In 2009 the Browns and Lions played in one of the most entertaining game of the season.
Saturday night didn't quite live up to last years thriller. It was pre season after all. All that being said, what did we learn from game number three?
1. Jake Delhomme continues to look good. I have been very surprised at how calm and under control Delhomme has the offense operating. You can see a real difference in how the offense is run when another QB is in. I have been one of the biggest critics of the Delhomme signing, and while it is still very early, Delhomme is making me look like a fool.
2. Peyton Hillis is really easy to like and should be a fan favorite in Cleveland. He runs hard and finishes every run like he is trying to cross the goal line. The most surprising part of his game to me has been his hands. For a guy who had 18 catches in his career, he has very soft hands and seems to have a knack for finding the soft spot under defenses. I don't know why Josh McDaniel couldn't find playing time for this guy last season, but his loss is the Browns gain.
3. James Davis can play at this level. The only real question is, can he stay healthy and get on the field? On his 26 yard catch and run, Davis absolutely froze a Lion defender in the open field and sprung himself for an extra 15 yards. If you remember it was against the Lions pre season last year where James Davis made a splash. Maybe he just likes playing the Lions?
4. The first team offense scored 17 points in the first half. It seems like the first team offense did not score 17 points in the first 12 games last year. Delhomme spread the ball around, using Ben Watson, Mohamed Massaquoi, Brian Robiskie, Evan Moore, Jerome Harrison, Peyton Hillis, Lawrence Vickers and Chansi Stuckey. That is spreading the ball around.
5. If you followed the Browns draft over at dawgsbynature.com, then you already know that I didn't like the Browns selection of Joe Haden. Personally, I think the Browns should have used their pick on pass rush (more on that later). Haden has tackled well and has shown a great ability to use his hands.
1A. The Browns pass defense just isn't very good right now. Matt Stafford had an eternity to look down field and pick apart the Browns secondary. He hasn't been alone either. Against the first team Quarterbacks this pre season, the trio of AJ Feely, Aaron Rodgers and Matt Stafford have combined for: 30/36, 345 yards and 3/0 TD/INT in what amounts to one full game of playing time. Yikes.
1B. The Browns defense only has one sack against 96 drop backs by the opposition. The only sack was by Marcus Bernard late in the Green Bay game. One sack in 96 pass attempts is pathetic. Granted the Browns have been without Shaun Rogers this entire pre season, but the point still stands. The Browns are going to have to send massive blitzes in order to reach the QB.
2. Thank God Jahvid Best only played one down. While the Browns run defense has been good so far this pre season, Best went around the corner and exploded for 51 yards. The Browns LB's aren't exactly bursting with athletic ability, so I expect the Browns to struggle this season when facing explosive backs. Jahvid Best could be a real special back in this league if he stays healthy. The Lions are going to be able to score a lot of points this season.
3. More fumbles, and these can't be blamed on the rain. Four in all for the Browns (Moore, McCoy, Delhomme and Harrison) with Harrison's being taken back to the house. The Browns will have to hang their hats on running and protecting the ball if they plan on making any noise this season. Ball security has to be stressed over these last two weeks.
4. If the Browns have to dip into their back-up offensive lineman this season, we are going to be in serious trouble. Colt McCoy was drilled in his third pass attempt. The Lions defense damn near beat McCoy back on his drop. A side note, McCoy's first two throws were beautiful, including a nice back shoulder strike, down the sideline. The Browns will hopefully be able to pick up another lineman after cuts are made.
1. Ndamukong Suh's take down of Jake Delhomme kept alive a Browns drive and should cost the rookie upwards of 10k. He got his money's worth. Hacksaw Jim Dugan would have been proud.
2. Sheldon Brown's defense on the fade route to Bryant Johnson was horrendous. A veteran CB should know to have his head around.
3. Brandon McDonald is without a doubt the leagues biggest chicken. On Aaron Brown's second TD run, McDonald had a chance to meet Brown at the LOS, but instead just let Brown walk in the endzone. I understand that it is pre season, but McDonald has always pussed out on tackle attempts. With the Browns new found depth at CB, McDonald should be handed his walking papers out of Cleveland.
Good note: Zach Sorenson, who was taken off the field on a stretcher sounds like he will be just fine. It is great to hear that, and it is good to see the NFL take the cautious approach to any and all head/neck injuries.