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Pass Rush Gets to Michael Vick in Browns' 24-14 Loss to Eagles

The third preseason game is supposed to be the "dress rehearsal" for the regular season. Unfortunately, the Cleveland Browns weren't able to get an accurate evaluation of their team for several reasons. For one, blunders on special teams helped stall drives despite some nice defensive efforts. The rainy weather in Philadelphia seemed to alter performances a bit, and I'm assuming that prevented the starters from coming out after halftime. Last, there are a lot of injuries on both sides of the ball that put a lot of guys in there who might not be playing on opening day.

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  1. Goat of the Game: CB Sheldon Brown - One played immediately came to mind for this category during the game, and that was Brown. On the Eagles' first punt of the game, Jordan Norwood waved for a fair catch and prepared to catch the ball. Brown, who typically doesn't play on special teams, had his leg accidentally clip Norwood's, causing him to fall. The ball then fell on Norwood and went free, allowing the Eagles to recover the muff. Not only did it give the Eagles an easy touchdown a few plays later, it injured Norwood a little bit.
  2. Awarding Game Balls: DT Phil Taylor - This was Taylor's breakout performance of the preseason, and he showed some dominance that we can only hope he's able to bring regularly during the season. He bulldozed right into Michael Vick early in the game and planted him, forcing a fumble that was recovered by defensive end Jayme Mitchell. Taylor pressured Vick throughout the game and had an impact at breaking up a few run plays too.
  3. Hillis Gets it Done: I saw some complaints on the Internet about running back Peyton Hillis having too few carries (he finished with three carries and two receptions). That wasn't so much of a big deal to me, especially when you consider the situations the team was in due to penalties, and the one drive that they decided to work backup Montario Hardesty into the rotation. Hillis will get his carries in the regular season. As fun as he is to watch, I'd rather see McCoy work on getting the passing game going and save Hillis' energy for when it counts. We're already down Brandon Jackson, and Hillis was a little dinged up last week.
  4. The Difference a Few Calls Make: This was not Colt McCoy's best game, that's for sure. There were a couple of overthrows, and this was really the first week where he didn't sense that his receivers were open down the field. When he did find them in good positions three times, the results were an incomplete pass off of Peyton Hillis in the end zone, a dropped pass right at Evan Moore's hip that could've gone for a touchdown, and offensive pass interference call on a deep diving catch by Brian Robiskie. If you flip those three plays around -- all of which were good throws -- McCoy's day seems much better. McCoy seems like a smart quarterback, so when he looks at the tape, I think he'll be kicking himself at how many things he missed underneath that could've made the Eagles pay in the second quarter.
  5. Robiskie Gets Involved: After a couple of incompletions to other guys, I liked how McCoy was able to find wide receiver Brian Robiskie for a stretch as a safety valve. That continues telling me that even if the two don't hook up for awhile, it doesn't mean the pair doesn't work well together. Robiskie did push off on his reception down the field and I don't fault the officials for calling it, but I still like the play and the effort in general.
  6. Jackson and Fujita: I really like what I've seen from D'Qwell Jackson and his aggressiveness as he makes plays behind the line of scrimmage, and his hit on Michael Vick was picture perfect. The flag was bogus, and the officials basically admitted as much. The other player who makes a big difference is Scott Fujita. As much as Jackson can step into a leadership role as the middle linebacker, Fujita is the savvy veteran everyone can rely on to call out adjustments and be in the right spot at the right time. Kaluka Maiava has looked much improved at outside linebacker too, and it wouldn't surprise me if he and Chris Gocong see equal playing time to start off the year.
  7. Safeties Look Impressive: I'm just in awe at the pure talent that Ray Ventrone brings at the safety position. Seriously, this whole preseason has been a waste when it comes to getting our top safeties some work. The three guys I wanted to see were T.J. Ward, Usama Young, and Eric Hagg, and none of them have been in there. I think that has hurt the Browns more in run defense than it has in pass defense though.
  8. Dockery Not a Playmaker on Kickoffs: Every time I have seen cornerback James Dockery field kickoffs or punts, the same thing comes to mind: this guy is not used to finding the holes when he is returning the ball. It shouldn't be a big issues since Joshua Cribbs will always handle these duties during the regular season. When it comes to coverage on defense though, I like what Dockery has been doing in coverage. He also led the team with two special teams tackles against the Eagles.
  9. Where Does Cameron Fit? I keep wondering to myself, where does tight end Jordan Cameron fit into this offense? The fourth-round pick will not see action ahead of Ben Watson and Evan Moore. The team could use some three tight end sets, but I'm not so convinced that Alex Smith won't be that third tight end. If I had to guess, Cameron will be inactive on game day. He had a nice catch late in the game against the Eagles though, and I hope he sees the bulk of the reps at tight end next week against Chicago.
  10. McGee Steps it Up: Despite the weather conditions the way they were, it was good to see punter Richmond McGee finish the day with a net average of 43.6 yards on five punts. He also had one punt downed inside the 20 and no touchbacks. There was a field goal blocked while he was the holder, but that really didn't seem to have anything to do with him, unless there is a snap count I'm unaware of that he could have clued the defenders in on.
  11. Confidence in the Pocket: I was waiting to see third-string quarterback Jarrett Brown be more confident and stay in the pocket, and he did more of that against the Eagles. He did make a "mortal sin" (per Bernie Kosar) when he ran out of bounds for a big loss instead of throwing the ball away, but he ended up rebounding with a strong throw to Rod Windsor and a scramble a little bit later. He capped off the drive with a four-yard touchdown pass to receiver Chris Matthews, although I didn't particularly like the placement of the throw.
  12. Containing Vick: There were definitely some issues when it came to containing Michael Vick, but we don't face very many mobile quarterbacks until late in the season. They still need to have some of their front seven be more aware that they can't sell out for the pass rush and let the quarterback have a free rush up the middle. Vick and Vince Young were able to scramble for two touchdowns.
  13. Special Teams Tackles: There were six special teams tackles by the Browns, with two of them going to James Dockery. The other four went to Ray Ventrone, Brian Smith, Jordan Cameron, and Alex Smith. I still haven't seen any "studs" on special teams, although Ventrone looks the most consistent when it comes to production. I hope we make Joshua Cribbs a gunner again.
  14. Too Positive? If you've read everything above, it probably doesn't sound like the Browns did too bad. It's clear that the special teams blunders and penalties were a big-time killer that led to easy Eagles touchdowns and prevented the offense from establishing the run or getting their normal personnel in the game to help move the chains. McCoy lost it for a stretch and didn't know where to go with the football, and the offensive line seemed to break down as well. It's the preseason though; not everyone is going to light it up, as much as we'd like to see Cleveland do well each time they are out there.
  15. Brownies: We still haven't seen Greg Little flat out drop a pass, although he did juggle one early...running back Quinn Porter seemed to have some nice shifty moves as he got some reps after Armond Smith fumbles (but recovered) the ball...did you know DeAngelo Smith led the Browns with four tackles?...after failing to contain Vince Young on one play, Auston English came in and drilled him for a sack+fumble that was recovered by defensive tackle Travis Ivey...the Browns finished the game 4-of-12 on third downs, and lost the time of possession battle by more than ten minutes.