If you are one of those people who says “preseason games don’t matter” then you should just stop reading here. However, if you belong to the same school of thought as I, then you should keep on reading as I breakdown the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Now, before I get started, I want to be clear that I could care less that the Browns came out with a 27-19 win. In fact, just a few years ago, the St. Louis Rams went 4-0 in the preseason and then went on to win only 2 games in the entire regular season. That said, the preseason DOES matter because it's the perfect time to get a look at the new guys, the new schemes, and those who have been around yet expect to take a step forward this year in their development.
Brandon Weeden – Weeden went 10 of 13 for 112 yards. When Chudzinski was asked about Weeden’s performance he said, "I thought he did a good job. He looked calm. We had good drives and he was a good part of it." No doubt Weeden performed better than most thought he might in the first game. That said, the bar is set pretty high for week number 2. We’ll have to see if he can maintain that level of play for one full half of the game. One of my notes on Weeden said "continues to stare down receivers" though it didn't lead to any INT's last night. I also jotted down "no longer playing patty cake with the football when standing in the pocket". If you recall, that nasty habit led to a few fumbles last year.
“Neon” Dion Lewis - So, admittedly, I didn’t follow a whole bunch of training camp early on (mainly because the Indians were winning) but what I did continue to read or hear about over and over was this guy Dion Lewis. For those who may not know Dion was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 5th round (149th overall) in 2011 before coming to Cleveland this year in a trade for linebacker Emmanuel Acho. Uh… Emmanuel who? Seriously, I have NO IDEA who that is and after seeing Lewis last night, I can’t help but think we got the sweet end of that deal! I really liked that he was able to catch the ball out of the backfield a couple of times on some screen passes that we ran effectively. Oh yea, we ran some screens effectively! When is the last time you saw that in Cleveland?
Travis Benjamin – All I can say is thank god (no seriously, thank you 6lb. 11oz. baby Jesus!) that two people were flushed out of Cleveland last year. Pat Schurmer who wouldn’t know talent if it smacked him in his stupid face and Josh Cribbs who used to be really fast until his mouth surpassed him in his 40 yard dash time. Ask my closest friends and they’ll tell you that I wouldn’t shut up about how Benjamin should’ve been returning kicks and punts last year. I am elated that it is no longer a contest in Cleveland. Benjamin is the new sheriff in town and he is fast! Oh my god is he FAST!?!?!?!
Receiving Corps – I’m not sure if it’s because the St. Louis Rams receivers were SO BAD or if our receiver corps is actually legit but they looked solid last night. Aside from a ball that went off Jordon Cameron’s hands inside the red-zone during the 1st quarter, I’m not sure I saw a bad drop all night. In fact, there were a couple of really nice catches made last night including Greg Little’s head’s up catch of that same ball that skipped off of Cameron’s hands. I’m hoping to see more from this group as we get into next week. I was surprised they didn’t have Weeden throw the deep ball at all. I hope to see some bombs in next week’s game against the Lions.
Trent Richardson – Look, I know if it were up to him he would have played last night. However, when you are carrying around that ‘injury prone’ moniker, you gotta do whatever you can to get on the field. More than anything, it’s not fair to Weeden for T. Rich to miss important reps in the preseason during the offense installs. If he’s going to be the main wrinkle in our offence, he’s gotta find a way to play.
The Defense – Were you impressed with anything the defense did last night? Don’t tell me Buster Skrine either just because he recovered fumble. It was Big Philly Style Taylor who jarred that ball loose. Trust me, if it weren’t for the hapless receiving corps of the Rams, the stat sheet would look much different this morning. Their receivers were open and they were open often. I still have no idea what we are going to do opposite Joe Haden and I didn’t see all that pressure defense that’s been talked about during training camp. Now, I’m sure we’re not showing half the stuff we’ll show in the regular season but there is lots of work to be done on this side of the ball. If I had to give out an ‘A’ on the relative scale, I’d give it to the defensive line who looked good at times… especially Ishmaa’ily Kitchen. That guy is a BEAST! I will say that I believe in what Ray Horton is doing and I believe our defense will be nasty in time. I just hope that time comes at some point this year.
The Cleveland Indians - were swept by the Detroit Tigers and have (un)officially lost the divisional race. In case you missed the finale last night, Ryan Raburn came in to pitch in relief. Yea, it got THAT bad. The good news is… if they can pick up any confidence they may have left, they still have a shot at the wild card. Yea, see what I did there? Let’s be honest, the Browns looked pretty good (I said 'good' not 'great') last night overall and when I think ‘Ugly’ I simply can’t think of anything uglier than what went down at Progressive Field this week. Thanks to them, all Browns players/coaches/personal are off the hook this week in the ‘Ugly’ bin.
So those are my thoughts from the game? Did you see anything different? Let's hear it!