Jeff Risdon, DLD Editor
The second preseason game saw Detroit hop over Lake Erie to Cleveland. They travelled there in body anyways, but not in spirit. Detroit was lifeless, undisciplined, and maddening to watch in a 24-6 blowout loss.
From the game’s first play, a visionless and poorly blocked end around from Patrick Edwards, the Lions looked awful. No Calvin Johnson obviously played a part, as did a pretty vanilla game plan. The Browns and Lions meet in Week 6 of the regular season, so Coach Schwartz opted to call a lot of plays that relied upon winning individual battles instead of creating by scheme. Unfortunately the Browns won the vast majority of battles and the war.
What stood out, both good and bad, on my first viewing:
–The slow starts continue. The first three offensive drives produced three-and-outs. Brandon Pettigrew dropped Matthew Stafford’s first pass and the rest of those drives were check downs and unimaginative runs where the Browns players clearly cared more.
–Jake Scott and Jason Fox started at RG and RT, respectively. Fox looked solid in pass protection but didn’t create much in the way of run surge. Scott did nothing to indicate he merits another start.
–The personal foul penalties drive me crazy. They drive you crazy. They drive Jim Schwartz crazy too, and he’s the only one of the troika that can do anything about it. Clearly, whatever Schwartz is preaching about personal discipline is not effective. If (when?) Jim Schwartz gets fired, he needs to look no further than his utter failure to effectively engender personal discipline to his Lions. Even though the call on Reggie Bush should have at least been offsetting calls, Bush has to know that the retaliation gets flagged every time.
–I liked the look of Nick Fairley attacking the outside. He flat-out beat Joe Thomas, arguably the best LT in the game, with a quick rip off a bull rush that forced Brandon Weeden (who looked great) into a hurried throwaway on 3rd down on the Browns first drive. Fairley darn near caught Trent Richardson in the backfield on a run to the other side, and he quickly diagnosed a screen and hustled outside to wrap up Chris Ogbonnaya. Of course he also jumped offsides when lined up as a 7-technique and Willie Young inside, a look I’d like to see more of going forward.
–Stephen Tulloch and DeAndre Levy both played well. Tulloch repeatedly dodged the initial blocker and swooped in with strong tackling form. He did miss an open fielder on Dion Lewis. However, Ashlee Palmer once again often looked in over his head as the other starting LB. Palmer was slow to react to an edge run and took a horrible tackling angle on a pass in zone that allowed a first down. He did make two nice plays on Cleveland’s first drive with Jason Campbell at the controls. Oh yeah, he broke Dion Lewis’ leg too.
–It was not a strong night for Riley Reiff at left tackle. He allowed the Browns defenders to dictate the action and appeared to struggle with keeping his hips square. Reiff got away with a hold and allowed a couple of pressures. I’m going to break down the OL in depth in another piece, but the initial impression was not positive for #71.
–All the momentum that rookie punter Sam Martin had from the Jets game evaporated. His first three punts were line drives that allowed return opportunities. His fourth punt was returned for a touchdown by Travis Benjamin, though that was nullified by a flag on one of the five blocks in the back that sprung him.
–Ron Bartell was exposed in man coverage against Josh Gordon. He was flagged for pass interference on the first drive and once again on the Browns 3rd drive, though it was declined because even Bartell’s interference couldn’t prevent Gordon from torching him over the top and making the catch on a perfectly placed ball by Weeden. Did I mention how good Brandon Weeden looked?
–If Michael Williams wants to see the field as a blocking tight end, the big rookie from Alabama needs to be more effective than he was in this game. He did have a nice sliding catch from Shaun Hill, but the holding penalty that wiped out a strong return from Steven Miller was ugly.
–Travis Lewis has exceptional instincts but just isn’t a good enough athlete to convert that into being a good linebacker. He was in solid position to make plays but just couldn’t get it done. Brandon Jackson embarrassed him in the open field. Brandon Jackson. Sigh.
–Willie Young certainly brought energy. The penalty right before halftime sullied his night, but by and large this is the Willie Young I expected to see as a breakout performer in 2012. His ability to build off a quick first step with either power or niftiness can be very effective off the edge and he showed that in this game.
–Bill Bentley was better, but there was really no direction for the young corner to go but up from his Jets debacle. He seemed to anticipate routes better and didn’t overreact to moves as much. He got beat initially by Travis Benjamin on a go route but kept his head and busted his butt to get back into position and made a play. The fact he was able to catch up with the speedy Benjamin shows Bentley’s natural ability.
–Very tough game to evaluate the reserve wideouts as they had little to do. Matt Willis made a play to get a first down. Terrence Austin showed some quickness and energy.
–I’m still trying to figure out Shaun Chiapas as Detroit’s TE/FB/H-Back and whether it’s him not being all that great or if there just isn’t a real role for that sort of player in Scott Linehan’s offense. Other than pass protection–where he was very good–Chiapas is occupying space on the field that offers the offense nothing.
–DeQuan Menzie had a much better game. Timed a blitz well and got a sack, made a very strong open field tackle on another play. Was also in good position over the top in zone that forced the QB to look another way.
–Adrian Moten on special teams is like the pickup basketball player that runs the open floor very well but blows the open layup more often than he makes it.
–Jimmy Saddler-McQueen had another solid outing holding the point of attack inside. He slipped inside a high block and made a play in the backfield too.
–Chris Hope is a great guy but he’s just not a legit NFL safety anymore. It’s time to put him out to pasture and give his reps to youngsters that have some long-term potential like Menzie or Neloms.
Tags: Adrian Moten, Ashlee Palmer, Bill Bentley, Brandon Weeden, Cleveland Browns, Jim Schwartz, Matt Willis, Michael Williams, Nick Fairley, Reggie Bush, Riley Reiff, Ron Bartell, Sam Martin, Shaun Chiapas, Stephen Tulloch, Travis Lewis, Willie Young