|DETROIT LIONS (1-1)||GAME #2||CLEVELAND BROWNS (1-1)|
For once, I felt bad for the opposition. They don't know who their quarterback will be, they are turning the ball over, they can't stop the run very well, and they really don't have a great running back. They are last year's 0-16 Detroit Lions.
What I saw from the first overall pick in the draft, Matthew Stafford, was a complete mess. He was confused by our coverages numerous times, making it easy to bait him into dangerous throws. When our defense did leave a few players wide open, Stafford horribly overthrew them. You expect a rookie to take some time to adjust to the league, but no where near as bad as Stafford was.
That was good news for the Browns' defense though, because it gave our players the opportunity to build some confidence and quickly get the ball back into the hands of our offense. In the end, the result was almost a complete 180 from last week's debacle against the Green Bay Packers.
PRESEASON GAME 2 - LIONS VS. BROWNS (GENERAL THOUGHTS)
Preseason Game Ball - It's Time to Pay Up: Besides making progress as a wide receiver, Joshua Cribbs is just too good in the return game. If Eric Mangini wanted Cribbs to prove to him that he was worthy of a raise, then Cribbs is doing a heck of a job showing off his abilities. On the first play of the game, Cribbs returned the kickoff for a touchdown, disproving my theory that returners would have a tougher time this season without a wedge.
The play was brought back due to a phantom holding call on Abram Elam, but I'll live with that in the preseason since it gave our offense an early look on the field. In his next opportunity, coming on a punt return, Cribbs shifted through the defense and was off for an 84-yard touchdown.
- The Truth on Derek Anderson: Did we learn anything new on Derek Anderson? Not really. He definitely played better than he did the previous week, and part of that had to do with making quicker decisions. Anderson was assisted by the playcalling of offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, who tailored the playbook to Anderson's strengths. This was Anderson, for the most part, at his best -- but we already knew he could make these plays.
The Struggles of Derek Anderson: If you're a new reader, don't get me wrong -- I like Anderson and wouldn't be ticked off if he was the opening day starter. But you can't call his performance perfect when he missed a wide open Braylon Edwards down the sideline. A better throw would've resulted in a long touchdown, and would've prevented the need for a long third down play (which Anderson did convert on).
Then during the two-minute drill, Anderson could only find RB James Davis on some dumpoffs. His lack of touch on short throws proved to be a weakness when his extra-high pass to Davis was tipped and intercepted by the Lions, allowing them to kick a field goal just before half-time. Anderson also had a play earlier in which he had no touch, firing a quick slant to Edwards either into the ground, or low and behind him for an incompletion.
Quinn - Fine From What We Saw: At least Brady Quinn didn't tank during his limited action at quarterback. I did not agree with Quinn being inserted on a 3rd-and-1 play to start the second quarter. Anderson started that drive, and at the very least, Anderson should have stayed in until the chains were moved. He started with a nice 24-yard completion to Brian Robiskie, but then the play-calling became much more conservative with an emphasis on the run and throwing short passes on third down.
John St. Clair didn't help Quinn's cause with a few penalties to set the drive back. Quinn was OK, but in no way can you look at this game and saw that Quinn lost his shot at the starting role. At best, you can say that Anderson did enough not to have Quinn be named the starter immediately following the game.
- Lewis on the Ground: Looking at the stat sheet, Jamal Lewis had another low-carry average, having 3.3 yards per carry on seven attempts. I don't see this as him struggling though; that is Jamal Lewis. Remember that throughout his career, minus the times he just obliterated the Browns as a member of the Ravens, he made his mark by pounding away and staying strong during the second half of the game.
Davis' Stock Back Up: It's been about two weeks now since the James Davis show has had some highlights, but his 81-yard touchdown run changed that. It was a simple give-up call on 3rd-and-12 just before the end of the fourth-quarter -- a quick pump fake by Brett Ratliff, followed by the delayed draw handoff to Davis.
Davis shot through the line and the safeties overcommitted to the inside, allowing Davis to make a nice juke move to the outside where he then had the help of blocking from two Browns receivers. Davis then kicked it into another gear, outracing everyone to the end zone. Davis claims that it was the longest run he's had in his football career.
- Taking Advantage: DB Eric Wright took advantage of Stafford's inexperience and of the Lions' lack of healthy receivers when he intercepted the Lions' first pass of the game. His return went for about 5 yards on the stat sheet, but ended up taking him a whole football field to get that. I hate the pesky celebration penalty after the fact, but I guess a rule is a rule.
Ivy, Poteat, Francies: It was a great day to be a Browns cornerback, that's for sure. Between the three players listed in the subtitle, Corey Ivy had the most notable plays. He lit up one of the Lions' receivers on a third-and-short pass, and was also in on the tackle that caused a fumble at the start of the third quarter (Mike Adams had the recovery).
Hank Poteat had several nice plays, notably an interception near the sideline that didn't count after his hip fell just a bit out of bounds. Coye Francies, the rookie, had some tight coverage again. He left for a play or two with a hip injury, and returned on a play where he wasn't in press coverage and gave up a first down.
- Quiet Night for Tight Ends: I'm not going to complain here, because I'd rather see our backs and receivers in the preseason over our tight ends. It was nice to see Steve Heiden back for his first game, catching a 20-yard pass from Derek Anderson. To see him in on a double tight end set with the first-string unit provides hope that he won't be a roster casualty.
- Vickers With the Assist: I saw more of our fullbacks tonight, particularly Lawrence Vickers early on. He hit several of his blocks very well, paving some lanes open for Lewis, including on his touchdown run in the first quarter. We haven't heard much about Vickers this camp, but I believe he's still an intregal part of our running attack.
- Backup QB's: I'm still not very impressed with Brett Ratliff, although our second-string offensive line is not very good in protection. Richard Bartel had his opportunity, but blew his chance when he just barely overthrew an open Lance Leggett deep down the field. I didn't get to see enough of Bartel this camp to have an opinion of him, but he'll probably be cut after the third preseason game when rosters are trimmed to 75.
- Furrey & Edwards: You can just tell that our third-down offense is going to be built around Mike Furrey after these first two preseason games. Even when we're in third-and-long situations, we're throwing the ball to him on short routes to see if he can break them open. he's not that type of player, but I'd imagine that for the preseason, those are really practice situations to focus on getting him the ball on "3rd-and-7", even if it's really a "3rd-and-15". Braylon Edwards had a catch -- nothing special, but at least the talk of the drop from Green Bay can die down for another week.
- Ticket Sales? The Browns are doing their 4 hot dogs, 4 drinks, 4 tickets for $99 deal again for this weekend's game against the Titans. I bet the Browns sell a few more of those packages than they did for the Lions game. A good outing at home can do that.
Bernie Ripping on Brown: Announcer Bernie Kosar really ripped on Lions sixth-round RB Aaron Brown. Once a year, there is always a player on the opposing team in the preseason that gets on Kosar's nerves. I look forward to who that player is, and boy did Kosar rip into Brown. It started after Brown took a handoff on 3rd-and-6 out of bounds for a gain of four, rather than staying in bounds to fight for the extra yardage.
A few plays later on a pass play, Brown scurried out of bounds to avoid contact. (roughly transcribed) "This Brown just doesn't appear to like contact. That is not going to show up well for him in the film room or for when any teams in the league are looking for a free agent running back." Then on the Browns' series, Kosar notes that veteran Ryan Tucker is still in the game. "13 years Ryan has been in this league, and he's one of the toughest guys I know...definitely Aaron Brown on the other side of the spectrum from TCU...he's not even close to that type of toughness the way he runs out of bounds." I might be snoozing in the second half of preseason games if it weren't for Bernie.
- Special Teams & Kaluka Maiava: I'll give him this own category this week because I'm running out of fresh sub-titles. Maiava had two early special teams tackles and made some positive plays defensively. Also having a good play on special teams was veteran LB Blake Costanzo. I know Gerard Lawson is backing up Cribbs as a returner, but I can't see him making the team again.
- This Week's Marcus Benard: ...is DB Bret Lockett. Lockett saw some action with the first-string defense and made several individual one-on-one tackles. That ability intrigues me, even to the point where I now might change my mind and want to keep him over backup S Nick Sorensen (who did have a nice block on Cribbs' punt return TD). I had no idea where LB Marcus Benard was this week, as I didn't hear his name mentioned once. I have to imagine he didn't even play.
- Down on Foster: I'm not at all impressed by the play of George Foster. He's even rivaling Isaac Sowells when it comes to down performances. Foster was responsible for Ratliff's fumble in the third quarter, a play that led to Lions QB Drew Stanton throwing a touchdown on his first play.
- Cleaning Up the Penalties: On special teams, the Browns had one too many penalties, negating a few nice punts by Dave Zastudil and Cribbs' first touchdown return. As good as the game was as a whole, we'll have a few players running laps for their mistakes.
- Brownies: LB Kamerion Wimbley played well early, as did MLB Eric Barton, who made a nice play on the ball dropping back into coverage and drilled Stafford on a free blitz...RB Chris Jennings came close to blocking a punt on two consecutive possessions.
- Final Word: Thanks for being a footnote, Shaun Smith.
Eric Mangini has a decision to make. Starting quarterbacks are usually named by the third preseason game, but based on our first two games, you can't really say one player outplayed the other. It should really come down to how the quarterbacks have done overall in training camp, and most importantly, who Mangini has more faith in to lead the type of offense he wants the Browns to run. If he wants mistake-free football, Quinn should be the guy. If he wants the high risk/high reward route, maybe it's Anderson.
NOTE: To all fantasy football DBN players, remember that the draft is at 9 PM EST tonight!
Here is the roll call of who participated in the game thread, with rufio and myself having the most to say...
Roll Call: kjc, doggrad87, dergru, Roger Dorn, BradyQuinnisBeast, rufio, gahnki, skipkirk, rockybrown, ChrisPokorny, irish1083, nickjs21, woodsmeister, danzig, dohior, JustBob, aufrank, BrownDawg1409, Bernie19Kosar, Juannieboy
Total Users: 20
Total Posts: 294
Total Threads: 1
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