Review: Exhibition Game 2

When I put up the First Impressions, I imagined that I’d have a lot more to say when I gave the tape a full review. But, after further review… BLECCCHHHH!!! Of the three touchdowns:

  • The first was achieved by the team’s #1 pick (Johnny Flipbird) playing QB against the opponent’s third string defense– with:
    • The #3 pick (Terrance West) and a veteran (Dion Lewsi) running the ball
    • The man who let the NFL in receiving yards (Puff Gordon) — and one of the starting tight ends (Gary Barnidge) catching passes
    • Flag-happy officials giving them 3 of the 7 first downs
  • The second was an interception return– made by a 32-year old safety who has played nine years in the NFL against the opponent’s third-string QB.
  • The third was a desperation heave by the fourth-string QB with no time on the clock, which got tipped into another player’s hands. You couldn’t ask for a more fluky play.

The guys who were supposed to be battling for the starting job went 9-22 for 81 yards and 1 TD– a 66.7 rating.

The running game looked in mid-season form-… except that the Browns’ running game sucks rocks. 27 carries for 100 yards– a whopping 3.7 yards a carry. After Ben Tate scampered 19 yards on the first carry, Washington held him to 32 yards on 9 plays (3.6 yards). West (8 carries for 31 yards) still couldn’t crack 4 yards a carry.

And the receivers? Puff (5 targets) Jordan Cameron (3), Andrew Hawkins (3) and Barnidge (2) had the ball thrown to them 13 times. They caught three balls for 31 yards. Miles Austin played 18 snaps and didn’t have even one ball thrown to him. Nate Burleson, for the second straight game, didn’t dress.

In a game where the starting line (two Pro Bowl players, two second-round picks and a veteran guard) played 28 of the 63 offensive plays, and the opponent’s starting defense played 21, the Browns still managed to give up 5 sacks.

Other than Connor Shaw (who presumably has no chance ot making the team) and H-back MarQueis Gray (2 passes for 29 yards, but also a fumble), nobody on offense played well. At this point, Taylor Gabriel (who’s 5’8″ and from Abilene Christian), Willie Snead (5’11” from Ball State) have done the most to win receiving jobs.

Didn’t you think the defense looked good?

No, I thought the Washington offense looked bad. After the Redskins hired Jay Gruden, Bengals owner Mike Brown tossed him under the bus. According to Brown– who, admittedly isn’t the most reliable source– Brown told Marvin Lewis that he wanted to draft Colin Kaperenick in the second round of the 2011 draft,. Lewis told Brown that he (Lewis) would only OK it if Gruden (who ran the offense) approved.

Brown claims Gruden said “Kaepernick is talented, but he doesn’t fit my system. We’ll get better results if we take Andy Dalton.” So the Bengals took Dalton, the 49ers took Kaepernick on the next pick and the rest is history.

When I reported that, I said that it meant (assuming, again, that it was true) that Gruden was an inflexible doofus who’d have serious trouble working with Robert Griffin. Gruden runs a pretty basic West Coast Offense, and RG3 absolutely doesn’t fit that scheme.

It looked to me that Gruden was trying to pound both Griffin and backup Kirk Cousins into his mold. It also appeared that he’d ditched the zone blocking scheme Mike Shanahan had used to get 2,888 yards (4.7 per carry)  out of sixth-round RB Alfred Morris.

If that’s so Gruden could be “one-and-done”– and GM Bruce Allen could go with him.

But the Browns forced four turnovers

Griffin’s fumble was an unforced error, Tashaun Gipson’s interception came on a tip where the ball was high, and the other two were “Quarterback stares at receiver and makes bad throw– defender jumps the route.”

I’m pleased that they made the turnovers when presented with the opportunity– that’s what you’re supposed to do when the offense gift-wraps turnovers. But they weren’t brilliant defensive plays– just competent performances.

As I say, the running looked like Gruden killed the goose that laid the golden eggs. it’s hard to be sure because New England didn’t even make an attempt to win the first game (not that they ought to).

Other than the INTs, the pass defense was hideous (20-35 for 330 yards), but Buster Skrine, Pierre Desir, Isaiah Trufant and Aaron Berry didn’t play, and Justin Gilbert was playing his first pro game. probably would have made an impact.

Most of the plays that made up the two touchdowns were made on Jordan Poyer, Leon McFadden and Chris Kirksey. They’re probably not going to play. Plus, 6 first downs came on penalties called by Terry McAulay, whose calls are made entirely at random.

They had a nice goal-line stand.

The opposing play calls were “Morris up the middle” twice and then “Morris to the left” twice. I can’t criticize the Browns for defending poor calls effectively (4 carreis for 3 yards)… but Gruden played right into their hands.

The problem with Cleveland’s run defense in 2013 was that it was too aggressive. Instead of staying in their lanes and making sure there were no gaps in coverage, all 11 Browns would charge after the ballcarrier, leaving holes all over the field. If the opposing back could make the first guy miss– and then cut back– he could run a long way. This is why Browns allowed 100+ yards rushing 10 times last year.and 99 in an 11th.

If they’re going to play well in 2014, they ned to cut that out.

Did you like Justin Gilbert?

He looked great, but he had trouble making plays, It was his first game; why get worked up?

Any individual comments?

I understand why Mike Pettine played Puff on 32 snaps and Cameron on 28. They don’t have anyone else who can catch and he wants to give both QBs a chance to throw to people who can make plays. You wanna make roster decisions based on “Who works best with Jonathan Krause?” .

But the hitch is that Puff is waiting to hear how long he’ll be suspended– and basically walking through teh games. Cameron’s contract is up at the end of the year, and he’s shown every indication that he’ll try to get top dollar and run. He isn’t going to risk getting hurt in exhibition season.

What are they going to do at quarterback?

Right now, the best option looks like Connor Shaw. Brian Hoyer deserves to lose the starting job. He’s played terribly. Even if you give him full credit for the drops, he hasn’t made half a dozen good the two games. On some of the plays, the receiver might have run the wrong route or broke late– but when you through the ball over someone; head or at his feet, that’s not the route or the receiver.

I don’t know if he’s hurt or choking, but this is appalling.

Johnny Flpbird kicked the odds that he’s going to bust up to 66%. The scouting report that leaked on him mentioned that he couldn’t take criticism– and he demonstrated that clearly, by blowing up in an exhibition game. I’ve seen quarterbacks lose their temper in pre-season… but it’s always been because he felt a defender had made a deliberate attempt to injure him.

If Johnny Flipbird didn’t want players to make gestures, he shouldn’t have made them after he’d just fallen to #22 in the draft. Don’t get photographed doing dumb stuff. Don’t shoot off your mouth. 

The Lions and Boehners gave Johnny Football a hard time because they thought he was a snotty punk. Now teams are going to give Johnny Flipbird fits because they see he can be prodded into losing his composure.The Rams are coached by Jeff Fisher– who would trashtalk his mother and chop her when the refs weren’t looking. They’ll throw the kitchen sink at him.

He need to shut his mouth until he is playing well, and not give opponents any more reason to think he can be gotten to. 

What should we look for tonight?

Anything good. Your guess as to what that might be is as good as mine. The best thing that could happen would be they run the ball well– making people feel like the team can win if it just “manages the game.”  

Obviously if would be good to see ball thrown near receivers too– for the passing game to look coordinated enough for me to determine whose fault the incompletions are. Part of the reason this is late is that I watched the tape four times to try to figure out what has been going on– and I still don’t know. 

It’d be nice if one of the quarterbacks could post an 80.0 rating. Right now, this team looks like Brian Dabioll is calling plays. 





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