Week 1 -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17, Browns 14
OFFENSE: Grade -- C-
DEFENSE: Grade -- B
- Quarterback: Grade -- D. Jake Delhomme deserves a solid B for the first 29 minutes of the first half. In the last minute, however, he threw an interception that Buccaneers cornerback Ronde Barber returned 64 yards to set up a touchdown. With the Browns leading 14-3, Delhomme should have thrown the ball away or taken a sack on the play. But instead, he leaned to his right to avoid pressure and made an awkward throw that Barber picked off. Playing on a twisted right ankle, Delhomme struggled mightily in the second half as the Browns' offense collapsed. He simply couldn't make a play while facing poor field position and a heavy pass rush late in the game. Delhomme completed 20-of-37 passes for 227 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions. His quarterback rating was 59.2.
- Running backs: Grade -- C-. Peyton Hillis' two fumbles, including the one the Browns lost in the red zone during the third quarter, lowered this grade significantly. Like Delhomme, Hillis and Jerome Harrison showed some good things in the first half but fizzled in the final two quarters. Harrison had a 39-yard run in the second quarter, and Hillis scored on a 10-yard run during the next play. In the second half, though, neither one could get much going. Harrison got three consecutive carries early in the fourth quarter and responded with a gain of 1 yard, a loss of 4 and a gain of 6, forcing the Browns to punt. Harrison finished with 52 yards on nine carries (5.8 yards per carry) and one catch for 7 yards. Hillis had 41 yards on nine carries (5.6 yards per carry) and four catches for 24 yards.
- Wide receivers and tight ends: Grade -- C. Wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi had a 41-yard touchdown reception, and tight end Evan Moore had three catches for 87 yards. Other than that, there wasn't a whole lot to be excited about. After they connected for a touchdown, Delhomme and Massaquoi weren't on the same page during another play that could have resulted in a score. Early in the second quarter, Massaquoi broke to the left corner of the end zone while Delhomme threw to the middle of the end zone. Massaquoi was targeted six times, but finished with only two catches for 46 yards (41 came via the first touchdown). Browns coach Eric Mangini also said there was a route-running miscue during the play in which Delhomme was picked off by Barber. It appeared that tight end Benjamin Watson should have occupied the middle of the field. Instead, he ended up near wide receiver Chansi Stuckey, and Delhomme threw a bad pass intended for Watson.
- Offensive line: Grade -- C-. This might seem like a harsh grade for a unit that didn't allow a sack, but Delhomme was under pressure for nearly the entire second half. Also after halftime, right tackle John St. Clair was called for holding twice and false start once. Buccaneers defensive ends Stylez G. White, Kyle Moore and Tim Crowder provided a stellar rush off the edge against the Browns. Even Browns Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas had some lapses. And Bucs defensive tackles Gerald McCoy, Roy Miller and Brian Price helped shut down the Browns' running game in the second half.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Grade -- C-
- Linebackers: Grade -- B+. Chris Gocong, Scott Fujita, Matt Roth and Eric Barton played well against the run, limiting Buccaneers running back Carnell Williams to 75 yards on 22 carries (3.4 yards per carry). Gocong and Fujita led the group with six tackles apiece. Barton recovered a fumble late in the fourth quarter to give the Browns a chance to rally. The Browns had three sacks, and all of them were recorded by linebackers. Marcus Benard had 1 1/2 sacks, Jason Trusnik had one and Fujita had a 1/2.
- Defensive line: Grade -- B. The Browns rotated personnel early and often in the Tampa heat. Shaun Rogers had only one tackle (it was for a loss), but he collapsed the pocket and drew double teams several times. As anticipated, Rogers lined up at nose tackle and end. Meanwhile, Robaire Smith finished with six tackles. On the down side, Mangini said defensive lineman Brian Schaefering "should have been tighter in the B gap" when the Browns blitzed but failed to reach Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman on the latter's game-winning 33-yard touchdown pass.
- Secondary: -- Grade -- B-. The Browns finished with seven passes defensed, including Mike Adams' interception. Cleveland's defensive backs confused Freeman for most of the game, limiting him to 182 yards through the air. Rookie safety T.J. Ward was a beast, recording a team-high 10 tackles and forcing a fumble late in the fourth quarter that Barton recovered. Adams was second on the team with seven tackles. Eric Wright switched from cornerback to safety in certain situations, helping limit standout tight end Kellen Winslow to four catches for 32 yards. But the bottom line is the secondary had two glaring failures when it mattered most: safety Abram Elam blitzed but didn't get to Freeman on his game-winning touchdown pass, and rookie cornerback Joe Haden was beat by wide receiver Micheal Spurlock in the end zone. Spurlock made the game-winning catch, and the Browns were officially 0-1 soon after.
- Punting, kicking, returning and covering: Reggie Hodges punted six times for an average of 44.3 yards (37 net), but one of his punts was partially blocked. Phil Dawson was 2-for-2 on extra points and had his lone field-goal attempt -- it was from 61 yards -- go wide right. Josh Cribbs simply didn't look like Josh Cribbs. He returned three punts for 29 yards (9.7 average, longest 15) and three kickoffs for 46 yards (15.3 average, longest 18). On the other hand, Spurlock returned four punts for 24 yards (6 average, 11 longest) and two kickoffs for 50 yards (25 average, 30 longest).