OK, so it was the first preseason game. The games don't count for almost a month.
But, man, the first-half performance by the Cleveland Browns in a 17-0 loss to the Green Bay Packers was ugly. It might be too early to be alarmed, but it's not early enough to wonder if it will be more of the same old same old.
For the first time since training camp opened, the quarterbacks weren't the area of most concern. Did you see the defense against the run? I didn't either, because there wasn't one. How about that pass rush? I missed that, too, as Packer quarterbacks had enough time to pick and choose among open receivers.
The new-look defense, led by coordinator Rob Ryan, is supposed to be better suited for controlling opposing running attacks. Ryan is expected to find ways to make the most out of a defense that doesn't have a dominant pass rusher.
Yet, the Packers moved the ball with alarming ease in scoring touchdowns on the two possessions directed by their first-team offense. The Browns couldn't stop the run, and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was able to stand confidently in the pocket.
Somehow, Ryan and coach Eric Mangini need to find a way to improve the run defense. The Browns haven't done a good job against the run since their return to the NFL in 1999, and nothing seen last night could lead anyone to think that there will be a change for the better.
The same can be said about the lack of a pass rush. Linebacker Kamerion Wimbley, the key to that facet of play, was active at times, but the coordinated effort expected from Mangini was nowhere to be seen.
Again, it must be remembered that it was the initial preseason game. Game-planning wasn't a big part of the preparation process, and it was probably less a part of Mangini's plans because the teams will meet in the regular season.
Still, there seemed to be signs of improvement during the long days on the practice field in Berea. The defense has continually outplayed the offense, which might say more about the unsettled state of the offense than it does about the perceived improvement on defense.
The offense shouldn't escape criticism. The running game was awful, which is another problem that never goes away. The organization spent millions of dollars on left tackle Joe Thomas and guard Eric Steinbach, but the fact remains that neither is a strong run blocker.
It's hard to criticize the Browns for using the third overall pick in the 2007 draft on Thomas, but he needs to show that he's more than a quick-footed pass blocker. Why not knock someone down on occasion?
The quarterback competition showed that Brady Quinn's edge on Derek Anderson is widening. Or at least it should be widening.
Anderson looked lost on his two first-half possessions. Quinn moved the offense the two times he directed it, but a penalty on a successful Phil Dawson field goal resulted in a miss on a second try. Braylon Edwards later dropped what should have been a touchdown reception on a Quinn pass, which was followed by a Quinn pass that was intercepted by Hubbard High School graduate Anthony Smith.
The time is getting close for Mangini to name Quinn the starter. Why continue wasting time with Anderson, who's proven that he's not even an average quarterback?
Give Quinn a chance and see what he can do.