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Where the Browns Stand Through 2 Weeks of Preseason.

Image result for Baker Mayfield debut

On August 9th, the Browns traveled down to East Rutherford, New Jersey to take on the New York Giants to open up their preseason.  It was a night where the two worst teams from 2017-2018 squared off to see who sucks less.  In the end it was the Browns who outlasted the Giants with a final score of 20-10.  It was nice to win a Football game, but it means next to nothing.  I thoroughly enjoyed watching the Browns throw the ball, catch it, run for yards after the catch, and score.  Sounds simple, but its true.   Everything looked much more crisp, which is all we can really ask for.

On the first play from scrimmage Saquon Barkley bounced outside the tackles to gash the Browns for 39 yards.  What a wonderful start!    Rough first play for Denzel Ward on the outside there.  Instead of setting the Edge to prevent Barkley from bouncing outside, he gets sucked in, and Barkley has free space out on the boundary.  Thankfully, Eli Manning looked absolutely woeful on this night.  There were a few  passes he threw to absolutely no one.  Now, Odell Beckham did not play, but he still looked like garbage.  After Barkley’s run the Browns held the Giants to a field goal.  3-0 Giants after their first offensive possession.

The Browns first play from Scrimmage went almost as well as the Giants.  Showing 5 wide right off the hop, Tyrod Taylor hit Jarvis Landry for a 25 yard gain.  Problem is, jawing between Janoris Jenkins and Landry ended up with a 15 yard penalty on the Browns.  Landry must’ve said something to have warranted the flag, otherwise it was just two competitors jawing.  Keep the fucking flags in your pockets, Stripes.  The Browns were unable to move the ball any further on their opening possession, and were forced to punt.

The Giants weren’t any more successful in moving the ball, as they made the switch to Davis Webb at Quarterback.  Davis Webb is so fucking bad I was offended by the fact I was forced to watch him.  The G-Men did absolutely nothing in his time at the helm.  Webb finished 9-20 for 70 yards, no TD’s, and no INT’s.  Meanwhile, in Tyrod’s second series, the Browns started to go No-Huddle. Taylor found some chemistry with Rashard “Hollywood” Higgins hitting him on a quick 6 yard pass, and on the next very next play, he found Higgins again, this time for a solid 21 yard gain.

That bitch Eli Apple got absolutely worked by Higgins on this one, and the Giants defense was on its heels.  Continuing with the no-huddle on the next play, Taylor hit David Njoku up the seam in stride, Chief made a few miss galloping his way to six.

This is how David Njoku needs to be used.  Straight up the seam exposing a weak match-up.  That Linebacker acting as a human turnstile stood no shot.  This created a small window between the trailing linebacker and Safety playing deep.  Taylor lofted it beautifully into Chief’s hands, who took over from there.

After that possession Tyrod Taylor’s night was done.  He finished 5 for 5, 99 yards, and a touchdown.  Taylor finished the evening with a perfect 158.3 passer rating.  Not a bad start for the bridge guy!

Enter Baker Mayfield. With the score 7-3 at the start of the second Mayfield went 3 and out on his first drive.  Two Nick Chubb runs netted a total of 0 yards, and Mayfield threw an incomplete pass.  It was Mayfield’s second drive where things got going.

His first completed pass was a beautiful 26 yard, back shoulder completion to Hollywood Higgins.

After a crappy run, an incomplete pass, and a holding call on Spencer Drango, Mayfield hit CJ Board on 3rd and 18 to extend the drive.  Terrible video, but Baker does a fantastic job of climbing the pocket, surveying his reads, and firing it to a wide open target.  While its only preseason, that conversion was nice to see.  But, he still wasn’t done.  On 3rd and 6 from the Giants 27, Mayfield stood in the pocket, scrambled to his left to find an open target, and finally took off for the first down marker.  Mayfield got 7 yards and moved the chains again.

Three plays later, Mayfield and the Browns were looking at a 4th and 2 from the Giants 13, Mayfield got 5 yards on what looked like a designed QB keeper, and an easy first down.  Two plays later Baker fired a 10 yard strike to David Njoku for 6 points.

Exceptional pocket awareness from Baker, who had to move on from his first and second read to find Chief Njoku in the back of the endzone.  Baker put that ball where only the athletic monster that is David Njoku could get it.

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The Browns would go into halftime with a solid 13-3 lead.  Much of the second half was garbage time, but a few key players for both teams continued to see time.  Mayfield played early into the fourth quarter:

After the Giants scored to cut the Browns lead to 3, Mayfield and Antonio Callaway connected on a big 3rd and 7 completion for 24 yards.  Again, Mayfield uses his legs to buy some time outside the pocket.  He threw an absolute rocket on the run putting it low and toward the sideline, and  Antonio Callaway laid out beautifully to haul in the pass along the sideline.  While the Browns did not score on this drive, it was nice to see them pick up a few 3rd and long conversions on this night.

Finally, two drives later Baker hit Antonio Callaway on a short 5 yard slant, Callaway broke a tackle, and he was off to the races.

The game was over at this point with the Browns holding on to their 10 point lead for the rest of the fourth quarter.  Mayfield was done  for the evening with quite an impressive stat line:

It was nice to see the Browns win a game, even though its only Preseason.  Sadly this is no indicator of how the regular season will play out.  They went 4-0 last year in the preseason as we all are well aware.  BUT, these guys need to learn how to win somehow, so if they’re keeping score; win the fucking game.

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The following Friday saw the Buffalo Bills come into FirstEnergy Stadium for the Browns second Preseason tilt.  We saw the Browns sling it all over the joint against the Giants, both Tyrod and Baker.  This past week saw Todd Haley mix up the game-plan to incorporate a heavy dose of Carlos Hyde and Nick Chubb.  Week 1 the Browns Offensive Line was absolutely manhandled in the running game.  They amassed only 50 yards on 1.8 yards a rush attempt.  This week went much different.

The Browns flexed their muscle early going on a 9 play Touchdown on their first possession.  Carlos Hyde broke free for a 26 yard rush, and 9 yard rush on consecutive plays.  Haley mixed in some Duke Johnson, and intermediate Tyrod Taylor passing.  Finally the drive ended with a Carlos Hyde touchdown, his first in the Preseason.

The rest of the first half was a defensive stand still.  Neither team could move the ball a lick, and Buffalo even lost a Quarterback in the Process:

Myles Garrett was a force all night knocking out AJ McCarron on this pass rush, and using his speed off the ball to cause another sack:

With McCarron coming out of the game, Rookie Josh Allen came into the game.  He promptly lead a 15 play, 80 yard touchdown drive, culminating in a Rod Streater Touchdown catch.

Allen would lead another Field Goal Drive to end the half, making 10-7 Bills.  Up until this point the Browns were dominating, however stupid penalties along with missed opportunities on defense allowed Buffalo to surge ahead.

The second half continued to be a defensive stalemate.  Baker Mayfield was leading the offense, and unlike his first game, he was stuck with all 2nd and 3rd stringers.  No Callaway’s or Njoku’s.  While, he didn’t light it up as he had against the Giants, he still played well.  He had his moments within the pocket that make you say wow.  His footwork in there is pure wizardy.

Probably Mayfield’s highlight of the night.  3rd and 6, facing a heavy pass rush, moving around the pocket, and firing a pass back across his body to convert on 3rd down.  It was a fantastic display of Mayfield’s best traits as a Quarterback.

The Browns managed a touchdown in the second half, but Buffalo was too much on this night.  The Browns dropped to 1-1 on the Preseason losing 19-17 at home.

 

Decent start so far from this new look Browns team.  They managed to win a game, and each unit has shown flashes of its potential.  In game 1 we saw the passing attack go off for multiple touchdowns, and big yardage.  In game 2 we saw an effort to run the football heavily.  This generated a few big runs, and 2 rushing Touchdowns.  In both games we saw flashes of a young, fast, athletic, physical defense.  In the early stages of the Buffalo game, the Browns had allowed 9 yards on 9 plays.  Hopefully this is a glimpse as to what is to come.

Finally with the most important news of the Preseason:

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Josh Gordon announced a mere hour or two prior to the Buffalo game via Twitter and Instagram he would be rejoining the Browns.  What. A. Relief.  All systems go.  Josh Gordon stepping away from the team for any length of time is never a good thing, but he actually fucking came back.

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It will take some time for the Browns to assimilate Josh back into the offense, but fucking A, we might get Josh Gordon Week 1 against Pittsburgh.  T’s and P’s Joe Haden.    Things keep on rolling closer and closer towards regular season football.  I cannot freaking wait any longer. Tonight the Browns take on the Philadelphia Eagles at FirstEnergy Stadium.

The game will be a National Fox Broadcast at 8pm tonight.  Expect Tyrod Taylor and the rest of the starters to play for a good chunk of the game.  I would estimate 2 and a half quarters.  What am I expecting from the Browns?

  1. Balance.  I’d like to see Todd Haley mix it up with a nice balance of Run and Pass this week.  Week 1 they struggled to run the ball, so they aired it out for the majority of the game.  Week 2 the Offense made a concerned effort to run the football.  Lets see them combine the two in the so called, “Dress Rehersal” game.
  2. Defense.  I want to see the Defense continue to terrorize opposing Quarterbacks.  So far, the first teamers have not generated a turnover.  That was a huge issue last year, in terms of yardage and points the Browns fared well defensively, they just could not generate turnovers.  I’d like to see a few take-ways from the defense.  Show some hunger.
  3. Baker.  I am not yearning for Baker Mayfield just yet, I like Tyrod Taylor, and understand the teams decision to start him over the kid.  That being said, Browns fans aren’t going to have many more opportunities to watch Baker play.  I’d like to see him continue to play turnover free Football, and demonstrate that clear command he has of the offense.
  4. Win the fucking game.  You can only learn how to win by winning.

 

Tune in live on Fox to watch defending Super Bowl Champion, Philadelphia Eagles invade Cleveland.   Hopefully this will be yet another building block for good things in the regular season.  Go Browns!

Image result for josh gordon training camp

 

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