After viewing – sans beer goggles – the tape on three different occasions sans beer goggles over the past two days, here's what went right and what went wrong during the first two-and-a-half quarters of the Browns third straight pre-season loss:
RIGHT: Brady Quinn did not take a sack or throw an interception in his first NFL start, despite the fact that he faced a surprisingly ferocious pass rush on more occasions than either he or the coaching staff would have preferred. While he looked utterly ordinary most of the game – and downright awful on more than a couple of throws – no sacks and no picks is indeed a silver lining to his otherwise forgettable debut.
WRONG: I know what Kevin Shaffer and Hank Fraley looked like with Ryan Tucker next to them last year. I see what Shaffer and Fraley look like without Tucker by their side this year. The problem is not Shaffer and, to some extent, Fraley; no, the problem is Rex Hadnot. Is Tucker that important? Apparently he is, and apparently a Browns coach calling him the club's best offensive lineman is not as far-fetched as it was at first blush.
RIGHT: The votes are in and it's official – Shaun Rogers is a beast. Saturday night was just a glimpse as to the type of havoc the lineman can wreak at the nose. By my estimation, Rogers was either double- or triple-teamed on at least 70% of the snaps he was in on. The only knock on him up until now, which has followed him from Texas to Detroit and now to Cleveland, has been consistency. If he can put up 30-40 plays a game for 16 games like he did Saturday night, the Browns will have something very special in the middle of their defense and will prove a lot of people wrong – myself included – for thinking that he was not deserving of a pay raise before he had ever played a down in brown & orange. If not? There will be a whole hell of a lot of "told ya so's" raining down from up North.
WRONG: After a brief reprieve last year, the cut-back has made a mini-return to a Cleveland-area defense near you. On at least three occasions, the Browns had Kevin Smith bottled up for no or minimal gain, only to see the rookie bounce it out for huge chunks of real estate. Know your roles and angles, people. It's a small sample, but it needs to be corrected right here and right now, or the big-money improvements made in the off-season along the line will be for naught.
RIGHT: The box score may have had one measly tackle next to Alex Hall's name, but that doesn't begin to tell the rookie's story in his first action against a first-team offense. Hall flashed all over the field, and was oh-so-close to make several big plays. Once the game slows down for him, Hall's talent-level and physical ability dictates that he could be someone who contributes to this defense at some point in the future, and possibly even as early as this season depending on how the injuries at the position shake out.
WRONG: Were the Browns playing a 3-2-6 defensive set, because I swear D'Qwell Jackson and Andra Davis were not on the field for most of the defensive snaps. I think Jackson got a finger or two on Jon Kitna once, and he may have had a couple or three tackles, but beyond that he was invisible. Oh yeah, except for that penalty on the opening kickoff. Even more invisible, if that's possible, was Cap'n Davis. I could've sworn that the improvements made to the defensive line in the off-season were going to make for stronger play from the inside ‘backers. I've yet to see it, though.
WRONG: Travis Wilson. I went into this tripleheader viewing just hoping to find something positive to say about a player who had progressed so wonderfully over the past six months. I'm sorry, but I got nothing. Simply put, Wilson cannot get open against starting-quality NFL cornerbacks. Two weeks ago, the notion that Wilson would not make the final 53-man roster was almost laughable; now, it's almost a foregone conclusion.
RIGHT: Nick Sorenson made two very nice plays: coming through on a blitz and tackling Smith for a four-yard loss late in the first quarter, and then a gift interception off back-up quarterback Dan Orlovsky in the second quarter.
WRONG: Nick Sorenson on the other 50 or so plays from scrimmage he was involved in. He's just damn lucky he's a special teams madman. And the Browns will consider themselves damn lucky when they get Sean Jones and Brodney Pool back, thus relieving themselves of the burden of seeing Sorenson on the field for extended minutes. If you want to see the "real" Sorenson and what the future with him would hold if he had to see significant action, watch a replay of Smith's long touchdown run in the second quarter.
WRONG: The Browns had better hope Jamal Lewis gets healthy, and remains that way, as Jason Wright is not the answer for any long stretch of games. Wright has the ability to hit a hole fairly quickly, but, once he gets to that second level of the defense, he just does not possess the ability to turn a five-yard gain into a 15- or 20-yarder. He's not like the Japanese, who can turn a television into a watch, although he can turn a two-yard loss into a two-yard gain with the best the Orient has to offer.
WRONG: Kellen Winslow. Kellen, Kellen, Kellen. A holding penalty inside Detroit's ten-yard line, and whatever that was you were doing on a running play during the same drive? The team struggled mightily to get past midfield, let alone into the red zone, and you go back-to-back yack on consecutive plays. Not exactly what an offense sorely lacking in rhythm and confidence needed at that point in the game.
RIGHT: No additional injuries. This team could afford no significant injuries and, short of a couple of minor dings here and there, that's exactly what they got. Now, it's time to take a deep breath, get the starters back to health and on the field, and not suck. Pretty simple plan of attack, eh?