Cleveland Browns: 12 Things We Learned from Week 2
Any time you can get a road win in Indianapolis, with or without Peyton Manning, you definitely did something right.
The Browns looked much better than they did in Week 1. Every aspect of the game was much improved in this Week 2 victory.
We take a look at 12 things learned from the Browns in their Week 2 victory over the Colts.
Jabaal Sheard Is Going to Make a Difference
Jabaal Sheard had a huge game today.
He recovered a fumble, forced a fumble, sacked Kerry Collins and was an absolute force in stopping the Colts run game.
Every time Joseph Addai touched the ball, it seemed like Jabaal Sheard was right there ready to make a tackle. When Kerry Collins dropped back to throw, Jabaal was in the backfield to greet him. It was refreshing to see a Browns rookie defensive end making that kind of an impact in today's game because, let's be honest, it doesn't happen.
With the help of Rubin and Mitchell, as well as fellow rookie Phil Taylor, Sheard is going to be a playmaker for the Browns, and he showed a glimpse of that today.
Browns Receivers Aren't as Bad as Advertised
The Browns receivers played very well today, Mohammed Massaquoi and Greg Little especially.
Massaquoi made play after play. He had two big third down receptions to move the chains for the Browns, as well as an amazing goal line grab that set up a Browns touchdown by Hillis.
Little made a big impact as well. He made a huge third down play in the Red Zone on a slant, which set up another Browns score. McCoy targeted him on numerous occasions and was often able to make the play.
Even Josh Cribbs made plays for the Browns at receiver, which has never been his primary position.
Overall, the Browns receivers had 10 receptions for 124 yards between the three who made receptions.
If they continue to play like this for the rest of the season, opposing cornerbacks and secondaries may actually have to prepare diligently for these Browns receivers.
Joe Thomas Is Just as Good as Advertised
The battle today between Joe Thomas and Dwight Freeney was very exciting to watch.
Other than one slip up, Thomas was dominant and didn't allow Freeney to do anything out of the ordinary.
On top of his dominance of Freeney, Thomas recovered two fumbles.
There is no question that Joe Thomas is the best player on this team, and after his play against Freeney today, there's nothing he can't handle.
Colt McCoy Was Meant for the West Coast Offense
Colt McCoy was MUCH improved this week against Indy.
He finished 22-of-32 for 211 and a touchdown, which is exactly what the Browns need him to do. No interceptions and a 68.75 percent completion percentage is what the Browns need week after week. Sure, the yardage could be better, but that number is definitely nothing to complain about.
McCoy works incredibly well in the WCO. He is able to make the short and accurate passes he needs to make and can escape the pocket to make the throws on the run, which happens to be the best throws he makes.
If McCoy can continue to play like this for the rest of the season, he's going to be a top 15 quarterback in the NFL and lead the Browns to eight to 10 wins.
Peyton Hillis Is at It Again
Although I wouldn't consider Hillis "dominant" today, he was definitely a difference maker in the Browns offense.
With 24 rushes for 97 yards and two touchdowns, Hillis carried the Browns to a victory. At four yards a carry, Hillis played very well against a good Colts rush defense with Freeney and Mathis.
Hillis was also good as a receiver out of the backfield, with four receptions for 23 yards that helped the Browns to move the chains.
Hillis is at it again in 2011, putting up the numbers Browns fans were accustomed to in 2010.
I don't see him slowing down anytime soon either.
Montario Hardesty May Not Be the Real Deal
After looking good in last week's matchup against the Bengals, Hardesty had a rough outing today.
His stat line was miserable (three carries for one yard), but what makes it worse was the fumble near the end zone.
For a guy trying to prove himself, those numbers and that fumble are not going to help his case. There must be a reason why his carries decreased so much from last week to this week, and we might have seen that reason today.
Peyton Hillis gets beat up on almost each and every play and is going to need a guy that can help him out and take a few more carries to lessen his workload. Hopefully, Hardesty can get back on track and get a few more carries and yards next week against the Dolphins, but if Hardesty continues to show that he's not ready to play, he might not be in a Browns uniform for very long.
The Offensive Line Looked Better
Last week's debacle on the offensive line left me very worried with a matchup against Dwight Freeney, but today, the offensive line looked much better.
Colt had to move out of the pocket and make plays a few times, but he was only sacked once thanks to Mr. Freeney. He had much more time to throw and was able to deliver catchable and accurate balls, as opposed to the last performance against the Bengals.
Cousins and Hicks looked much better at the right tackle position as well, although I would still rather see Tony Pashos out there.
The line made big strides this week, which was a definite necessity, and hopefully, they can keep it up in the weeks to come.
Greg Little Is Going to Be the No. 1 Receiver for the Browns
Greg Little is going to end up being the Browns best receiver.
For as well as Mohammed Massaquoi has played in these first few games, I just don't feel that he is suited to be the big playmaking receiver for the Browns.
Little, on the other hand, has definitely given me that impression.
Sure, he missed a pass or two that he should have caught today, but I was very impressed with Little's route running. He seemed to make sharp cuts and was able to get open and let Colt throw him the ball. The slant route near the end zone was beautiful, and showed me a glimpse of the No. 1 receiver I think Little can be.
His four catches was tied with Hillis for the most today, and I think we'll see his 38 yards on the day start to rise as the season goes on.
Josh Cribbs Is Josh Cribbs
Finally. We have Josh Cribbs back.
Last season, there was someone that looked like, but didn't play like Josh Cribbs playing for the Browns.
This season, the real Josh Cribbs has returned.
Making three-yard plays into nine-yard gains, returning balls from deep into the end zone to nearly the 50 yard line and fighting on every play shows me that Josh Cribbs has returned to his place as the playmaker on this Browns team.
He has yet to break a touchdown this season, but with his three big returns already this season, it will only be a matter of time before Cribbs takes one back to the house.
Not to mention, Cribbs had three receptions for 41 yards on the day and has turned into quite a receiver for the Browns, something I don't think he has ever been.
Brad Maynard Is the Punter
The Browns found a punter.
Maynard was a VAST improvement over McGee and didn't allow for the Colts to make any great returns today, mostly due to his angled punting out of bounds and great hang time, neither of which Richmond McGee was able to due.
I know he had an injury, and I do feel for the guy, but McGee was absolutely terrible.
Maynard is going to be a great punter for the Browns, and we definitely need one.
The Browns' Red Zone Defense Is Good
We didn't get a great glimpse of the Browns' Red Zone defense last week, as Gradkowski's Houdini Act was the big play, but this week, we saw the Browns force Adam Vinatieri to kick four field goals within in the 30 yard line, which I thought was very impressive.
Had it not been for a garbage time touchdown, the Browns would have held the Colts to 12 points on four field goals which would have been very impressive for the amount of times the Colts found themselves in the "Hot Zone", which is an extension of the Red Zone.
It's always good to have a defense that doesn't let teams get into the Red Zone, but if the Browns can stop teams while they are in the Red Zone, they might be able to pull out a few games this season that they maybe shouldn't be able to.
Joe Haden Returned to Earth
Last week, Joe Haden was incredible. I would have put him as the top corner in the NFL.
This week, Joe returned to earth.
He was still very good locking down Pierre Garcon, but he did have a few penalties that cost him. He had a illegal use of the hands and two pass interferences, which were arguable but nonetheless called.
Joe was still impressive and will continue to be a Top 10 NFL Corner this season, but he won't be as great as he was last week each and every week this season.