CLEVELAND – Coach Eric Mangini said all week he wanted to simulate game conditions for the Family Day Brown and White scrimmage.
Be careful what you wish for.
Besides bright sun and temperatures in the 80s, the scrimmage Saturday looked like so many Browns games along the lakeshore in the last decade.
The Cleveland offense – in this case, that of the Brown and White – lacked consistency, big plays and struggled to score points. Penalty flags flew in great number – 15. The home team threw three interceptions. Punter Reggie Hodges kicked more than the Rockettes. And many in the crowd left early.
When the four 10-minute quarters were done, quarterback Jake Delhomme and the Brown won 14-6 in front of 22,311 fans at Cleveland Browns Stadium. The Brown team was basically the first-team offense and second-team defense. The White was second-team offense and first-team defense.
Mangini didn’t like the penalties, but was pleased with the work that got done.
“They got what we wanted to get accomplished, accomplished,” he said. “It was a nice opportunity for us to do it in a game setting before we have to go do it next week.”
The biggest bright spots were cornerback Brandon McDonald, quarterbacks Delhomme and Seneca Wallace and kicker Phil Dawson.
McDonald returned a Colt McCoy interception 40 yards for a touchdown, capping it with a headfirst dive into the end zone. Delhomme went 10-for-15 for 78 yards and a 5-yard touchdown to tight end Ben Watson in the back left corner. Wallace was 17-for-23 for 152 yards. Dawson made field goals of 48 and 35 yards to continue his great camp
“I’ve done different types of scrimmages, but this was truly a game-type setting,” Delhomme said. “For the most part we did some decent things. We still have a ways to go, but I feel very good about what we’re doing.”
Wallace was sacked five times, which is where the negatives can begin. Tackling wasn’t allowed – it was up to the officials’ discretion when a player would’ve been stopped – so the elusive Wallace might’ve stayed on his feet, but eight sacks for the game is too many.
McCoy was intercepted twice in 11 throws and sacked twice. The second pick was a Hail Mary to no one at the end of the first half.
The Browns open the preseason Saturday in Green Bay, and Mangini will spend much of the interim stressing the destructive capabilities of penalties. The Browns ranked third in the NFL last year in avoiding flags, but were sloppy Saturday.
The Browns return to practice Monday, and will likely begin with laps for everyone who was flagged.
A Watson hold erased a long run by James Davis, and guard Floyd Womack was called for holding on a running play from the 2-yard line. Watson’s touchdown followed, but that is usually a disastrous penalty.
Joshua Cribbs held on a long run, Eric Barton drew a 15-yard face mask and rookie defensive end Clifton Geathers tackled Chris Jennings for a 15-yard late hit.
“I’m never happy with penalties and that’s something we’ll continue to work on,” Mangini said.
McDonald opened 2009 as a starter but isn’t guaranteed a roster spot this year after the signing of Sheldon Brown and drafting of Joe Haden. McDonald had a good first week of camp and started the second week with the biggest play of the day.
McCoy held the ball for a while, and McDonald was able to drop back far enough in the zone to step in front of the pass to Syndric Steptoe. McDonald made some nifty moves on the way to the end zone, eluding McCoy and a handful of others on the White.
“It was a good read by me. I was able to just make the play,” McDonald said.
Mangini didn’t like the hot dog dive into the end zone, but McDonald wasn’t apologizing.
“It’s like a kick in the face to the offense, let ‘em know we’re not playing around,” he said. “They scored six points, it doesn’t really matter to me.
“The Brown team wanted to win today.”
The victory brought a night out of the team hotel and with no curfew for Brown. McDonald planned a night at home with his fiancée and daughter. The players on White had to cancel plans to sleep in their own beds.
“Training camp is a grind all day, every day,” defensive back Mike Adams said. “To have a night off to relax is comforting.”
The running games were nearly non-existent because there was no such thing as a missed tackle. Davis finished with four catches for 36 yards to lead Brown. Watson had three for 19, and his touchdown stood up to a replay review.
Tight end Evan Moore led White with six catches for 62 yards. McCoy finished 6-for-11 for 31 yards. He took only one snap in the second half, as Wallace tried to lead the comeback.
Jason Trusnik, trying to escape the logjam at linebacker, had two sacks.
The statistics don’t count, no one will remember the winner next week and nobody appeared to get injured. The day in the sun had Mangini smiling.
“It was a great day,” he said. “I came in early this morning, saw the fans here early and you get that electric feeling that you always have when you are coming to the stadium.
“We’ve got the greatest, loudest group of fans that you are going to find and we thank them for coming out here today and for showing all their support.”
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or firstname.lastname@example.org.