Well, here we are: The Dress Rehearsal. The Browns head to historic Lambeau Field to take on a team that was 15-1 just one season ago. As the Browns continue 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. For reference, here’s last week’s edition. For those who care nothing about the future, we have you covered after the jump.
What We’re Watching…
Craig; I’ll be watching Mitch Schwartz. This week, Pat Shurmur talked about Schwartz’ technical approach to the position and him getting wrapped up in the techniques and details that he thought would start to come together on the field. Now that Schwartz has had a strong first taste of NFL speed and power in Detroit, I’m hoping to see some progress this week and maybe even a few runs over to the right side of the line. The right tackle is supposed to be your bulldozing type — it’d be good to at least see him impose his will on a few running plays.
Rick: It’s amazing how perceptions change in a two-week span. I’ve gone from a little concerned about the depth of the defense to a near full-blown panic. Between injuries and suspensions, this team could be missing eight or nine players from the two-deep chart. Obviously, we have to avoid further injury, but I will be looking specifically at Billy Wynn and John Hughes. Can these two step up and contribute right away on the front seven? They had a decent game last week after the first quarter — can they do it again? Also, I really want to see Brandon Weeden put an end to this insane debate going on. Please have a good half and silence the critics. For a week, anyway.
Kirk: I’ll be watching for the sole reason that no Cleveland Indians starting pitcher will be in action.
Andrew: I’m trying hard to say anything but “Brandon Weeden,” but I’d be lying if I did. Trent Richardson may be the best player on the Browns if he turns out to be legit, but in my opinion, nobody is more important than Weeden. The NFL is a quarterback league and if you don’t have an elite QB, you’re just wasting your time. So, I’m extremely eager to see how Weeden bounces back. I want to see how he looks when given the time to get into the flow of the game and not be pulled after nine throws in three series. Weeden talked a lot this week about fixing his “small mistakes,” so I want to see evidence of this. I don’t expect him to be great this soon, I just want to see development and growth. I want to see a guy who looks comfortable and who does a few really nice things mixed in with the mistakes that I’m sure he’ll make.
TD: For me, if this is the “dress rehearsal,” I want to see a team that isn’t sloppy. Will they look organized in their offensive sets? Will they have their coverage down defensively? In other words, I want to see how this team is responding to the coaching staff. Then, I obviously want to see the strides Brandon Weeden has made now that his first game is out of the way.
Scott: I’m going to have my eyes on the trenches. Sure, Brandon Weeden will be the focal point of this game, but can the Browns offensive line — and running backs — recognize and successfully block Dom Capers’ zone blitzing schemes and give the rookie some time to make his reads? Can Mitchell Schwartz build off of what he learned last Friday and give fans some hope for the right side of the line? Can Shaun Lauvao and Jason Pinkston hold down the middle? On defense, can the young and otherwise new members of the front four on defense not only apply pressure in passing downs, but provide a first line of defense against the run? Several plays during the Lions contest went from a potential loss of yards to a six-or-seven-yard gain. I don’t expect the Packers to run the ball much, but when they do, I’d appreciate some containment.