Brian Hoyer is still having problems with his plant leg. High throws over the middle usually come from the inability to plant properly. That should improve with time. Hoyer found the open receivers when they were there but that was infrequent. His timing was OK. He got the throw off on time on most of his throws. The one time he was late was the long throw to Austin to start the 2nd quarter. He showed good accuracy but does not have the arm strength you would like. The failure to get the TD when he had 1st and goal from the 8 was not acceptable particularly with the 1st string against the 2nd team of the Lions. To win in the AFC North you need 7 not 3. He also did not covert a single 3rd down.
Johnny Manziel does not make reads and that limits his pocket effectiveness. When his pre-snap choice is available he is effective. When that player is covered, he tends to run rather than make a 2nd or 3rd read. He doesn’t anticipate the receiver coming open. As a result he is often late on passes. That is a big problem he will have to overcome before he can be a quality NFL QB.
Coach Pettin felt like he had to add Rex Grossman to teach both Hoyer and Manziel the offense. That is a bad sign for the development of the team. The Browns should have added Rex June 2 (after it would no longer affect compensatory pick calculation) if they felt that the QB duo was having trouble picking up the system. While Rex will help the QB teaching, he does not provide any help with the wide receiver situation.
New LG Joel Bitonio played very well. RG John Greco did OK. The only issue with the 1st team was RT Mitchell Schwartz as usual. He was responsible for penalties and leakage against the pass rush. The second unit was a sieve. G Paul McQuistan looks like a solid player but everyone else is expendable. The O line depth is an issue.
If Josh Gordon is suspended, the Browns will have a bunch of 3rd or 4th wideouts but no 1 or 2. Miles Austin did not show anything and has a history of injury. Andrew Hawkins is a slot guy that is not a threat outside. Nate Burleson, the pizza delivery disaster, did not play. Charles Johnson caught 3 passes but did not show the speed or elusiveness I had hoped to see. He is recovering from an ACL so he might get better. Taylor Gabriel showed some promise but had a critical drop. Marlon Moore has return skills and the size and speed to become a player. TE/FB MarQueis Gray looked good but also had a bad drop. The rest of the group are just guys and have not shown they deserve to be on the 53. The Browns will not see how good the QB duo can be without out a decent receiver corps. They do not have one now.
Import Ben Tate has a great deal of talent but has never been able to stay healthy for a full season even as a backup in Houston. Now he is “the guy” but needs to hold onto the ball better. He should be showing better because he has experience in this system. I was a big Terrance West fan going into the draft. He has shown an NFL jump step and good vision. West uses his blockers like a pro. He is a fantasy sleeper that can be had in the late rounds of most drafts. Nobody else has impressed me at all.
The bottom line:
When the kicker is the team’s MVP the O needs work. At this point the Browns look like a 4 or 5 win team on offense. The D should be better in 2014 but the way the O looks the defense will spend a lot of time on the field. That is not a good sign.
That is what I think. Tell us what you think by commenting here or tweeting me @NNRonDSN.
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Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and a non-fiction work at http://www.merriam-press.com/. Follow him on twitter @NNRonDSN to get the schedule of Special News, Notes and Rumors broadcasts. You can hear the previous shows on https://fryingpansports.com/radio-show/ and the live show Mondays at 6 PM Eastern time on .
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Browns Offense is not ready for prime time. by Bill Smith