The Cleveland Browns opened up the 2017 preseason strong with a 20-14 victory over the New Orleans Saints.
Here’s my takeaways from the win
Brock Osweiler got the start for the Browns and did not impress. He finished 6 of 14 for 42 yards and a QB rating of 50.2. He did not show great field awareness and was late on some throws including a near touchdown to Kenny Britt. He didn’t do himself any favors to keep the starting role.
Cody Kessler came in after Osweiler and also didn’t make himself a strong case to be considered the starting quarterback for the Browns. He went 5-10 for 47 yards and the velocity on his throws looked weak and it’s going to continue to be a problem going forward. He did make one solid 30 yard pass to Josh Boyce but he was very average the rest of his snaps.
DeShone Kizer looked comfortable in his professional debut. Despite having to play with the backup offensive line and the third string recievers, he made the most of it.
His big highlight was a 52 yard strike to Richard Mullaney to set up a one yard touchdown run by Terrance Magee. It was a 3rd and 15 play and Kizer showed the tools to be a franchise quarterback in the NFL. He climbed the pocket when feeling the pass rush, he executed a great pump fake and then showed that elite arm strength on the throw.
Kizer also executed a game winning drive despite being plagued with penalites capping it off with a 45 yard strike to Jordan Payton that was the go ahead touchdown with 1:52 left in the fourth quarter.
Kizer finished the game 11 of 18 for 184 yards and a touchdown and I think gained the most in the quarterback battle.
I’m standing by my stance that Kizer will be the starting quarterback when the regular season opens September 10th.
The Defense Is Legit
Gregg Williams’ defense came out in full force from the start on Thursday.
Despite the key players on the New Orleans offense sitting including Drew Brees and Adrian Peterson. That didn’t stop the defense from wanting to set the tone.
Jamie Collins made some big tackles against the first team offense and first overall pick Myles Garrett despite only having one tackle showed those elite skills that made him the top pick in the draft.
His ability to beat the lineman and cause some havoc in the backfield was a great sight and a preview of things to come.
A few guys that also stood out to me on defense
Defensive tackle Trevon Coley who has been making some noise in camp showed on the field why he’s pushing for a potential starting spot with 4 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble. Keep an eye on him during the preseason.
Joe Schobert may have pushed Tank Carder out of the starting “Mike” linebacker with his performance. He shedded 15 pounds during the offseason by order of Gregg Williams and he looked like an improved player with 2 tackles and a sack. Carder struggled in his series with the first team offense and a changing of the guard could be in order.
Third year defensive end Nate Orchard is one of those guys on the bubble but performances like Thursday night will keep him on the roster. Back in his natural position as a 4-3 defensive end, Orchard was creating pressure all evening when he was on the field. He only finished with 2 tackles and 0.5 sacks but he made a strong case for the start of preseason.
Briean Boddy-Calhoun is currently a reserve at the cornerback position but he has to be earning Williams’ respect for significant playing time. He had 4 tackles (two for a loss) including a big time hit on 4th and goal against the New Orleans offense.
Ray Horton’s motto of “Little Guys that can hit” earned Calhoun’s spot last year as an undrafted free agent and probably solidified his spot on the defense for the immediate future.
Bye Cam Erving
The Browns committed 12 penalties Thursday night and while it’s only the preseason, it’s completely unacceptable.
Cam Erving got the start at left tackle as Joe Thomas got the night off. Erving needed to prove he could be a reliable lineman during this preseason and he may have punched his ticket out of town with multiple penalties in the first quarter. It also didn’t help that he was getting worked by the Saints defensive line.
I’ve defended Erving time and time again and I don’t think there’s any reason to defend him anymore. Barring a drastic turnaround, Erving probably won’t be on the roster after the preseason.
Concussion for Campbell
Third year safety Ibraheim Campbell took a nasty hit on the second play of the game.
The medical staff brought out the cart and the backboard as Campbell didn’t move for a few minutes.
Campbell eventually got up on his own power and was diagnosed with a concussion. Wouldn’t be surprised if he also suffered a stinger to his neck.
It’s unfortunate for Campbell who has dealt with injuries early in his NFL career and was a starting safety so far through camp.