Gregg Williams upset the Twitter-universe for his myriad blitzes Thursday. Was he wrong to do it?
One of the more enjoyable parts of watching a Major League Baseball game (for me, at least) is parsing all the unwritten rules and figuring out why a particular player might be mad at another player for some overly-dramatic bat flip or sexually-charged walk-up music.
Subtlety is not the NFL’s strong suit, but it was interesting to see some people on Twitter Thursday speculating that Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was blitzing too much against the Eagles in primetime. Is there an unwritten rule about sending more than four rushers in an exhibition game? Probably not from a guy whose new catch phrase is “No s----, I got a lozenge, b----.”
By my count, the Browns blitzed seven times in the first half with the starters in. Jim Schwartz seemed to return the favor with 6:38 to go in the half by sending eight men. Tyrod Taylor looked like he got choke-slammed by Jordan Hicks amid an all-out rush that ended the drive. It makes sense that coaches wouldn’t want a player—especially a quarterback—getting hurt in a meaningless matchup that serves only as an extra concessions grab for owners across the league. But it also makes sense that, if there is a wink-and-nod agreement, Williams isn’t in on it. After all, isn’t he fighting with his own offensive coordinator about the right to sack Cleveland’s quarterback in practice?
What else did we learn?
Myles Garrett is beastly. His combination of strength and immediate lateral quickness is going to be hard to stop once he puts all the pieces together. Last year’s No. 1 pick moves like a heavyweight prizefighter on the field and was especially dominant against a pared-down Eagles unit Thursday. He finished with two sacks (and a safety), and set the table for some high expectations in 2018. Cleveland’s secondary is better on paper than it has been in half a decade, especially with veterans like Briean Boddy-Calhoun filling in the gaps. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Garrett make a run at double-digit sacks if the coverage holds up.
Baker Mayfield had some time with the first-stringers after Taylor went into the locker room with a hand injury (why did he come back into the game, again?). Mayfield made some nice throws but did hold onto the ball a little longer than you’d like at times, though that may have been a credit to Philly’s defense. He dropped a beautiful throw between defenders to Rashard Higgins while also bracing for a hard hit by Michael Bennett.
When is it OK to wonder if Nick Foles has come back to earth a little bit? The Super Bowl MVP was 13-of-17 with two interceptions on Thursday. If nothing else, he just looks a little banged up.
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1. More on the Browns from the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, including the concussion scare for Baker Mayfield.
2. More on the Eagles from the Philadelphia Inquirer, including the offense's preseason woes.
3. The next hammer to drop in the race to master NFL analytics.
4. Todd Gurley is living his dream: Sitting out of the preseason altogether.
5. Note to the world: It's time to start playing Cap Capi. Pro Football Focus makes the case.
Big Al is back in New Jersey with the rest of us. But, God bless him, he's not gonna stop hitting dingers.
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