Week 3 of the preseason: The dress rehearsal that won’t really be much of one, thanks to scheduling. The Browns will finally play host, and this time, allegedly in their brown uniforms! The Mike Vick-less Eagles come to town, but at this stage, the opponent means very little. This one is all about the Browns and continued progression towards the start of the regular season. Want to know what we were looking for over the last two weeks? We got you here and here. For this week, you’ll want to proceed to the jump.
What We’re Watching…
Craig: Tight ends. This is one of the more intriguing battles in training camp. How many tight ends can the Browns keep? You know that Ben Watson is on the team. Jordan Cameron is going to make this team. Alex Smith is the only one of the tight ends who is a real blocking tight end. Evan Moore is a really talented guy, but if the Browns think they can accomplish the Evan Moore goals with Jordan Cameron is he ripe for trade or release? Will the Browns cannibalize a receiver to keep a guy like Evan Moore who can be split out on occasion? How does Brad Smelley fit in the discussion as a cheap hybrid FB/TE? The only way to settle these kinds of debates is with on the field and hopefully with performances that make decisions even tougher (and potential trades that much richer for the Browns).
TD: Im looking to see if any of the young wide receivers have started to distance themselves from the pack. In particular, I want to see the progression of Josh Gordon and Travis Benjamin. Nobody is going to be taking the Browns passing game seriously until someone asserts themselves as a legitimate threat. I’m also very curious to see how the right side of the line continues to fair. Mitchell Schwartz was much better in Green Bay than he was in Detroit. I’m hoping I don’t notice him at all tonight. That means he is doing his job. Defensively, I will be keying on the DBs, Buster Skreen and Trevin Wade in particular. One of those two is going to pressed into key duty right off the bat if and when Joe Haden is suspended for the first four games.
Rock: I’m watching to see how Pat Shurmur treats this game. I know common sentiment is that the Browns should play this one close to the vest since they play the Eagles in the season opener as well. But I disagree. I think the Browns should play all their starters at least the first half, but also a drive or two into the 3rdquarter. The Browns probably aren’t going to beat the Eagles in the season opener anyway, but they definitely won’t beat them if the offense isn’t ready. A rookie quarterback, a rookie right tackle, a rookie wide receiver…these guys need work. They need to get some experience and timing down before the season starts. If you have to show the Eagles a few things along the way, so be it. I think the Browns will be better for it in the long run.
Rick: I imagine this game is going to be played without a lot of scheming, which means it will be just our athletes trying to make plays against their athletes. I want to see some of our wide receivers prove tht they can get separation, and see that Brandon Weeden can deliver the ball. Weeden hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass in two games (I know, not a whole two games) and I be he doesn’t remember the last time this happened in consecutive contests. Defensively, I will be watching the line rotations. Can Billy Winn, John Hughes and Ronnie Cameron step in and help slow down the run?
Scott: This may come off as banal and predictable, but at this stage, I just want to see progression. I need Mitchell Schwartz to continue to grow from his game against the Green Bay Packers, doing so against a defensive front more similar to that of the Detroit Lions where the rookie struggled. I need to see Josh Gordon come out of his breaks a lot better, especially on those come-back routes that have plagued him thus far. And I need to see Brandon Weeden continue to look more comfortable in the pocket as bodies fly around him like the Royal Rumble. Echoing Rick, we will need to see continued growth from the very young defensive line. Can the cornerbacks keep up with the speedy athletic receivers of the Eagles? And I will need to see the inexperienced members of the linebacking corps keep LeSean McCoy and his fellow running backs at bay. Not asking for that much, right?