Yesterday I made the decision to stay up into the early hours of this morning so that I could watch the Cleveland Browns play their second 2017 preseason game and I’m glad I did. They played host to the New York Giants with Mr. Manning, Mr. Beckham, and that respected receiving unit.
Not that the final score is a massive indicator of anything in the preseason, but the Browns came out on top 10-6 and move to a 2-0 record. As everyone keeps saying on social media, “Remember that the Lions went 4-0 in the preseason before then going 0-16 in the regular season”, blah blah blah. Yeah we know it’s just the preseason and it’s all about the showing of individuals and groups but a win’s better than a loss at any stage of the assessment process.
So, where to start? Perhaps I should start with the quarterback battle we have going on in Cleveland. Brock Osweiler (UGH!), he went 6 of 8 for a massive 25-yards and an interception, which doesn’t look good on paper and, to be honest, I think he looked worse in reality. Too many of his passes were high meaning that the receivers had to go up and extend to get them (which they did a couple of times so respect to them for helping Osweiler’s stats) which means they’re opening themselves up to some punishing hits from DB’s to their exposed torsos. I just hate to see a ball thrown high like that when there’s no need. When he wasn’t throwing the ball too high he was having it batted at the line of scrimmage – he’s 6’7″, FFS, and getting the ball batted at the line far too often.
Yet again, to me, he didn’t look very good for the Browns on his second run out with them and I don’t understand why the veterans and coaches are, allegedly (I haven’t seen them say it), saying that he’s the best guy to start the regular season at QB for the Browns. It’s been reported that they are referring to the fact that he has great character and leadership skills and has the locker room on side – really? With passes and play like that? Perhaps they just mean because Kizer should be saved until he’s fully ready – which I don’t believe he is right now.
Question for you: Why has everyone suddenly given up on Cody Kessler again? He was hyped as being “the guy” not so long ago. It’s been mentioned that he’s struggled a bit in camp but he still looks better than Osweiler on game day although I appreciate he isn’t playing against the 1’s yet. I think that he needs to before the preseason ends so we can see if he can manage early season games whilst Kizer gains that bit more experience with less pressure on him. Let’s face it, which ever QB, that isn’t named Kizer, starts the season ain’t going to keep the job unless they are stunning because the Browns need to see exactly what they have in Kizer and if he is indeed the future of the franchise before they make a decision on what plan to put into action during the draft with this good crop of QB’s we have coming out. Stick with Kizer or go all out for one of these supposed greats in the draft.
Back to Kessler, he went 7/7 for 50-yards and no TD’s or INT’s – nothing stunning but nothing catastrophic either. He’s definitely not looking like a franchise QB but is, to me, looking like a good option to manage a few games early this season and then be a solid backup.
On to DeShone Kizer – he ain’t ready yet but he’s the best we have at QB. I’d like to see him get more awareness in the pocket as he isn’t getting the feck outta there when it starts to collapse. As someone put on Twitter, “He looks too comfortable in there and is staying in too long”.
Does the fact that he’s the best we have mean the Cleveland Browns should start him in week one of the 2017 NFL regular season? Hmm, tough question. I’m torn between saying, “Yeah, throw him in there and let him make the mistakes he’s going to make and learn from it” to “Nah, put Kessler in there to manage the first few games then reassess a little way into the season”.
At this point, I really don’t know what the answer is as I, unfortunately, don’t have the luxury of knowing what’s going on behind closed doors but, from a fans perspective, I’d say start with Kessler even though many people will go mental on social media and the mainstream media about that decision. I’d hate to see Kizer go the same way as so many other QB’s have in Cleveland.
Whoever starts at QB is going to need a lot of help from his supporting cast so let’s have a look at who stood out for me in this second preseason game for the Browns.
Duke Johnson started at running back in the absence of Isaiah Crowell due to a groin injury. I really like Johnson as he works hard and plays well as a runner and pass-catcher in the flats or from the slot. A very versatile player with good skills. The best play of the game from him last night was the stiff arm he put on the Giants defender who dared try to take him down before he’d made the first down, hehe. I can just imagine him saying, “Get the feck outta here, sucker!” as he did it.
— All22ChalkTalk (@All22ChalkTalk) 22 August 2017
Splitting time in the backfield during the early phases of the game was the very talented Matt Dayes. This guy was the thirtieth running back and second from the last player taken in the 2017 draft and I think we might have got a steal. Yeah yeah I know, it’s only preseason, blah blah.
He’s very elusive and makes very quick cuts for good yardage and is exciting to watch. I particularly liked the stutter step he put on a Giants defender after he’d had the ball dumped off to him in the flats, which meant the play went for more yards than it had a right to go. I couldn’t find footage of that play but the two tweets below from the Browns show a bit of his talent.
With Crowell in a contract year and most likely looking for big bucks to be the Browns’ starter, it could be a timely piece of good business to have Dayes in the building playing as well as he is. Crowell is decent but I’ve never been 100% sold on him being a top RB in the league although he compliments Johnson and Dayes well to give the Browns a nice RB unit.
One more member of the RB unit to mention is fullback, Danny Vitale who had a great catch and run as he bulldozed his way through Giants defenders. He didn’t do much else that was headline grabbing but this 16-yard play was fun to watch and prompted the following tweet from NFL analyst Daniel Jeremiah:
Peyton Hillis 2.0— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) 22 August 2017
The offensive line had a few penalties against them but was generally good as a unit – thank **** we didn’t have to endure watching Cameron Erving this week.
The play of the offensive line was noted by commentator John Gruden who praised them for good protection of Kizer but he was taking too long in the pocket.
He’s had a few false start penalties against him so far in the preseason and been beaten a few times but I think 2017 5th round draft pick, OT Rod Johnson will make the roster and be a good backup to Joe Thomas. Being Joe Thomas’s backup could be the easiest way to make money in the NFL seeing as he’s never missed a regular season snap for the Browns.
Finally, on the offense, I thought it was great to see 1st round draft pick TE David Njoku out on the field playing. I’ve taken him far too early in one of my fantasy drafts but he’s much more of a receiving TE than a blocking TE and with the Browns receiving unit being what it is, coupled with Kessler’s and Osweiler’s not great abilities to go deep, I think he’s a fair bet to get me some decent points this year – not that I take fantasy seriously at all, to be honest, as I lose interest after a few weeks and just want to watch football and get my fantasy kicks via DraftKings. It was good to see him beat the Giants defense and get behind them even though Kizer over-threw him slightly – it was fingertips close.
What can I say, other than these guys on this side of the ball played a great game and I’d be inclined to use the word “dominant” to describe them in this game.
Joe Schobert was brilliant and seemed to be in on a heck of a lot of stops – give the guy the starting middle linebacker job now, I say. I may be accused of being premature on that statement but he’s looked good in both games so far.
Joe Schobert did it all in the first half tonight pic.twitter.com/tmV7aLtsH2
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) 22 August 2017
He had 5 tackles with 1 assist plus a sack and a pass break up and looked confident out there in the thick of it all.
First overall draft pick Myles Garrett also looked good with plenty of pressure against the not very highly rated OT’s of the Giants and he chalked up his first official sack in a Browns uniform – let’s hope he lives up to the hype and gets plenty more.
Sticking with the DE’s, I yet again liked the look of second-year pro, Carl Nassib. He’s currently playing behind Garrett and Emmanuel Ogbah, who is also a second-year pro, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets more reps against the starters and pushes Ogbah for the DE position opposite Garrett. Nassib gets great pressure put on the QB but I’d like to see more of him earlier in the game in order to get a really good look at what he’s got.
Regardless who starts opposite Garrett, I’m excited for the defensive line going forward after the attention it received in the off-season seeing us now have good depth there.
One concern I do have about the defense is with veteran and Cleveland favourite, Joe Haden. He got burned easily on the play by fellow veteran WR Brandon Marshall who then made a business decision to bottle going for the catch after he’d beaten Haden when he saw Jabrill Peppers steaming towards him to make the hit. Even though Marshall didn’t commit to the catch, Peppers was in full flight and I imagine couldn’t fully pull out of the hit and as a result still put a hit on him (not the hit he could have, I’m sure). Marshall actually went out of the game for a scan at some stage with a shoulder injury. Maybe it was sustained on this play but I’m not sure as he was around for a while after it.
All-in-all, I’m liking the look of the Greg Williams defense as it’s aggressive and players are finishing plays. I look forward to seeing more of it (I’ve not been able to say that for quite a few seasons about the Browns defense) and am intrigued to see how it fairs come the regular season.
I suppose whilst I’m on about the defense and its aggressiveness, I should mention the OBJ injury (YAWN!). Yes, it was a low hit by CB Brean Boddy-Calhoun but I seriously doubt it was malicious. The only reason it’s getting so much attention is because of who it was on. Now, I have no time for OBJ and his off-field antics, media attention needs and groupies but I wouldn’t want to see him seriously hurt in the preseason and his x-rays have come back positive with it being just an ankle sprain. I’m sure he’ll milk it for all it’s worth as that’s what he does but can we all please get over it already! If it was 99% of the other NFL players that had taken that perfectly legal hit, no one would have given a shit.
I guess Mr. Natta Jr saw an opportunity to up his Twitter presence by trying to be controversial with this stupid comment:
Anyway, that’s enough about him and his groupies and back to the Cleveland Browns.
The special teams played well and, oh my word, how exciting is Jabrill Peppers in the kick return game. I swear he’s going to break some for TD’s this season. Again, yeah yeah it’s just preseason, but a lot of the players who are playing the hardest are on special teams as that’s their best shot at a roster spot. I hope he carries his good showing on into the regular season and we can look forward to some good starting field position if not kickoff return TD’s.
After Phil Dawson left the Browns a few seasons ago, we haven’t really had a solid kicker on the roster. Now though we have two fighting for that job in Cody Parkey and 2017 7th round draft pick, Zane Gonzalez.
I don’t have any insight into this competition but I’d say Gonzalez will win the job if he continues to be accurate simply because of his leg strength. I think the Browns have only had one kickoff returned in the first two games of this preseason.
So, here’s to more of the same in the team’s third and fourth preseason games at Tampa Bay and Chicago, and if we can have it continue into the regular season, that would be just fine thanks, Mr. Jackson.