When the Cleveland Browns get set to face the Atlanta Falcons this week, fans will likely see the return of starting quarterback Jake Delhomme. With that in mind, let's quickly trace back to how Delhomme did in Week 1 and why we were intrigued by him in the preseason.
Preseason: Delhomme played in three games this preseason and played very well, completing 38-of-48 (79.1%) of his passes for 345 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. Beyond the stats, one word defined him: efficient. Almost all of his balls were on target, he went threw his reads quickly and found the right receiver, he seemed to diagnose the defense prior to the snap, and he had chemistry with our tight ends and wide receivers.
Week 1: The final stat line doesn't look pretty, as Delhomme was just 20-of-37 (54.1%) for 227 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception. A few things stand out about the Browns on that day:
- First off, they threw the ball way too often. It wasn't until the past two weeks that they found their offensive identity again (running the football) behind a great offensive line.
- Delhomme and the Browns offense moved the ball well in the first half. The disaster came when Delhomme threw the near pick-six to Ronde Barber as he was falling down. He hurt his ankle, and then just didn't look like the same quarterback in the second half.
The reports from the local media indicate that Delhomme looked much more comfortable on his ankle in practice Wednesday, as he took about half of the reps with the first team. I'm really excited to see Delhomme play against the Falcons, and one of those reasons is because he throws a better deep ball. You can bet that after the Browns are pounding it with Hillis, Delhomme is going to target Mohamed Massaquoi deep again, and probably connect. We brought Delhomme in to make the big throws when the defense tried to key in on the run, and I think he can do a better job at that than Wallace can.
Also, here is a possible advantage for Delhomme this week in terms of confidence: remember how poorly he did with the Carolina Panthers overall last season? Guess who his best two games of the season came against? The Atlanta Falcons.
- Week 2 (2009) at Atlanta: 25-of-41 for 308 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception (Panthers lose 28-20)
- Week 10 (2009) vs. Atlanta: 15-of-24 for 195 yards, 2 touchdowns (Panthers win 28-19)
It'll also be really interesting this week to see if the Browns get back to the Cyclone formation this week, especially since Wallace has had a lot of playing time with the first team the past several weeks. The tough thing for Brian Daboll to decide on is exactly what type of balance he should have between giving Peyton Hillis enough carries and putting Delhomme in a situation to get into rhythm, all while seeing if he can mix in the "gadget" plays without disturbing the other priorities.
In other brief Browns news...
- New linebacker Jayme Mitchell may play some OLB, according to Mangini. Mitchell has never played in a 3-4, and he said he was "shocked" by the trade.
- WR Brian Robiskie and OL Shawn Lauvao practiced Wednesday but were limited.
- The same three defensive linemen who missed Wednesday and Thursday last week, but played on gameday, did not practice Wednesday (Kenyon Coleman, Shaun Rogers, and Robaire Smith).
- A user on the OBR commented that on Sirius NFL Radio, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said he didn't really have a problem with T.J. Ward's hit after seeing in on tape, although he understands why the league penalized him for it. He said he's see worse; but if you ask Mike Pereira, it's the most vicious hit in the world and Ward should pay the ultimate price.