10 Questions That Remain Unanswered for Cleveland Browns After Week 1
While watching the game it looked like the defense played a great game, holding the explosive Eagles offense down to two touchdowns and a field goal.
Once you look at the final box score you see, for at least one game they have solved the interception problem they had in 2011, coming up with four interceptions. The Browns defense only had nine interceptions total last year.
Another question that was answered for the defense was the play of the two replacement linebackers, who played well and accounted for two of the four interceptions. The speed of the younger linebackers, Kaluka Maiava, L.J. Fort and Craig Robinson, allowed them to play better in space than Chris Gocong or Scott Fujita could have.
Sticking with the linebackers, D’Qwell Jackson proved that his outstanding play from last year wasn’t a fluke. The veteran linebacker had an interception return for touchdown and was regular fixture around the football when it came his way.
The defensive line for the Browns had to deal with lineup changes as well with Phil Taylor being out and Frostee Rucker being added in the offseason. The changes worked, as the defensive line was able to consistently apply pressure to Michael Vick.
The Browns defense was in the top 10 in points allowed and yards allowed last year, which was a large function of the opponent getting an early lead and running out the clock. The Browns offense was so bad last season that most teams didn’t try to score a lot of points because they didn’t need to in order to win the game.
Is the Browns defense good enough to keep the score low when an opponent tries to run up the score? In Week 1 against the Eagles they proved they could keep the score down when a team tried to score 40 points.
The Browns didn’t answer all of the questions about their defense in Week 1 and the offense only created more questions.
Let’s take a look at some of the remaining questions for the Cleveland Browns after Week 1 in the 2012 season.
Brandon Weeden Has Some Explaining to Do
Brandon Weeden played an ugly brand of hero ball in Week 1. The coaches will get most of the blame for a bad game play or poor play-calling, but Weeden decided he was going to win the game with his arm.
On several occasions Weeden passed up wide open receivers to go for the deep ball. He held the ball trying to make the big play happen and came back to his checkdown too late to make a good pass.
Weeden's play has caused fans and the media to question the Browns pick of Weeden and whether Colt McCoy should really be the starter. I believe if Weeden plays within the system and takes what the defense give him he will play better.
Was Trent Richardson Rusty?
The rookie running back from Alabama missed the entire preseason and it showed on Sunday. Trent Richardson made one play that showed why he was the third overall pick when he bounced it outside, gained yards and knocked off the defenders helmet. Once Richardson trusts his knee and gets his burst back we should see the dynamic player we saw in college.
Are the Dropped Passes Back for the Browns?
While Brandon Weeden put the ball up for grabs for the Eagle defenders, the Browns receivers had a case of the butter fingers again.
Two drops came on key plays, one was a would-be touchdown dropped by Greg Little who led the NFL in drops in 2011. The second play was a key third down dropped by Owen Marecic.
How Will the Browns Solve Their Problems with Stopping the Run?
While the Browns defense looked improved, they didn't fix the run defense. The Browns allowed Eagles to run for 150 and average five yards per carry.
Can the Offense Score Touchdowns?
The Browns offense could not get into the end zone in Week 1 and once again Phil Dawson led the team in scoring. It took D'Qwell Jackson's interception to prevent the Browns as a team from being shut out of the end zone.
Can the Offensive Line Open Up Holes in the Running Game?
Trent Richardson didn't find much room to run inside in Week 1. Any elite running back needs to make people miss, but Richardson often got tackled right after he was handed he ball. The Browns offensive line needs to go back to the drawing board for Week 2.
Do the Browns Have Tight Ends?
Ben Watson was open several times during the Eagles game, but was only targeted three times. The Eagles were taking away the deep ball from Browns and left the check down and the 10-15 yard pass open. It looks like Weeden, who didn't play with Watson in the preseason, kept forgetting he was on the field.
Will the Browns Defense Still Be Tired in Week 2?
The Browns defense played 95 plays on Sunday, with D'Qwell Jackson being one of the players who played all 95. Joe Haden, who is now on a four-week suspension, and Eric Hagg also played all 95 plays. The defense ran out of gas at the end of the game and let up at the wrong time, which allowed the Eagles to score the go ahead touchdown.
Which Wide Receiver Will Step Up as a Playmaker?
The Browns wide receivers still leave a lot to be desired when it comes to making plays for the quarterback. The rookie receivers such as Travis Benjamin need to realize you have to fight for inside leverage in the NFL and play a little defense if the ball doesn't make it to the right place on the field. This group needs veterans or more Joshua Cribbs if the young receivers on the roster continue to play poorly.
Can the Offense Find a Way to Stay on the Field?
The offense played a large part in the defense being on the field for 95 plays. The interceptions didn't help with time of possession for the offense, but not turning it over not enough.
The play-calling is good enough to keep the chain moving, but I would like to see more formations such as extra offensive line depth to help move the chains on short yardage. You can also come out in that formation and throw out of it as well.