We have been saying all along not to expect too much from the Cleveland Browns in 2016. They shed most of the veterans from a squad that went 3-13 a year ago, so this is a year to lay a foundation for future success.
Therefore, we are not going to judge today’s 29-10 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles that harshly. The best chance Cleveland had for a win today was poor play by the home team’s rookie quarterback, but Carson Wentz made enough plays to bring home a winner.
That doesn’t mean the Browns blew it by passing on Wentz either. A year ago, the Titan’s Marcus Mariota was fantastic in the season opener, and in week two, the Browns, yes the team that won only three games, handed the rookie his lunch.
Our point is that it is way too early to judge Wentz.
Here are some of our observations for Game 1:
Positives. Many of the rookies looked good, particularly Emmanuel Ogbah and Carl Nassib. The latter seemed to be in the Eagles’ backfield a lot, batted down two passes and had a sack.
Derrick Kindred was another rookie who stood out, with five tackles.
Corey Coleman caught two passes for 69 yards, including a 58-yard play. Coleman was also open on Robert Griffin III’s interception, but the ball was way behind him. If the throw was on target, it would have been a big game.
The run defense was solid, allowing the Eagles just 3.9 yards per carry. Not great, but much better than we saw in the pre-season.
Last year’s first round picks, Cam Erving and Danny Shelton, looked better than a year ago, except for…
Negatives. …the Browns ran 50 offensive plays today and Erving had 49 good snaps. However, the one bad snap kind of changed the momentum of the game, as it resulted in a safety.
Griffin missed a lot of plays with inaccuracy, one that resulted in his only interception. He also missed an open Andrew Hawkins for a touchdown, and an open Terrelle Pryor on a sideline pass. You can’t leave plays on the field consistently.
Joe Haden showed a lot of rust after missing a lot of time last season, giving up a long TD pass to Nelson Agholor, and Jordan Matthews had over 100 yards receiving.
The third down woes reared its ugly head again, as the Browns were just 2 for 10. The inability to stay on the field led to the Eagles having the ball twice as much as the Browns.
Also, the running game struggled early. Running the ball helps keep the defense on the sideline and also will help the passing game. Cleveland simply has to get better running the football. Perhaps Duke Johnson should carry the ball more.
We know Hue Jackson is trying to set a tone with his football team, but it seemed like he gambled a lot today and none of his gambles paid off. Going for it on 4th and 5 in your own territory in the first half is a tad reckless, and the last Eagles’ touchdown was because he went for it with less than three minutes to go.
None of the negatives should be picked apart until they see them raise up on a weekly basis. If the Browns learn from what they did wrong, that’s great. That’s really the purpose of this season.
Same with the things that went well, unless you can do these things every week, it’s can’t be considered a building block.
Those critical of today’s performance are missing the point. This isn’t a good football team. If they are a lot better by the end of the season, then Jackson and his staff are doing a good job. That’s what they should be judged on.