Johnny Manziel leads Browns over Bears 3rd String 33-13


Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Bears decided to rest both their first and most of their second string tonight while the Browns played their 1st string on both sides of the ball for most of the first half. It’s sounds like a mismatch, but the Bears 3rd stringers actually hung in there in the first half and played pretty well. They were down just 17-13 going into halftime, but the Bears clearly shut it down on offense in the 2nd half and the Browns cruised to a 33-13 win.

The fact that it took the Browns first string offense 14 plays, three 3rd down conversions and a 4th down conversion (aided by a phantom roughing the passer call) to score on the Bears 3rd string D is either a terrible sign for Hoyer and the Browns 1st string offense or a great sign for the Bears 3rd string D. Probably a little of both, but I would be worried if I were a Browns fan. When I say 3rd string I am not exaggerating, the Bears starting D-line was Lee Pegues, Brandon Dunn, Austin Lane and Cornelius Washington. They more than held their own against the Browns which bodes well for the Bears depth and the odds of making the roster for a few guys on the 3rd string D.

The Bears third string offense was led by David Fales and put up 13 points vs the Browns first string D in the first half. Fales had happy feet on his first pass of the game, but settled down quickly and made some really nice throws. Josh Bellamy was his favorite target (4-78) and made it hard for the Bears to release him on Saturday. Fales finished the 1st half 11-17 for 129 yards, a 32 yard TD pass to Santonio Holmes, and a 107.2 passer rating. There were a few drops and a long PI on what would have been a big play, so his numbers could have been considerably better. For most of the first half Fales acquitted himself well enough to earn the 3rd QB spot and I would be surprised if the Bears gave other teams a chance at Fales by trying to stash him on the practice squad. The 2nd half was ugly, but the Bears had clearly stopped going for it by that point. In one stretch of the 4th quarter they ran the ball 7 times in a row. It seemed to me they were done with most of the evaluations by halftime and were just trying to get out of Cleveland healthy.

For the Browns, Johnny Manziel played about half the game and showed some flashes of Johnny Football magic (4 rushes 55 yards, 83 passing yards, 1 TD) but for the most part looked like a rookie. He threw a couple of ducks that would have embarrassed Cade McNown, but managed to come through on a few clutch 3rd downs by using his legs to get out of trouble. Manziel led the Browns to 16 points and made a couple really exciting completions after scrambling around and avoiding the Bears mediocre pass rush. The Bears D held down the Browns rushing game until the 4th quarter when rookie Isaiah Crowell broke a 48-yard TD run. Crowell had 102 yards on 13 carries;  I’m not going to beat a dead horse, but Crowell was my preferred draft target for the Bears backup RB spot.

With the Bears playing mostly 3rd stringers all game there isn’t much to take from tonight’s match-up. It was mainly a showcase for the players on the roster bubble and I will cover who helped and who hurt their roster chances tomorrow with my winners & losers post and also my projected Bears final 53-man roster. Don’t worry about the lopsided score in this one Bears fans, half of the guys on the field tonight won’t be on the roster by Sunday.