Cleveland Browns: What to watch for at the Orange and Brown Scrimmage


The Cleveland Browns will hold their annual Orange and Brown Scrimmage on Saturday. Here’s what to watch for during the event.

The Cleveland Browns will travel to Columbus on Saturday for the team’s annual Orange and Brown Scrimmage.

Like last year, the game will serve not only as a public relations event, but also as a means of walking the players through the game day routine in advance of next Friday’s preseason game against the Green Bay Packers.

The scrimmage is an excellent family event; however, the hard-core fan will be disappointed by the fact that the word “scrimmage” will not accurately describe what the team will be doing on the field at Ohio Stadium.

For fans located outside of the greater Cleveland area, the scrimmage is a perfect opportunity to come out and see the Browns. As Columbus is centrally located in Ohio, fans from all over the state have an opportunity see their favorite Browns players live.

Also, the Browns do an excellent job of putting on Dawg Pound Drive, which features family friendly activities. The zip line and Swagger were favorites of my family, and there will be former players on hand for autographs along with great giveaways. (For the record, this is not a paid advertisement.)

However, when it comes to the actual scrimmage, Browns fans will see a very different event from  recent years.

Earlier this week head coach Hue Jackson said that tonight’s practice in Berea will be an actual scrimmage, with the players having an opportunity to get physical and get after it.

It makes sense for Jackson to do the scrimmage tonight, actually. Not only does it allow the team to do a mock game walk through, but it also means the Browns to have a full seven days to prepare for the Packers. Jackson has set up the Browns for a full week of preparation for a game by setting up the actual scrimmage on Friday night.

As much as this disappoints fans planning to attend Saturday’s practice, all is not lost. While some think Saturday’s scrimmage is set up to be a “bummer,” it should actually be a very interesting practice.

“I think the guys are excited about being in another stadium and having another opportunity to compete against each other.” – Head coach Hue Jackson

For the football fan that enjoys showing up an hour early to watch the pregame warm-ups, Saturday will be a dream come true. The players will participate in a walk-through practice in which they will go through the motions of a game day routine. Even though every team has a game day routine, most do not have the opportunity to practice what will happen. This leaves those teams somewhat confused as to who should be on the field and what they should be doing.

On Saturday, the Browns will have a mock game experience, and depending on how the Browns structure their pre-game routine, fans can expect the following to occur.

First, there will be a special teams period where the kickers and returners get ready. Punters will take half the field to sky  punts, practice strategically placing punts, and allowing the returners to practice catching punts. Place kickers usually use the other half of the field kicking from sideline to sideline, with an emphasis on warming up with kicks for distance and height. Field goals are usually kicked on the same half the punters are working.

During this time, the quarterbacks may be throwing passes to each other or to receivers. This allows the quarterback to warm up his arm and establish an early connection with his receivers. This time period is very light and is often when players from opposing teams will visit with each other before the game starts. When this time ends, the players go back into the locker room before official warm ups begin.

“We’ll go through all the different situations that may happen in the game from pre-game to halftime to starting the second half. I think it’s really important we find out how we go through that process.” – Head coach Hue Jackson

Next, the team will emerge from the tunnel together to begin initial stretching either as a team or in position groups (depending on the coach). Warm ups include both static and dynamic stretching to allow the players to get a full range of movement before breaking off into position groups.

Third, when the team breaks into position groups the fun begins. Here lies the opportunity to see each position working solely against one another. This time is an opportunity for the players to work through basic techniques like stances, fire-offs, releases, pass protection, etc. Linemen, offensive and defensive, usually occupy one end zone. Tight ends and linebackers eventually join the linemen in individual drills.

Quarterbacks usually line up around the 40-yard line and begin taking snaps, working through hand-offs and basic roll outs. Receivers and defensive backs usually run drills from the sidelines using the yard lines as markers for drills.

It is this period that is the most fascinating, as fans will see offensive linemen working on double teams, hand placement, pass protections, etc. Defensive linemen will work on stunts, plugging gaps and fighting off double teams. Watching linemen during this period will reveal a lot about what the team will do in later periods.

For the non-lineman obsessed fans, this period is a perfect opportunity to see the quarterbacks throw passes, receivers catch passes, and defensive backs and linebackers work on coverage techniques and run fits.

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The real beauty of pre-game is that you can see the game broken down into is fundamental pieces like a deconstructed omelet on a television cooking shows.

Finally, there will be a short team session where the first-team offense and defense will work against a scout offense and defense. This is a good opportunity to see the basic plays that will comprise that week’s game plan. (Just don’t expect to see any trick plays as those are saved for the game itself.)

After the pre-game, the team usually retreats back into the locker room until the players are officially announced and run out from under the giant Browns helmet.

During the actual scrimmage time, the Browns will most likely cover game type situations. Expect to see a lot drives in which the offense has a first-and-10 and will attempt to drive the ball down the field. This will be offset by specific situations like third and short, medium or long. Along with these, expect to see situations in which the offense is backed up inside its own 20 and some plays in the red zone.

Since it will be a mock game situation, the team will retreat into the locker room at halftime. As a game can be changed by the first drive after the half, expect Jackson to simulate coming out of the locker room and adjusting to the second half. An emphasis will be placed on how well the team can execute the halftime adjustments.

If Jackson is on his game, he will simulate an overtime period in which he ensures the players are familiar with overtime rules and gameplay.

The reason to go to the Orange and Brown Scrimmage is not to see an actual scrimmage. Instead, it is the mental game that will be on display. Fans will have an opportunity to see what Jackson has lined up for third downs, red zone and backed up situations for both offense and defense.

But if you are not into the mental game, keep in mind that the family will enjoy all the fun associated with Dawg Pound Drive. Swagger alone is worth the trip!

Next: Training Camp Day 6: 4 things to know

Dawg Pound Drive opens at noon, while the Orange and Brown Scrimmage kicks off at 3 p.m. and runs until 5:30 p.m.