After watching the Cleveland Gladiators get destroyed in Arena Bowl 27 by the Arizona Rattlers 72-32 I was hoping when I left “The Q” I would be getting some good news about the Browns in their third preseason game against the Rams. I was hoping I could go home and pull up on my DVR the Browns looking good in what is considered the dress rehearsal game for the regular season. That was not the case as I checked the internet and saw a 33-14 defeat at the hands of the Rams. So I needed a break from bad football and waited until late Sunday night to watch the Browns game. Here are my observations:
For all Browns fans out there, you have to hope that head coach Mike Pettine and his coordinators are holding a lot back. That they don’t want to show their hand as to what they are capable of doing on offense and defense. That “Vanilla” has been the name of all the game plans so far. If not, this could be a long season after what I’ve witnessed not only in the Rams game, but all of the preseason games so far.
The two biggest things I took away from the Rams game – 1) The Browns don’t have a legitimate, playoff caliber quarterback in Brian Hoyer or Johnny Manziel. 2) By them not playing in the game, it was made abundantly clear that the Browns have two playmakers, Josh Gordon and Joe Haden. Without those two players in the line-up, the negative domino effect was painfully obvious.
Gordon is the only player on offense that opposing defenses fear right now and maybe for the whole season. The Rams had 7 offensive plays of 20 yards or more, the Browns didn’t have any….NONE….not even one against the Rams third team defense!
The Rams with 4 different quarterbacks playing thanks to the injury to starter Sam Bradford, averaged 8.5 yards per pass attempt. Hoyer and Manziel averaged 4.7 yards per pass attempt. Pathetic!
What was supposed to be one of the strengths of this team, the offensive line, looked like a weakness Saturday night. Granted the Rams have a very good defensive line, but to give up 4 sacks and only rack up 32 yards rushing in the contest was alarming. That unit, on this team, including Joe Thomas was one I wasn’t overly concerned with, but I am now.
To be out gained by almost 300 yards, at home, in what is considered the most important preseason game of the preseason, is concerning to say the least. Plus the Rams did it with their back-up quarterback, and his back-up, and then his back-up. That’s their 4th string guy!
There were a few positives in the game, not many, but a few, so let’s give them credit.
Rookie linebacker Christian Kirksey had a solid game with 7 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss and an interception.
Defensive end Armonty Bryant only had 2 tackles, but he had a number of quarterback pressures (one knocked Sam Bradford out of the game and out for the season with a torn ACL) and he gave great effort whenever he was in the game.
Granted it was against a combo of the Rams second and third team defenses, but Johnny Manziel showed off the one thing he can do and that’s scramble and make a play with his legs as he scored on a 7 yard run.
Punter Spencer Lanning was solid with a 40 yard average but more importantly he landed 2 of 5 punts inside the 20 yard line.
The return game was very good on both punts and kick offs. Good to see Travis Benjamin back as he returned a punt 17 yards and showed the speed we’re used to seeing from him. The Browns also averaged nearly 34 yards per kickoff return.
Also let’s credit the coverage teams as they haled the Rams returners in check on both punts and kickoffs.