Problems a plenty
Published 1:04 am Tuesday, August 18, 2009
BEREA — The coaching staff and uniform pants were new. The quarterbacks and the results were the same.
The Cleveland Browns have now gone seven consecutive games without an offensive touchdown following Saturday’s 17-0 preseason loss to the Green Bay Packers. It may not count in the standings, but the same problems that plagued Cleveland through a 4-12 finish last year resurfaced against the Packers.
The offense committed four turnovers. Braylon Edwards, who led the league in dropped passes in 2008, dropped a touchdown pass. The defense, which ranked 28th in the league at stopping the run last year, was gashed for 230 yards rushing.
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‘‘I don’t think it’s panic mode,’’ said linebacker Eric Barton, who came over from the New York Jets this year along with head coach Eric Mangini. ‘‘It’s the first preseason game. We made some mistakes. We’ll learn from them and hopefully improve on things we did bad. There was a lot to learn from that game.’’
Like the two penalties that resulted in a 10-point swing in the first half. A holding penalty wiped away a 31-yard field goal by Phil Dawson in the first quarter. Dawson’s second attempt from 41 yards sailed wide right.
A defensive holding penalty awarded Green Bay a first down on fourth-and-5. The Packers converted the miscue into a touchdown.
‘‘The most frustrating part was killing ourselves with penalties,’’ Josh Cribbs said. ‘‘We come out here and work hard on limiting mistakes. To come out in the game and not execute as well as we can, that was disappointing.’’
Wearing brown pants for a change, Brady Quinn started at quarterback and got the bulk of the work against Green Bay.
But Mangini isn’t declaring him the leader in Cleveland’s much-watched quarterback derby.
Quinn completed 7 of 11 passes for 68 yards. Derek Anderson attempted just two passes and was hit on both throws. Each quarterback threw an interception.
Most importantly, neither led the team on a scoring drive.
‘‘It’s too early to make an assessment on both guys,’’ Mangini said. ‘‘I’m looking at it as a body of work and not really a horse race.’’
Despite the unbalanced snaps for the two, Mangini would not commit to starting Anderson in Saturday’s preseason game against the Detroit Lions. He previously indicated he likely would rotate the first two preseason starts at quarterback.
‘‘That wasn’t set in stone, so I am going to see how it goes this week,’’ Mangini said. ‘‘But I would like to balance the reps as much as possible over the course of this weekend.’’
The Browns haven’t scored an offensive touchdown since Nov. 17 against Buffalo. They came close against the Packers, but Edwards dropped a pass from Quinn in the end zone late in the first half. Quinn was aiming for Edwards again on the next play, but was intercepted.
Mangini wants Edwards, a former Pro Bowl receiver, to focus on techniques like hand placement. Receivers can be distracted, he said, by anticipating hits or worrying about what they’ll do after the catch.
‘‘If you skip any step or are distracted, you can put the ball on the ground,’’ Mangini said. ‘‘Those steps happen in hundredths of a second. If you skip a beat in any one of them, you can easily put the ball on the ground.’’
Despite not scoring, Mangini was pleased with the offense’s ability to run a two-minute drill. He liked the 10-play drive Quinn engineered at the start of the game and he liked the running backs’ adjustments in blitz pickups.
‘‘I’m encouraged by a lot of things we did offensively,’’ Mangini said. ‘‘But we need to score points and protect the ball.’’
NOTES: Defensive tackle Shaun Rogers, who missed Saturday’s preseason game, was back on the stationary bike during practice Monday. ‘‘That was more precautionary than anything else,’’ Mangini said in not dressing Rogers for the game. ‘‘Just wanted to give him some rest on some nagging things.’’ … The Browns released linebacker Bo Ruud, who was signed as a free agent in April.