And here we go again…
Just days after making their awful 2012 debut the Browns travel to Green Bay to take on the Packers tonight in what will probably turn into a blood bath. That’s not to say that I don’t have any faith in the Browns and their ability to score and prevent points. It has more to do with the Packers and the fact that they have Aaron Rodgers. Game over.
For the Browns, the mission tonight should be simple… Look better than you did on Friday against Detroit. You would think that would be easy considering how poorly the first team offense and defense looked, but these are the Browns and crap performances are what we’ve come to expect, even when the games don’t count. Although we did win the GLC Barge, so I guess that’s like winning the Super Bowl, right?
Most importantly will be how Brandon Weeden responds to his poor performance against the Lions. He wasn’t able to move the offense and he turned the ball over twice in three possessions. It was clear that he wasn’t comfortable with the speed of the NFL game in comparison to what he was accustomed to in college. Now that he’s gotten his feet wet, we need to see if he’ll be more under control and be able to complete more than one phenomenal pass.
Unfortunately, Weeden is going to be going up against a Packers defense that can bring the pressure like no one else thanks to Dom Capers and all the crazy blitz packages he employs. So while he may have a better idea of the speed of the game, now he has to contend with the possibility of seeing coverages and blitzes that he hasn’t seen before. In other words, this could get ugly pretty quickly. Let’s just hope he settles in.
According to Pat Shurmur, tonight’s game is going to serve as a dress rehearsal of sorts with the first team offense playing the entirety of the first half and possibly part of the second. That means we’ll get to see a substantial sample size from Weeden and should be better able to assess where he is in his development as the Browns QB of the future. Of course we shouldn’t take too much stock in how he plays because after all, last year Colt McCoy looked like a potential Pro-Bowl QB in the preseason.
Speaking of McCoy, he’s going to get the majority of the snaps tonight as the back up. He’ll relieve Weeden and have the opportunity to put on a show for the Packers and the rest of the NFL. There’s no secret that the Browns would rather trade McCoy rather than releasing him for nothing or keeping him around to start a potential midseason controversy. By giving him ample opportunity to show off what he can do against a team that has long been rumored to have interest in him is a good idea.
That is of course as long as they don’t provide snaps for McCoy at the expense of Weeden. Tonight’s game, and the two that follow, should be more about establishing chemistry for the first team offense and getting Weeden experience. That means playing the starters as much as possible, using as much of their playbook as possible, and getting everyone ready for September 9th against Philly.
As for the defense, they’re beat up and really need to get out of tonight’s game without any more injuries. It really should be survival of the fittest. The Browns, who are already void of talent on that side of the ball, can’t afford to sustain any more injuries… or suspensions. If anything, the Browns should do the exact opposite with their defense tonight. Play the starters limited minutes and concentrate on finding players who can provide depth. They need to find some diamonds in the rough and need to find guys who can make an impact when their number is called. We already know what Joe Haden and Jabaal Sheard, etc. can do.
Last but not least is the performance of Pat Shurmur and how well prepared, or under prepared the Browns look. Last season the Browns continually looked sloppy and it seemed as if Shurmur didn’t have control, but he was genuine. Whatever that means.
So far in one preseason game it was more of the same with stupid penalties and sloppy play taking center stage. Can Shurmur finally get the Browns looking like a legit NFL team? Will he do anything along with Brad Childress to instill faith in his offense? These are the types of questions that need to be answered and issues that need to be corrected and if not, it’s going to be more of the same this season.
Who else is excited!?!? Anyone? Anyone at all?