Here are some thoughts on the Browns’ 24-14 halftime lead against the Detroit Lions:
– It was great to see the entire Browns team and some some players on the Lions, especially Dre’ Bly, come onto the field and show such support for Nick Sorensen when he was injured late in the second quarter. You can just tell that the attitude is completely different this season, especially when it comes to the chemistry among these teammates.
– How about those rookies? Shawn Lauvao got the start at right guard, going against the Lions’ Ndamukong Suh and held his own. Both Joe Haden and T.J. Ward made a few good plays in the secondary. Wide receiver Carlton Mitchell took the ball on a perfectly-executed reverse, even though he was lit up at the end of the play. Even second-year players like Brian Robiskie (having his second impressive preseason game) and Mohamed Massaquoi look much improved.
– Browns fans haven’t been treated to such an effective offense in years. Even though this is still preseason, the third game is about as close to regular season action as you will see, which is very encouraging for the team. Jake Delhomme has great control of the team, and it is obvious that his leadership qualities have already made the signing worth it.
– The defense, however, has been concerning. If you blinked, you would have missed the Lions’ three-play opening series that resulted in a touchdown. Other times, Detroit made it look too easy going up and down the field, as quarterback Matthew Stafford had far too much time to find the numerous holes in the defense. The bend-but-don’t-break defense started to come together, forcing a turnover (which led to an Eric Wright touchdown) and a few punts, but the unit will have to play better against teams that aren’t the Lions.
– Josh Cribbs is no doubt in mid-season form, torching the Lions on returns but also looking sharp at receiver, including a magnificent 31-yard catch during the final two minutes of the half.
– If the Browns are going to compete with the better teams in the league, they have to cut down on the turnovers, especially those deep within their own territory. Jerome Harrison fumbled once again, this time late in the second quarter with the Browns leading 17-7, but the return touchdown cut the lead down to 17-14. With Peyton Hillis playing so well and Montario Hardesty no doubt itching to get involved, Harrison needs to be more careful with the ball.
– Speaking of Hillis, he has continued bowling over would-be tacklers, turning a couple busted plays into gains. The combination of Hillis and fullback Lawrence Vickers is going to be fun to watch, especially around the goal line. If you’re looking for a new jersey, Hillis might be your guy.