The Browns 27-24 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Saturday has given us a pretty good idea of what to expect from the team in Mangini’s second season as head coach. Two of those things are positive; the third is simply a wake-up call.
First and foremost, we can expect to see a high level of maturation from all the players who were in this system last season. Jerome Harrison’s four yard run into the end zone is just one example. The other is the Brian Robiskie 13-yard touchdown strike from Seneca Wallace. Both plays were examples of two players who have found a comfort zone within the offense and have decided to play with confidence.
Harrison proved once again why he should be a starter and why there is no need for the coaching staff to look so hard to find a guy to unseat him. He is strong, hungry and wants to win. Three characteristics that have helped him blossom. Robiskie is the same way. There were high expectations placed on him coming out of OSU which didn’t materialize in his first year. But, he kept working and his touchdown was proof that he has grown as a player and should be a valuable asset for this team this year.
Secondly, we have a defense that will do the job. Sure, there were moments in that game where Aaron Rogers made them look like a Division II college team, but overall they tackled well, especially T.J. Ward, trusted in the system and worked together. They have come a long way, and that was only the first preseason game. As the team heals, works and implements more complex schemes, we will have a unit that will make it very difficult for other teams to score.
It also appears that they won’t lack for enthusiasm and aggression on the field. They were blitzing constantly, attacking and trusting their coverage’s. This is a great sign early on because mistakes can be made, caught on tape and adjusted. Previous regimes would have never had the courage to play like this early on and to win in the NFL your defense has to play with this level of passion on every snap.
Unfortunately, there is something that this game proves from a personnel standpoint. The wake-up call so to speak. That is the ever present void at the quarterback position. Jake Delhomme was 6-of-7 for 66 yards, which is a great start, but he is a stop gap fix. Seneca Wallace looked good and will be very good within this offense for the foreseeable future. However, Colt McCoy proved two important things that I have said from the beginning. 1) He is better suited for a backup role. 2) He isn’t built to handle the rigors of the NFL season.
Now sure, that seems premature. But, his two interceptions aren’t just about his transition from the college game to the pro game. They are pieces to the McCoy puzzle. His injury too is predictable after his BCS Championship game debacle. His size and durability are real concerns. All this to say that Holmgren may have a plan for McCoy and three years from now he may be a lot better. But for the sake of the Browns and McCoy the plan should be to draft another QB next year and prepare McCoy for a career of clip board holding and second team offense running.
Overall though, this team looks good. As I have written before, this year won’t be all about victories, but it is very possible that we get at least 7 this year. Go Browns.
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