Cleveland Browns Receivers Begin To Defy the Pundits
The Cleveland Browns receiving corps have been criticized almost universally in every form of offseason media.
Athlon Sports gave the Browns receivers a grade of D and NFL.com ranks Mohamed Massaquoi as the 58th best receiver in the league and Joshua Cribbs No. 66.
According to an article written by the Bleacher Report's Browns Featured Columnist Daniel Wolf, Yahoo's Jason Cole ranks the Browns receivers as the worst in the NFL. EA Sports popular football game Madden Football ranks Cribbs and Massaquoi as mediocre and the rest of the receivers as poor.
Perhaps it was just a figment of preseason smoke and mirrors, but the Browns receivers sure looked better than a collective destined to relive the shop of horrors that was our passing attack last season.
Whether it was second year receiver Brian Robiskie running the precise routes he was touted for at Ohio State and hauling in three passes—including a touchdown on a laser from new quarterback Seneca Wallace—or tight end Evan Moore picking up where he left off in 2009 with three catches and forcing his way on the field despite the free agent signings of two formidable tight ends, the receivers for the most part looked very good against Green Bay.
Twelve separate Browns caught passes against the Packers. The Browns had multiple games where the team didn't total even 12 completions last year.
When Browns President Mike Holmgren was hired, he was quoted as saying he didn't think the Browns needed a veteran receiver because the ones they had were getting open.
He stated that incumbent quarterbacks Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn simply couldn't get them the ball.
Obviously, credit must be given to the Browns new quarterbacks, who controlled the huddle, got everybody lined up properly for the most part, found the open receiver, and delivered catchable balls.
This was a remarkable 180-degree turnaround from last season, when Anderson consistently misfired and Quinn threw mostly short or into coverage.
Whether it was Delhomme going 6-of-7 and spreading it around with two separate 17-yard completions—one to Evan Moore and the other to Mohamed Massaquoi—and a 12-yarder to Massaquoi on fourth and one, or Seneca Wallace going 4-of-8 for 72 yards for two scores, the Browns top two quarterbacks definitely had a synergy going on with their teammates.
Wallace found three different sets of hands on his two scoring drives: Robiskie twice, once for a 13 yard touchdown; tight end Ben Watson for a 20 yard TD strike off a beautiful ball fake on an out; and running back Peyton Hillis on a nicely executed screen for 26 yards.
The Browns receivers also made themselves available to quarterbacks Brett Ratliff and Colt McCoy, who combined for 12 completions but missed connections on a few throws that I'm sure the young quarterbacks wanted back.
Personally, I really like Jake Allen's length and hands. He had two catches for 15 yards and had another intermediate out that he made a very nice grab on but had a foot out of bounds.
Tight end Alex Smith led the team with three catches for 37 yards and between him, Watson, and Moore we are stacked at tight end.
Overall, I think the receivers made an outstanding showing against Green Bay and I can begin to see the wisdom in Holmgren's reluctance to sign a significant veteran wide receiver.
Bobby Engram didn't have any catches and I would hate to see us part with a Carlton Mitchell or a Jake Allen just to keep Engram around come the start of the season.
Granted, it was only one preseason game, but tangibles like precise route running, correctly lining up in formation, and actually catching the ball are definitely positive steps forward.
The pundits who so thoroughly ripped our receivers are going to be in for a big surprise this season.
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