I had a good time at Cleveland Browns Stadium Saturday afternoon, as I saw the Brown Team (first offense/second defense) defeat the White Team (first defense/second offense) by a score of 14-6. The first half of the game wasn't too exciting thanks to some poor play by our third- and fourth-string quarterbacks, but the second half got a little better.
I won't recap everything play-by-play, because the OBR has already done a good portion of that (although not completely). For their reports, click the links below:
The scrimmage was set up to have four quarters that were each 10 minutes in length (instead of the typical 15 minutes in length). Everything else was normal, including two-minute warnings and an intermission at halftime.
CLEVELAND BROWNS SCRIMMAGE NOTES - DAY 8 OF TRAINING CAMP (8/7/10)
Not Impressed by Backup QB's: I felt like I wanted to hit the snooze button in the second quarter when Colt McCoy and Brett Ratliff came into the game. Neither quarterback looked particularly accurate, which was especially surprising for McCoy since it seemed like the playcalling limited him to short passes near the sideline.
There were a few plays in which Ratliff had more time to throw the football, but he didn't step up into the pocket, or he'd do an unnecessary pump fake. He was intercepted on an underthrown deep pass over the middle by LB Blake Costanzo, who did a pretty good job jumping up and grabbing the pass for being as deep as he was in coverage.
If I had to rate the two, McCoy would've been slightly ahead of Ratliff because he faced a little more pressure. He did have a nice completion to TE Evan Moore that would've gone for about 20-25 yards, but the referees ruled that LB Eric Barton had recorded a touch sack. McCoy later threw two interceptions in the final two minutes of the half. The second one didn't hurt because it came on a Hail Mary, but the first one ended up being a difference maker in the final outcome.
B-Mac Serves as a Hero: I would have to give the "Game Ball" award to Brandon McDonald, who scored a defensive touchdown for the Brown team when he intercepted Colt McCoy's pass near the left sideline (that would be on McDonald's right side). McCoy's pass was underthrown for Syndric Steptoe, but I'm starting to get more and more excited that McDonald is the player coming away with clutch plays in camp.
After the catch, despite the fact that a simple "touch" probably would have blown the play dead, McDonald was able to avoid all contact as he maneuvered his way diagonally across the entire field. As he reached the left pylon, he front-flipped into the end zone for the touchdown. From the pick, to the run, to even the flip, it made up for an otherwise low-key first half of action.
Delhomme Stays Composed: In evaluating Jake Delhomme's performance, I have to think to myself, "what are my expectations heading into this season?" The keys for Delhomme are to not turn the the ball over, and to make a clutch throw to help us win a ball game. That's exactly what he did during the Saturday scrimmage, completing 10-of-15 passes for 78 yards and a touchdown, without turning the ball over or being sacked.
A few of his incompletions were a bit off, but more times than not they were the type of passes that were toward the sideline and away from the defense. He also had good recognition on a pass thrown to one of our tight ends down the seam. The pass ended up being too far ahead, but there was clearly holding by the defender near the line of scrimmage and along the route, for which pass interference was called.
Delhomme's best drive came early in the fourth quarter. As the Brown Team approached the end zone, a pattern began to unravel, as it seemed like four or five consecutive passes down in that area were thrown to the left side of the field until they eventually scored the touchdown. There was no doubt about where any of the plays were going -- all but one receiver would float toward Delhomme's left, and Delhomme had his body and arm positioned that way right from the snap.
On third down and goal, when Ben Watson first floated open behind another receiver to the back of the left corner of the end zone, I thought that any pass would result in an out-of-bounds completion. Delhomme lofted the pass with just enough touch and Watson made a play that most tight ends in the league probably can't make, touching both of his toes down with probably less than a foot to spare between the grass and the white line, and hanging onto the ball as he went to the ground. The play was challenged, but it stood as called on the field.
Wallace Lives Up to Reviews: Backup Seneca Wallace looked just as described in practice. He was fairly accurate, and he likes to roll out...a lot. Wallace saw a lot of passes during the fourth quarter in the hurry-up offense, which inflated his stats a little bit compared to the other quarterbacks.
Whereas Delhomme made most of his throws toward the left side of the field late in the game, Wallace did the opposite. He rolled out to his right on almost every single play during the hurry-up drill (which ended up becoming a bit annoying) and would throw that direction.
Leading Receivers of the Day: I actually didn't get to a seat until three minutes into the start of the game, so I missed part of Delhomme's first series, where Mohamed Massaquoi reportedly had a catch or two that I wish I could've seen.
A player I did see was tight end Evan Moore. He was certainly a favorite of the quarterbacks on the losing team, catching several passes down the middle. He finished with 6 receptions for 62 yards. Another receiver targeted often for the losing team was Bobby Engram. He was a sure target on passes that weren't very far from the line of scrimmage; he was definitely a safety valve the quarterbacks looked comfortable with. Of course, Ben Watson still deserves acclaim for his touchdown reception. The tight ends stood out Saturday afternoon, something I think we'll see in the regular season too.
Trick Plays Galore: For a scrimmage, there were quite a few gadget plays -- even some that didn't involve Joshua Cribbs. On the White Team's first play of the day, Cribbs lined up in Shotgun and looked ready to pass before taking off for 14 yards and a first down. Cribbs had another touch or two from Shotgun, but they were stopped after minimal yardage.
Running back James Davis of the Brown Team lined up once in the backfield and took a direct snap. He ran toward the left sideline and then put on the burners for a 66-yard gain before being touched around the 5-yard line. Unfortunately, a holding penalty by Watson brought the play all the way back.
Perhaps the most exciting trick play, since it counted, involved three players right before the end of the third quarter -- James Davis, Chansi Stuckey, and Brett Ratliff. Davis received a pitch for a run play from Ratliff, and as Davis ran left, Stuckey ran behind him toward the right. Stuckey received the pitch while Ratliff began running up the right sideline. Stuckey then threw a pass to Ratliff for an 11-yard completion. After another carry by Davis, the quarter ended and Delhomme took over in the fourth on the eventual touchdown-scoring drive.
Fight, fight, fight! Throughout the game, I kept looking around both sidelines but could not spot where head coach Eric Mangini was standing. In finally saw him in the fourth quarter when Marcus Benard and Scott Kooistra stayed locked up after a play, shoving each other back and forth as a few people, including Mangini, started to surround them. The two were finally able to be separated after Kooistra ripped Benard's helmet off.
The Easiest Onside Kick Ever: Down 14-3 with under two minutes to play in the fourth quarter, the White Team sent Phil Dawson out to kick a field goal to make the score 14-6. I expected to see an onside kick, but was confused when I saw both sidelines empty onto the field near the referees. After about two minutes of waiting, the White Team started jumping up and down in excitement as the PA announcer stated, "the White Team has won the onside kick by coin flip."
That's kind of a crummy way to give them the ball again, but considering that today's practice is supposed to still limit contact, I guess it plays into that concept (imagine the pile-diving that would've occurred for an onside kick).
Last Play Laterals: On the last play of the game, Wallace threw a pass to the sideline that was caught by Eric Wright. I didn't know who caught the pass at first, but the reports indicate it was Wright. Wright ran a few yards toward the middle before lateraling the ball well behind him in the middle. It scooted by a few offensive lineman and was picked up by Wallace, who then started taking off toward the right sideline where there appeared to be some hope.
Wallace tried to lateral the ball to Cribbs as a defender approached Wallace, but the ball scooted out of bounds and the game was over. The Brown Team poured onto the field, jumping up and down, in their celebrated victory.
Cribbs at Safety?: The Plain Dealer reports that Joshua Cribbs played one snap at safety and blitzed on the left side. Cribbs noted that he feels he would have sacked the quarterback had it been a live game, and he feels optimistic that he might see action at safety during the regular season on certain plays.
Packed House: I believe the attendance was noted to be around 22,000+, which was not bad at all. It was nice to see the entire lower bowl pretty much filled.
Special Teams Notes: It was frustrating to see 15 penalties during the scrimmage, most of them coming on kick and punt returns (and even once on a delay of game extra point try, when Ben Watson had to run onto the field late). Phil Dawson hit both of his field goals during the game, a 48-yarder and a 35-yarder, both with ease. Punter Reggie Hodges punted for both teams, and looked just like last year -- a few questionable boots, but not horrible. Two of his punts ended up being downed near the 5-yard line after they had a nice backspin.
Brownies: I wish I could give better reviews of the offensive and defensive lines, but I'm not very good at being able to follow that while still trying to see where the play is going...with that said, it seemed like the Browns used some basic defensive packages most of the game with the secondary doing a good job covering the receivers...I was intrigued by a few of the times the Browns ran a packed four-receiver set...RB James Davis looked very good; I hope he finds a spot on our roster.
- Pictures: ClevelandBrowns.com has 85 pictures available here.
UNOFFICIAL STATISTICS (FROM AROUND THE 'NET)
- QB Jake Delhomme: 10-of-15 for 78 yards, 1 touchdown. (Brown)
- QB Seneca Wallace: 17-of-23 for 152 yards, 5 sacks. (White)
- QB Colt McCoy: 6-of-11 for 31 yards, 2 interceptions, 2 sacks. (White)
- QB Brett Ratliff: 5-of-11 for 31 yards, 1 interception. (Brown)
- TE Evan Moore: 6 catches, 62 yards. (White)
- TE Ben Watson: 3 catches, 19 yards, 1 touchdown. (Brown)
- LB Jason Trusnik: 2 sacks. (Brown)
- LB Marcus Benard: 2 sacks. (Brown)