The Browns’ offensive performances in the first two games has been unacceptable, particularly the passing game. Now that Hoyer officially has the keys to the operation, he’ll be the first to admit things need to improve, and quickly at that.
So far in the preseason, Hoyer is a combined 8-for-20, for 108 passing yards, with no touchdowns and no interceptions. The bigger concern is that the offense is 0-for-7 on third-down when the veteran signal-caller is on the field. Even if the Browns have to reveal some more of their playbook, it’s imperative for the team to show some significant progress.
But because it’s football in August, statistics are quite skewed. Hoyer has been sharing his duties with
“I think I don’t get wrapped up in the numbers there,” said Pettine. “I think [Hoyer’s] had some drops that you could factor in, some routes that were run at the wrong depth, at the wrong angle. It’s easy to look at the numbers. I think when you look at the tape, it tells a very different picture.”
To the naked eye, accuracy has been Hoyer’s issue through the first two preseason games. He missed
“Well, out in Berea doesn’t count,” said Hoyer. “Obviously, there’s disappointment with not hitting some of those guys in the games, but I think it’s something that we’re continuing to work on. We get some extra routes. You’ve just got to do it at game speed, and it’ll come. I truly believe that as long as you’re working at it.”
If you could pinpoint a weakness on the St. Louis roster, it would be their secondary. Cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson aren’t exactly known as lockdown defenders. The young pair of corners are athletic and have potential, but they’ll bite on play fakes and have been prone to give up big plays.
Look for Hoyer to establish a rhythm early with
From top to bottom, does any team in the NFL have a better defensive line than the St. Louis Rams?
Defensive end Robert Quinn finished 2013 with 19 sacks, staking his claim as possibly the most elite pass rusher in the NFC. At the other defensive end, not many players can match the consistent energy Chris Long brings every week – seven forced fumbles and 50.5 sacks in six seasons. In the middle, Michael Brockers (6-foot-5, 326 pounds) and Kendall Langford (6-foot-6, 313 pounds) are immovable tanks, who do more than just disrupt the running game. They wear down offensive linemen.
What better test for the Browns’ offensive line than this? NFL expert Mike Mayock told ClevelandBrowns.com in June he thinks Cleveland’s big boys up front can be one of the NFL’s best groups. ProFootballFocus.com has
After dominating the Lion’s defensive line in week one of the preseason, the Browns’ offensive line took a step back in Washington.
Keeping Hoyer safe in the backfield from St. Louis’ ferocious pass rush is the first priority. But secondly, Cleveland will look to show off their zone running game. The offenses success will be predicated first and foremost by having
Browns first-team defense vs. themselves
Cleveland’s defense should be proud of their performance against the Redskins last week. They got the ball back for the offense on four separate occasions and even scored a touchdown.
But the Redskins ripped off chunk yardage plays, often. Here’s what Washington was able to do against the Browns defense last Monday.
Desean Jackson: 23-yard catch; Robert Griffin III 18-yard scramble; Andre Roberts 49-yard catch; Santana Moss 24-yard catch; Evan Royster 24-yard catch.
Jim O’Neil’s defense did a tremendous job of buckling down and limiting the Redskins to only one first half touchdown. When the Browns needed to step up, especially on the goal line stand, they did.
While Washington’s offense is one of the better in the league, the Browns know they can’t let these big plays happen as often. They need their intensity level to match the goal line stand all game long.
Players to Watch
QB Johnny Manziel: With less pressure on the 21-year-old, will he feel more comfortable to take chances? It would be a good guess to say Manziel will come out firing in his first-ever home game.
WR Andrew Hawkins: He’s been the Browns’ best receiver in terms of getting open. Expect Kyle Shanahan to find ways for Hawkins to make a big play down the field.