The Browns first pre-season game was a success, at least from the standpoint that they won, defeating the Detroit Lions 19-17.
However, it’s tough to judge what occurred during the game because of the people Pat Shurmur had sitting out due to injuries and/or rest.
For example, the run defense was not good. This is something that has plagued the franchise since returning to the NFL in 1999. But without Ahtyba Rubin and D’Qwell Jackson playing, you really can’t point to this as being a weakness right now.
Neither player is expected to miss any regular season time, so both will be back in there next week.
Of course, everyone wanted to watch the rookies on the offensive side of the ball, particularly QB Brandon Weeden.
The first year passer from Oklahoma State played like, well, a rookie. He hit on 3 of 9 passes for 62 yards, making some good throws (the sideline shot to fellow rook Travis Benjamin on the first series), and some poor ones. He was picked off once, and should have had another, although Bernie Kosar blamed that one on Josh Gordon, yet another rookie, not running a crisp enough route.
He also was charged with a fumble, but that was the result of poor pass protection. That’s not to exonerate the rookie, but he’ll learn when to it’s better to take a sack than risk a turnover.
Look, even though he’ll be 29 years old during the season, he’s an inexperienced NFL quarterback. He will get better the more time he spends on the football field. This was one game. If improvement isn’t made next week, and the week after next, then people can question the Browns’ decision. It’s silly to do so now.
It was encouraging though to see some downfield throws, something not seen often last year. In fact, it was telling on Colt McCoy’s first possession at the helm that he threw a completed six yard pass on 3rd and nine.
McCoy played well statistically, hitting 6 of 8 for 88 yards, the bulk of those a 42-yard strike to TE Jordan Cameron that he had to wait on. Still, Cleveland only mustered a field goal in his quarter of play, against the Lions second team defense.
As for the rookies, 2nd round pick Mitchell Schwartz struggled with the speed of the NFL game, but again, it was his first game and he will likely get better.
Benjamin looked good at WR, catching two passes for 46 yards, and flashed the great speed the Browns talked about when they drafted him. Josh Gordon looked raw, like he hasn’t played in a while, which he hasn’t.
The other rookie that stood out was CB Trevin Wade, drafted in the 7th round this spring. Granted, he wasn’t out there covering Calvin Johnson, but he’s a guy that merits watching throughout the rest of the pre-season.
There could also be a problem going forward with WR Mohamed Massaquoi, who may have suffered another concussion on the first play of the game, a 12-yard reception.
It the diagnosis is correct, it would be his third injury of this type in three seasons, and could put his career in jeopardy. The front office spoke highly of his potential all off-season long, so it was be a tough blow to lose the veteran.
Reserve DT Scott Paxson also went out with a knee injury, as did CB Dimitri Patterson. The Browns are already thin at both positions, so these could be key injuries.
It’s still pre-season, so it’s just step one in the evaluation process. Remember, the Cleveland Browns are a very young football team. They will make mistakes, but if they eliminate them going forward, that’s how they should be judged.