If you're looking for a bright spot in the Cleveland Browns' 24-14 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles last Thursday, you got it from Michael Vick.
After taking a knee to end the first half, the Eagles quarterback went up to Browns rookie defensive tackle Phil Taylor and gave him a congratulatory pat on the back for his impressive performance.
Taylor wasn't as kind to Vick in the first half. The first-round draft choice sacked Vick, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Jayme Mitchell. There were other times when Taylor beat the blocking of guard Danny Watkins and center Jason Kelce to harass Vick.
The Browns thought Taylor could wreck inside havoc when they drafted him 21st overall. He flashed a few signs of promise in the first two preseason games, but he was dominant against the Eagles.
It wasn't as easy for fellow rookie Jabaal Sheard, who's in line to start at right defensive end. Sheard managed to get some pressure on Vick, but his run defense obviously needs plenty of work.
On a second-and-long situation Sheard was thinking pass and only pass. Lining up wide of the left tackle, he came off the edge hard and fast, only to watch Ronnie Brown run inside of him for a 13-yard touchdown.
Sheard is the classic speed pass rusher. He's not big, which means he can be pushed around by some 320-pound tackles. When a player gives up that much weight on run defense, he needs to use savvy and speed to win the battle. Sheard is geared too much to pressure the quarterback, often at the expense of his run play.
Overall it wasn't a bad night for the defense, despite the score. The Eagles didn't get their initial first down until almost the 6-minute mark of the second quarter. Vick scored on an 8-yard run, but he was kept in check as well as could be expected.
The show on offense was another matter for the Browns. Everything that went well in the first two games seemed to go bad against a defense that was able to get pressure on quarterback Colt McCoy.
The biggest concern at this time isn't with McCoy. It's the right side of the line, and tackle Tony Pashos in particular. Pashos was penalized once for illegal procedure and could have had more calls as he constantly tried to beat the snap count.
Pashos also looks slow and off balance in his pass drops. He was penalized for holding on a play when he put a bear hug on a defender to keep him from getting close to McCoy.
Penalties, an interception thrown by McCoy and other variables kept the first-team offense off the scoreboard. McCoy finished 9-of-18 for 81 yards and a passer rating of 41.2, but he was handcuffed by the aforementioned penalties and occasional breakdowns in protection.
McCoy threw a perfect deep sideline pass to tight end Evan Moore, who had the ball go off his hands. Since the defender had crossed under Moore in an attempt for an interception, Moore would have had a big gain had he maintained possession.
McCoy also threw a good deep pass to Brian Robiskie, who made the catch near the Eagles' 10. The play was nullified because of a pass interference call on Robiskie.
It was encouraging to see activity out of Robiskie, who caught three passes for 23 yards. Robiskie could be on the bubble. In two seasons he has 36 receptions for 416 yards and three touchdowns, numbers that aren't what coaches want from a high second-round draft pick.
Robiskie was picked when former coach Eric Mangini made all the personnel calls, which means general manager Tom Heckert probably doesn't have much loyalty for him. Rookie Greg Little is certain to make the roster, and Heckert hasn't concealed his admiration for Jordan Norwood, which could put Robiskie on shaky ground.
The Browns came up far short in a game that's referred to as the dress rehearsal for the regular season. The good news is that there were signs of promise (Taylor for sure), and the schedule is easier than in previous years.