Blog Entry

Week 1: New Versus Old

Posted on: September 13, 2009 6:58 pm
Edited on: September 13, 2009 7:16 pm
After months of training camp, preseason games, and quarterback controversy, the 2009 regular season is finally here. For the Cleveland Browns, that means the start of what figures to be another roller coaster season.

Like any roller coaster, this one begins at the bottom.

The very bottom.

Miscommunication, penalties, and one inexperienced quarterback contributed to a 20-34 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

Today’s football game featured a distinct balance between new and old.

New Browns head coach Eric Mangini began his second stint as head coach by facing an old foe – Brett Favre.  Entering his 19th season in the NFL, the ageless Favre made his unprecedented 270th consecutive start behind center – an NFL record. Favre silenced his critics and played within himself for the majority of the game. Although he wasn’t perfect, Favre played well enough to escape Cleveland with a win.

Opposing Favre was newly appointed Browns starting quarterback, Brady Quinn. Heading into his 3rd season in the league, Quinn made his 5th career start…and it showed. Quinn finished the day completing 21 of 35 passes for 205 yards. He threw for a touchdown, but turned the ball over twice. As strange as it may sound, the statistics were actually the highlight of his performance.

Quinn’s conservative approach to the game seemed to match that taken by offensive coordinator, Brian Daboll. When afforded time in the pocket, Quinn rarely took any shots down field. He opted for short completions to running backs and tight ends instead of utilizing the team’s biggest weapons in Josh Cribbs and Braylon Edwards. The two receivers finished with a combined 3 receptions for 22 yards.

Contrasting the quarterbacks were two running backs at different ends of their careers.

Starting at running back for the Minnesota Vikings was the explosive Adrian Peterson. At 24, Adrian Peterson has already cemented himself as one of, if not the premier running back of the day. Peterson certainly looked the part as he carried the ball 25 times for a whopping 180 yards. Most of that running came behind the best run-blocking offensive line in football.

The most recent running back to lead the league in rushing faced off against one of the old ones. Just weeks removed from his 30th birthday, Jamal Lewis was unable to match the effort of his successor. Lewis and the Browns were able to find running room early, but it was too little too late. The game's score took the Browns out of running situations, and that proved to be the difference in the game.

The Cleveland Browns’ 2009 season began with a disappointing loss. There were, however, several things to take away from this game. They say those who do not learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them. In that spirit, I present the top 10 things I’ve learned from Vikings/Browns...

10. Brian Daboll will run a conservative, West Coast offense.

Whether it's the 2nd & 16 toss to Jamal Lewis or the 2nd & 15 draw to James Davis, Brian Daboll's offensive playcalling was extremely simple. Although Daboll took advantage of Josh Cribbs in the wildcat, his offense looked flat. Some of that falls on Brady Quinn's decision making, but the majority of the blame rests on Dabolls well-rounded shoulders.

9. Adrian Peterson is very, very good.

Sometimes you have to experience an event first-hand to appreciate just what you're witnessing. There is no question that Adrian Peterson is a special player, but I have gained an in-depth scope as to the depth of his talents. He possesses superior vision, balance, strength, agility, and acceleration to any runner I have ever seen. Peterson is without a doubt the best running back in the league.

8. The Browns will be competitive this season.

Heading into this game, you would be hard-pressed to find a fan or analyst that gave Cleveland a chance. The Browns limited Peterson to an astounding 25 yards on 11 carries through the first half of the football game. Minnesota actually trailed 13-10 at halftime. Had the Browns played first-half football through all four quarters, they would have walked away as winners.

7. Kamerion Wimbley has emerged as a solid outside linebacker.

Wimbley had a strong training camp and performed well throughout the preseason. It was nice to see him continue playing at a high level entering the regular season. Wimbley was a big reason Peterson was ineffective through the first half. He played a very disciplined football game - maintaining his containment while remaining active in pursuit.

6. Rob Ryan loves blitzing defensive backs.

It's a trait we saw in Oakland and something that has continued in Cleveland. Ryan pressured Brett Favre by sending defensive backs to the quarterback early and often. Abram Elam, Brodney Pool, and Brandon McDonald, were all very active around the line of scrimmage. Both safties recorded sacks today in what figures to the the first of many.

5. The Cleveland Browns have the best special teams unit in the league.

That statement is no exaggeration - the Browns possess one of the most balanced and explosive special teams units in the NFL. Dave Zastudil and the punting until were able to keep the Vikings deep for the majority of the game. Phil Dawson consistently sent kicks deep into the endzone. Josh Cribbs was explosive. That, plus outstanding kick coverage makes Cleveland one of the most dangerous teams in that element of the game.

4. Joe Thomas is an outstanding left tackle.

Jared Allen was embarrassed today. Joe Thomas neutralized the Pro Bowl defensive end in pass rush situations and manhandled him against the run. Allen finished the day with 0.5 tackles and no quarterback sacks. In his 3rd season in the league, Joe Thomas has already cemented his name among the elite tackles in the game.

3. The Browns need to work on penalties and discipline.

Cleveland finished the day with 8 penalties for 66 yards. Some of the penalties were the result of mental mistakes, but others were issues with technique. Knowing Eric Mangini, this team should have those cleaned up by next week, but it was shocking to see, to say the least.

2. Shaun Rogers is healthy...and back to form.

Any time you have a nose tackle who consistently commands double and triple teams, you have the start of a great defense. Rogers was extremely disruptive all game. He played a large role in stopping Peterson early, and he helped generate pressure on obvious passing situations. Rogers should find his way back to Hawaii at the end of the season.

1. Brady Quinn is an average quarterback.

You can't have success in the NFL without balance, and Brady Quinn is not a balanced passer. Quinn has consistently struggled with the deep ball - something that hurt him when driving during the final minutes of play. Quinn chose to attempt only high percentage passes. This strategy worked early, but it backfired late in the game. When the Browns were faced with obvious passing situations, Quinn could not deliver. For Quinn and the Browns to be successful, he'll need to get the wide receivers involved and stretch the field.


Since: Aug 1, 2007
Posted on: September 14, 2009 12:55 pm
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Since: Jun 30, 2008
Posted on: September 14, 2009 12:41 pm

Week 1: New Versus Old

Running the ball on clear passing downs does not equal production, especially when playing against the #1 rushing defense in the league, 3 years running! I mentioned the 2nd & 15 draw to Davis. That is unacceptable.

From watching Eric Mangini's press conference, it seems that isn't on Daboll at all. Mangini said the thought Quinn did a good job checking into runs on 6-7 man fronts and passing on 8 man fronts. So much of this offense comes from the quarterback's presnap reads, which means the display we saw on Sunday falls on Brady Quinn.

Brady Quinn was doing what he was told - for better or for worse.

2 Wildcat calls inside the 5?
Now that falls on Brian Daboll. Most everyone would agree - on third and goal from the one, you pound the ball inside. That was clearly his mistake and let's hope he learned from it.

Peterson is by far the best RB in the league, and although the Browns got the best LT in the league in that draft, I am still somewhat spiteful of the organization for passing on Peterson. Even Adrian Peterson needs an offensive line to run behind. Although Peterson is a supreme talent, he has arguably the best run-blocking offensive line in the league in front of him. He was also considered fragile coming out of college. There was too much risk in taking Peterson at 3.

Since: Oct 15, 2007
Posted on: September 14, 2009 10:06 am

Week 1: New Versus Old to your points...

10.  Brian Daboll runs a conservative, west coast offense.I did not like at all what I saw from Brian Daboll's play calling.  Conservative doesn't even begin to describe the offense he ran.  Running the ball on clear passing downs does not equal production, especially when playing against the #1 rushing defense in the league, 3 years running!  I thought Daboll was absolutely terrible with the playbook.  2 Wildcat calls inside the 5?  Why not try and pound with J-Lew on 1st down, try a wildcat on 2nd, and throw a fade on 3rd?  Give your tall receiver the opportunity to make a play!  Absolutely terrible play calling from Daboll...

9.  Adrian Peterson is very, very good.There is no doubts here.  Peterson is by far the best RB in the league, and although the Browns got the best LT in the league in that draft, I am still somewhat spiteful of the organization for passing on Peterson.  I was shocked when our defense held him to under 30 yards in the first half, but I knew it wouldn't last long.  Peterson is as tough to tackle as they come.  He just wears defenses down.  He had some hydration issues in the first half, which may or may not have attributed to his poor performance. 

8.  The Browns will be competitive this season.I was convinced of this before.  I think they may pull off around a .500 record this year, but they have got to open up the playbook a little bit before that happens.  They will be fiery competition against most teams this year, and I think they may pull off some upsets.

I will address the other points a little later...things are getting busy at work...

Since: Oct 15, 2007
Posted on: September 14, 2009 9:38 am

Week 1: New Versus Old


Good to see you back, and I will comment on your well written blog, but first thing is first.  Stop over to the boards and eat your crow man.  You were wrong, and you made a bet.  DGNR8 offered an out if you would just admit you were before you start blogging etc. admit that man. 

Since: Aug 1, 2007
Posted on: September 13, 2009 9:25 pm
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