Somehow, the Browns offense in the first half of the preseason opener against the Kansas City Chiefs surprised me. Not that the offense was dynamic, not that the offense reminded me of the sharp offense in San Diego, but the unit executed fairly well, even through some poor decision making.
In the battle of the quarterbacks, Charlie Frye walks away the easy winner in game one, but he had a couple moments of indecision. Frye pulled down the ball as he was back to pass, and was stopped short of the goal line and the Browns left points on the field, heading into halftime down 7-6. In all, Frye looked poised behind very good pass protection provided by the Browns offensive line and threw the ball consistently.
The offensive line played very well, especially in pass protection. Rookie Joe Thomas was called for two holding penalties, one which was somewhat questionable, but was exceptionally strong in the running game and displayed his agility against the sped rush and Kansas City blitz.
An area of concern heading into training camp was of the interior of the offensive line. Lennie Friedman filled in for the injured Eric Steinbach and played better as the half progressed, while center Hank Fraley and right guard Seth McKinney held their own along the line of scrimmage. In general, though, the interior of the line did not provide the push and lanes for the backs to run through on a consistent basis.
Once the passing game supplied some opportunities to move the football, the running game came alive, as the unit began to feed off one another and opportunities presented themselves. Frye maintained consistency and managed to move the football, despite penalties and a poor decision to throw a screen pass, which was very well defended.
In the running game, Jamal Lewis looked good, his quickness and strength helped him to a significant first down run in the first quarter. Not known for his receiving ability, Lewis also caught three passes in limited duty.
Second-year back Jerome Harrison entered the game and immediately made a nice run against a mixture of Kansas City first and second team defenders. For as quick as Harrison made a positive impression, he was at the middle of several misguided plays. Coming out of the backfield in the flat, Harrison made little effort to retrieve a Frye pass, which was called a lateral. The Chiefs' Benny Sapp returned it 56 yards for a touchdown, giving the Chiefs a 7-6 lead. Later in the half, Harrison cut between left guard and tackle for a nice gain, but fumbled the football.
Derek Anderson and Frye alternated every other series, with Anderson getting by far the worse end of the deal. Limited by poor field position early, Anderson was unable to generate much offense. The team played off their quarterback, which was inconsistent. Anderson threw the ball short on two occasions and struggled with the Kansas City blitz.
Kendrick Mosely, Ryan Krause, and Jason Wright made clutch first half receptions which helped the Browns move the chains. Making up for a drop early in the second quarter, Travis Wilson hauled in a nicely thrown Frye pass on a slant in the red zone, giving the Browns a first down with under a minute remaining in the half and earlier recovered a Harrison fumble on the same drive.
Phil Dawson, coming off a 2006 season which he did not believe was one of his best, converted on both field goal attempts in the first half.
Kevin Shaffer looked solid at right tackle.
Antwan Peek generated some early excitement with his pass rush ability.