Not many people would have picked the Browns to win week one against the Vikings. Not many people outside of Cleveland are surprised at the final box scores. However, I think that many were surprised that the Browns defense contained Adrian Peterson as they went into halftime with a three point lead. Cleveland was winning in the trenches until the second half, when almost all of the wheels fell off. Brady was effective in the first half, but when the team needed a big play to get back into the game he could not produce. Penalties were a problem in the second half, where they only had two in the first half. The Browns showed that they could play with one of the best defensive teams in the NFL, at least for one half of play. Hopefully, they continue to expand upon that and finish out games as they were started.
First half: What I Liked and Disliked
- I liked that Cribbs put the ball in the endzone on another punt return. He is becoming automatic.
- ... that Joe Thomas controlled Jared Allen, who had 14.5 sacks last year.
- ...how Brady made adjustments to the plays at the line of scrimmage.
- ...the physical play by our corners and safeties.
- ...Wimbley making Favre uncomfortable with pressures and a sack.
- ...Seeing Shaun Rogers on the field; even though his name was not called very much, he was a big reason that the Browns were able to slow down AP in the first half.
- ...the offense spreading the ball around to the tight ends underneath.
- ...the concentration and catch by Edwards on the touchdown that was called back.
- I did not like the rule about reestablishing yourself as a WR after being pushed out at the 2 yard line. The rule needs to be ammended for areas near the goal line where a receiver does not have space on the field to reestablish himself. He clearly had control and would have come down in bounds without the contact by the DB.
- ...the consecutive wild cat calls on 3rd and goal from the one foot line. Why take the snap in shotgun that takes you five yards further from the goal line when you have a foot to go? And against the Vikings' defensive front? QB sneak or pound Lewis. Hell, why not let Shaun Rogers run the ball in that situation?
Overall, I liked how the Browns played in the first half. They were not sloppy, played smart and physical defense, and sustained some drives. Settling for the field goal after a bad 3rd and goal call was understandable, but unfortunate. What else can I say, they were winning going into halftime, right?
Second Half: What I Liked and Disliked
- I liked that Massaquoi got his first professional reception.
- ...that Cleveland got its first passing TD, even though it was during prevent mode by the Vikings defense--still have to perform there, too.
- I did not like that I only had two positive things to say about the Browns concerning their second half play.
- ...the breakdowns in the defense that was so glaringly different than their play from the first half of the ball game.
- ...the lack of balls thrown downt the field when down multiple scores--5 yard passes work if you are throwing them to a Wes Welker who can pick up an additional 5-7 yards after the catch.
- ...the fact that Robert Royal was the number one target for Brady Quinn. We need to get the ball to our playmakers on offense.
- ...turnovers and penalties, especially the false starts.
- ...how our defense forgot how to tackle and keep containment on Peterson--he's good, but we made it easier for him in the second half.
- ...the fact that this list could be longer, but I will end it here.
I was impressed with the play of the team in the first half, but everything changed after half-time. It seemed like the Vikings made adjustments, and Cleveland made none. It was a totally different Browns defense that took the field in the second half, and the offense did not take the necessary shots down the field to get this team back in the game. I know that this is not going to be a quick turn around from a year ago, so hopefully they can build off of the success in Sunday's first half and go from there. It would be nice to win a season openner once in a while, just not once in eleven years. I still have faith that the Browns will not have another four win season, but there is a lot of room for improvement for them to back up my prediction of a .500 season.