Beck shows command of 'Skins system; Browns' McCoy sharp


The second week of the preseason allows coaches to get a better feel for their respective squads due to the extended play of their starters. Teams usually keep their first-teamers on the field until halftime to give their units plenty of time to establish rhythm and continuity.

Given more time to see the "ones" in action, we can begin to make strong assessments on where players fit in the pecking order. Let's take a look at what I learned from watching Friday night's games:

» John Beck could be an effective starting quarterback for the Redskins. The fifth-year pro was exceptional directing the first-team offense against the Colts. He showed an excellent command of the system, completing 14 of 17 attempts for 140 yards and leading the Redskins to scores on each of his four possessions. Beck frequently located his second and third reads in his progressions. His pocket awareness, anticipation and accuracy were better than anticipated, and he also flashed enough athleticism to be a credible threat on the perimeter. Granted, the effectiveness of the Redskins' run game -- Tim Hightower and Roy Helu combined for 171 yards on 20 carries -- allowed Beck to work comfortably off play-action fakes inside and outside of the pocket. Given his superb execution and production during his first appearance as the starter, it is easy to see why Mike Shanahan is willing to stake his reputation on the unheralded Beck.

» Reggie Bush will be a difference maker in Miami. The sixth-year pro put on an exceptional display of skill during his debut performance with the Dolphins. Bush tallied 81 total yards on 10 touches, and flashed the speed, quickness and burst of an explosive weapon out of the backfield. As a runner, he attacked the line of scrimmage quickly and displayed nifty footwork slipping through cracks. His ability to elude defenders in the hole is exceptional, and he showed toughness while finishing his runs with authority. The Dolphins took advantage of Bush in the passing game by frequently aligning him as a slot receiver in their spread and empty formations. Given the middle of the field to work with, Bush had his way with Panthers defenders on option routes, providing quarterback Chad Henne a high-percentage target on third downs. Although it is tough to accurately gauge the Dolphins' plans for Bush based on one preseason appearance, it is obvious that his combination of skills will make Miami's offense more explosive in 2011.

» The Packers might have the best quarterback situation in the league. The Super Bowl champions have three quarterbacks on their roster -- Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn and Graham Harrell -- with the potential to be effective starters. While Rodgers has cemented his place among the league's elite, it has been the emergence of Flynn and Harrell that should have the rest of the league green with envy. The Packers' young signal callers have been outstanding this preseason, displaying the confidence, poise and awareness of savvy veterans. Flynn, in particular, has been razor-sharp with his timing, awareness and accuracy. His ball placement has been superb, and he has shown the ability to fit passes into tight windows without taking unnecessary risks. Coming off his solid performance as a one-game starter a year ago, Flynn looks like a quality starter. Not to be outdone, Harrell has also shown excellent timing and anticipation. He has delivered the ball on time and avoided the miscues that often plague young quarterbacks. He isn't a finished product at this point, but he flashes enough potential to merit serious consideration as a down-the-road prospect. Given the scarcity of quality quarterbacks in the league, the Packers' possession of three such players puts them in a prime position moving forward.

» Lee Evans gives the Ravens' offense an added dimension. The eighth-year pro gives Baltimore the vertical playmaker it desperately needed, a legitimate speed demon with the burst and acceleration to run past defenders on deep balls. He has averaged 4.2 receptions of 40-plus yards per season in his career, and his 15.7 yards per catch average is indicative of his big-play ability. He flashed some of that ability against the Chiefs when he blew past a hapless defender for a 43-yard gain from Joe Flacco. Evans will not only deliver his own big plays with his ability to stretch the field, but will also create opportunities for Anquan Boldin and others. For an offense that has lacked the long-ball element for the past few seasons, Evans is a welcome addition.

» Colt McCoy is quickly mastering Pat Shurmur's West Coast offense. McCoy followed up his impressive preseason debut with another solid performance (10 of 18 passing for 96 yard and three touchdowns) against the Detroit Lions. McCoy continued to display outstanding poise and awareness in the pocket. He worked through his progressions quickly and delivered the ball to receivers on time. He also showed a mastery of the nuances of the system on each of his three touchdown throws. On his first touchdown to Evan Moore, McCoy delivered the ball on time on a "sprint-right" option pass that took advantage of the tight coverage from Lions defenders. McCoy released the ball on his third step and put it in a spot where only his intended receiver could make the play.

McCoy then lobbed a perfect pass on his second touchdown to Moore, a throw in the front corner of the end zone on an "all-go special" that used motion to create a favorable matchup for his receiver. McCoy's timing of motion combined with a perfect throw made the play indefensible.

Finally, McCoy's 19-yard touchdown to Greg Little showcased his ability to quickly read and diagnose the Lions' two-deep coverage against an empty formation. McCoy correctly worked the front side "smash" concept to take advantage of Little's speed against the Lions' safety. By delivering the ball on time to the front corner of the end zone, he made his third touchdown look like a simple case of pitch and catch to his receiver.

McCoy has exceeded all expectations with his remarkable play this the preseason, and looks poised to have a big year in Cleveland.

Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks



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