April 20, 2014

What We’re Watching: Browns at Lions

Preseason football is upon us! As the Browns head through their four-week journey of stadiums which will be empty by the third quarter, we here at WFNY will shed some light on the one thing we will each respectively be looking for from the otherwise meaningless contest. Naturally, having all player escape without injury is a priority. But beyond this, we have plenty to keep an eye on.

What We’re Watching…

Rick: I’ll be watching the future of the Browns to see how he stacks up: Mitchell Schwartz. After being tested all camp long by Jabaal Sheard, Schwartz will finally get to go against someone else. That someone else is 12-year veteran Kyle Vanden Bosch, assuming he plays. It should be a good opportunity for the rookie. On the flip side, I want to see James-Michael Johnson. I want to see if he has any shot being ready to step in on Week One. I do think the Bowns will have to being a veteran linebacker in after the cuts, but Johnson’s progress will have much to say about that.

Craig: I’ll be watching Eric Hagg. It’s one thing for the rookie to supplant last year’s free agent Usama Young. It’s another all together to bring an NFL starter level of quality to the position. For all of the issues that the Browns have had with injuries and depth on the defensive line and, now, linebacker, it’s easy to forget that many of us had concerns about the depth at safety coming into the season. They should get a good workout tonight with Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford working against them. Hopefully, for the Browns sake, Hagg passes the test.

Scott: On offense, I’ll be keeping my eyes on Josh Gordon. There’s just something beautiful about watching someone who is 6-feet-3-inches tall sprint to a point on a given field, stop on a dime and simply snare a quickly-flung piece of leather out of the sky before anyone else can even come close to doing such. And even when the ball isn’t thrown his way, I want to see that all of this talk about his desire to block in the running game is indeed true. After years of watching band aids at the receiver position, we finally get to see a physical specimen. On the defensive side, I need to see what John Hughes can do. Partly because he will need to fill in for an injured Phil Taylor, but mostly because I literally have not seen one snap with Hughes lined up over an opposing guard. Color me intrigued.

Kirk: Points. I’m looking for points. I want to see some offensive flashes that just weren’t possible last year. Weeden, Gordon, Benjamin, Year Two Greg Little, I’m looking at you. Could we pleas get a long pass connection for a touchdown at some point in this game? I also want to see if our offensive line can take that step in becoming one cohesive unit and a strength of the team with Mitchell Schwartz now on board. I’d be nice to see something from the running backs as well for some flash of hope that we have anything suitable to back up Trent Richardson. .

TD: I for one am looking forward to seeing chemistry, if any, between Brandon Weeden and his top three wide receivers — Greg Little, Mohammed Massaquoi and rookie Josh Gordon. This is the present and the future of the Pat Shurmur West Coast offensive attack. The receiver development will make of break this team as defenses will be expected to load up the box to stop Trent Richardson (when he’s playing) and it will be on those guys on the outside to get to their spots and get open. With their little time thus far to prepare, I am anxious to see what progress has been made.

(Photo via WFNY)

  • cmm13

    Interesting that nobody mentioned the development of Shurmur himself. How he manages game clock, substitutions, situational play calling, etc.

  • porckchopexpress

    Three things I am interested in
    1. Hardesty. I’m operating under the assumption that the Browns medical/training staff are going to amputate both of Richardson’s legs at some point when he returns. Sometimes QBs and WRs ability can be amplified by the vanilla look and lack of blitzing in preseason. Cutting,exploding through holes, and the trust a RB has in his body can all be on display against even a base defense.
    2. Depth. Craig pointed this out with Haag but I think its important across the board. How well prepared do the second stringers look. We gripe about injuries but the fact is every NFL team will suffer 2-5 injuries to starters that will cost portions or even all of seasons. What has separated the Browns from other teams is that when those injuries happen to starters the Browns are forced to play guys that couldn’t get a role in Necesary Roughness or the Replacements.
    3. cmm13 mentioned this and its definetly a good point. How does Shurmur look? How are he and Childress going to work together. I don’t care about the plays that are called because they are going to be pretty bland, I do care how well the players are drilled in lining up getting plays off in time, and – dare I say – knowing what players are lined up where. False starts, delay of game penalties, and timeouts becaus of incorrect personel are all things that are going to make me very nervous.

  • JVT

    Any idea on where we can catch the game if we are out of the Cleveland area? Are preseason games shown on the NFL Sunday Ticket package?

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    i would be too. but it seems probable that he’s going to stick with the ‘two drives for the starters’ crapola like sorting out the second and third string players is more important than reps for worst offense in football.

    if weedon and the starters play the entire first then we will have evidence of creative thinking from shurmur.

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    did the aeros event not happen last nite?

  • DontbringLBJback

    I’ve been looking myself… as I live in Northern VA. Can’t find anything!!! Hoping to find a live stream on the internet, but the NFL has basically shut down everyone that tries to stream NFL video of any sort. Fingers crossed… if you find an outlet please post!

  • mgbode

    2am on Saturday night / Sunday morning NFL Network. Ugh.

  • Return of the (Alex) Mack

    NFL network is showing it but not live. I think it is one at like 2 am eastern time.

  • mgbode

    I want to see zero injuries (both teams)
    I want to see Suh lineup in their inside-out look against Joe Thomas
    I want to see our young DBs earn their way onto the roster
    I want to see JMJ look like he’s ready to be a starter
    I want Pinkston/Lauvao look like it was a smart idea to train with LCB
    I want to see Weeden whistle a ball through 2 defenders into Gordon’s outstretched arms in stride for a completion (just to see that glimpse)

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/ Scott @ WFNY

    It certainly did.

  • DontbringLBJback

    Yeah, I know it’s on Sunday 2 AM…. but that just sucks to wait that long. Will keep hoping for an internet live stream I guess. Or drive to my cousin’s house in Chagrin Falls (only 5 hours away). :-)

  • cmm13

    Agreed. Preseason or not Shurmur is interviewing for his job each time he walks out that tunnel with this team. It behooves him to show what he’s been working on every chance he gets.

  • Dee P

    “…simply snare a quickly-flung piece of leather out of the sky”

    Scott, you are assuming Weeden’s throwing the ball here and not McCoy….right?

  • Dee P

    Rick,

    I am hearing that the Vilma court decision will go the players’ way, and while the league will appeal it, if this happens, the players in the meantime will not have to serve suspensions. This means the Fujita would be back, correct?

  • DontbringLBJback

    Just found it on NFL.com. You pay $20 and you get every game LIVE (on your computer)!!!! How sweet it is!!!

  • http://twitter.com/CTownPride Steve Jackman

    Well, you can pay $20 to watch all preseason games live on nfl.com if you want.

  • Dee P

    Great list…..

    I would add Jordan Cameron to it – see him perform as a receiver and as a blocker.

    Also excited to see John Hughes play along side Rubin. To see if he is as good as the Browns hoped/thought to hold down Taylor’s spot.

    Finally, I’d kick returning. Cribbs seemed to “lose a step” a bit last season. Was it too much playing time as a WR, or is he beginning the down slide of his career. With better WR options he should be fresh for returns – if he doesn’t get a chance, then I am really excited to see Benjamin return some. Kid can fly.

  • Dee P

    the front row sports, “eu” version doesn’t work I assume? I was planning on watching it that way out here in St. Louis.

  • juniorwren

    I’m looking to be asleep by the middle of the second quarter.

  • porckchopexpress

    I wish injuries worked the same way. As in Richardson is appealing Dr. Andrews findings and can play perfectly healthy until hs apeal is heard.

  • maxfnmloans

    Tyrann Matthieu was just booted off the team at LSU. Can we get another supplemental draft going?

  • http://twitter.com/RickWFNY rick grayshock

    Sounds like the judge is saying the two sides need to settle it. Said any decision made “would take some time”.

  • TSR3000

    Great point on Cribbs.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    He and Haden would seem like the perfect duo now.

  • http://twitter.com/RickWFNY rick grayshock

    The Jon Cole was not able to come and photograph, thus no real photos to show. In addition, the Aeros stopped playing YMCA in between innings, so no YMCA headstand from Frowns. We were all disappointed. Didn’t even seem worth a post with all of these let downs.

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    clearly The Great Lakes Classic is coming at precisely the right time.

  • Dee P

    What was his first year on the team? 2004? I just remember that preseason he was unstoppable as a return man. I would love to see some of that same action.

  • TSR3000

    For what?!

  • mgbode

    nice additions. particularly Cameron. would love to have one of these “fluff” training camp stories turn out to be true.

  • maxfnmloans

    I just got back in from mowing the yard, but speculation was repeated failed drug tests. Total speculation. Had to be something serious though to just get bounced like that

  • mgbode

    yeah I know. i just can’t get myself to pay spend the $20 for preseason games. it’s only $20, but it’s friggin’ preseason.

  • Natedawg86

    I just saw Cribbs Jerseys marked down….he is listed as our 5th WR too I think. I don’t know how healthy he was last year, but he was almost a non factor compared to what he had been in the return game

  • Natedawg86

    just got the NFL package from directv for free, dont think they have preseason though

  • DontbringLBJback

    Nope… no preseason on DirecTV. I have the NFL package also, but they’re gonna get me for the $20 preseason “online streaming” package… no choice… can’t wait two days to see the game.

  • Natedawg86

    Hard to call them games lol. I will use the next few weeks to let the wife and kids chose what I am going to do during the Browns slot, and watch it DVR later

  • Tron

    I’ve had some luck using http://www.p2p4u.net as a resource for live streaming. Quality is not always the best, but it at least lets you see whats going on.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/ Scott @ WFNY

    Assumed.