Browns Pre-Season Game #4: The Good and Bad
The Cleveland Browns unleashed a furry of offense and defense on the hapless Chicago Bears. This would be the headline if the Browns and Bears met in the regular season. Instead it was in the meaningless 4th Pre-Season game. So the headline is more appropriate that the Browns 2nd and 3rd teams beat the Bears 3rd and 4th stringers with the help of the Browns 1st stringers. We will take a look at the Good and the Bad from last night
- Brian Hoyer and the first team offense looked crisp. The results were far less important than the process. Hoyer hit his back foot on his drop and was ready to deliver the ball.
- The running game with Ben Tate was great. Even when the Browns offensive line didn’t get good blocks Tate is so comfortable in the Zone Blocking Scheme that he was able to still get yards.
- Andrew Hawkins continues to look good out of breaks and should be a short yardage, red zone threat.
- The Browns defense got good pressure most of the game. Without 4 of their top 5 corners the Browns struggled in coverage but the front 7 got enough pressure to make things difficult.
- Christian Kirksey is a beast. He is smart, fast and powerful. He might struggle a bit in the run early in his career, but Karlos Dansby should more than make up for that. Kirksey in coverage or closing on a back is especially beautiful football.
- Rex Grossman knows the offense and knows how to throw the ball. It was amazing how open receivers seemed once Grossman got into the game. They weren’t more open than when Johnny Manziel was in, Grossman just hit receivers as they came out of their breaks. Anticipation is huge.
- Manziel can be really fun and exciting. His running around, rollouts and bootlegs were all fun. He also has a rocket arm when throwing the ball on a line to a receiver who is coming back to the ball, cutting on a slant or on a curl.
- Saving the best for last: Isaiah Crowell. It seems either he was injured, didn’t know the playbook or the Browns were trying to hide him in the first 3 Pre-Season games because an unleashed Crowell looked very good. Granted it was against players who likely aren’t making the Bears team, but Crowell’s size and speed combination could be starter level in 2 years.
Factory of Sadness
- The Bears 2nd string offense moved the ball on the Browns first team defense. While the Browns were able to hold a few times, this is the 4th game in a row where teams where able to move the ball between the 20s. Joe Haden, Buster Skrine, and Desmond Bryant returning from injuries should help but those players were also in earlier in the Pre-Season.
- Terrance West struggled to set up his blocks with the first team on a run then really struggled with the Browns second string line. West hasn’t grasped the outside run concepts of the ZBS yet but shows some skill inside. It will take time and he shows the skills that will make him successful there but not yet.
- While Hawkins looked good in short spaces, the Browns lack height to help in the red zone. On one play Manziel threw a corner fade to Taylor Gabriel who stands all of 5’8″. That throw is normally reserved for a receiver at least 6′ tall who can go up and get the ball. Only tight end Jordan Cameron and Charles Johnson, if he makes the team fit the jump ball profile.
- Justin Gilbert again got exposed. His press defense, something that was to be his strength with his size, is weak if not existent. He often is playing in off coverage and can’t recover to close the gap. Leon McFadden got torched and likely is cut. He would be the Browns 6th or 7th corner anyway so him getting beat isn’t a surprise.
- The worst for last: Manziel’s deep ball looked like it needed hunted in the old school Nintendo game Duck Hunt. Whether he was gripping the ball too tight, not transferring his weight into his throws or just off rhythm, all of the above is the right answer, Manziel was off. Even the throw dropped by Gary Barnidge was late and floated. Barnidge should have caught the ball but Manziel’s throw made him wait, then he heard footsteps and dropped the ball. Manziel clearly has a future in the league if he can develop needed NFL QB skills but last night was not a good showing.
What is your good and bad from last night?