By: Will Burge
Game number one of the 2012 preseason is in the books and it was not pretty. While the play on the field was not aesthetically pleasing, it was about what I expected. Here are the ten things that jumped out at me from the Browns 19-17 victory over the Lions.
1. Brandon Weeden’s numbers did not look good but there were a few positives in his performance. He went through his progressions nicely and stepped up into the pocket to avoid pressure on a number of occasions. One of the biggest “no-no’s” in the NFL, however, is staring down your intended receiver. He did this multiple times and it cost him on an interception intended for Greg Little. If you are worried about Weeden’s stats: Matthew Stafford was 4 of 7 for 51 yards and an interception. He threw for 5,000 yards last season.
2. It was quite evident that Josh Gordon has not played in an organized football game in two years. He looked rusty, tentative, and struggled to get separation off the line of scrimmage. He was officially targeted three times with no catches, but he also had a deep pass that he could not corral and was called for offensive pass interference.
3. Mohammad Massaquoi was pegged to have a break out year by the entire Browns’ front office and he looked to be living up to the billing through training camp. Then a real game started. On his very first catch of the pre-season he was knocked out of action with a head injury. If Gordon had performed better, Massaquoi might have found himself without a job in a few weeks.
4. Montario Hardesty filled in for Trent Richardson, and even though his numbers didn’t show it, he performed pretty well. Hardesty had four rushes for 16 yards but showed good burst through holes and patience we had not seen from him through three years. Most importantly, he made it through the game healthy.
5. Hardesty may have made it out unscathed but others were not so lucky. The Browns lost four players who are expected to have a significant impact this year. Mohammad Massaquoi (head), Scott Paxson (knee), Dimitri Patterson (ankle), and Jordan Cameron (neck).
6. Before he left with an injury, Jordan Cameron was one of the brightest spots on the team. He ran with the first team because Ben Watson did not dress for the game and caught two passes for 58 yards. The second catch, a 42 yard reception from Colt McCoy, was the play that eventually knocked him out of the game. Cameron struggled a little in run blocking and that will be his biggest road block to significant playing time.
7. Colt McCoy looked very comfortable in the offense and produced some very good numbers. He finished 6-8 for 88 yards and had a 20 yard run. He threw down field on numerous occasions and did not settle for the check-down routes. It looks like he has the leg up in the competition for the back-up quarterback role.
8. Rookie right tackle Mitchell Schwartz was thrown directly into the fire. He had to take on one of the best defensive lines in the NFL and got no help from a tight end on most of the reps he took. I love the approach by the coaching staff. If he is going to start, he needs to learn, and to learn you have to make mistakes. Schwartz had a false start penalty and followed that up by not committing to the inside rusher on the very next play. That rusher got passed him and knocked the ball out of Weeden’s hand resulting in a fumble. This was the very definition of trial by fire.
9. With the impending suspension of Joe Haden, Buster Skrine and Dimitri Patterson were set to take extra reps. Once Patterson left the game with an injury Skrine was left in for almost three full quarters. Skrine will play a huge role in the Browns defense this year. He will play some nickel back, he will play in dime coverage, and if an injury happens during Haden’s suspension he may even have to start. He was blown up on a bump-and-run coverage against Calvin Johnson but bounced back nicely. He still has a lot of growing and learning to do.
10. The replacement referees are awful. They missed calls, they made incorrect calls, and they took too long to do everything. The NFL has to fix this. They could have called Oniel Cousins for false start at least 5 times and missed every single call.
|Will Burge covers the Browns for ESPNCleveland.com and hosts 3 Deep, Monday - Friday from 7pm-9pm.|
Follow Will on Twitter @WillBurge
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