There has been a lot of talk in the media that our defense played poorly on Saturday night. After watching the game for the second time yesterday, I still don’t see it. Here are my observations from the game.
- Injuries: The Browns have a few injuries but nothing major. The result however is the absence of 3 defensive starters (Gibson, Gilbert, Winn) for the game. Regardless of where Buster Skrine is on the depth chart right now, I think we all know Gilbert will be the starter. Gibson has also looked good on defense in camp and he and Whitner seem to be a good fit. Most people would probably consider Phil Taylor replacing Winn is a wash, so it comes down to missing 2 key players in the secondary, which should be the Browns biggest asset this year on defense.
- First team defense: I thought they played very well with the exception of a few plays. Poyer completely missed the gap on the first drive by Detroit allowing Bell to make a run of 11 yards. I also thought Hayden was playing a bit loose at the corner spot, most notably the slant route on drive 1 to Golden Tate and the ball Ogletree took off his face that should have been a 10+ yard completion. The defensive line and the linebackers looked very good in all aspects of the game and made very few mistakes. I love Whitner as a player, a person and a Buckeye. It is tough to truly evaluate them when they are missing some key players and didn’t have to deal with Megatron at all and Stafford only on the first series.
- Pierre Desir: He might be a ball hawk type of defensive back, but bad bad tackling in this game and made some other fundamental and mental mistakes. He is still a work in progress.
- Armonty Bryant: Looked just as good in this game as he has in training camp. I don’t think he registered a tackle, but he was really putting pressure on the offense. We are DEEP at the defensive line position. We have the ability to cycle players in and out so much that nobody should get tired.
- The inside linebacker battle between Robertson and Kirksey is still extremely murky. Both guys played very well in the game and I suspect they will each see substantial playing time once the regular season starts.
- Challenges: Pettine is 1-0 on challenges despite the result. Officials totally botched the kickoff fumble by Detroit. Clearly, the Browns recovered it. Let’s hope this is just them working out mistakes much like the players are.
These are just some quick thoughts defensively. I will post on the Browns offense, including Manziel and Hoyer’s performances tomorrow.