have happened had the Browns not knocked Jason Campbell out of the game. Then again, Campbell hand-delivered a goofy fumble to the Browns before he exited. Campbell was having a good year, but he is always capable of implosion. We’ve seen it too many times before from quarterbacks of his caliber.
The Browns defense actually responded pretty well. Phil Taylor was penetrating. Ahtyba Rubin was chasing down screen passes and meeting runners at the linebackers. Jabaal Sheard wasn’t dominant, but he got pressure a few times including swiping the ball out of Kyle Boller’s hands. The aforementioned Dimitri Patterson filled in pretty admirably for the Browns’ best secondary player. Even on a quiet day the Browns linebackers made some highlight plays including D’Qwell Jackson blowing up a run play in the backfield. Fujita legally tackling and knocking Jason Campbell out of the game isn’t a bad thing either.
I never root for a guy to get injured. More specifically, I never root for one of the Browns to injure another player.*** It is a part of the game though, and as long as the Browns are playing good, tough football within the rules of the game I’ll take it.
While the Browns still have a lot of messes to clean up this week, it is worth pointing out that their defense is still playing at a pretty decent level, especially considering a nine minute deficit in time of possession thanks to the Browns offense.
Also, another small note on Chris Gocong’s contract. Terry Pluto reported over the weekend that Gocong’s “gaudy” contract for $16.8 million dollars is only guaranteed for about $8 million. I know this deal was used as a bullet in the gun of folks who were criticizing the Browns for not getting Hillis’ deal done yet. Sounds like it was still a great day to be Chris Gocong, but not nearly as great as some people were reporting or thinking.
(Photo AP – Ben Margot)
*** O.K. Maybe Ben Roethlisberger is an exception.