The Cleveland Browns lost to the St. Louis Rams by a final score of 33-14. Here are some quick hitter observations from the game:
- Hoyer Finds a Little Rhythm: First, let's get one thing straight: this was far from a light-em-up performance from QB Brian Hoyer. Keep in mind that since he was named the starter, though, the Browns have only had two practice sessions since the Monday night game, and neither of them were in full pads. In other words, we still need to be patient when it comes to Hoyer getting into a groove.
Part of that groove involves more playing time. It wasn't until the end of the first half that Hoyer threw his first touchdown of the preseason to WR Andrew Hawkins, but he wouldn't have received that opportunity had a QB rotation still been going on. The interception thrown by Hoyer seemed reminiscent of the type of interceptions he threw against the Vikings last year. Also, either a receiver or a running back screwed up to start the second half, which made Hoyer susceptible to a blindside hit and a fumble.
- Offensive Notes: The most interesting roster-related decision was that running back Dion Lewis saw significant action with the first-team offense. It's as though Kyle Shanahan is doing this to appease me. Hawkins was a bright spot at receiver, but nobody else stood out at the position. The offensive line was not sharp; even left tackle Joe Thomas killed the team's second drive by giving up a first-down sack.
- Defensive Notes: The defensive communication needs to improve. At least twice, a Browns defender ran onto the field just before the snap, and the Browns had to call a timeout once because they had too many defenders on the field. With half of the secondary injured, rookie cornerback Justin Gilbert had a rough outing. The inside linebackers for the Browns had a respectable day, though, as did defensive end Armonty Bryant early on.
- Michael Sam Meets Johnny Manziel: The encounter happened in the fourth quarter as Rams defensive end Michael Sam sacked Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel. However, the biggest story for me is how badly right tackle Martin Wallace whiffed on the play, allowing Sam an easy path to Manziel. Also, Twitter didn't really seem to explode as some thought, although at least one person had an overreaction:
Will now be surprised if Sam does not make St. Louis' final 53.— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) August 24, 2014
- Brownies: The Rams' special teams coverage units must be terrible. ... WR Josh Gordon did not seem to play the entire game. ... Browns WR Nate Burleson missed his third straight game due to a hamstring injury. ... Although FB MarQueis Gray is being heavily utilized this preseason, he's still a bit raw and you fear about his ball security. ... QB Johnny Manziel's run for a touchdown set the stadium on fire. ... The Browns' third-down defense was awful, especially in third-and-long situations, but I got the sense the defense was playing very vanilla coverages.
We'll have our full review of the game up over the next few days, but let us know what your instant reaction to the game was.