After a fun Thursday Night game, and the Sunday results, the Cleveland Browns are still tied for first place in the AFC North. Based on tie breakers technically the Browns are in second due to their loss to the Baltimore Ravens and win over the Cincinnati Bengals. Prior to the game we went Inside the Enemy’s Camp with the local site for the Buffalo Bills. Following the game we provided Tip of The Tower with our thoughts on the Bills. They provided us with their thoughts on our team. Below each of their thoughts are my thoughts on their thoughts (keep up with that?).
Here’s what I thought about the Browns in the game.
1) Travis Benjamin is absolutely electric. He was quite literally the difference in the game, not only scoring a touchdown but tilting the field position battle in the Browns favour. I heard the commentators mention how the Browns need to get Benjamin more involved in the offensive game, but I couldn’t disagree more. The last thing the Browns need to do is what the Bears did to Devin Hester, nullifying his place of greatest impact, which is returning punts and kicks. Hopefully the Browns aren’t seduced by “what could be” (but probably won’t be) and let Benjamin do his thing, the Redzone channel should probably start showing every Browns punt return until further notice.
- Benjamin’s performance was game changing. He should have some use on offense but in a limited role. The week prior he was used perfectly on a bubble screen. If the only two plays they use him for is the bubble screen and a go route he will be perfectly positioned to setup his defender. If they play him close he goes deep and vice versa.
2) Obviously it was tough to get a read on Brian Hoyer as he only attempted 4 passes, but I feel comfortable saying that if I were a wide receiver, I would not want to cross the middle with Brandon Weeden as my quarterback. Weeden was consistently staring down his receivers and throwing passes with little zip in places that made his wide receivers vulnerable to being demolished. If Weeden continues like that, Browns wide receivers could start dropping faster than a Bills defensive back.
- Yep, we covered that in our Morning (and Mourning) After segment. Weeden shows no ability of willingness to look anywhere but his first receiver. He, and the coaches, talked about this during the off-season and still no improvement. Fullback Chris Ogbonnaya was taken out due to this type of thing. That other teams, who don’t have a predetermined dislike of Weeden’s game, see this as obvious is disturbing.
3) The Browns are going to be fine without Trent Richardson. While long term, Richardson is in all likelihood going to be a more effective back than Willis McGahee from here on out, for now he will be just as productive. McGahee definitely lacks the big play explosiveness from his prime, he still has the vision and instincts to be a solid back until the Browns can find their running back of the future (hopefully they have realized that using a first round pick on one is a waste).
- It has been obvious that McGahee has no big play ability. What has gone under the radar is his ability to get the extra yard or two. Instead of running up his linemen’s back, which Richardson has perfected, McGahee is able to turn his body to get through just a bit for extra yards. Big difference between the two runners so far.
4) A killer instinct…some defenses have it and some don’t, after smelling the blood in the water that was Jeff Tuel entering the game and seeing how the Browns defense attacked, I think it’s safe to say that they have it. The defense/defensive coordinator clearly realized that Tuel was in over his head, and they managed to force him into what was the most predictable pick six I may have ever seen. While facing Jeff Tuel makes life a little easier, I really appreciated how the Browns defense stepped up big when it mattered (not that I enjoyed it mind you).
- Teams fearing the Browns defense will pay dividends often. Its clear they are being respected more but fear will come. Many Browns QBs have struggled facing the Steelers and Ravens defense in the past, not just due to skill but due to fear. Putting their foot on the neck of the offense gives the Browns an identity. Making QBs predictable pays dividends often in the NFL.