April 17, 2014

Browns vs Rams: Evaluating the performances

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On Thursday, I gave you five things I was watching for each the starters and the reserves. This is the evaluation of those topics.

From the starters:

1) The Browns did have a rhythm on offense. Unlike many games last season, Weeden came out and hit receivers early. The first play from scrimmage saw Weeden hit Lewis on a little swing pass out of the backfield. He hit on his next three passes as well. Is there a coincidence that eight of Cleveland’s first 14 plays in the drive were from the shotgun? I don’t think so either. Not only that, but seven of Weeden’s eight passes in that drive were out of the gun.

In the second series Weeden played more from under center, with only three plays coming from out of the shotgun. All three of those were passes and all of those were completions. The last one went for a touchdown to Lewis on Weeden’s final play. Even when Campbell was in, the offense kept the same pace, which I took as a good sign.

2) Dion Lewis looked decent, but honestly still looked like a back-up. He looked his best catching passes out of the backfield. Lewis finished with three catches for 22 yards. He rushed for 12 yards on five carries. That’s a 2.4 yards per carry average. Meh. I do give him credit for a really nice draw play on third and five. He was patient and set up his blockers well. The nine yard gain was his biggest of the day, and kept the drive going. Lewis also took the opening kick-off 31 yards.

3) Did Jordan Cameron make an impact? Well, sort of. He had one catch for 30 yards. It was a crossing route and Cameron got free of his defender. It was the big play of Cleveland’s second drive that resulted in a touchdown. He also let a ball skip off his hands on the first drive that fortunately Greg Little was able to jump up and come down with in traffic. His catch was the longest play from scrimmage for the Browns, so I suppose you have to consider it a successful quarter for Cameron.

4) The Browns did put pressure on St. Louis quarterbacks. The defense recorded two sacks and registered nine quarterback hits. They tipped at least one pass at the line, which was intercepted by a linebacker. They did blitz more than I thought they would have though. Of course, that could be the base, vanilla defense.

Jabaal Sheard had a hit on quarterback Sam Bradford. He also had an assisted tackle on a running play. The starting defense as a unit really wasn’t out there for many plays. The Rams’ first drive was six plays long. They made two first downs on the drive before Phil Taylor stripped the ball from Isaiah Pead. On their second drive, the Browns held St. Louis to a three and out. So many of the starters played a whopping nine plays. Some even less with the nickel package substitutions.

5) Did the secondary hold up? That’s debatable. Again, the Rams’ first team offense did not score on the Browns, but they did move the ball through the air most of the night. The Rams had 314 yards passing for the game on 54% passing. If Ray Horton’s defense is designed not to give up the big play, then he can’t be thrilled with pass plays of 59, 53 and 28 yards.

Chris Owens was a scratch because of a strained arch in his foot that he complained of after practice Wednesday. With Owens, Ward, McFadden and Slaughter all out the secondary was a little thin. Buster Skrine made a nice pass breakup and also had very tight coverage on a completion. He also recovered the Phil Taylor forced fumble. Trevin Wade gave up the first big gainer for St. Louis when Chris Givens got behind him for a 59 yard play, setting up the Rams first touchdown.

From the reserves:

1) Which reserve wide receiver stepped up? Cooper had a pair of catches. Croom had a 22 yard reception. Norwood, Edwards and Gurley all had a catch. The obvious answer to the question would be Cordell Roberson who had a 26 yard touchdown reception from Brian Hoyer. It wasn’t a spectacular play by any stretch. There was some kind of blown coverage on the play and Roberson was wide open. Naaman Roosevelt returned a kick-off for 29 yards. Mike Edwards downed a punt inside the two.

2) Barkevious Mingo looked like he belonged on the field. His speed is a serious weapon. Safety Josh Aubrey made a special teams tackle and had 3 combined tackles on defense. He certainly looked the best out of the rookie defensive backs. Justin Staples had an interception. It was a little more than being in the right place at the right time, but only because he had to dive to catch the ball.

3) I would have to go back and see the film to really see what James-Michael Johnson did in the game. He had two assisted tackles in the third quarter. Tank Carder had two solo tackles also in the third quarter.

4) The fullbacks are another area where I would have to see the game again to make any distinction. Nothing jumped out at me during the game. Well, the fact that the Browns struggled to run the clock out on the ground might say something. As a team the Browns averaged 2.8 yards a carry.

5) Ah, the kicking game. If you are keeping score, Brandon Bogotay made a 25-yard field goal and missed from 54 yards to the left. He hit an extra point. Shayne Graham hit on his 41 yard field goal attempt and his two extra points. Both kickers put kick-offs in the end zone.

Spencer Lanning and T.J. Conley both punted twice. Lanning averaged 45 yards in his kicks to Conley’s 40, but Conley pinned the Rams down at the 1 on one of his punts. Lanning had one bounce inside the five and go into the end zone. The kick coverage units were very good in the game.

(Photo: Jon Cole Photography for WFNY)

  • Natedawg86

    Seriously? Nothing on Benjamin? C’mon baby! Cribbs who?

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Yea this is a glaring omission to say the least.

  • Natedawg86

    Maybe he didn’t see it. The guy is that fast

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    It’s been a long time since the Cleveland Browns demonstrated that they were a real life NFL team in their first pre-season game. I’m not dancing around over last night but I saw alot more positive signs then negative especially when compared to the last few years. Plenty of work remains.

    The offense looked like it had an idea. I agree with Rick Lewis looked like a backup but then again that’s exactly what he’ll be anyways. I liked seeing Brandon Jackson actually play. I don’t know if the FB experiment is going to work. I really wish they’d have signed a legit FB this summer. Jordan Cameron, well, he got benched after almost causing an interception. Thank goodness Greg Little yea Greg Little reached up and snatched that ball out of the air. Mingo was running all over the place once he finally got to play but honestly the LBs as a unit were pretty quiet. The secondary is still extremely scary for me. Granted as Rick mentioned they were missing some guys but clearly this unit is the worst of the three defensive units on the team. And the special teams well Benjamin looks like he’s ready to go in the regular season already but man, I miss me some Phil Dawson. Dawson btw looked pretty nice in his 49ers uniform last night.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Cribbs 2.0 definitely rolled out in a big way. He’s ready for prime time now!

  • BenRM

    From the Announcers:
    - One annihilation of Kellen Clemens by Bernie Koasar. WTF?

  • Natedawg86

    Dawson will prob be #1 Fantasy kicker this year

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

    Wasn’t one of the original topics. Covered his return in the game recap.

  • Jaker

    Ummmm, Benji?!?!? Guy is a weapon and is proving it… Smh

    Weeden looked his best that I’ve ever seen from him as a Pro. I know this was only the preseason, but I was extremely relieved to see that this offense is muh better suited for him. We all knew that it “should” be better, but now we know it “is” better go him.

    Oh, and to the guy who said that Phil Taylor is overrated and should be released. You sir, are dumb

  • Natedawg86

    I see now, missed the link in the beginning. Maybe you should do “what I’m watching” and followup “what I saw”.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    He’ll be up there certainly SF will give him a ton of opportunities both at FG and XP. Unfortunately much like life for fantasy alot will depend upon length. Length of kicks of course. ;-)

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Bernie sure knows his offense but he sure is critical. Many people including myself think he’d be a great coach or coordinator but I don’t think I’d enjoy playing for him very much.

  • Big Z

    SUPERBOWL!!

  • Ben Frambaugh

    The thing is, Cribbs was never that fast though. Cribbs was a guy who was a tough runner with some speed. Benjamin has the speed of diahrea after eating a jar of Habanero’s. Holy crap that’s fast and hot!

  • Ben Frambaugh

    The thing about Greg Little, after week 6 last seasons, he had the best Catch % of any other WR in the league. He was just so awful with drops during those first 6 games that the impression stuck.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Well so much for lunch thanks for the visual Ben!

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm I guess.

  • Dave

    That’s it! We need to bring back Braylon Edwards! While we’re at it, we should bring in Mark Sanchez for his ability to avoid turnovers.

  • Ben Frambaugh

    Anytime! LOL Too much time the last two weeks around some of the most uncouth people. It’ll work itself out of my system over the next few days.

  • Ben Frambaugh

    Braylon never got over the drops issue. Greg Little at least appaears to have worked his way through the problem. Of course, 10 games is a small sample size…but if the last 10 regular season games (plus that nice catch off the tip yesterday) are any indication, we may have ourselves a legit starting WR.

  • Backwoods

    So, did no one notice Little’s drop last night? That jump ball want anything special of a catch. The slant he dropped was a bigger deal. Also, Weeden still is throwing that ball way too low around the line. Lots of positives but still a lot of the same problems carried over from last year.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    I didn’t notice a drop, but planning to watch again tomorrow, you could be right on that. As for the jump ball, that was a very good catch. He had to get up and catch it at the highest point of his jump and then quickly pull it in so the defenders couldn’t knock it away. I thought he basically had no chance to actually come down with it while it was happening and couldn’t believe he was able to pull it in. Greg Little must have been very good at playing “500″ when he was a kid.

  • Ben Frambaugh

    The jump ball wasn’t anything special? He went up to get the ball at it’s highest point and held on despite the fact that a defender was deliberately trying to knock the ball from his hands. Was actually very promising of his hand strength if nothing else.

  • Ben Frambaugh

    Cheers!

  • Vindictive_Pat

    Jinx!

  • Backwoods

    I should have phrased it as not that important of a catch. Really, how often will that opportunity arise? Sure it is good for the highlight reel, but I’ll take the drop in one’s he is not supposed to make and rather have him catch the ones he is supposed to. Besides, being preseason, nobody got him on it. In a conference game, a catch like that may end his season.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    I’m still curious as to which pass you say he dropped. Do you mean the out route in the endzone on the first drive? If so, I wouldn’t call it a drop… that one just barely grazed his fingers.

  • LilBoyBlue

    Who is Rick Lewis and why do you agree with him?