Thoughts Of A Wandering Mind

It's only one game, but the Browns offense struggled through some so familiar issues on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles.

-- Rookie QB Brandon Weeden's performance in the season opener was as bad a performance as I have witnessed in a long, long time. Weeden appeared shell-shocked at times, even when the Philadelphia Eagles defense wasn't in his face. Numerous poor throws, late decisions and an inability to react instinctively doomed the Browns offense.

-- While Weeden's play was poor, it wouldn't be correct to place the onus of this loss solely on the rookie QB. The head coach, which happens to be the play-caller bears responsibility in the debacle. As I have maintained for weeks, this rookie QB works best when the offensive weapons are spread and he can make quick, decisive decisions. The name of the game in today's NFL is all about maximizing talent, and the Browns continue to fall short.

-- Some like to complain that the Browns receivers fail to gain separation. I'd say at times this is correct, but there were numerous opportunities against the Eagles which the Browns offense – the QB failed to complete passes to open receivers, such as the missed opportunities when TE Alex Smith and WR Mohamed Massaquoi were open in the end zone and TE Ben Watson had beaten coverage on no less than three occasions, one being the incomplete pass attempt to FB Owen Marecic in the fourth quarter.

-- Speaking of Marecic………no more please. Marecic is consistently late in getting to his assignment in the blocking scheme and has shown little as a receiver coming out of the backfield. I believe this team has enough special teams aces, leaving them wanting more from an every-down or so type player.

-- TE Jordan Cameron's inexperience was evident when he failed to turn-out on his route when the Browns were in scoring position following an interception. Cameron turned in, and was basically engulfed near the goal-line, as Weeden pass was nearly intercepted by Rodgers-Cromartie.

-- WR Greg Little's drop (ball bounced off his neck), which was intercepted, was an opportunity a team such as the Browns cannot afford to waste. Little fell out of the flow of the game following the miscue.

-- While the Browns offensive line handled the Eagles pass rush aspect of the wide-nine scheme, forgotten was how to run block the aggressive scheme. Far too often Philadelphia DE's swatted Browns offensive linemen off the spot and collapsed the potential running lanes for rookie RB Trent Richardson.

-- The Browns offensive line is not built to handle the speed and quickness of a defensive front such as the Eagles. Lumbering starting guards (Pinkston and Lauvao) certainly were not adequate against the Eagles. I expect the Browns offensive line will fare better against the more conventional fronts seen in the game.

-- LT Joe Thomas struggled, possibly one of his worst performances as a pro. Rookie RT Mitchell Schwartz was unable to maintain no less than three blocks, which enabled the Eagles defense to shut-down sizeable holes for Richardson.

-- As for Richardson, he looked like a RB which had been out of action for the better portion of a month following a knee procedure. The rookie lacked burst and lateral quickness. There was energy and excitement to see the third overall selection in the draft play, but the coaching staff may have gotten caught in the moment.

-- On the defensive side of the ball is where the execution and promise came into play Sunday against the Eagles. Rookie LB's L.J. Fort and Craig Robertson played significant roles and didn't disappoint in the slightest. If anything, the Browns coaching staff that has been looking to develop players for the future may be inclined to speed up the process due to the play of the rookies.

-- A concern within the defense has to be the inability to stop the run. The Eagles didn't focus on running game until the later stages of the second half, which helped catapult the Philadelphia victory. When an offense focuses on stretching the perimeter, the Browns struggle to minimize the run. Failing to seal the edge and getting off blocks appears the common theme.

-- Veteran MLB D'Qwell Jackson may be the most under-appreciated LB in the league. Following two pectoral injuries, Jackson has played at an extremely high level in Dick Jauron's defensive scheme.

-- Jauron, a respected and well-liked defensive coach has done a solid job with the talent base in Cleveland. A season ago, jauron had a short season to get his defense installed and evaluate the talent getting on the playing field. With a full offseason, Jauron and the Browns have acquired young talent to make an aging, slow defense become quick and athletic. The influx of youth within the defensive side of the roster should provide solid returns for years to come.

-- Losing DT Phil Taylor for approximately six weeks of the regular season was expected to be a critical blow to the Browns defense. The emergence of rookies John Hughes and Billy Winn have not only solidified the defensive tackle position next to Ahtyba Rubin, but have increased the athleticism at the position. Hughes and Winn played well in the Browns loss to the Eagles.

-- Veteran DE Frostee Rucker is a true pro. Rucker is an excitable player, but a calming experienced voice for the young linemen. Rucker plays the run well, which has been a thorn in the side of the Browns defense for seasons.

-- The return of a healthy S T.J. Ward could prove to be one of the more significant improvements the Browns defense will gain in the 2012 season. Very athletic and physical, Ward is in the best physical condition of his career and displayed on Sunday his ability to be a play both the run and pass effectively.

-- Second year CB Buster Skrine appeared to struggle a bit against Eagles WR Jeremy Maclin when basing the game on stats. But, under further review of the game, Skrine was rarely out of position and was beaten on a couple perfect throws by QB Michael Vick.

-- Due to the four game suspension handed down to starting CB Joe Haden and with Sheldon Brown suffering a stinger against the Eagles, Skrine and Dimitri Patterson could be thrust into the starting lineup against the Cincinnati Bengals in Sunday. Patterson has been the able and capable nickel CB for the Browns, his starting would move rookie CB Trevin Wade into the third CB role.

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