Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

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Lane checks in with his first impressions of the Browns 31-10 loss in the season opener.

— Penalties, mental mistakes and missed opportunities doomed the Browns in the season-opening loss to the New York Jets 31-10. Penalties were momentum killers throughout the game for the Browns, with flags being dropped seemingly every time the team has made a positive play of significance. The question is whether the team was mentally and physically prepared is a valid concern. The penalties, mental errors and turnovers indicate the team was not ready — but being pushed around, physically manhandled in some instances is simply inexcusable.

Prior to the team departing for New York, the Browns staff believed the team had a solid week of practice and was ready for the game.

“We had a good week with the installs, practices and an understanding of what we want to do in New York on Sunday. There is always a build-up, an anticipation for the season opener, we feel good where we are today.”

— As was the norm throughout the final 3/4 of the 2014 season, teams squeezed the box against the Browns defense, daring them to beat them over the top in the passing game. The lack of respect to the Cleveland pass offense isn’t alarming, the Browns do not have a receiver of size to rely upon. Thus, the Browns quick/short passing game to utilize the skill-set of the receiving corps can be effective, but the inability to run the ball will continue to be an issue until the offense can prove the ability to beat a team down-field on more than an occasional basis.

— Call him tentative, whatever the case, RB Isaiah Crowell was slow to the hole — he was slow period, which is alarming for this team. Crowell did not run with authority and this again questions his vision and anticipation as a legitimate option for this team as the season progresses. We’ve witnessed Crowell struggle to find and hit the hole during film reviews and during the Browns loss to the Jets, we see the same issue. When there is a huge hole, Crowell can get to it and power his way through. Maybe this was a case of Crowell being too patient in-waiting to the play to develop — just something to continue watching.

— QB Josh McCown was solid in the one series he played before suffering what has been deemed a ‘borderline concussion’ according to what theOBR has been told. McCown effectively and efficiently made his reads and completed passes, without the running game providing a threat, other than his pulling the ball down and running. As was the issue in the preseason, McCown was on the receiving end of a couple big hits, the last landing him on the sideline for the day.

— QB Johnny Manziel had an up and down day, the highlight was a 54-yard TD to WR Travis Benjamin. All things considered, Manziel had a decent afternoon in New York despite the Browns losing 31-10. The second-year QB made some good reads, was late on a handful of others. He made some good throws and a few he wish he had back — Manziel displayed a bit more patience in the pocket, but as the game progressed he displayed the tendency to run when his first option was not available — the QB must keep his eyes downfield.

A point to be made is, Manziel had not taken a meaningful rep in weeks and leading up to the Jets game had done minimal scout team work due to an elbow issue. Manziel’s efforts far exceed his work of a season ago and demonstrated his desire and ability to make ‘things’ happen due to his elusiveness.

— The Browns offensive line must do a better job at the point of attack. The Jets front-seven was very aggressive and consistently beat the Cleveland offensive linemen to the spot — and the Jets manhandled the Browns offensive linemen in the run game. The Browns pass blocking was much better, though in the later stages after getting up by 14-points, the Jets blitzed more often and didn’t play run-first, despite continuing to maintain their responsibility to shutdown the run game throughout. The bottomline is, the Browns offensive line must get to the spot, maintain and finish blocks in the run game.

— Edge containment continues to be an issue for this Browns defense, with the same occurrences happening over and over. OLB Paul Kruger seemingly always dives in, becomes engulfed and the edge is open. Play after play, whether the play is run at him, the tendency is an alarming one. The opposite side was much better overall, Barkeviovs Mingo in for an injured Scott Solomon maintained edge control. While not providing a pass rush the team so direly needed on Sunday, Mingo will grade well in the loss to the Jets.

— As we talk about the run defense, an adjustment the Jets made paid dividends as the game progressed. Rookie NT/DT Danny Shelton was having a solid game in the first half, holding his own and the Jets struggled to run the ball between the tackles. As the second half rolled around, the Jets double-teamed Shelton more, minimizing his impact and the Jets gained success between the tackles. Additionally, veteran defensive lineman Randy Starks and John Hughes struggled at times in getting off blocks, leaving gaping holes for the Jets RBs to attack.


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