The Cleveland Browns are riding some good momentum as they now enter the regular season. Of course we said the same thing at this time last year and the Browns went 0-16.
As fate would have it, the preseason finale matched up the only two franchises to go 0-16 in a season. The Browns traveled up to Ford Field in the Motor City to take on the Detroit Lions.
The match-up marks a return of the ‘Great Lakes Classic.’ The winner takes home the barge trophy that has the helmets of both teams. The Browns get to bring home the barge following a convincing 35-17 victory over the Lions.
Even in a dominating performance, there are still things that need cleaned up as the regular season approaches. So what stood out in the preseason finale? Here is the final preseason edition of the good, the bad and the ugly.
Let’s call an audible and start with the bad before breaking down the good things in the preseason finale.
The starters were held out of the game, as is tradition in the preseason finale. Players who are competing for the final roster spots could have seen the NFL dreams cut short thanks to the injury bug. Running back Matthew Dayes left the game in the second half. Dayes was a huge contributor running, receiving and on special teams. Dayes had eight rushes for 77 yards and touchdown. In addition Dayes had two catches for 34 yards. He left the game due to an ankle injury
RB Matthew Dayes (ankle) is out.
— Andrew Gribble (@Andrew_Gribble) August 31, 2018
Linebacker James Burgess was knocked out of the game with a possible concussion. Burgess’ chance of making the roster improved following the release of Mychal Kendricks. Burgess could be in concussion protocol if he makes the 53-man roster.
Linebacker James Burgess being evaluated for concussion #Browns
— Nate Ulrich (@ByNateUlrich) August 31, 2018
Even Baker Mayfield took a shot before he was taken out of the game at halftime. Injuries in the preseason finale are not what you want.
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) August 31, 2018
Of course, you can consider that it is the preseason finale, but you don’t win regular season games if you tally double digits in penalties. The Browns were flagged 14 times for 134-yards. That is more than half of the total yards Detroit had in the game. The more players commit penalties in a game like this, the more likely they will be asked to turn in their playbook in the next 48 hours.
The number one overall pick made his first NFL start Thursday night. Mayfield made the most of his opportunity. Mayfield played the entire first half. He went nine of 16 for 138 yards. Mayfield did not tally any touchdowns but he led three the offense on three scoring drives netting 17 points. In addition, Mayfield did not turn the ball over. It’s good experience to take with him to the sidelines and begin the learning process of an NFL regular season.
Defensive end Nate Orchard has been feature prominently on Hard Knocks. Orchard is on the bubble for making the 53-man roster. The defensive end certainly helped his case with his 64-yard interception return touchdown in the final minute of the second half. The Lions were driving in Browns territory. The pick six resulted in a 15 point swing on the scoreboard. The Browns scored a touchdown and added a two-point conversion and took points off the scoreboard for Detroit.
Orchard’s pick six kept the scoreless streak in tact for the Browns defense at halftime. As the Browns walked into the locker room at the half, their scoreless streak had been extended to six quarters. The defense allowed 17 second points to the Lions but to hold two opponents scoreless for six quarters in the NFL is nothing to sneeze at.
So the Browns finish the preseason at 3-1. Now comes a difficult next 48 hours. 37 players will have to be released to get down to the mandatory 53-man roster. It will be no easy task for general manager John Dorsey and head coach Hue Jackson. Once the cuts are made, it’s officially Steelers week here in Browns town.
Scott Piker is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Browns. So follow him on twitter @ScottPikerSport