The Cleveland Browns preseason is now in full swing following a 20-10 victory over the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. So what went well for the Browns and what didn’t? Here is a a breakdown of the good, the bad and the ugly for preseason game number one.
— NFL (@NFL) August 10, 2018
Quarterback Play – The new quarterbacks for the Browns certainly put on a show in their Browns debut. Starter Tyrod Taylor was a perfect five of five for 99 yards and a touchdown. Taylor played the first two offensive series of the game. On the second series, Taylor flourished in the no-huddle offense.
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) August 9, 2018
Baker Mayfield replaced Taylor late in the first quarter. The number one overall pick made a few rookie mistakes. In addition, Mayfield was very solid in his first preseason game action in the National Football League. Mayfield threw 20 passes, completing eleven of them for 212 yards and two touchdowns. He also kept three drives alive by scrambling for first downs.
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) August 10, 2018
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) August 10, 2018
David Njoku – Second year tight end David Njoku was the beneficiary of Taylor’s touchdown pass and Mayfield’s first touchdown pass. Two receptions for two touchdowns is a pretty good half of work. Njoku was having some issues catching the football earlier in training camp. The case of the dropsies didn’t travel with him to the Big Apple. Njoku can be a big part of Todd Haley’s offense. Haley has not coached a tight end with the pass catching ability of Njoku’s since Heath Miller retired from the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2015.
Antonio Callaway – It has been a very interesting week for the Browns fourth round pick Antonio Callaway. It started with a citation for marijuana possession in his vehicle last Sunday. In his first NFL game Thursday night, Callaway hauled in his first NFL touchdown, a 54-yard slant route Mayfield. Except for a couple of drops, Callaway handled his first preseason game despite the distraction. Callaway had a game high 87-yards on three receptions.
Browns Television Broadcast Crew – If you are a fan of Jay Crawford from his time at ESPN, you will be happy to know he is back on television. Crawford is serving as the Browns television play-by-play man this preseason. He was let go by ESPN in early 2017 as part of massive layoffs by the cable sports network. Crawford is joined by former Browns quarterback Tim Couch in the broadcast booth. Crawford and Couch showed some good chemistry as a broadcast team., just like a quarterback and a wide receiver.
— Jay Crawford (@JaycrawfordCLE) August 9, 2018
Former NFL defensive back Dustin Fox and Browns quarterback legend Bernie Kosar provided reports and analysis from the sidelines. The crew as a whole is pretty solid for not working as a team before. The second and fourth preseason broadcasts will be something to watch.
Give Me 5 – It is the preseason so it doesn’t count. However if the preseason did matter, the Browns would be on a five game winning streak in the preseason. What is significant about this, it is the longest win streak for the franchise since returning to the NFL in 1999. The Browns longest win streak since the return is four to end the 2009 season. Now let’s hope the wins start happening when it does count.
Stopping the Run – The Browns have had trouble stopping opponents running games the last two season. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Cleveland allowed 134 yards to the Giants. Number two overall pick Saquon Barkley took his first carry in the NFL and scampered 39-yards. The Browns allowed the Giants to rush for an average of nearly six yards per carry. That has to change and fast.
Taunting Penalties – The Browns are trying to establish an identity. They are also 1-31 the last two seasons. There is no reason why they should be taunting their opponents until wins start to add up. Jarvis Landry and number four overall pick Denzel Ward were called for taunting penalties in the first quarter. Both penalties cost their team points. Good thing it didn’t cost them a victory, this time.
The Running Game – If you thought the run defense was bad, well then you better think the running game by the offense was ugly because it was. As a team, the Browns rushed for only 50 yards on 33 attempts. Matthew Dayes and Mayfield were the leading rushers with 13 yards each. Rookie second round pick Nick Chubb could not get going at all. The struggles of the offensive line contributed to Chubb’s struggles. Chubb had 15 carries for only elevens yards, less than a yard per attempt. There will certainly be an emphasis on the running game when training camp resumes this weekend.
So the Browns are 1-0 this preseason. Cleveland’s next two preseason games are back at the friendly confines of FirstEnergy Stadium start with the Buffalo Bills on August 17.
Scott Piker is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Browns. So follow him on twitter @ScottPikerSport