The Cleveland Browns faced the Buffalo Bills in their second game of the preseason on Friday night, losing 19 to 17 and ending the team’s five-game preseason winning streak.
Here are some takeaways from the game.
The Browns struggled running the football last week against the New York Giants and I think they made it apparent against Buffalo that they needed to run the ball more often and more decisive.
Carlos Hyde got things started in a big way with five carries for 41 yards and a touchdown on the team’s opening drive. The team ran the ball seven times during that opening drive for 63 of the 70 offensive yards.
Nick Chubb struggled in his first game but came back strong with a great performance with the second team unit with eleven carries for 53 yards including a one-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Duke Johnson also had some solid runs during his time on the field with four carries for 27 yards.
I know some people were worried about the running game following the first game but I think that doubt was silenced this week. The Browns running game is expected to be strong with Hyde, Johnson and Chubb and will be a key part to the offense’s success in 2018.
While the quarterbacks stole the show against the Giants, it was clear the offensive game plan was to run the ball and keep the passing game at a minimum.
Tyrod Taylor played the entire first quarter, going 4 of 7 for 22 yards while also running the ball once for five yards.
One play I was really impressed with was when Taylor was getting pressure in the pocket and he threw a deep ball towards the end zone that was nearly a touchdown but went out of bounds.
Instead of taking a sack, Taylor showed that he has a better arm than what was advertised in Buffalo but also avoiding the sack and a potential turnover.
Baker Mayfield played well into the fourth quarter and finished the game better than he started although the box score won’t necessarily indicate that. He was 7 of 13 for 75 yards, taking one sack. He also ran the ball four times for 9 yards.
The best thing about Mayfield’s performance was that he was smart with the football much like he was in Oklahoma. He would use his feet to extend plays and also threw the ball away to avoid getting sacked additional times.
Mayfield and Taylor have been solid at not turning the football over which is a complete 180 from what the quarterbacks last season were doing. It may be a conservative approach but it’s a lot better and than what we had to watch last year.
Defense came to play
The Browns first-team defense had a strong showing during their time on the field against what looks to be a below-average Bills offense.
They played four drives and forced the Bills to punt on all four drives and allowing just 22 yards.
They created pressure on AJ McCarron on almost every snap and did get a few hits on him as well which reportedly caused a hairline fracture on his collarbone. Don’t like to see players get injured but unfortunately it’s part of the game.
Myles Garrett was dominant against Bills left tackle Dion Dawkins and had one of the five QB hits Cleveland made Friday night.
Browns rookie Genard Avery is already finding his way on to the first team defense in sub-packages as a pass rusher. He put that on display early and I’d expect defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has an obvious role for him In the regular season.
One thing that I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who noticed was that Jamie Collins played well into the second quarter with the second-team defense. There has been rumors that the Browns could be looking to move him with the depth they have at linebacker, that should be something Browns fans keep an eye on.
Bubble roster players
Tight end Devon Cajuste made a big 26 yard catch in the fourth quarter that eventually led to the Nick Chubb touchdown. He was featured on the recent episode of Hard Knocks and is fighting for a roster spot. With Seth DeValve fighting injuries, Cajuste needs to take every opportunity that coaching staff gives him.
Defensive back Justin Currie made some big hits including a sack on Nathan Peterman during the second half. With the secondary still having some unknown, Currie could sneak on to roster as an extra safety.
Once again, too many penalties
The Browns once again had too many penalties during the game.
Last week, they committed 13 penalties for 141 yards. This week they decreased that to 7 penalties for 70 yards.
It’s an improvement but still unacceptable.
Some of them were ridiculous including the offensive pass interference penalties that the referees were calling even though the receivers can make blocks with the ball being thrown behind the line of scrimmage.
The number of penalties are in my opinion because the team is being undisciplined.
The coaching staff needs to make a better effort to make sure these penalties continue to decrease in the preseason before the regular season begins and penalties start to effect the games that actually matter.