A Brady Quinn fumble and interception were huge momentum swings for Minnesota and they turned the Browns’ miscues into 10 points.
In order for the Browns to make life easier on Quinn and the rest of the offense, the defense must make life unpleasant on quarterback Kyle Orton and rookie running back Knowshon Moreno.
Before Orton’s 87-yard touchdown miracle pass to Brandon Stokley, he completed 16 passes for 156 yards. Pretty pedestrian.
Rob Ryan moved linebacker Kamerion Wimbley all over the field and it resulted in three tackles (one for a two-yard loss), a sack and three quarterback hits. Wimbley will need to build on that solid play by pressuring Orton and chasing down the Denver running backs.
Head Coach Eric Mangini’s ex-Jets have been under much scrutiny since they got to Cleveland, but they all contributed in a positive way.
Abram Elam (eight tackles, sack), Eric Barton (six tackles) and David Bowens (four tackles) were three of the top five tacklers for the Browns defense. Elam made a tackle for a loss in the first quarter as well.
One player who will want to redeem himself from last year’s Denver game is cornerback Brandon McDonald.
The third-year pro was burnt for two touchdown passes last season, the second one coming on Denver’s final drive. Look for McDonald to rebound from that game and keep wide receiver Eddie Royal in check.
With the exception of Minnesota’s opening kickoff, the Browns’ offense never had a short field to work with, which could benefit Quinn and Braylon Edwards.
Alex Hall could see more action this Sunday along with Bowens, but the former Jet is obviously a Mangini favorite.
The first half of the opening game was encouraging from a defensive standpoint, and the Browns are going to have to limit their offensive turnovers. They do not have the offensive firepower of 2007 to overcome too many mistakes.
This matchup should be more favorable for the Browns, however, games are not won on paper and the Browns will have to prove they learned from last week.