What We’re Watching: Eagles at Browns

Week 3 of the preseason: The dress rehearsal that won’t really be much of one, thanks to scheduling. The Browns will finally play host, and this time, allegedly in their brown uniforms! The Mike Vick-less Eagles come to town, but at this stage, the opponent means very little. This one is all about the Browns and continued progression towards the start of the regular season. Want to know what we were looking for over the last two weeks? We got you here and here. For this week, you’ll want to proceed to the jump.

What We’re Watching…

Craig: Tight ends. This is one of the more intriguing battles in training camp. How many tight ends can the Browns keep? You know that Ben Watson is on the team. Jordan Cameron is going to make this team. Alex Smith is the only one of the tight ends who is a real blocking tight end. Evan Moore is a really talented guy, but if the Browns think they can accomplish the Evan Moore goals with Jordan Cameron is he ripe for trade or release? Will the Browns cannibalize a receiver to keep a guy like Evan Moore who can be split out on occasion? How does Brad Smelley fit in the discussion as a cheap hybrid FB/TE? The only way to settle these kinds of debates is with on the field and hopefully with performances that make decisions even tougher (and potential trades that much richer for the Browns).

TD: Im looking to see if any of the young wide receivers have started to distance themselves from the pack. In particular, I want to see the progression of Josh Gordon and Travis Benjamin. Nobody is going to be taking the Browns passing game seriously until someone asserts themselves as a legitimate threat. I’m also very curious to see how the right side of the line continues to fair. Mitchell Schwartz was much better in Green Bay than he was in Detroit. I’m hoping I don’t notice him at all tonight. That means he is doing his job. Defensively, I will be keying on the DBs, Buster Skreen and Trevin Wade in particular. One of those two is going to pressed into key duty right off the bat if and when Joe Haden is suspended for the first four games. 

Rock: I’m watching to see how Pat Shurmur treats this game. I know common sentiment is that the Browns should play this one close to the vest since they play the Eagles in the season opener as well. But I disagree. I think the Browns should play all their starters at least the first half, but also a drive or two into the 3rdquarter. The Browns probably aren’t going to beat the Eagles in the season opener anyway, but they definitely won’t beat them if the offense isn’t ready. A rookie quarterback, a rookie right tackle, a rookie wide receiver…these guys need work. They need to get some experience and timing down before the season starts. If you have to show the Eagles a few things along the way, so be it. I think the Browns will be better for it in the long run.

Rick: I imagine this game is going to be played without a lot of scheming, which means it will be just our athletes trying to make plays against their athletes. I want to see some of our wide receivers prove tht they can get separation, and see that Brandon Weeden can deliver the ball. Weeden hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass in two games (I know, not a whole two games) and I be he doesn’t remember the last time this happened in consecutive contests. Defensively, I will be watching the line rotations. Can Billy Winn, John Hughes and Ronnie Cameron step in and help slow down the run?

Scott: This may come off as banal and predictable, but at this stage, I just want to see progression. I need Mitchell Schwartz to continue to grow from his game against the Green Bay Packers, doing so against a defensive front more similar to that of the Detroit Lions where the rookie struggled. I need to see Josh Gordon come out of his breaks a lot better, especially on those come-back routes that have plagued him thus far. And I need to see Brandon Weeden continue to look more comfortable in the pocket as bodies fly around him like the Royal Rumble. Echoing Rick, we will need to see continued growth from the very young defensive line. Can the cornerbacks keep up with the speedy athletic receivers of the Eagles? And I will need to see the inexperienced members of the linebacking corps keep LeSean McCoy and his fellow running backs at bay. Not asking for that much, right?

  • Hopwin

    Well put, I am looking for all the above!

  • Dirt McGirt

    I know this isn’t the proper forum, but what’s up with the Nike jerseys that look like they have collars? The Broncos’, Chargers’, Bengals’ and Ravens’ jersey look downright stupid. That is all.

  • kolonich touched on this subject earlier this week.

    When did NFL players start dressing like a combination of Chippendale’s dancers/1800′s chimney sweepers and Broadway castoffs?
    These uniforms can only evolve into this.”

  • Natedawg86

    Good Job NFL. There are 31 opponents we can play, 3 are in the division that we play twice, leaving 28 team to cover the other 10 regular season and 4 preseason. Can’t figure out how to ensure we are not playing the same team in preseason and regular season? Good job.

  • Dee P

    I thought each team was responsible for their preseason opponents.

  • mgbode

    the issue really isn’t even that we are playing them in the preseaon, but that we are playing them in week1. if they could put it into their scheduling algorithm to make sure that any preseason opponents do not get scheduled for the first 4 weeks, then that should be enough.

  • mgbode

    want to see the continued domination of the LOS. didn’t have it in the Detroit game, did have it in the GB game.

  • Natedawg86

    I was not aware of this if it is true

  • Dee P

    I could be 100% wrong though. I thought that was the case, and I believe it was years ago…but maybe they changed it along the way.

  • Dee P

    Lets make preseason really fun….each week you play a division opponent, and every year you rotate so you play one division opponent twice in preseason! (Said no fan ever.)

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Is that like the DIFF? Maybe they can create a space for that on the scoreboard. ;p

  • Dirt McGirt

    Nice. It truly makes them look ridiculous. Thank goodness the Browns don’t have them

  • Dirt McGirt

    That cat looks pissed BTW.

  • Dirt McGirt

    That used to be that case, but not anymore.

  • Ezzie Goldish

    Yup. On a very likely related note, I can’t seem to find anyone interested in my 50-yard line uppers for tonight’s game. (E-mail me if you’re interested.)

    Can we have a piece about the scam that preseason tickets are to season ticket holders? Ugh.

  • Harv 21

    – Schwartz: despite everyone saying he was way better in the GB game, know what I saw in the early first quarter: turnstiling on pass plays. Curious to see how he handles their D-line regulars, because if he can’t handle their moves, he’ll be toast in the opener when they show their countermoves. I think he’s still toast in the first half of the season, but don’t want him to look bad in the 3rd preseason game.

    – Receivers: obviously, some sign that Gordon now believes in precision, even if he can’t fully execute some routes. Did not like the petulant body language I saw at camp a few weeks ago when coaches and players were trying to give him pointers. Also, how about Little making a play with that new lean body of his?

    – Weeden: see the field, sense the pressure and make the right choices. Don’t care about INT’s or TDs, or more sophisticated QB stuff like looking off receivers. Just basic stuff that will save his hide when they play at regular season game speed in a few weeks.

    – JMJ: is he starting to read fast enough to make some plays.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    I’m watching for improvement for both Weeden and Gordon. Watching to see if MoMass can stay healthy. Watching to see if Schwartz can keep building and to see if Lauvao can be trusted. I’m really interested to see Ryan Miller with the 2nd team… I thought he sounded like an absolute steal when the Browns drafted him and he has not disappointed in his first 2 preseason games. If he can kick Oniel Cousins out of the backup tackle spot, that would be incredible.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    Rock, I think Shurmur talked about that in one of his press conferences… I believe he said he expects the first unit to play the first half at least. The difference between this game and the week 1 game will be scheme… Browns will go with a very general scheme this week and one more tailored to Philly’s team in the opener.

  • dwhit110

    Dirt’s right. It changed. Now teams are only responsible for 1 of their preseason opponents and the NFL controls the others so they can market the matchups.

  • ichbinpete

    So I’m not sure what you were watching w the Schwartz comment, but after rewatching, he didn’t let anyone near the QB and run blocked very well. I only noted two plays where he didnt look ok:
    @13:55 he missed a run block in the hole as he was pulling. looked like he lost his footing, but there was a swipe by the tackle that kept his momentum goin

    @7:55 He helped the guard while pass blocking, but Jackson picked up the blitz.

    There were a few passing plays where weeden was flushed in to his zone because of pressure up the middle, but I thought he blocked very well.

  • Dee P

    Okay, good. So I take it that our 1 choice is Detroit?

  • Harv 21

    were pass plays and very early in the game. I DVRd it and will try to remember to check this weekend to give you game times on this comment section. One a speed rush right by his right shoulder. On neither was Weeden sacked but no resistance. They weren’t running a lot to his side when the GB starters were in, as I recall, so hard to judge where his run blocking is now.

  • Josh

    Not sure where you are getting that Schwartz was “turnstilling”, but you must have watched a different game than everyone else. I certainly wouldn’t call his performance last week dominating, but it was a huge improvement on both the Detroit game and anything we had last year. At no point was he doing anything even remotely representing turnstilling.

  • ichbinpete

    i thought they ran a lot to the right side, but you’re right, much of it wasn’t against starters. I had some times in there above, but the formatting got messed up. I think it was 1355 in the first and 755 in the second.

  • paulbip

    Why will Watson make this team. He won’t finish the year and may be cut.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    Because the coaching staff loves him… he blocks well, he catches passes well… the only thing he does poorly is stay healthy. I just don’t see him getting cut.

  • maxfnmloans

    uppers? you giving away false teeth?

  • deebo

    Anyone gotta link?

  • Vindictive_Pat

    I’m just following the game on, but wow… looks like a total implosion for the Browns. 21-0 with two turnovers and a blocked punt and we’re making Foles look like an All-Pro. Awesome.

  • Big Z

    “What We’re Watching”

    Evidently, a confirmation of what we’ve been saying and hearing for years – the Cleveland Browns are worse than most teams’ second-stringers. EMBARASSING.

    I’ve already said it here, but it’s possible the Browns go 0-16 this year.

  • Harv 21

    All first quarter of GB game:

    – 10:08: a hot adjustment he has to make on #53, blows past his right shoulder and leads to incompletion.

    – 10:00 (next play): run up middle, whiffs on run block (fell – lost footing?).

    – 9:41: here’s one I now have doubts about, b/c it’s a screen pass. If he intentionally was bull-rushed backward to clear traffic from the flat it looks awkward. His guy wasn’t an LB so I think he was beat.

    – 1:19: this is clear. Held resistance for maybe one sec and then beat badly, forcing Weeden throwaway.

    To be clear, I think this was a good draft pick. I just didn’t see a big jump in the GB game and expect him to take serious lumps this year. If he does, I’ll still think it a good pick.