CANTON, Ohio- The Cleveland Browns showed some signs of life during their first preseason game in a 20-14 win over the Saints Thursday night at FirstEnergy stadium. Let’s break down what I saw.
- I really don’t want to see Cam Erving at left tackle ever again. I think his only chance to make this team, will be at right tackle. Erving was called for multiple penalties and beat by a rusher multiple times.
- Osweiler showed his arm strength, but his accuracy was a problem.
- The penalties came at an alarming rate. Especially the offsides flags on the defense. In total, Cleveland got hit with 12 penalties for 72 yards. Wow!
- Punter Britton Colquitt didn’t have his best game. Let’s hope he was just rusty.
- New Orleans seemed to have a good amount of success running the ball right up the middle. It did improve as the game went on, but giving up 82 yards rushing isn’t a good thing to the second-string players.
- I’m not sure if this was because of the play calls and what the Browns were trying to do, but Cleveland’s run game didn’t impress me. But, I think that might have been by design.
- DeShone Kizer didn’t exactly light things up at first. But, he did continue to improve as the game went on. Kizer was sacked multiple times, but his pocket awareness started improving the longer the game went on. He made some very nice 3rd down passes to keep drives alive. He then connected with Jordan Payton for a touchdown pass that ended up winning Cleveland the game. Overall, I was impressed with Kizer.
- Matt Dayes, the running back out of North Carolina State, looked pretty good. Dayes seems to have good balance and speed.
- Jabrill Peppers showed signs of being the answer at kick returns. On a punt, he called for a fair catch and he knew almost right away that he should have tried to make a play out of it. After the whistle blew, you could tell by his body language that he was mad at himself. I think Peppers will have a huge impact in 2017.
- When Nate Orchard was on the field, he was making a play. At least that’s what it seemed like. Though the box score doesn’t show it, Orchard had a great game in my opinion.
- Briean Boddy-Calhoun had a good night in the secondary. Cleveland will desperately need that this year.
- Richard Mullaney, a rookie WR from Alabama, had a good night considering he only had two catches. They helped sustain drives. Two receptions for 70 yards including a long of 52. Mullaney will have a chance to make this roster due to the lack of depth and talent at that position.
- Finally, Myles Garrett had a good first game. The Saints ran the ball at him and he stood his ground. Garrett also put pressure on the QB. When New Orleans tried running to the outside, Myles did a good job of forcing the runner back to the inside. That’s called setting in the edge in football.
I’m not one to care much if the team loses in the preseason, but I think for this team, it felt good to them to not only win a game, but to win the game in the fashion they did. The Saints went right down the field on their final possession and Cleveland’s 3rd and 4th string guys were able to hold them off. And I loved what Garrett said after the game when asked about how he felt after the game without getting a sack. Garrett replied “Well, I didn’t sack the QB, but I was able to get pressure on the QB, helped stop the run, but most importantly, I helped the team get a win. It’s all about winning, and we won, that’s all that matters”. Let’s hope this continues.
The Cleveland Browns now wait for a week from Monday when they host the New York Giants on Monday night football in Cleveland. After that they’ll be on the road in Tampa Bay, then Chicago.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Nick broulis