At this juncture, the defense is clearly ahead of the offense as the defense displayed the ability to flow to the football and consistently make plays.
A player who really made a name for himself in the scrimmage is defensive lineman Jacobbi McDaniel. McDaniel was involved in two turnovers Saturday afternoon. Craig Robertson picked off a pass by Connor Shaw, but fumbled the football into the waiting hands of McDaniel. McDaniel alertly picked up the football and ran it in for six. McDaniel was also responsible for tipping a Hoyer pass that was subsequently picked off by Barkevious Mingo and returned for 48 yards. Mingo lauded McDaniel for his play saying, “He’s going to be a stud. He is wreaking havoc on the line. He is getting his hands on balls. What more can you ask for?”
The new directive for the defensive linemen set by defensive line coach Anthony Weaver is for them to get their hands up if they’re unable to reach the quarterback. This has been a point of emphasis throughout camp, and the Browns’ defensive linemen are reaping the benefits of employing the aforementioned practice.
There are guys like a J.J. Watt who just have a really good sense of timing for it as far as when the ball is coming out. I think [defensive line coach] Anthony Weaver does a great job with our guys of coaching it.
If this is any indication of what is to come this season, look for a lot of batted passes by the Browns defense in 2014. Zac Diles, a candidate to contribute on special teams this season got in on the action with a pick-six. He also looked very good keying and diagnosing, consistently putting him in position to make plays. Joe Haden showed off the short area quickness and cat-like reflexes that has made him a top cornerback in the NFL, breaking up a Brian Hoyer pass intended for Anthony Armstrong.
Rookies Justin Gilbert and Pierre Desir would follow suit successfully breaking up pass attempts later in the game. Both Gilbert and Desir have improved considerably defending short and intermediate routes since the beginning of camp. The two rookie cornerbacks are now reading their keys, trusting what they see, and “clicking and closing” on the football. The Browns defense held up exceptionally well in the red zone today as they quickly closed down rushing lanes and converged on would be throwing windows. There were opportunities for the Browns offense to capitalize on a few mistakes by the defense but they were able to keep the offense out of the end zone throughout the scrimmage. Hopefully the Browns defense is able to carry this momentum into the regular season.
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