|TENNESSEE TITANS (2-2)||GAME #3||CLEVELAND BROWNS (2-1)|
The Cleveland Browns played a competitive game against the Tennessee Titans en route to their second straight victory of the preseason. Heading into the game, the big question for the Browns was whether we'd have a definitive answer as to who our starting quarterback would be. Both quarterbacks ended up playing well, so now it's on the shoulders of Eric Mangini to make the final decision. If the clues he has been giving are any indication, then Brady Quinn will be named the starter.
Let's get to the recap of the game...
PRESEASON GAME 3 - TITANS VS. BROWNS (GENERAL THOUGHTS)
In the Box Penalty: All I can say is "thank God that didn't happen in a regular season game". When Titans QB Kerry Collins threw the ball deep down the sideline on the team's second series of the game, the ball was set to fall incomplete. However, as the official was backpedaling down the sideline, he fell down when he backed into a Browns player who was in the white pained sideline area.
Upon first glance, I thought maybe the player was Dave Zastudil. I had seen that the player was white, and I thought that maybe Zastudil was retrieving a football from one of his practice punts into the net. Instead, it was QB Derek Anderson of all people. After the game, Anderson said that he was watching the play happen live on the scoreboard and then realized that the play was coming towards him.
a.) Why would you not be watching the game in front of you, live?
b.) Why are you watching the game as if you're a fan?
c.) Shouldn't you be preparing for your pivotal series coming up at quarterback?
I can't help myself but to laugh at the whole situation because it happened during a preseason game. Before he even took a snap though, Anderson already had one negative play under his belt.
- First Defensive Stand: The Browns started off really well defensively against the Titans. Chris Johnson was stopped for short gains on two consecutive plays. After a false start on the Titans, LB Kamerion Wimbley brought down Collins on third down for a rare sack on the Tennessee quarterback. The pressure early on was encouraging.
- Pressure Throughout the Game: After the first series, Kerry Collins was very efficient against the Browns. He wasn't sacked again, and he finished the night 11-of-14 for 102 yards and a touchdown. Part of his success had to do with the Browns being unable to get to him quick enough, but I am confident when I say that only the top tier defenses in the league would be able to pressure Collins regularly. I saw an improvement in pressure from our first preseason game against the Packers, and an improvement over last season considering our opponent. We've still got a ways to go, but maybe we'll crack that "average" barrier this season.
- Backup Nose Tackle: I'd like to think that starting Ahtyba Rubin the entire preseason is being done intentionally to give him as many reps as possible to be an adequate backup to Shaun Rogers. Rubin has made a lot of progress throughout training camp, now to the point where we might not have a huge weakness anymore when we substitute in for Rogers during the regular season.
- All Over the Field: I think we can tell why Mangini brought C.J. Mosley over from the Jets. Mosley generated pressure and had good pursuit of the running back early on. The stat sheet only credits him with two tackles, but it seemed like quite a few more than that.
The Early Verdict: There were several subtle signs throughout the game that indicated to me that Brady Quinn is ahead of Derek Anderson, even if it's just slightly. Here they are:
a.) Quinn started the game for the second time this preseason.
b.) Quinn was given three "full" series (drives that started far away) compared to Anderson's two. If you count Quinn's drive where he took over 34 yards away from the end zone, then he had four drives to Anderson's two.
I'm not going to knock either quarterback's performance too hard from this game. I thought Quinn did a good job seeing the whole field. The playbook was safer for him, but his throws were also at a lower risk of being intercepted. All coaches are big on ultimately winning the turnover battle. Quinn overthrew TE Steve Heiden later in the game on a pass you'd like to see him execute, but it was still thrown to a point where it wouldn't be intercepted.
- Anderson's Temptation: Although Quinn can play more efficiently, Anderson's "gunning" ability can be very tempting. Are you willing to except the fact that he makes a crazy, across-the-field high pass to Robert Royal that causes his head to be taken off in exchange for a nice laser to Braylon Edwards outside shoulder for a 25-yard completion? Quinn did show the ability to zip the ball too on slant/post passes to Robert Royal and Braylon Edwards.
- Successful Screen Passes: Some fans might have been tired of our screen passes, but I was ecstatic to see them thrown so often, even when we ran them back-to-back just prior to the end of the first quarter. I was impressed by how both quarterbacks sold the plays and how our blockers held their own for Jamal Lewis, James Davis, or Chris Jennings. The Browns have struggled to run screen passes since returning to the league in 1999 in my opinion, and Saturday was one of the few times I saw some potential consistently.
- Fullback Handoffs: Before the game, there were reports that we'd see Martin Rucker in the game at fullback. I didn't even hear Rucker's name called once. I liked seeing Noah Herron receive a fullback handoff late; he can block pretty well and has the speed to make a play like that work. Who makes the roster between Charles Ali and Noah Herron is still a close (although not really "important") one.
- Make it Official: I want it to be made official: I want Joshua Cribbs to be our No. 2 wide receiver in Week 1. After drafting the rookies in round two, I counted Cribbs out. Week after week, Cribbs has caught the ball and stiff-armed the seemingly "small" cornerbacks to the ground regularly. If Cribbs isn't the No. 2 receiver, then it doesn't make any sense to have given him so many reps with the first-string offense this training camp.
Special Teams Spectacular: Our special teams unit put on a clinic against the Titans. Look at all of these critical plays:
a.) Collins and the first-string offense of the Titans deflated us with a 15-play drive, eating about 7 or 8 minutes of game clock before facing a 4th-and-3. Rob Bironas came out for a chip shot field goal, but it was blocked by Robaire Smith and recovered by Brandon McDonald. Instead of it being 10-3 Titans, it was only 7-3 Titans.
b.) Right after the Browns put together a long drive to start the second half that ended in a field goal, the Titans fumbled the kickoff. LB Robert McCune forced the fumble, and rookie LB Kaluka Maiava made the recovery. That led to an offensive touchdown by the Browns after two plays.
c.) After Vince Young regained himself after his bad pick and threw a touchdown, Joshua Cribbs rebounded with a 42 yard kick return. That helped the Browns get into position for a Dawson field goal. Dawson had three field goals on a night that was very windy.
d.) Here is where the Titans started their drives, thanks to our kickoffs and/or punts: their best starting field position was 75 yards away from the end zone. On every other drive, they started their drives at or inside the 20-yard line.
e.) Punter Dave Zastudil got drilled to the ground early and didn't stay down.
Two thumbs up to you, Brad Seely.
- Hall's Pick After Pressure: The best defensive play of the night came when Vince Young tossed an interception to LB Alex Hall, who easily walked into the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown return. The play was set up by LB Eric Barton and DE Robaire Smith. Barton came free up the middle, shifting the Titans' line his way and allowing Smith to come free with the real pressure on Young.
- Better Defensive Play: Sure, Hall's play was awesome, but so was what happened on the Titans' final offensive play of the first half. Young had managed the two-minute drill well and looked to be on his way to an easy rushing touchdown after a scramble. But, without any timeouts left, Young had to get in the end zone. He hesitated rather than going all out on his way in, and our defense surrounded him. Brandon McDonald stripped the ball as he was going to the ground and then recovered it, again keeping our deficit to just four.
- Furrey = Jurevicius: Didn't Joe Jurevicius have a play that bounced in the air and then he came down with it about two years ago? Mike Furrey continues to show similar qualities to Jurevicius. Whether he can bring the leadership quality still remains to be seen, but I can only laugh at the Detroit Lions decision to let another player like this go.
- Third String Quarterback: I wouldn't read too much into Richard Bartel playing the final drive over Brett Ratliff. It was probably due to Bartel not getting to play against the Packers two weeks ago, and because Ratliff will probably get a bulk of the playing time this Thursday against the Chicago Bears. Between the two though, I wouldn't really care much if we did keep Bartel over Ratliff.
- Center Situation: I think you can pencil in Alex Mack as our starting center. I didn't pay attention to every play, but I believe he was running with the starting unit ahead of Hank Fraley. John St. Clair had another penalty, something you hope he can tone down in the regular season.
- Lewis' Lack of Burst: There were holes that Jamal Lewis couldn't get threw quick enough, whether he was up against the Titans first- or second-string defense. I'll still give him the benefit of the doubt since the preseason rarely seems to be a good evaluator of running backs historically, but I am a little bit concerned. I'm starting to get to the point where I'm hoping we allow Lewis and either Jerome Harrison/James Davis to split carries.
- Not Good for RoBo: When his name first gets called when Richard Bartel comes into the game, the odds of seeing much of Brian Robiskie early on this season don't seem very good. The receivers seeing action early were Edwards, Cribbs, Furrey, and Mohamed Massaquoi.
- One Special Teams Negative: If there is one special teams play that was negative, it came when the Titans executed a fake punt against the Browns. On the play, CB Brandon McDonald was set to return the punt. Truth be told, I'm glad McDonald didn't have to take the unnecessary hit.
- CB Brownies: The cushions given by Rod Hood and Corey Ivy weren't desirable. Collins seemed to pick on both of them instead of going after Eric Wright and Brandon McDonald. Late in the game, DB Coye Francies had another tremendous breakup in the end zone.
- Edwards' Day: Overall, it was a good day for Edwards. He caught two similar mid-range passes, one from Anderson and one from Quinn (the touchdown). He didn't see a deep ball thrown by Anderson after he turned past his defender, but still gave a diving effort. His one-handed attempt on an Anderson pass in the end zone shows the type of athleticism that made him a Pro Bowler two years ago.
The Browns have to cut their roster down to 75 players shortly. I'll have another roster projection up soon. Then, the players will have one last chance to impress against the Bears Thursday before the rosters are trimmed down to 53.
Here is the roll call of who participated in the game thread, with Buckeye Brad and myself having the most to say...
Roll Call: realmccoy, APV, nickjs21, kwoog, JustBob, smashville, BradyQuinnisBeast, vincefitz, ChrisPokorny, irish1083, Legoman0721, Simmsinns, wendigo, Buckeye Brad, Riverboat Sam, skipkirk, bbstirrd, Bumblyjack, rufio, The naome40, Roger Dorn, fwembt, theW0LF
Total Users: 23
Total Posts: 349
Total Threads: 1
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