The relative success of the Browns has caused a lot of enthusiasm this preseason, and it’s pretty easy to see why. Entering his second season, Colt McCoy has shown a level of poise that makes fans dare to dream. While his second preseason game was not nearly as smooth and efficient as his first, McCoy’s play impressed me even more than what he showed against the Packers.
McCoy dealt with pressure nearly every down, and showed a knack for delivering or at least getting rid of the ball under pressure. Furthermore, he had to deal with his receivers dropping balls all night. One of the worst feelings is watching a quarterback crumble and deflate when it seems like he can’t catch a break. McCoy not only held his composure, he threw for three touchdowns despite an early three-and-out and general offensive malaise. No one said his development would happen overnight, but McCoy has certainly set the table for an impressive sophomore campaign.
- While the pressure from the Lions defense was nearly constant, it was more due to the coaching staff dialing up blitzes than the offensive line struggling. I was extremely impressed with what I saw from fifth-round rookie Jason Pinkston at left guard. He handled his assignment, stood his ground nearly every down, and showed good footwork and balance. Shawn Lauvao left something to be desired, committing a foolish penalty by diving on the pile after one play, and getting beaten cleanly on several others. If Pinkston or Lauvao can play reliably on the line this season, the Browns will have depth in the trenches for a long time.
- D’Qwell Jackson, it has been far too long. Returning from consecutive pectoral injuries that have ruined the past two seasons, Jackson looked like a beast at times on Saturday. He displayed his trademark burst, and had a great tackle in the backfield that set the tone for the defense early in the game. Scott Fujitanamed Jackson his teamMVP on defense for camp so far, but what Jackson needs to do is stay on the field. He carries the potential to post an astronomical number of tackles, which would greatly help the Browns’ thin linebacking corp.
- If Owen Marecic is really going to start at fullback, he needs to focus. Marecic whiffed noticeably on some blocks, and dropped the first pass of the game because he wasn’t ready for the ball. There is plenty of time to practice the different schemes, and he was very fundamentally sound coming out of Stanford, so this isn’t a big deal just yet. But Browns fans have been watching Lawrence Vickers for years, so if Marecic causes any malfunctions on the field, he could see the fans’ patience run out quick.
- Marecic wasn’t the only culprit when it came to blocks. The Browns’ open-field blocking in general was hard to watch at times and was part of the reason Brandon Jackson couldn’t get anything going all night. Joe Thomas missed a couple blocks that he seemed too geared up for, allowing the defender to deke him and get to the ball-carrier. On the other hand, Josh Cribbs looks like he’s ready to usurp Hines Ward as the hardest worker in
the AFC North. Cribbs has never been one to shy away from contact, but he was putting hits on defensive backs like I’ve never seen from him before.
Follow Eric Batke on Twitter @eabatman!