Rich's Rant: What We Learned in Philly

You don't learn much in the first pre-season game, but Mr. Passan takes a shot...

The first game of an exhibition season in the National Football League almost always reveals enough answers to fill a thimble. If that.

So when one examines how the Browns looked in the loss to the Eagles in Philadelphia Friday night, the only thing to do is remember is don't take it seriously.

And things will get better because they certainly can't get much worse. Especially on offense.

Sure, the first-team defense looked good, for the most part, in the first two series of the game, which bodes well for the regular season.

But the bend-not-break routine of a year ago hasn't been expunged. Now if only the Browns can learn to stop the opposition between the 20s, then maybe they'll be onto something.

On defense, we found out that:

  • Rookie Kamerion Wimbley has uncanny quickness off the ball and can go in directions other than straight at the quarterback. No Joe (Turkey) Jones in this lad.
  • Second-year man David McMillan, a terrific pass rusher as a defensive end at Kansas, can also be effective as a pass rusher as an outside linebacker in the NFL. Couple of sacks, couple of hurries and a bunch of tackles. Watch out for this kid.
  • Veteran cornerback Gary Baxter is an injury waiting to happen. Who knew he was this fragile when he decided to bolt Baltimore for Lake Erie's climate? Will this guy ever stay healthy?
  • It might be time to team Sean Jones and Brodney Pool as twin safeties and let them learn on the job. Both looked good against the Eagles.
  • Nose tackle Ted Washington is . . . well, the Great Wall of China personified. Now if only the Browns can come up big on third down this season and keep The Wall rested on the bench.
  • Rookie linebacker D'Qwell Jackson didn't exactly appear at home in his first start. First-game jitters? To be expected. Still three exhibitions left for him to legitimately beat out Chaun Thompson for the job.
  • Leigh Bodden shows no signs of relinquishing his role as the club's best cornerback. Nice story.
  • Rookie Babatunde Oshinowo needs to put on about 25-30 pounds if he wants to be an effective nose tackle in the NFL. Quickness won't do it for him on this level. For the most part, he got handled by the Eagles.

On offense, we found out that . . .

  • The coaching staff does not trust Charlie Frye. What other conclusions can be drawn after Frye was not permitted to thrown upfield against the Eagles? Everything was horizontal. Don't the coaches trust him? I know, I know. It's just the first exhibition. But how about at least one pass that travels more than 10 yards. Upfield.
  • The Browns have a decided problem if Frye goes down. Ken Dorsey has a popgun for an arm and Derek Anderson isn't anywhere near being ready for the NFL. Romeo Crennel says the two are about even right now. That's either an indictment on Dorsey or a poor evaluation of Anderson. Lang Campbell looked better than either of them and the best he can hope for is the practice squad. Yo . . . Vinny.
  • Kellen Winslow Jr. looks healthy again. That's one game and counting without getting hurt. Now let's see him take the next step.
  • Reuben Droughns hasn't lost a beat since last season. He was especially effective on the quick pitch, which allows him to gather a head of steam. The holes were there and so was Reuben.
  • The same can't be said for William Green, whose self confidence as an NFL running back has ebbed to its nadir. He needs to spend a couple of weeks with Tony Robbins.
  • The offensive line is a budding disaster area, more because of what resides on the bench than anything else, especially at tackle. Kirk Chambers is strictly a backup. And Nat Dorsey is a big ol' tub of goo who makes a sloth look quick. No wonder the Minnesota Vikings traded him to the Browns for Melvin Fowler.
  • Now that LeCharles Bentley and Bob Hallen are gone, love to have you back, Melvin. All's forgiven. Yeah, I know. He's in Buffalo. OK, Phil, work your magic. Alonzo Ephraim played well against the Eagles, but I'd rather have Fowler. Or Hank Fraley if Savage can sweet-talk the Eagles, who might still be ticked off the Browns stole Bentley from them.
  • Joshua Cribbs might be able to contribute as more than just a kick returner this season. It looks as though his divorce from college quarterback is final and his marriage to NFL wide receiver is past the honeymoon stage.
  • Rookie running back Jerome Harrison took a huge step in at least getting the coaches to think of him as a third-down back. Scoring the Browns' only touchdown against the Eagles on a circle route had to give him a world of confidence.

And on special teams, we found out that . . .

  • Dave Zastudil has a nice leg, but has to learn that touchbacks on punts of 45 yards or less are meaningless. The idea is to pin the opposition deep in its own territory. He had three chances against the Eagles and connected on just one. Got to improve that percentage.

But hey, it was just the first exhibition.

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