The soul who feels that there's still half a steak left will tell you that the Browns didn't scheme or game plan for this contest and that it was a Preseason game anyway and therefore means nothing.
The soul who feels the steak is half gone will tell you that clearly the world is ending because the Browns were dominated physically by the Eagles and that is a sure precursor of things to come.
They're both wrong, and they're both right.
The Real Game against the Eagles in 2 weeks will likely look a world different. The Browns will have some key pieces back. So will Philly. They'll show different cards. So this result, in the grand ol' scheme, means little.
Getting physically whipped at the line of scrimmage, especially the Philly D Line vs. Cleveland O Line, means a lot.
I said last week that the only real meaning of the game was to send a message. The Eagles knew this, and they clearly went out of their way to intimidate. They were so aggressive crashing the line that they got several Offsides penalties.
The Browns sent a message too - "We are an outhouse, please come crap on us."
You can bet that teams that have the Browns on their schedule are right now making mental notes to add a Wide 9 Defensive package on the week they play. Cleveland seems incredibly weak, slow, and confused by it.
Your starting QB - the only QB you have on the roster that has any chance of being anything but a place holder - is not particularly mobile. Your team will also rely heavily on a ground game from a rookie RB that has yet to see the field. If the O Line plays this way when the games start counting, THE TEAM WILL DIE.
The game started encouragingly enough with an 8 play 78 yard drive that featured at least 2 passes from Brandon Weeden that Colt McCoy simply cannot make - passes into traffic across the field along the sidelines. Those are Pick 6's if Colt throws them, which is why he does not (usually), which is why Colt should bless the Football Gods that at least he can run around a lot.
But after reaching the Philly 2, Jason Pinkston held to push the ball back to the 12, and then Derek Landri blew through a hole basically untouched and knocked the ball out of Weeden's hands before he even had time to turn around. With blocking like that, Weeden may never be allowed to take his eyes off the line of scrimmage again.
That play seemed to totally unnerve the Browns' Offense, because the O Line fell apart after that, Weeden fumbled again (retained), Montario Hardesty fumbled (lost), the Receivers seemed to be in absolute disconcert with the QB, and they didn't even threaten to get a 1st Down for nearly a Quarter. The O Line may be talented (then again, they may not), but they are for the most part young and inexperienced and don't know how to handle adversity. Brandon Weeden may be talented (then again, he may not), but he is inexperienced and has to learn how to handle the gang rush. Greg Little, Josh Gordon, Travis Benjamin, and Jordan Cameron may be talented (then again, they may not), but they are inexperienced and need to not only know where they're supposed to go but do it correctly AND actually catch the ball once they get there.
We'd all love to see the fairy tale where all these guys hit and became their potential at once and the Browns went from doormats to contendahs... but that just doesn't happen. You don't become James Bond the first time you convince a girl to move past 3rd base in the backseat of your mom's Ford Escort.
The free fall finally ended in the 2nd Quarter against Eagles backups with a 65 yard drive for a short Phil Dawson, and that basically ended Brandon's night. Colt McCoy came in with about a minute left (to the cheers of some deluded individuals) and promptly showed how much more effective he was against the vicious Eagles D by throwing 2 check downs and getting plowed under by 3 guys on 3rd down.
Oh, did I mention that the Defense was a whole lot of mediocre against 3rd string rookie QB Nick Foles? No? Yeah, the Defense was a whole lot of mediocre. Foles had 2 TD passes (albeit on 15 yard and 3 yard drives) and should've had a 3rd on flailing CB Sheldon Brown but for a replay reversal. Surely, the Browns weren't attacking Foles the way they would if it were a Real Game, but that doesn't change the fact that they made little impact physically against Philly's O Line and that next time it will be Mike freakin' Vick back there, not a 3rd round rook.
After a garbage Roughing call wiped out a Pick 6 by David Sims - and Cleveland responded to that adversity by allowing Trent Edwards to drive for another TD - McCoy got the start in the 2nd Half, and he showed again his plethora of experience with situations where there is no blocking, no pocket, and no Receivers by running around and making just enough plays to drive the field for a TD against Philly's 3rd stringers.
Seneca Wallace came on next to make his case for backup QB, and he showed his stuff by throwing a stupid INT on his first pass. He got one more series after that and promptly did not much, severely cramping his roster chances and allowing the Eagles to run out the final 6 minutes of the clock against guys that have probably already been cut.
Time of Possession: PHI - 31:59, CLE - 28:01
Total Yards: PHI - 328, CLE - 249
Yards Passing: PHI - 273, CLE - 184
Yards Rushing: CLE - 65, PHI - 55
First Downs: PHI - 22, CLE - 18
Turnovers Forced: PHI - 4, CLE - 1
Sacks: PHI - 4, CLE - 0
Final Score: Philadelphia 27, Cleveland 10
Throwing the ball down the field - Thank you for realizing that this is a good time to practice that.
Joe Haden - Finally a pick, stood out on his brief time on the field.
Josh Gordon - Vastly improved over the 1st two weeks - suddenly looks like the only viable WR on the squad.
James-Michael Johnson - Made several plays, including knocking away what would've otherwise been a TD pass from Foles to Chad Hall and (along with LJ Fort) hitting Bryce Brown so hard on a goal-line play that Brown flew backwards and fumbled.
Brian Schaefering - Yeah, it was against 4th stringers, but made constant penetration and shut down several plays.
Billy Winn - Great glimpse at his potential when he shot the gap and nailed no less than LeSean McCoy for a 4 yard loss.
Alex Smith - Made a play and was the only one to show some toughness during that stretch of the 1st Quarter where the Browns were just being manhandled.
Juqua Parker - Stood out several times, including being about the only Browns player on the field to put a hurtin' on Foles.
LJ Fort - For his part on the aforementioned goal-line play.
Craig Robertson - Also active again. This young LB crew is very interesting. They may suck this year, but interesting nonetheless.
David Sims - With what should've been another pick 6 and generally always being in on plays (team-high 4 solo tackles), he's got a great shot of making the team.
Colt McCoy - Rose to the challenge when Seneca Wallace did not.
Johnson Bademosi - Made several plays near the end, causing me to notice him for the first time since ever.
Hall of Shame
Offensive Line - Responsible for a fumble (Weeden's first) and a blocked Punt (let's not mention the countless penalties and missed assignments as well). Conservatively, that's a 10 point swing right there.
Jason Pinkston - As bad as the entire line was, Pinkston gets special recognition for several penalties and gaping holes where he was supposed to be.
Mitchell Schwartz - Back to bitch-slapped rook again just a week after looking improved.
Montario Hardesty - Fumbled again and makes me nostalgic for a RB that I've never seen play a down in a Browns uniform.
Sheldon Brown - I guess I should've known last week was a mirage.
Seneca Wallace - Thanks to your suckage, I'm now probably stuck with the Kult of Kolt all year.
Punt Coverage Team - Got a punt blocked and allowed 14.5 yards per punt return in the 1st Half.
Owen Marecic - Another drop, another chance for me to wonder what his purpose on this team is.
Greg Little - What the hell happened to you? Trying to kill your stock enough so that you can get yourself late in your fantasy draft?
Oneil Cousins - Is he not cut yet?
Regarding The Cuts
As of this writing, the following players have been cut from the Browns' roster:
Jake Anderson (OL), Matt Cleveland (OL), Emmanuel Davis (S), JoJo Dickson (LB), Spencer Lanning (P), Carlton Mitchell (WR), Bert Reed (WR), Jermaine Saffold (WR), Owen Spencer (WR).
None are surprising (or even hard) cuts. Mitchell just can't stay healthy long enough to make any kind of difference. I thought Reed had some moments, but it was an uphill battle for him from the beginning.
4 WR's were cut, so it makes it very interesting to see what happens with the remaining 8 (Greg Little, Josh Gordon, Mo Massaquoi, Travis Benjamin, Josh Cribbs, Jordan Norwood, Josh Cooper, and Rod Windsor). It's likely the Browns will keep only 6, so two of those guys will be out. We know who is definitely NOT getting sliced, so it will come down to keeping 2 of Cribbs, Norwood, Cooper, and Windsor.
My guess would be Windsor is one, despite the fact that he has been pretty solid all Preseason. The other one? Too close to call. But I definitely don't think Cribbs is untouchable in this matter.
I wanted to give him a Hall of Shame nomination for his fumbling and general crappiness against an overwhelming attack, but I couldn't for these 3 reasons:
1. I doubt even Aaron Rodgers could be successful when Defensive Tackles are taking the snap with him.
2. He seemed to improve against the rush as the game went on. Not saying he was good against the rush - Hell No - but he did adjust and get a few things done. Which is slightly encouraging, I guess.
3. He made a couple throws which no QB on the roster has been able to make in several years. The best was on his penultimate drive when he stepped up in a rapidly collapsing pocket and winged a ball into triple coverage to a spot where only his WR (Little) could get his hands on it and/or catch it. Little dropped it, but that's a TD to a GOOD WR.
So while sucking Weeden managed to show why the FO is gambling their careers on him.
It doesn't matter what his age is, Weeden is a Rookie that came from an Offensive scheme as different from this as Chad Pennington is from Jeff George and this game showed how far he has to go. And there's no guarantee he'll ever get there.
He needs to have better pocket awareness. He needs to communicate better with his Receivers. He needs to become more elusive, the way that fellow immobile QB's like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning made HoF careers out of moving around just enough to avoid the pass rush.
Also, it doesn't help matters that fellow rookies Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III were touted to be a clear cut above the Weedens and Ryan Tannehills and Jake Lockers and Blaine Gabberts and Christian Ponders of the world, and they SO look it. When you watch Luck and RG3, you know you're looking at a QB that will be good right away and for a long time. When you watch the rest, you figure only one or two will be "Franchise" NFL QB's (if that), and you have no idea which ones.
If it's to be Weeden, he's got a long way to go. And even if he is one, you can still expect at least the first 3-4 games to be painful, mistake-ridden abortions.
Have patience. Give the guy a chance. It's not his fault he was drafted here. And if he ain't the guy, the Browns are totally screwed.
***Is that 0 sacks I see again this week? Tsk tsk.
***Brandon Jackson looks slow. I'm starting to lean towards the idea that he will be a cut.
***If Brandon Jackson is gone, it becomes a race between Chris Ogbannaya and Adonis Thomas. Both bring a completely different set of skills to the table, both are valuable. Og is a true RB, not flashy but hits the hole and rarely loses yardage or gets blown up. Thomas is the opposite, fairly useless as a RB but very dangerous as a screen or even downfield option, especially with his speed. If I'm Tom Heckert (incidentally, I'm not), I might see if there's a way I can keep both of them, particularly in light of Trent Richardson's knee issues.
***You can certainly tell that the team speed of the Defense is improved, even above average. Now... if they could only be in the right place too...
***If I thought for one second that the Kult of Kolt would maintain a season-long distraction, I would still dump/trade McCoy despite the fact that he's the superior option to Wallace. Even if he's marginally better than Seneca, he's not worth the headache if his fan club and the media deem to propagate it. As far as the QB position is concerned, this season is about one thing and one thing only, and it's got nothing to do with Colt or Seneca.
***In the spirit of optimism, I will not start tracking the top college pass rushers (need number one in my opinion) at this juncture. I'll wait until after their first Real loss. Which, let's be honest, probably is less than 2 weeks off.
***Oh, did I not mention the Joe Haden-Pat Shurmur blowup yet? That's because it's not really worth mentioning. Coaches and players sometimes yell. Players sometimes get sent off the field. Happens in Junior High. Happens in the NFL. It doesn't mean anything, not that Joe is suddenly a problem child or that Shurmur is suddenly a tough coach. Maybe they are, but this incident offers absolutely no evidence either way.
***By trading Vontae Davis, I'd feel pretty certain that was the final sign that the Dolphins were going to tank this season in order to get a Franchise QB, but they already drafted a guy this year. So maybe there's a WR that they're really eager to pick #1 overall.
***Bernie Quote of the Week: "The Mike Holmgren/Coach Shurmur kind of team aspires to be what Andy Reid and the Philadelphia Eagles already are... It's like playing your big brother today, and big brother took us out to the woodshed and beat the crap out of us."
***Random Quote of the Week: "Value this time in your life kids, because this is the time in your life when you still have your choices, and it goes by so quickly. When you're a teenager you think you can do anything, and you do. Your twenties are a blur. Your thirties, you raise your family, you make a little money and you think to yourself, "What happened to my twenties?" Your forties, you grow a little pot belly you grow another chin. The music starts to get too loud and one of your old girlfriends from high school becomes a grandmother. Your fifties you have a minor surgery. You'll call it a procedure, but it's a surgery. Your sixties you have a major surgery, the music is still loud but it doesn't matter because you can't hear it anyway. Seventies, you and the wife retire to Fort Lauderdale, you start eating dinner at two, lunch around ten, breakfast the night before. And you spend most of your time wandering around malls looking for the ultimate in soft yogurt and muttering "how come the kids don't call?" By your eighties, you've had a major stroke, and you end up babbling to some Jamaican nurse who your wife can't stand but who you call mama. Any questions?" - Mitch Robbins (Billy Crystal), City Slickers
Chicago Bears (Fake 2-1).
The only thing that means less than the 4th Preseason game would be proposed legislature that is split down party lines.
Bears 1, Browns 0.