It is the middle of August and this was the Cleveland Browns’ first preseason game. Their opponent, the Green Bay Packers, didn’t throw any confusing defensive schemes out there and their first-team defense was only on the field for the first two series.
None of that will change the fact that the Browns’ new West Coast offense looked anything but confused, discombobulated, or any other form of a jumbled mess. In fact, Colt McCoy made them look, well, good.
McCoy completed nine of ten passes for 135 yards and one touchdown while engineering another scoring drive that ended in a Peyton Hillis rushing touchdown. He was able to spread the ball around to six different receivers, making the most of his short passes while displaying an ability to get the ball downfield on big plays as well.
It was an efficiency that was only seen in spurts during last season’s roller coaster ride of offensive quality. And with a new system being installed in such a short period of time, no one was expecting to see it look polished this quickly.
And it wasn’t just the offense opening eyes – the new4-3 defense was making plays as well. Rookie defensive end Jabaal Sheard combined with defensive end Jayme Mitchell on an impressive sack of backup quarterback Matt Flynn.
But perhaps the best sight of all was seeing linebacker D’Qwell Jackson back on the field after missing nearly two entire seasons due to torn pectoral muscles. Without him in the middle, you’re looking at a mighty thin position.
This was the best first step the Browns could have imagined taking when they begin implementing these new systems only a few short weeks ago. To go out there and hold their own against the Super Bowl champions will do a lot for the team’s confidence, even if it doesn’t really mean anything in the long run.
What it will also do is take some pressure off the Browns from a fan base (understandably) skeptical of what this team can do. At least until next week.
Keep checking back this week as we break down the Browns’ first preseason game and look forward to Friday’s game against the Detroit Lions.
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