CLEVELAND – Thanks to a more poised and confident looking Brandon Weeden, the Cleveland Browns looked both dynamic and dominant in a 24-6 win over the Calvin Johnson-less Detroit Lions.
Weeden, who had a solid outing in a 27-19 win over the St Louis Rams, continued his strong play in preseason, while featured running back Trent Richardson made his preseason debut.
Below are thoughts on all areas of the game.
Weeden put any talk of a quarterback competition to rest in looking cool and collected in the pocket, and with few exceptions, put his throws right on the money. Wide receiver Josh Gordon came up big with three catches for 72 yards, and Jordan Cameron had two touchdown receptions. Both will be needed this year to keep the offense rolling.
Jason Campbell quietly had a good night, That, combined with Brian Hoyer’s mediocre outing against third and fourth stringers may have saved Campbell’s roster spot, as I wasn’t very impressed with him last week or early in this game.
Trent Richardson looked ready for the season in limited duty. If he can stay healthy, the Browns should have no worries about their featured runner this season. Speaking of staying healthy, Cleveland suffered a major blow with news of Dion Lewis’ fractured fibula. Before his injury, Lewis was making a strong case for himself as Cleveland’s change-of-pace back.
Lewis was averaging 6.6 yards per carry when he went down, that kind of production will be hard to replace. Brandon Jackson or Chris Ogbonnaya will have to step up big or the Browns overall running attack will suffer.
Offensive lineman Jason Pinkston also went down in the game with an ankle injury, replaced by Garret Gilkey at the right guard position. After a shaky start, where the running game was practically non-existent, Gilkey seemed to get in the flow of the game and played well.
My concern is that if Pinkston is unavailable for any length of time the Browns depth on the offensive line is going to be a problem. They can’t afford any more injuries there.
The first team defense simply beat the Lions down. Without benefit of Ray Horton’s blitz schemes, the Browns still held the Lions without a first down until their third possession. They seemed to be swarming to the ball, and I personally can’t wait for the games to count so we can see the full force of Horton’s defense.
If you like hard-hitting, aggressive defense, stay tuned. This could be a fun year.
Not that there weren’t issues that need to be addressed. When Reggie Bush got going on screen passes he broke off several big gains. The secondary wasn’t really tested either, with the fore-mentioned Megatron sitting out the game.
Next week against Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts should give us a better idea of where the secondary stands to the rest of the defense.
First-round pick Barkevious Mingo was injured as well. He was hospitalized overnight with a bruised lung. However, he really didn’t do much when he was out there, registering no tackles. Honestly, I don’t recall noticing him on the field on defense, although I’m sure he was.
All part of the rookie learning curve I guess.
I have no concerns about special teams. return specialist Travis Benjamin had a punt return touchdown called back on a penalty, I think he has that position nailed down. Lewis’ injury pops up again, as he seems to be the coach’s first option for kickoff returns, but Johnson Bademosi looked fine as his replacement.
Spencer Lanning was fine punting the ball, pinning the Lions inside their own 20 three times in six punts. Brandon Bogotay had a good night as well, kicking a 43 yard field goal, two extra points and booting the opening kick out of the end zone before injuring his groin in the second half.
But you really can’t judge a Cleveland kicker until he tries a 40 yard game winner on a windy December afternoon. We’ll just have to wait and see how this all plays out as the season progresses.
A solid game by a well coached team. Granted, the Lions weren’t showing much as the teams meet again on October 13th. But neither were the Browns. Just seeing what looked like a professional football team on the field two weeks in a row is a huge step up from earlier seasons.
The injuries are a bit of a downer, and depth could turn into an issue this season. However after seeing two preseason games, I’m already ready to say that this team should surpass last year’s win total, and if a few breaks go their way, could challenge for a wild card.
Bring on the Colts!