Thank goodness that half of the NFL’s preseason schedule is over for the Cleveland Browns.
After the first exhibition game against Green Bay, where the Packers stopped just short of bringing fans out of Lambeau Field to play against the Browns, last night we got to see the brown and orange play against legitimate players, at least for the first half.
Yes, Cleveland lost to Atlanta at First Energy Stadium last night, but at least now we can make some judgments on this football team, as they head into a week of practices against Tampa Bay next week, followed by the “dress rehearsal” a week from today in Florida.
Robert Griffin III has shown flashes of why he was the 2nd overall pick in the draft a few years ago. He has a big arm, has been accurate for the most part, and has learned how to slide when he runs with the football.
We said in the off-season that signing the former Heisman Trophy winner was the ultimate low risk, high reward gamble. After all, it’s not like Griffin is replacing Tom Brady, the alternative is veteran journeyman (and media favorite) Josh McCown.
The right move is finding out if Griffin can play, and so far, so good.
A year ago, Mike Pettine and his staff cut Terrelle Pryor right before the regular season started, then brought him back later in the season and virtually ignored him.
We realize that Pryor has greatly improved his wide receiver skills in the off-season, but you still have to wonder why the previous regime didn’t feel the need to work with him more. After all, the guy is a special athlete.
The running game looked good last night as well. Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson have been effective and Terrell Watson has looked good against second team defenders. We’d like to see him with the first unit next weekend. If the Browns are going move the ball effectively and try to shorten games, they must run the football.
And we would also like to see rookie Carl Nassib with the first team defense at times. You can’t help but notice the 6’7″ kid from Penn State, and not just because of his size. He’s all over the field when he’s in.
The problems on defense continue to be the inability to stop the running game and not being able to get off the field on third down. Those two issues have plagued this franchise since they returned to the NFL in 1999.
If you can’t run the ball and you can’t stop the run, you can’t win in the NFL despite it becoming a passing league. The Cleveland defense seems to be consistently in second and short situations, and if they do get to third down, it’s usually at a make able distance.
We would also like to see more of the young wide receivers. We still believe that Andrew Hawkins will not make the opening roster, but so far, we haven’t seen a lot of the rookie wide outs taken this spring. We know injuries play into that, but it’s still a problem.
We understand this is still pre-season and much of the game plans are very vanilla. However, it is easy to spot these trends.
On the other hand, we are halfway done in regards to the exhibition games. Based on the quality of these game, be very thankful for that.