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Posted by Aug - 15 - 2011 0 Comment

Twenty-four hours have passed now since the end of yesterday’s preseason lid lifter, and what did we learn about the 2011 Cleveland Browns? Well, here are some observations to chew on:

  • Colt McCoy made it easy for folks to jump on his bandwagon after last night. But while I liked what I saw from him, just save me a seat for now. It’s not that I have any reason to doubt his ability, there is just a little more that I would like to have him prove in his play for me to “buy his jersey”*. I don’t mean to discount anything he’s done, nor belabor the points others tend to do regarding his perceived shortcomings (arm strength, size, durability). I think he has the potential to become a franchise QB in this league. But to replace the phrase ‘potential to be’ with ‘is’, you must do it consistently; throughout the course of a game and season. To make that determination, you have to give the man time and opportunity, so this will be an open-ended conversation for a while. However if he’s playing this way in mid to late October, I’ll be looking for that saved seat before the wagon disappears in front of me.  (*As you will come to know in my posts, buying one’s jersey is akin to having complete confidence in a player’s ability in this league. I’ve spent more money in my younger years on jerseys than I care to admit, so I am judicious in that expense, both figuratively and literally.)
  • There is an old adage in football, that to build a team successfully, you must build from the ball out. Well, barring injury (as with any team) the Browns look to have built out well from the center position all the way through the tight end. If Shaun Lauvao and Tony Pashos can stay on the field this year, with Ben Watson and Evan Moore as bookends, that front seven on offense will make a name for themselves. Perhaps, even something Hawaiian come February.
  • GM Tom Heckert is betting on his young, inexperienced WRs coming of age this year in the new offensive system, and hasn’t looked to compliment them with a veteran free agent. To me, this has been a risky proposition, but I will admit some of the young guys showed well last night, including Jordan Norwood. He was difficult to tackle on kick-off returns, and got in and out of his breaks quickly, making himself an available target for Browns QBs on more than one occasion. And while he won’t have to raise the ante just yet (that comes on cut day), I do believe I heard him tap the table last night. Still, if they fail him, then he has failed both Colt McCoy and his new head coach. Ask Phil Savage how that ends.
  • If there is one thing I have notices about Browns defensive backs over the last couple seasons, it’s that they often do not turn their heads around when the ball is in the air. Now while there’s no possible way to hear the ball being released, a DB worth his salt has the uncanny ability to simply know when the ball is up, and when to play the ball versus the man. Part of that ability comes from watching film, knowing your opponent, their schemes and tendencies, and knowing where you are on the field. Last season, Eric Wright could see every catch a wide out made on him, since he saw it all happen in front of him as he chased them down field. Last night, Sheldon Brown (whom I truly like) failed to get his head around to the play, and must have been completely surprised to see Greg Jennings catch a touchdown in front of him. Then again, if you are a DB and you find yourself in the end zone and a WR is trying to come up or around you to get at something, it’s the football, and it’s not coming from the ball boy. Coach Harrison, let’s get to work on that.
  • The Browns have more defensive line depth and ability than a lot of folks give them credit for. Jayme Mitchell appears to be having been worth waitng for, and the sky is the limit for rookies Taylor and Sherard. Brian Schaefering has a Matt Roth-like motor, and Travis Ivey looks to be athletic enough to hold his own when spelling the starters. They may not set the NFL sack record this year as a unit, but could very well become a surprise strength of this team.
  • If we lose either Scott Fujita, Chris Gocong, or D’Qwell Jackson for a significant amount of time this year, things will suck. I liked some of what I saw with Titus Brown last night, but this group is not at all deep past the starting three. I would guess that Tommy H should be looking to spend some of that money saved on not buying WRs to shore up our linebacking corps.
  • I don’t care what the commissioner’s new fine schedule is, and whether or not any of the Stillers think it’s fair. I want to see T.J. Ward knock the taste out of some one’s mouth consistently this year. Both last night and over the years dating back to Eric Turner, we have lacked a true intimidating physical presence in the center of our defense, creating a void in the defensive backfield big enough for Roseanne Barr and Rush Limbaugh to ballroom dance in. TEs can look for career days against the Browns in all that real estate, and that has to stop. Getting pressure on the QB and D’Qwell Jackson popping dudes will help, but T.J. needs to treat more guys a little more like Jordan Shipley (just within the ever-changing rules).  The more guys you tag early in the season, the less you have to worry about them being there later.
  • I am not sure what Seneca Wallace’s issue was with deep balls last night, but he wasn’t anywhere close on passes more than 15 yards down field. On a sideline route in the second quarter, the ball must have hit at least 5 yards out of bounds away from the intended receiver, and his pick on the pass intended for Jordan Norwood in the 3rd looked intended for the DB that caught said gift-wrapped I-N-T. And while I do recall him having that happen to him occasionally last season, it wasn’t enough to cause for concern. But for someone who has said he wants to be a starter, you have to start making those throws…and here’s that word again…consistently.

Here are a couple random musings that are not particularly game related, but just on my mind.

  • With apologies to Paul Brown and Steve King (who had recently penned a piece in the booklet sent out to season ticket holders) , I love to see the Browns in the brown jerseys at home. Coach Brown said he loved the clean look of the all-white unis, and Steve King waxed poetic about them. Sorry gentlemen, but I have always liked us wearing our battle colors at home. (Personally, I am a fan of the orange pants as well, but I was raised on the Browns in the mid-to-late 70’s, and that was the uniform of my first football love.) To me, the all-white getup makes them look like they should be working the counter at a soda fountain. Go back to the orange pants with the white tops, and keep the brown jerseys on at home with the white pants. Then take the orange jerseys and brown pants and give them to some division I-AA college or women’s softball team.
  • Speaking of our beloved Brownies unis, I’m sick of folks saying that orange and brown doesn’t look good together, and the Browns have bad uniforms. Think about it. Football is played in autumn. Two key autumn colors are….orange and brown. They compliment each other in nature well, and likewise on our football team. Our uniforms have a clean, crisp, and classic look that beams of NFL history. Our logo is a helmet void of one, and that will never change, nor should it. The next time someone comes up to you and gives you grief about the Browns unis, ask them if they have seen what the Seahawks have been wearing the last 4 or 5 years. If they say yes, then recommend a good optometrist to them. If they say no, then they obviously haven’t watch enough football to have an opinion on anything football related, so simply tell them to shut the hell up.
Categories: Cleveland Browns

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