Offense Continues to Roll Under McCoy in Browns' 30-28 Loss to Lions

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Despite the fact that the offense and the defense were missing several key starters, the Cleveland Browns were able to put together a 21-13 lead to begin the second half. These two teams seem like they are built for a shootout whenever they face each other, but this still marks the second consecutive week that we've seen some good things from the West Coast Offense. My complete game review of the team's 30-28 loss to the Lions is after the jump.

DETROIT LIONS (2-0) GAME #2 CLEVELAND BROWNS (1-1)
VS.
30 28

 

PRESEASON GAME 2 - DETROIT LIONS VS. CLEVELAND BROWNS (COMPLETE GAME REVIEW)

  1. Goat of the Game: RB Armond Smith - With potential injuries to all three of our top running backs, Smith had a golden opportunity to show he was worthy of a roster spot in the second half of the game. He was off to a great start when he ran for an 81-yard touchdown, although pretty much any fast person could've scored through that gaping hole. The Browns were then up 28-13 and got the ball right back.
     
    Unfortunately, Smith fumbled after being on the receiving end of a screen pass, leading to a quick Detroit touchdown. Two series later, Smith fumbled for the second time in the game trying to extend for extra yardage. One play later, Drew Stanton threw for a touchdown, shrinking the team's lead to just one point at 28-27.
     
    You like to give players the benefit of the doubt sometimes. Heck, I think Peyton Hillis had a couple of fumbles in one preseason game last year. But Smith has made quite a few mistakes in the sessions I've been to, and the only real asset I see out of him is that he seems faster than the rest of our backs. That alone is not enough to keep a guy in my opinion.
     
  2. Goat of the Game: QB Jarrett Brown - Talk about a guy who has looked terrible during the preseason games, despite looking quite good during training camp sessions. He went 0-for-4 against the Lions and also had a fumble that was somehow recovered by the Browns. Between Brown and Smith, the team had no chance to rally after the Lions took a 30-28 lead late in the fourth quarter. Brown has looked rattled in these preseason games due to the live action, as he refuses to trust his protection and stay in the pocket like he does when he knows he won't get hit in training camp. He doesn't look like a good enough third quarterback right now.
     
  3. Awarding Game Balls: TE Evan Moore - That two-yard touchdown pass on 3rd-and-1 on the team's second drive? I loved it. With the mismatches that Moore creates, I don't see how a defense stops that play unless they bring a double team (or, of course, if McCoy's throw is off target). And, if an opponent does bring a double team, somebody else should have a favorable opening. On Moore's second touchdown reception, he showed that he's not just a guy with size -- he has good concentration when the football is in the air, and I was impressed by his field awareness to get two feet touched down in the end zone before going out of bounds.
     
    Those are the two plays everyone might be talking about, but Moore's third play was also impressive. On a 1st-and-10 from midfield, Colt McCoy quickly fired the ball to Moore, who caught the ball and used his speed to run upfield and pick up 17 yards. He took a shot that made me cringe at the end of the play, and reports indicate that he might have suffered a concussion. I hope that's not the case, it would be terrible to lose a guy who I believe could be the team's best offensive threat after Peyton Hillis.
     
  4. Drops Will Stall Drives: This is an obvious statement, but it showed the only way our passing has really been stopped over the past two weeks: dropped passes. On the offense's first drive of the game, Alex Smith removed some of my praise for him by dropping a perfect pass when he was wide open. Then, fullback Owen Marecic followed it up by having a ball bounce right off of him. So far, Marecic isn't doing much to make me hope we get him the ball.
     
  5. Early Force Up Front: Did it seem strange that before the draft, the defensive line was our biggest area of concern, and yet in the second preseason game, it was our deepest defensive unit? I was looking for Phil Taylor and Jabaal Sheard to make some noise against Detroit's first-team offense, and they did a good job right off the bat. On a handoff to Jahvid Best, Taylor came through the hole and bearhugged Best from behind. Then, Sheard came in front of Best and tried to strip the ball away from him. He succeeded, and then fell on top of it to give the Browns good field position.
     
  6. Jackson Shows a Nice Effort: The final stats for running back Brandon Jackson weren't particular impressive. He finished with 8 carries for 19 yards and 1 catch for five yards before leaving with a turf toe. The one play I loved was on the team's second offensive possession. On a pitch play, the strong safety came untouched on a blitz that should have blown up the play, but Jackson shed off the contact and continued going for 8 yards and a first down. Jackson's carries looked like this: 1, 8, 2, -1, -3, 2, -3, and 13 yards. I don't blame Jackson for some of those plays with negative yardage, so overall I think he was a good performance for him again.
     
  7. A Little Chip Shot on Suh: Looking back at the tape, I wanted to see how Shawn Lauvao did against Ndamukong Suh. On the Browns' first scoring drive, you probably remember a 12-yard diving catch that Greg Little made near the right sideline. Assuming Suh was not getting a breather at that point, off of the playaction, Suh tried to do a move to get past Lauvao's left side and come up the middle to disrupt McCoy. As soon as he did that though, Brandon Jackson gave a shoulder to him as he ran up the middle, allowing Lauvao to easily contain Suh as McCoy delivered the pass to Little.
     
  8. McCoy's Confidence and Quick Reads: The preseason has brought out a new confidence in Colt McCoy to the point where he seems to be making very good reads quickly. Early in training camp, it seemed like Seneca Wallace was ahead of him in that respect. In the two preseason games, it's been the opposite. McCoy's success goes with the good, aggressive playcalling.
     
    I like spreading the field four wide on a first down play from ten yards away from the end zone. Joshua Cribbs found the soft spot over the middle in the zone, and McCoy delivered the pass exactly when it needed to be thrown. Whether it be on playaction or Shotgun, the playbook gives McCoy a pretty deep looking dropback, perhaps allowing him to see more of the field without the defensive line being in his face.
     
  9. More on the Moore Play Design: On Evan Moore's first touchdown grab, he lined up as the second tight end on the left side with his hand on the ground. Colt McCoy sent him in motion, and right away you can see the one player who follows him. If they were going to double team him before, I think McCoy quickly knew it wasn't the case anymore. Moore, who was now lined up in the slot to the right, ran the play I've seen over and over in training camp for the easy score. Too many rhymes.
     
  10. Ridiculous Review: How absurd was it that...
     
    -Evan Moore's first touchdown was reviewed by the booth upstairs.
    -Nate Burleson's touchdown for Detroit was given the quick "ok" by the officials upstairs.
     
    The inconsistency of this system is going to drive fans nuts. And then, we know that confirmed scores will only be followed by...another touchback out of the end zone! Yay! My goodness, I wish the owners could do a re-vote before the start of the regular season to put the kickoffs back to the 30.
     
  11. Burleson Owned the Browns: We need to give credit where credit is due -- wide receiver Nate Burleson pretty much owned the Browns' defense, even cornerback Joe Haden, on Friday. His first dose of success came on an end around that went for 26 yards. Jayme Mitchell needs to take a better angle on that play to try to alter Burleson's path. It looked like he saw the play developing, but just didn't react or didn't believe they'd hand it to him. Also, Kaluka Maiava and Joe Haden could not get off of their blocks, allowing Burleson to have so much open field.
     
  12. Picking on Adams: One reason that safety Mike Adams should not be starting? Last year, he was picked on in the red zone on throws right up the middle. Matthew Stafford threw it over the middle to Nate Burleson in the back of the end zone, who came down with a touchdown. I've looked at the review several times, and I swear that Burleson's second foot came down on top of his other foot, without ever touching the ground, before Burleson landed out of bounds. Hopefully Usama Young defends plays better in these situations.
     
  13. Sheard's Pursuit: Even though defensive holding ended up being called on Dimitri Patterson, when Matthew Stafford rolled out of the pocket, I liked seeing Jabaal Sheard chase him out of bounds. It was a good test to see just how fast Sheard is in the open field, as he wasn't going to allow Stafford to run up the field.
     
  14. D'Qwell and Titus Do Well: Defensively, my favorite part of the preseason has been the play of D'Qwell Jackson. He might be the most important player on our defense because of how important the middle linebacker position is. He finished with five tackles, one of which came on a play where he shot behind the line of scrimmage to stop a running back for a loss of two. Titus Brown was also active in relief, finishing with five tackles.
     
  15. Not Buying the Fake: The Browns released defensive end Cliff Avril on a playaction fake, and he didn't buy it. When Colt McCoy turned around, he was able to throw the ball away just as Avril tossed him to the ground. On the next play, the Browns handed it off but Brandon Jackson was met by about three guys right away. McCoy took quite a few shots against the Lions, so it's good to see that he was fine after the game.
     
  16. Shanks by McGee: I'm not trying to be greedy, but I think it's time to bring in a veteran punter if one is available. Richmond McGee had a 29-yard shank, and later had a short punt that bounced off one of the Lions' coverage players accidentally. Three of his eight punts were downed inside the 20, but we can't afford to have a punter who misses badly twice in a game. That can kill a field position battle, especially when more intimidating teams like the Ravens and Steelers are your opponents.
     
  17. Marecic or Pinkston? It's tough to judge if anyone is at fault for a blown up running play, or if you just give credit to the defense. I wanted to look at Jason Pinkston when he came in the game, and I noticed one play where Brandon Jackson was hit by an unblocked safety for a loss of three. The play appeared to be designed for an outside run, because that is where fullback Owen Marecic immediately went.
     
    Two guys came through the left guard's area, but Pinkston picked up the inside guy. If Pinkston gets the outside guy, Jackson is probably bouncing to the outside before the inside rusher has time to get him. However, you could say that if Marecic had picked up the safety himself, Jackson would've been alone to the outside. Either way, the whole series for McCoy ended up being his worst of the game, as he later threw two passes with no receiver having a chance at catching the ball.
     
  18. Less Action for Norwood: Even though he was targeted three times, wide receiver Jordan Norwood did not come away with any receptions. He did have a nice 20-yard punt return that he fielded on the run to give the Browns great field position, setting up Moore's second touchdown.
     
  19. Special Teams Tackles: There were six players who had one tackle each on special teams. They included LB Auston English, LB Archie Donald, DB DeAngelo Smith, S Brett Johnson, LB Steve Octavien, and FB Owen Marecic.
     
  20. Former Browns: Former Browns RB Jerome Harrison had 6 carries for 27 yards, while RB Mike Bell had 11 carries for 33 yards. Bell looked just like he did last year -- a guy who can help make some of our defensive players look better.
     
  21. Penalties on Both Sides: How many penalties did the Detroit Lions have on kickoffs, ones that were of the offsides variety? Sheesh. Detroit had 14 penalties, while Cleveland had 12 penalties. This team needs a little more discipline right now, but I think that'll improve when you have only the starters getting reps.
     
  22. Brownies: I'm still wondering where WR Johnathan Haggerty has been this preseason...I haven't seen anything flashy out of TE Jordan Cameron yet, and wouldn't be surprised it he is the fourth tight end on opening day...WR Brian Robiskie was only targeted once...DB James Dockery continues to be used in a variety of roles, but still remains on the bubble...the Browns had a nice wheel route set up for RB Brandon Jackson in the second quarter after a fullback fake, but the pass was off-target due to QB Colt McCoy being hit low (Detroit was penalized)...according to the stat sheet, LB Sidney Tarver played, so I guess he's finally healthy again...both teams struggled on third downs, as Cleveland was only 2/10 in those situations...both conversions came with the first-team offense...WR Maurice Stovall's size was too much for the Browns' backup defenders to handle, as he picked on defensive backs Buster Skrine and James Dockery for 4 catches, 67 yards, and 1 touchdown on only 4 targets.
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