Browns poor preseason doesn’t guarantee regular season failure

Hoyer

Rams Browns

There’s nothing concrete that I can point to that will make Browns fans feel any better heading into the final preseason game and then Week 1’s contest against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The team has performed badly and it would appear that they’re completely unprepared to start the season. It would appear that this Browns’ preseason is worse than last year. A year ago, Brandon Weeden and company looked good for two games before faltering in the third game and sitting out the fourth. This year’s Browns have struggled for three straight games as Brian Hoyer and the Browns have looked mostly horrendous. All that said, I haven’t given up hope just yet and I feel like I want to provide a calm message with this team right now.

I’m impatient just like the rest of you. And maybe my opinion is partially informed by the fact that I didn’t have to live through every second of the Browns latest game the way the rest of you did–I was streaming bits and pieces as I could on my Slingbox. I was back at the scene of the crime from the Browns’ cautionary third preseason game a year ago in Indianapolis. Last year, I was in Lucas Oil Stadium to see Brandon Weeden reveal the truth about what kind of quarterback he truly is. After putting up two good performances, in the “dress rehearsal” Weeden and the Browns’ offense appeared unworthy of the laundry they wore.

So, how can I feel any better about this team this year? There are a few reasons.

First of all, I don’t believe that the running game completely reveals itself in the preseason and the Browns have a good one. The running game is the kind of thing that gets better and better as a football game goes along. It’s something that builds over the course of a full game, but is more difficult to project from the preseason when starters are giving way quickly to backups. In the Browns’ supposed “dress rehearsal,” Ben Tate only carried the ball three times. I refuse to believe that’s the Browns game-plan for Pittsburgh. The Browns’ running game has been good in the preseason and I think it will prove to be more valuable once the Browns are using it for a full game.

Same with the defense. I’m nervous about some of what I’ve seen as well with the defense, but one of the things I love most is the team’s depth on the defensive line. The idea is that the Browns defense is well-stocked with Ahtyba Rubin, Phil Taylor, and Desmond Bryant, but are that much more oppressive when they use the full complement including Billy Winn, Ishmaa’ily Kitchen, John Hughes and the rest. Depth in a high-intensity spot like defensive line is something else that I think reveals itself better over the course of a full NFL game.

Lastly, and I don’t think anyone’s going to like this, but this is a team that I think can finish a season stronger than it starts it. Assuming the Browns stay somewhat healthy, I really believe this one to be true. The price that the Browns pay for instability is real. If the Browns had made all the same roster moves, but had kept Chud and staff around, would the Browns have shined in the preseason? I think the chances are decidedly higher. This isn’t an excuse mind you, but the reality is that this offense is learning another new system. I expect them to pick it up eventually and for the team to actually figure out which plays and players the team utilizes most effectively. They haven’t yet, of course, but I believe in some of these guys like Jordan Cameron, Andrew Hawkins and even guys like MarQueis Gray and Travis Benjamin. I still expect one of the younger receivers to start to get a feel for things this season.

It stinks to have to wait and see. You’re supposed to be able to see some of this take shape in the preseason and the Browns are mostly misshapen. I’m not terrified just yet, however.

There are no guarantees. The Browns need to execute and play better than what they’ve shown. They need to get some consistency from the quarterbacks and receivers. They need to start quicker so that they aren’t playing from behind all the time. I would much rather have the Browns actually show their strengths in the preseason by taking leads into the locker room before giving way to backups.

But absent that evidence, when I’m thinking about this team and what they’ve done to the roster since last year, I still believe they’ve made some nice improvements. I know it hasn’t shown up in the preseason, but I still think there’s a good chance they can get it together and win some games this year.

At minimum, I’m not ready to talk about having two draft picks in the top five of the 2015 NFL draft.

(AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

  • eldaveablo

    This is all very true, and it’s vaguely reassuring that you bring up a lot of the same things I am thinking (specifically the running game piece). Though, just once I would like my faith/excitement for the season to be based on something other than my imagination.

    I admit it, earlier I was thinking about the potential of 2 high draft picks next year (“We NEED to know what we have with Manziel – he has to play this year. How else will we know if we need to package our picks for Mariota/Winston/Hundley?”).

    My name is Dave, and I’m a Cleveland Browns fan.

  • https://twitter.com/Steve_Not_Chad Steve_Not_Chad

    I’m hoping we see a lot more blitzing on third and long.

  • cmm13

    Few points:

    1. You are correct, a poor preseason is not an indicator of a regular season failure….. when you are the New England Patriots, San Francisco 49ers or Green Bay Packers. This is a new head coach, a new OC, and 2 backup quarterbacks. It’s an indicator for this team.

    2. I’m impatient just like the rest of you….. no, you are not. You are a Cleveland Browns fan, the most patient person on the face of the earth with the propensity to call for someone’s head at the slightest misstep. Not that you do that Craig, it’s the typical MO, but not yours. Just making the point that the 8th wonder should be First Energy Field for it’s ability to attract fans.

  • cmm13

    Hi Dave and thanks for sharing.

    And don’t worry about packaging picks for one of those guys…. something tells me they will fall in our lap because of natural draft position.

  • dimoko

    NO, WE SHOULD BURN DOWN THE STADIUM!!!!!!!

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    15 years and counting!!!

  • Garry_Owen

    Ah, sweet therapy.

    Speaking of which, here’s a trick I learned earlier today:

    http://31.media.tumblr.com/8f669c1edb7885eed15910b44f3c6c2e/tumblr_n0spzjzmbN1s7ccmoo1_500.gif

  • http://oddsing.com/ oddsing

    My buddy win a lot of money this season.

  • BenRM

    but does he win $7695 from working at home as a single mother?!!

  • nj0
  • The_Matt_Of_Akron

    Great point! What’s THAT guy doing these days?!?!!

  • Jason Hurley

    Continually falling and landing on your onion-sack? That sounds like being a Browns fan, alright…

  • mgbode

    of twins!

  • mgbode
  • Hopwin

    Our running game looks great. I love Tate and West appears to be legit. Without any passing game though we end up back in the world of nine-in-the-box.

  • Lunch

    But dancing octorok isn’t here to land on your onion-sack. Dancing octorok is here to serenade your onions.
    Now stare at dancing octorok and let your troubles goooooooooo….

  • mgbode

    I am a huge proponent of the preseason not meaning as much as people tend to make it worth. Football is a game where having full energy and passion is incredibly important both in playing and play-calling. It is why the pro-bowl just does not work.

    However, first year coaches tend to put more emphasis in the preseason as they need their players to start buying into the system, so I am not completely unconcerned. First year coached teams also tend to struggle, at least initially, when the season begins. Chip’s Eagles went 1-3 and then 3-5 before winning 7 of their last 8 games.

    Really interested to see how the season goes, but, dangit, I really just want to beat Pittsburgh to start the year for once.

  • Hopwin

    We might even be able to get two of them without trading :D
    Not the rapist though please.

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    no packaging of picks required. add sean mannion and maybe connor cook to the list as well as keeton/fajardo in later rounds and it’s quite the QB crop.

  • Garry_Owen

    I’ve been watching this now for hours, and just noticed: dancing octorok only has 6 legs. What kind of show is he running. I’m getting fired up again! Garry’s getting upset!

    http://a.fastcompany.net/multisite_files/fastcompany/imagecache/inline-large/inline/2013/09/3017590-inline-george.gif

  • Harv 21

    Like mgbode, I kinda ridicule the preseason, but still smell a stinky season coming. These games are notorious for false positives when offenses are playing against vanilla defenses or going against second stringers. And for false negatives when veteran players dog it. Then the season starts and the rooks all say “I didn’t get the regular season intensity before.”

    Our offense even looks clueless against substitutes playing vanilla at three quarter speed. Word is they even look as bad in practice. I’m not expecting seven wins but I’m thinking this will be ugly, that by season’s end we’ll better appreciate by contrast Norv’s heroic efforts last year to lipstick the pig in mid-season while bouncing crazily from Weeden to Hoyer to Weeden to Campbell to Weeden.

  • Lunch
  • Garry_Owen
  • nj0

    http://www.cleveland.com/browns/index.ssf/2014/07/where_is_jake_delhomme_catchin.html

    “In September, 2013, Delhomme became a member of MidSouth Bank’s board of directors. He also trains thoroughbred horses with his brother and father. ”

    Kudos to Northeast Ohio Media’s Group’s Robert Rozboril (edit: looks like a number of writers worked on these pieces) on keeping tabs on every Browns v.2.0 starting quarterback.

  • mgbode

    you would need a number of writers to keep tabs on all those QBs.

  • CB Everett

    Speaking of offensive offense—I saw a quote from Pettine that they expect Gordon to be out at least some of the season (no shocker), so it ain’t going to be pretty any time soon.

    It’s been 20 days since the Gordon hearing….and STILL NO TRANSCRIPT! That court reporter is too damn slow IMO. In fact, she might be dead at the keyboard. Somebody should really check on her.

  • mgbode

    They fired the dunking bird, but ended up hiring this guy after hearing some great reports about how his car is always in the parking lot and seeing how annoyed he was all the time (so obviously working hard). The thing is I don’t even see a laptop on his desk.

    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-suQHz61i0eM/U80pC8tNX3I/AAAAAAAADrQ/Q_2l1uK8Va8/s1600/sleeping-under-a-desk-o.gif

  • CB Everett

    Yeah something shady indeed. The arbitrator said he was taking his hearing notes to review them on the morning train…although frankly I can’t see anything in his briefcase but Ritz crackers.

    http://i.imgur.com/Rh7q1mM.gif

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Herbie Hancock!

  • nj0

    Well, count me out. I’m swimming. Old man Goodell is busting my hump over these reports. If I don’t get em done by nine, I’m toast.

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    can we sign randy moss out of his bass fishing show?
    i’m not even kidding.

  • Sam Gold
  • mgbode

    Randy Moss once again proving that he can catch anything.

  • eldaveablo

    So what you’re saying is, they should use BOTH first rounders on QBs, just to be sure? :)

  • RGB

    We should use ALL of our picks on QBs.

    And a WR.

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    seriously? if manziel and hoyer wash out?
    i say use every effing pick on a quarterback.

  • BuckeyeDawg

    I certainly share a lot of the same concerns as everyone else, but I am somewhat optimistic that the running game is going to carry our offense, and we haven’t even seen a fraction of it yet. We certainly aren’t going to run Tate and West into the ground in any preseason game, but I would expect them to get at least 30-35 combined carries in PIT. That, and as the offensive line better acclimates themselves to the zone blocking schemes, the holes should more consistently be there. Add to that the dynamic that play action adds to an offense when you can actually run the ball, and I think the offense will actually be better than the preseason (so far) would indicate.

    The key of course will be whether we can throw enough to keep the opposing defense from stacking the box, something that Gordon does just by stepping on the field. We saw that the first 2 games last year. It was a totally different team when he came back. It would be a real Godsend if he would somehow beat this and not miss any time, but I’m not holding my breath.