CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – The Browns defensive performance was so bad Thursday night that inside linebacker and captain Demario Davis has called them in on their day off Friday to watch film and take account for all that is going wrong.
Ray Horton’s unit was flat out gashed and trashed by Atlanta in a 24-13 loss Friday night.
Sure it’s only a preseason game and the Falcons had no problem moving at will in the second half against the Browns’ third and fourth stringers but what took place in the first half against the first and second teamers was alarming, and they know it.
The Falcons converted 3 third-and-ones, ran 5 times for 35 yards and a TD on their 9-play, 71-yard opening drive that was capped by a 19-yard Devonta Freeman touchdown run.
Unfortunately it was just the beginning of the avalanche to come.
Atlanta rolled up 234 total yards, including 78 rushing in the first half. The Falcons racked up 13 first downs and were 5-of-9 on third down while running 39 offensive plays before intermission.
“We are in good positions. We just have to play,” inside linebacker Christian Kirksey said. “It all comes down to tackling. That’s what football is all about, tackling the ball. When we watch film, we are going to see all the miss tackles that we had. We cant be a good defense if we can’t tackle.”
The overall numbers were even worse when the dust settled: 498 total yards allowed, 224 rushing yards allowed, 31 first downs allowed and the Falcons converted 11-of-17 on third down.
“Everybody has to just do their job,” head coach Hue Jackson said. “What happens when you start spreading a leak, everybody tries to cover up for another guy because I’m going to cover up for this guy, and I think we need to do that better, but more so than that I think we have got to tackle better. There were a lot of missed tackles.”
Atlanta scored on drives of: 9 plays, 71 yards, touchdown; 15 plays, 75 yards, field goal; 9 plays, 79 yards, touchdown and 15 plays, 98 yards, touchdown Thursday night.
If the trend continues, it could be a long year on that side of the football.
Other thoughts from Thursday night’s game:
– Throw the gimmick talk about Terrelle Pryor in the trash can. Pryor is the real deal. After catching a 49 yard pass last Friday against Green Bay, Pryor topped it by smoking Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant up the far sideline for a 50-yard touchdown catch that saw him establish nearly 5 yards of separation before gliding into the end zone.
“Me and Trufant, we were battling and mouthing back and forth. It was good because he hit me on the first play and it was good to get back at him,” Pryor said. “I’m a competitive guy. The Browns deserve it. The Browns fans, Dawg Pound, all they’re going to get from me is energy.”
Not only does Pryor look like a No. 1 target, he thinks and talks like one too.
“I knew I was going to beat him as soon as we called the play,” Pryor said.
– Rookie Carl Nassib was one of few bright spots defensively once again. Nassib made another spectacular defensive play racing around the edge to strip-sack Falcons QB Matt Simms in the third quarter. Nassib quickly fell on the loose ball at their own 39.
“He makes plays,” Jackson said. “The guy is doing some really good things, and he’s going to be a good football player, obviously. He has to keep learning how we do things, how we go about our business on defense and keep getting better, but he has the characteristics that we’re looking for.”
– The Browns paid tribute to Falcons center Alex Mack who opted out of his contract and left in free agency this past offseason. The Browns drafted Mack 21st overall in 2009 and he was a 2-time Pro Bowler with the team.
“Pretty emotional game,” Mack said. “I’m kinda happy it was a preseason game so that I could ease into it. Coming here, a place that I played 101 games and to not be on that sideline was such a weird feeling and I showed up early and said ‘Hi’ to some of the guys round the building that are awesome….and then to walk over here, it was just such a quick weird switch.”
– Center Cameron Erving fired a shotgun snap over Robert Griffin’s head in the second quarter.
“I don’t want to have to coach that, but it’s something we have to fix,” Jackson said. “That was disappointing to have the ball go over the quarterback’s head.”
Griffin raced back and recovered the ball for what would have been a 24-yard loss. Fortunately Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon was flagged for a facemask giving them 15 yards back and a first down.
“It’s just something that can’t happen,” Griffin said. “We got a first down out of it, but those things can’t happen. He knows that, I know that and we’ll make sure it doesn’t [happen again].”
– Rookie receiver Corey Coleman’s debut remains on hold. Coleman, who missed his second straight preseason game, returned to practice last week after sitting out a week due to a hamstring injury sustained Aug. 5 during a full-contact scrimmage.
– With every new coach comes a new look to the area in and around the Browns locker room. Gone is the ‘Play Like a Brown” slogan that was painted directly across from the locker room entrance on top of the ‘Club 46’ sliding doors as well as the mural with the phrasing in the locker room hallway. Both have been replaced by brown paint. Jackson also had a projector installed in the ceiling in the middle of the locker room which projects an “EXPECT to WIN” graphic on the carpet below.