DraftBrowns.com Editor: Brendan Leister
In their second preseason game, the Cleveland Browns defeated the Detroit Lions by a score of 24-6. Although winning is always the ultimate goal, the more important thing that we can take away from the game is an evaluation of the Browns’ players in new schemes on offense and defense. After looking at how the first-team offense and defense performed in the game, it is now time to take a look at the second and third-string players on both sides of the ball.
Jason Campbell played an extremely efficient game against the Lions. Campbell played with the second-team offense and completed 12 of 14 passes for 106 yards and a touchdown. He was also sacked two times and rushed one time for nine yards. One of Campbell’s two incompletions came when he overthrew Josh Cooper deep down the field on a post route. Cooper had beat the defender by a couple of steps on the play and had the pass not been overthrown, it would have resulted in big yardage. Campbell’s other incompletion came on a fade route down the right sideline to Travis Benjamin. Benjamin had beat the defender by a step and had the pass not been under thrown, it may have resulted in a touchdown.
Brian Hoyer completed one of three passes for 19 yards and rushed two times for -4 yards (tripped and fell down once while handing off to running back and kneeled down once). His one completion came on a comeback route to Cordell Roberson.
Although Brandon Jackson struggled to gain any yards on the ground (seven carries for -2 yards), he excelled when asked to catch the ball out of the backfield. He caught three passes for 39 yards and a touchdown. After the catch, Jackson forced one missed tackle on his first reception (18 yards), two missed tackles on his second reception (seven yards), and double caught a pass before running straight into the end zone on his third reception (14 yards).
Miguel Maysonet carried the ball four times for five yards.
Brad Smelley played 18 snaps with the second and third-team while splitting time at fullback and H-back. As a lead blocker, Smelley made a couple of good blocks, but missed on too many occasions. Even when Smelley did engage on a block attempt, he did not look to have the strength to move defenders at the point of attack with any regularity.
Josh Cooper played one snap with the first-team offense at Z and spent the rest of the game either in the slot or at Z. He caught two passes for 16 yards. One catch came on a drag route and the other came on a flat route. Each catch resulted in a first down.
Cordell Roberson lined up at X with the third-team offense and caught one pass on a comeback route for a 19-yard gain. Roberson did a good job of fighting for yards after the catch on the play.
Dominique Croom also lined up at X with the third-team offense and caught a comeback route for a seven-yard gain.
Due to the fact that nfl.com’s Preseason Live app does not allow users to view the game in coach’s tape, I was unable to evaluate each receiver’s route running.
Dan Gronkowski played 12 snaps with the third-team offense and was inconsistent overall. He had one nice block where he pushed the defensive end to the ground. The Browns gained three yards on the play. On another play, Gronkowski let the defensive end get right past him to the outside. As Gronkowski looked for a defender to block at the second level, the unblocked defensive end tackled Miguel Maysonet in the backfield for a one-yard loss.
Backup left tackle Rashad Butler really struggled in pass protection as he played 28 snaps and gave up three quarterback hurries and one quarterback hit. He was consistently driven backwards by bull rushes and got beat to the edge one time when he overextended and stopped moving his feet.
Overall, the second and third-string offensive lines did a pretty good job in pass protection. In the run game was where they struggled. As a unit, they were typically unable to stay engaged and create any movement at the point of attack. This is evidenced by Brandon Jackson and Miguel Maysonet combining for 11 rushes for three yards.
Billy Winn played 21 snaps with the second-team defense at three-technique and five-technique. Winn nearly recorded a sack on a play where he beat the left tackle to the outside with a rip move and then grabbed the quarterback’s shoulder pad. The quarterback got away and scrambled for one yard on the play. Winn also recorded his only tackle when he fired off the snap and knocked the left tackle back about a yard back from the line of scrimmage while pursuing the running back down the line. Winn closed in on the back, met him at the line of scrimmage, and brought him down for a gain of two yards.
John Hughes lined up at three-technique and five-technique and was extremely stout at the point of attack in the run game while showing off his high motor when rushing the passer. Every time Hughes is on the field, his understanding of leverage is apparent. His understanding of leverage and high motor are probably the two biggest assets that Hughes brings to the table.
Brian Sanford lined up at three-technique and five-technique and showed an explosive first step when rushing the passer. Sanford pressured the quarterback one time when he shot the B-gap and beat the right guard to the outside. Sanford also did a nice job of holding up at the point of attack a few times in the run game.
In the final minute of the game, Armonty Bryant lined up at three-technique and used a swim move to beat the left guard to the inside. He then closed in on the quarterback and recorded a sack. Bryant really seems to have a knack for rushing in confined spaces and he does not look to be as raw as many have made him out to be.
Although Justin Cole was unable to duplicate the overall impact that he brought as a pass rusher in the first preseason game, his explosiveness and flexibility were still on display against the Lions. Had Armonty Bryant not brought down Lions quarterback Kellen Moore for a sack, it is likely that Cole would have recorded one of his own on the play. Cole beat the left tackle to the edge with a speed rush and got to Moore just after Bryant did. Cole also recorded a tackle on a play where he beat the left tackle to the outside with his explosive first step and then wrapped up the running back’s legs to bring him down for a one-yard gain.
Tommy Smith may not have played a flawless 13 snaps of action, but I came away impressed once again. On a third and 19 in the middle of the fourth quarter, Smith dropped back in coverage, and the running back caught a pass underneath the coverage. Smith came up from his zone and brought down the back with a big hit on a perfect form tackle after a 10-yard gain. On Smith’s next defensive snap, he dropped back into coverage, and the running back caught another pass underneath the coverage. Smith aggressively came up in an attempt to bring down the running back, but he dove at the back’s feet and missed. The play resulted in a nine-yard gain.
James-Michael Johnson showed some speed in pursuit, but was only in on one tackle in the game. There were a couple of times where Johnson took himself completely out of the play due to misreading where the run was going.
LJ Fort made up for his poor showing against the Rams by leading the Browns in tackles with six against the Lions. Fort made a really nice play on a stretch run where he pursued the back to the outside, shed a weak block attempt by the tight end, and tackled the back at the line of scrimmage for no gain. Fort looked comfortable in coverage and three of his tackles came after receivers caught the ball.
Note: Like I have said many times in the past; without access to coach’s tape, it is nearly impossible to properly evaluate defensive backs.
Akeem Auguste was on the field for 32 defensive snaps and finished the game with four tackles (one came in punt coverage). He showed aggressiveness and physicality when pursuing receivers after the catch. Auguste was also flagged for an illegal contact penalty. I could not find any plays where Auguste was targeted down the field.
Abdul Kanneh was on the field for 28 defensive snaps and recorded two tackles and a pass defensed. Kanneh gave up a catch on a comeback route for seven yards and brought down a receiver after he caught a screen pass for a three-yard gain. Kanneh’s most impressive play came when he was lined up in man to man coverage against Lions wide receiver Corey Fuller on a fade route. Kanneh ran with Fuller down the right sideline, turned to locate the ball, and leaped in the air to tip away the pass at the highest point. It was an excellent play by Kanneh.
Trevin Wade was on the field for 22 defensive snaps and recorded two tackles and a pass defensed. Wade’s pass breakup came when he was lined up in man to man coverage against Lions wide receiver Michael Spurlock on what looked to be a deep slant route. Wade flipped his hips and ran with Spurlock down the field. As the ball was thrown, Wade did a great job of looking back for the ball, extending his inside arm and breaking up the pass while leaping into the air.