How did Colt McCoy's first game in the West Coast Offense turn out? Not bad...not bad at all. The Cleveland Browns defeated the Green Bay Packers by a score of 27-17 in their first preseason game, but the thing everyone will take away from this game is the performance of the first-team offense under McCoy.
After the defense forced a quick three-and-out for the Packers' first-string offense, McCoy and company went to work. McCoy spread the ball around, hitting Joshua Cribbs, Greg Little, Peyton Hillis, and Brian Robiskie on consecutive positive plays. Then, on a first down from the 27-yard line, McCoy stepped back and threw a perfect pass to Cribbs at the right side of the end zone. Cribbs made a nice adjustment to the ball and grabbed it as he was going to the ground for a touchdown.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers answered with a touchdown of his own after some nice passes, and the Browns went three-and-out on their next possession. Head coach Pat Shurmur allowed McCoy and the first-team offense to have one more series though, and it paid off. McCoy completed two passes -- a 19-yarder and a 37-yarder -- to tight end Benjamin Watson. That led to a three-yard touchdown run by Hillis, giving Cleveland a 14-7 edge.
McCoy finished the game 9-of-10 for 135 yards and 1 touchdown pass. Hillis ended with 5 carries for 16 yards.
The Packers followed with backup quarterback Matt Flynn leading a 7+ minute drive, but it only netted a field goal. As the second half was coming to a close, Flynn picked apart the Browns' second-team defense to go ahead 17-14.
In the second half, the Browns started things off by really trying to get backup running back Brandon Jackson involved. Jackson had a lot of touches, and looked about a million times better than Mike Bell did at any point last season. The drive was capped off with a nice 46-yard field goal by backup kicker Jeff Wolfert.
Former Browns-invitee Graham Harrell then came on at quarterback for the Packers. He was leading the team to a decent looking drive until undrafted free agent linebacker Brian Smith came unblocked on a blitz. He drilled Harrell, forcing a fumble. Linebacker Titus Brown was right there to scoop it up and ended up running it back 43 yards for the go-ahead touchdown.
Seneca Wallace's job as the backup quarterback is safe, but he struggled against the Packers, making several overthrows, including an interception.
Fans were excited to get a look at third-string quarterback Jarrett Brown, but he fired an interception on his first pass of the day. That gave Green Bay good field position, but when they got into a fourth-and-goal situation mid-way through the fourth quarter, the snap was botched and the defense was able to come up with the stop.
Brown had another opportunity to lead a drive, but most of it consisted of running back Armond Smith tearing through the Packers' third-stringers. That led into the two-minute warning, with Cleveland facing a third-down situation. Cleveland ran the ball again to set up a fourth-down 44-yard field goal attempt by Wolfert again. Wolfert connected, giving the Browns a two possession lead at 27-17 and sealing the victory.
I'll have more of my thoughts on the game on Sunday, when I do my full recap of the game.
Final Number Leaders:
Leading Passer: QB Colt McCoy: 9-of-10, 135 yards, 1 touchdown.
Leading Rusher: RB Armond Smith: 9 carries, 38 yards.
Leading Receiver: TE Benjamin Watson: 2 catches, 56 yards.
Touchdowns: RB Peyton Hillis (1), WR Joshua Cribbs (1), LB Titus Brown (1)
Leading Tacklers: LB Titus Brown (4), S Ray Ventrone (4)
Sacks Recorded: DL Brian Sanford, DE Marcus Benard, LB Brian Smith, DE Jayme Mitchell, LB Auston English with 1 each