Packers vs. Browns Review: What We Learned
The Green Bay Packers and Cleveland Browns battled it out on Thursday Night Football, with the Browns taking their third preseason game in a row over the Pack, by a final score of 35-10.
Fans watching this game wanted to get another good look at Brandon Weeden, while also hoping the Packers first-team offense would come to life after a weak showing in their first preseason game. We got both, while also finding out some other interesting nuggets from this lop-sided affair.
Here are the top five things I came away with from this preseason matchup:
1. Brandon Weeden is Coming Along
He didn’t look very good in his first preseason game, going just 3-of-9 with a pick, but settled down in this one and was better than average in some spots. He made a nice throw over the middle of the field to Greg Little that led to a touchdown, and made a few other solid throws that flashed his potential. He didn’t take any sacks and took care of the football, helping to make his second preseason game a success. Browns fans will hope for another big leap in his third preseason game, but they can’t knock this progress.
While Weeden looked a little more comfortable this time around, I couldn’t help but notice that he was completely out-played by backup Colt McCoy for the second straight week. McCoy didn’t score or have amazing stats, but he has a better command of the offense and simply looked more fluid and comfortable against the Packers. He’s major trade bait as the preseason moves along.
2. Josh Gordon and Greg Little Show Their Stuff
When Greg Little isn’t dropping passes, he’s turning them into extra yardage. Little finished with 45 yards on four receptions, and nearly turned a nice 24-yarder into a score. He’s a classic possession receiver with nice ability after the catch. After catching 61 passes for 709 yards as a rookie last year, he’s a real threat to take it up a level in year two.
Gordon, on the other hand, was taken in this year’s supplemental draft with the hope that he could quickly turn into the team’s go-to deep threat and big-play maker. If Thursday night was any indication, there’s a chance all the hype surrounding Gordon could actually pan out. He missed a year of football and is a bit raw, but he has the body and explosiveness to turn into a problem for opposing defenses right away as a rookie. Gordon made two nice 19-yard catches, and could quickly turn into a deadly weapon on the outside if he can develop a rapport with Weeden.
3. Graham Harrell Isn’t Ready to Backup Aaron Rodgers
And I’m not sure he’ll ever be. The Packers hid his weaknesses last week by putting him in familiar spread formations, but this guy just isn’t built for a Pro offense. His pocket presence and arm strength are both suspect, while he completely falls apart under any real pressure. Don’t be shocked if the Packers are in the market very soon for a replacement to backup A-Rod. Cleveland’s own Colt McCoy would make perfect sense, as he knows the system and has looked solid so far this preseason.
Rookie quarterback B.J. Coleman probably isn’t the answer either, in case you were wondering. His only pass of the night was intercepted.
4. Trent Richardson Needs to Get Healthy – Fast
Montario Hardesty and Brandon Jackson both found their way into the end-zone on Thursday night, but they looked like pedestrian backs doing so. Jackson is a third down back at best and finished the night averaging under three yards per carry, while Hardesty averaged a respectable 3.8, but didn’t flash any “wow” ability. Richardson was drafted as both a workhorse and a major upgrade, because beyond Peyton Hillis, the Browns were pathetic in the form of talent in the backfield in 2011. Cleveland’s offensive line helps cover up how bad those running backs really are. Richardson needs to get back quick so the position doesn’t become a problem and make life even harder on Brandon Weeden.
5. Jordy Nelson’s 2011 Probably Wasn’t a Fluke
I’m a Nelson fan. He’s in my top-15 this year, and he might go even higher. I know he won’t be the number two receiver in fantasy football again this year, and I know he won’t score 15 touchdowns in back to back year. Even Terrell Owens and Randy Moss haven’t been able to do that. With that said, he scored a touchdown on a 20-yard play early in the game to show me he’s still a huge part of Green Bay’s down-field passing attack, and that is simply isn’t going to change. He’s been lighting up training camp, too, so there’s the thought that he’s just hitting his stride, rather than peaking last year. I think he has a very good chance at getting 10 touchdowns again, while his targets should only increase, as well.