I only ask because I remember how overly encouraged I became when Jake Delhomme took the first team down the field this time last year with the precision of a surgeon. That didn’t end up translating into the healthiest of regular seasons though, and I’m legitimately wondering what a successful Pat Shurmur debut would look like tonight when the Browns kick things off at home against the Super Bowl Champs. So let me know what you’re hoping to see, and in the meantime I’ve listed a few aspects of tonight’s game I’m particularly interested in; for whatever that may be worth.
Brandon Jackson and the RB position: Peyton Hillis is on the cover of Madden so he is obviously awesome, and he proved his substantial worth last season while hurdling his way to a solid campaign. It was Peyton Hillis and then nobody though in that Browns backfield, and every time he attempted to jump over a linebacker I saw his life flash before his eyes. He survived the high-flying acrobatics and hopefully learned from his occasional fumble issues, and now he has help in the backfield this season. Legitimate help, at least I think he does. Brandon Jackson was the third down back for a team that won the Super Bowl last season, and I thought the guy was pretty good before he ever became a Brownie. So as much as I’d like to see what Monterio Hardesty can bring to the table as well - and can’t tonight due to injury - I’ll have all eyes on Jackson. I hope he looks pretty good while he’s in there, for however long he plays.
Colt McCoy and Shurmur’s Offense: Even though I down-played Delhomme’s drive down the field last season in the open here, I suppose I’m hoping for the same thing from Colt McCoy tonight. If he’s able to demonstrate that same command of the offense, and maybe even cash in a TD, I’ll probably become more bullish on his quarterbacking skills than I am right now. It’s probably not logical to do that though, but I will if he looks like a world-beater tonight. If he ends up throwing three picks in the ten or so plays he has tonight with the first team, I’ll just say he was bad in the preseason last year too and played pretty good in real games so I’m covered either way. I hope Camp Colt paid off though, and he looks solid in his short stint tonight.
Dick Jauron’s Defense: Looking forward to seeing big Phil Taylor and Jabaal Sheard and I’m also looking forward to seeing Cleveland’s favorite corner Joe Haden back pedal and cover for a couple plays as well before their pads and helmets are sitting on the ground next to the water-cooler station. More than that though, I’m hoping to see signs of a defense that is potentially scary and cohesively in tune with one an other building off in the horizon. I’m essentially looking for evidence that this side of the ball might be as solid as it seems they could be this season – not great, but solid. So I guess I hope three of Rogers’ five passes don’t go for TD’s tonight.
Craig posted what to watch for after the starters go out yesterday, and if you missed that it’s right here. Feel free to treat this as an open thread during the game later if you’re so inclined too; in the meantime let me know what would have happen tonight for this to look like a successful Cleveland Browns outing in your opinion if you feel like it.
Kick-off is at 7:30, and it’s on TV in Cleveland on Channel 3 - B. Kosar on the call. It’s also on WMMS radio-wise, and I was looking around for a website that might be streaming the game live for out-of-towners but couldn’t find one. If you know of one, let me know. Go Browns.