The Cleveland Browns just achieved their first victory of the year against the New Orleans Saints. Despite the fact that the win means nothing, it always feels so much better having won than lost, no matter how inconsequential the game ends up being.
This particular preseason game was our first chance to see the 2017 Browns, and to try to get a feeling for how they will shape up heading into the year. Here are my first impressions for what we might take away from this game:
1. First Team Matchups: If the first few series were any indication for what we should expect in the regular season, it will be a rough year. We were not getting pressure on the quarterback, opposing receivers were open, and our DL was getting man-handled allowing wide open running lanes for Saints RBs. Our offense was ineffective (more on that later) and both sides were making all sorts of mistakes. While the sample size was extremely small and trending towards improvement as they stayed in the game, Hue Jackson definitely has his work cut out for him to ensure that the starters are ready for the first game of the season.
2. Quarterback Play: At the beginning of the first quarter, Osweiler started terribly inaccurate and completely ineffective. After settling down, he was able to move the ball against the Saints defense. Brock nearly led the first team to a TD on the third series, however he overthrew an open Seth DeValve, and Kenny Britt failed twice in the end zone. Cody Kessler was generally accurate and safe, looking like a serviceable backup. The real story for the night was...
3. DeShone Kizer: Kizer was fantastic in his NFL debut, throwing darts and bombs like he was a new hybrid character in a Bloons App. His bomb to Jordan Payton hit him perfectly in stride:
@DKizer_14 to @JordanPayton for the 45-yard TOUCHDOWN!#NOvsCLE pic.twitter.com/aU6xIjQv06— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) August 11, 2017
After evading pressure, he hit Richard Mullaney on a perfect timing route:
Hellllooooo, @DKizer_14! #NOvsCLE pic.twitter.com/9O6sigkjTg— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) August 11, 2017
This week’s performance should vault him past Kessler on the depth chart for next Monday’s matchup against the Giants.
4. Defensive Depth: Cleveland’s first team defense struggled against the run in the first two series, highlighted by MLB Tank Carder whiffing against New Orlean’s 3rd Round selection Alvin Kamara:
.@a_kamara shakes the tackle and nabs the first down! pic.twitter.com/zTfj61GsCy— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) August 11, 2017
After the first two series, the defense looked solid. Finishing with 5 sacks on the night, Cleveland’s defensive backups played quickly and intelligently.
- Trevon Coley - forced a fumble (recovered by Nassib) leading to our first TD.
- Richard Mullaney - signed with Cleveland this June, (originally an UDFA first signed by the Texans last year) had an excellent game as the Browns leading receiver having 2 receptions for 70 yds.
- Myles Garrett - in three series, he had a tackle for a loss, and QB hurry
- Nate Orchard - in his first series, he sacked the QB and came up with another big tackle. He definitely helped his roster odds this evening.
- Cameron Erving - both a holding and false start penalty on the opening drive
- Tank Carder - a starting MLB needs to tackle a running back that runs right into your stomach
- Rannell Hall - Cody Kessler threw a perfect pass to Hall 20 yds down the field, and he dropped it ending the drive.
- Kenny Britt - on two occasions, Britt had an opportunity to score a TD for the Browns first team offense, and on both occasions, he failed.
- Ibraheim Campbell left the game after suffering a concussion on the second play
- Joe Thomas did not play
- The Browns are now ineligible in the 2017 season to be the first team ever to lose all regular and preseason games. Last season this milestone was achieved during Week 15.