Friday, August 9, 2013

Browns Win First Preseason Game vs Rams, 27-19

Preseason Game 1 Photos
Cleveland played better than the Rams overall, with Brandon Weeden leading a diversified passing attack.  Photo: .  

Well, let's not go crazy over an exhibition game, in which the Browns beat an inconsistent Saint Louis Rams team, 27-19.  But a win is better than a loss! And the Browns regulars outplayed the Rams regulars overall, which is also a good sign.

Here are a few takeaways from the game.

1.  The Browns quarterback situation is very solid if not spectacular.  Brandon Weeden played well on a bad team last year, and he will probably play better for a better team this year.  All three Browns qbs played well, and I think both Jason Campbell and Brian Hoyer can win games as an NFL starter if Weeden should go down.

Preseason Game 1 Photos
Jason Campbell was 6 for 7, with one dropped ball by Chris Ogbonnaya.  Not too shabby.  Photo: .

2.  The Browns receiving corps is much deeper than last year.  Travis Benjamin, Greg Little and Jordan Norwood made some good plays, and they got some good mileage from tight ends Jordan Cameron and Gary Barnidge as well.  Benjamin also took a punt return to the house, blowing away the Rams coverage team.  

3.  The Browns have some depth at running back, which is a good thing since Trent Richardson and Montario Hardesty were both banged up.  Brandon Jackson and Dion Lewis were both great catching passes out of the backfield, and ran hard against a good Rams defense.  It makes me wonder why former Coach Shurmur would never play Jackson, who gained 700 yards for the Packers in 2010.  I'll bet Coach Chud and Norv Turner figure out ways to get him in the lineup. However, the Browns did not play a fullback much.  Chris Ogbonnaya lined up there sometimes, while incumbent Owen Marecic did not see much action and might be on his way out.  But without a big fullback, the Browns are not going to run the ball all that well.  Shurmur and former GM Tom Heckert thought Trent Richardson would be the next Adrian Peterson, but not without a blocking fullback, dudes.  I think the Browns are going to pass a lot more than they run in 2013, with Richardson, Jackson and Lewis catching a lot of passes out of the backfield.  Montario Hardesty, another back much loved by Heckert, ran well at times the past two years but struggled with blocking and pass catching.  With multiple knee surgeries, he may not even make the team, and it would not shock me if the Browns come up with a free agent fullback by the end of training camp.  

Training Camp Photo Gallery - 8/6
Dion Lewis ran well and caught the ball out of the backfield.  Photo:

4.  Barkevious Mingo and Billy Winn stood out among defensive linemen, though in general the Browns had trouble putting consistent pressure on Rams quarterback Sam Bradford, who had time to unload some major bombs against the Browns.  As Browns announcer Bernie Kosar noted, the Rams receivers had trouble catching the ball, otherwise they could have really shredded the Browns weak secondary.  Let's see, in order to have all of these fancy blitzes and stuff, don't you need some defensive backs who are good enough to play man-to-man with NFL receivers?  As it was, in his brief time in the game, Bradford completed 5 of 8 passes for 102 yards and a TD for a passer rating of 145.8 (are you kidding me?) and it could have been much worse.    

Preseason Game 1 Photos
Barkevious Mingo was outstanding in his first pre-season game.   Photo:

Conventional thinking is that the Browns are going to play great defense, and will run the ball a lot with a struggling passing game.  However, the Village Elliot  is not so sure.   Based on early returns, the Browns defense is very thin, and they are going to get burned if they rush five and six guys a lot.  On offense, they may find it easier to pass the ball a lot while the running game may struggle without a quality fullback.   

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