I've been wanting to start up a semi-regular column on DBN for awhile. Hopefully this will be the first of many I can write after an improved performance by the Browns.
Dang, it feels good to see a convincing and decisive victory, "meaningless" preseason game or not. Here's some thoughts I have after the second preseason win.
2. Everybody who was paying attention knew that Brandon Weeden wasn't a mobile quarterback before he was drafted. He will never be a Michael Vick or even a Colt McCoy. However, he showed improved awareness in the pocket against the Packers and didn't take a single sack, a credit to both him and the offensive line. He led the Browns to four scores, three booming field goals from Phil "Dawesome" and a 1-yard touchdown run by Montario Hardesty.
3. Speaking of offensive lines, there was nothing offensive about ours last night. Michael Schwartz went virtually unnoticed, and that's a compliment. He showed better quickness off the line and appeared to be initiating the contact against defenders. Alex Mack routinely had his way with B.J. Raji and the running game was improved because of it. Continuous improvement there will help Weeden hold onto the ball longer, allow plays to develop and make better reads, which brings me to my next point...
4. Weeden made mistakes. That's okay for a rookie quarterback, but he needs to work hard on eliminating them before Week 1 when the Eagles come to town. Most notably, he is locking in on receivers and overlooking players who are open and could make bigger plays. Two examples I could see from re-watching the game: On the play where Weeden overthrew Hardesty and hit A.J. Hawk, Josh Cribbs was wide open with a mostly open field ahead of him. On the very next play, Weeden threw short to Cribbs on a crossing route, short of a first down. Josh Gordon appeared to be open at the first down marker. (Perhaps Rufio can expand on this or correct me if I'm wrong)
5. Hardesty fumbled on his very first touch but redeemed himself by having a 3.8 yards/carry average and scoring a touchdown. Brandon Jackson scored a touchdown with a nice spin move and ran hard against the Packers defense. If Trent Richardson is worthy of being selected third overall in the draft (and all signs so far say he is), the running game is deep.
6. Speaking of Richardson, his latest surgery shouldn't be cause for alarm. I actually had a similar "cleanup" procedure done on my right shoulder in 2010 after surgery to repair a torn bicep in 2009. The initial injuries are nothing alike, but the irritation caused by loose cartilage is. Afterwards, I had improved range of motion and less soreness.
7. Having a good backup quarterback in the NFL is never something to take lightly. We should all appreciate Colt McCoy a little more after seeing Graham Harrell play last night. As much as it pains me though, I think we should trade him for a the highest draft pick we can get. The drop-off from McCoy to Seneca Wallace is not all that much and I like what I have seen from Thaddeus Lewis so far. Letting Wallace play out his contract while giving Weeden the benefit of 11 years in the league, plus his knowledge of the West Coast Offense might be the best thing for the future of the team. By then, Lewis will have had time to improve and could take over the #2 spot on the roster.
8. Lastly, the preseason is not as meaningless this season as some people believe. With the elimination of two-a-day practices per the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the reps gained by everyone, first team or not, are more valuable now than they have ever been in the past.
9. All in all, last nights performance was convincingly encouraging. Hopefully things keep going in a positive direction and I can keep on living up to my username here. Go Browns!