Most Browns’ fans probably resigned themselves to a blowout today, having to watch Cody Kessler in his first start as an NFL quarterback.
The news didn’t get any better later in the week with injuries to CB Joe Haden and K Patrick Murray, more on the latter later.
Instead, the Browns took the Miami Dolphins to overtime, losing 30-24 to drop to 0-3, but also showing the improvement we wanted to see week to week.
We haven’t changed our tune about judging Hue Jackson’s team based on the improvement of the team week to week, so we can’t be too upset about the defeat.
Also, two more weaknesses have shown themselves that must be addressed, so we will see if Jackson and his staff take care of them before next Sunday’s game at Washington.
Positives. What more can you say about Terrelle Pryor? He is showing he can be a force on offense. He caught eight passes for 144 yards, ran for 21 more, and completed 3 of 5 passes for 35 yards.
And he wasn’t happy with the outcome of the game. You have to wonder what was stopping the previous coaching staff was looking at with this guy.
You would have to assume the Dolphins came into the game hoping Kessler would have to beat them, but the Browns ran the ball very well again, getting 169 yards on the ground, an average of 5.3 yards per carry. Isaiah Crowell had 79 yards and Duke Johnson pitched in with 69 more.
One of the rookie wide receivers emerged, but it was not Rashard Higgins, rather it was Ricardo Louis, who caught three throws for 40 yards.
And Kessler acquitted himself well too. He completed 21 of 33 for 244 yards, and appeared more comfortable as the game went on. He earned another start in our opinion.
Defensively, did anyone think Briean Boddy-Calhoun would contribute this season? The rookie out of Minnesota had a pick six to give Cleveland a 10-7 lead in the first half.
Jamar Taylor, a former Dolphin, also picked off Ryan Tannehill.
And Corey Lemonier, picked up on waivers from San Francisco after the last preseason game, almost won the contest for the Browns with a strip sack/fumble recovery with under a minute to go.
Christian Kirksey had nine tackles and Danny Shelton played well again too.
Miami had only 115 rushing yards on the day, a major improvement from what teams did to the Browns in 2016.
Negatives. The special teams continue not to be special, and eventually, doesn’t Chris Tabor have to answer for that. Corey Parkey missed three field goals, including a 46 yarder that could have won the game.
You miss three in one game? You will find your name on the waiver wire. Expect a new kicker next week.
And Britton Colquitt’s punt in overtime was right down the middle allowing a decent return. The ball had to be kicked away from Jarvis Landry.
Austin Pasztor should have shown the coaching staff that he is not a tackle. If he wasn’t being flagged for a false start, he was getting caught holding. Hard to think Spencer Drango or Shon Coleman can’t do a better job.
Kessler still needs to work on getting rid of the football. He turned it over in on the first possession because he held on to the pigskin too long, and did it a few more times as the game went on.
The last problem was choosing to kick off at the start of overtime. The defense did hold, but it resulted in poor field position after Miami punted.
Taking the ball would have given Cleveland the ball probably at their own 25.
Next time, take the ball coach.
Hopefully, Haden and Carl Nassib will be back in action next week against Washington. That would help the defense.
And the Browns need to keep running the football, that will help Kessler feel more comfortable.
Again, we saw this team getting better, and that’s what Jackson should be proud of. This team has some football players who may be able to contribute weekly. That’s also something positive.