Cleveland Browns: A guide to watching the preseason
By Joel W. Cade
The Browns opened up the preseason last Friday against the Green Bay Packers, but fans may have missed the true purpose of the contest.
The first preseason exhibition functions to evaluate how well the players have assimilated the playbook against an opponent going full speed.
Up until this point, training camp has focused on installing the offense, defense and special teams. Players have been learning their core plays, assignments and techniques. These core elements have been practiced against themselves in live drills. The first exhibition is the when these core elements will be executed against an opponent.
There is no game planning involved for the first exhibition. There is no advanced scouting, no film room sessions watching opposing team film and no attempts to exploit an opponent’s weakness in order to secure victory. Coaches are solely focused on their team and how much progress has been made in training camp.
For this exhibition, the offense and defense will be very generic. It is literally call the play, line up and run the play. Coaches will be focusing on how well the teams can line up and run the plays installed over OTAs and training camp.
Several things are going through a first trial run. The communication between coaches and players on the field is tested. Of importance is the ability for the quarterback to receive the play and communicate the play in the huddle. Once at the line, coaches want to see if players line up correctly and know their assignments.
As starters have gotten most of the reps in OTAs and training camp, it is not essential they play a lot in the first exhibition. It is important to make sure they have communication, alignment and assignment correct for the core offensive plays. But this can be accomplished in a series or two.
The first exhibition is an excellent opportunity to see where rookies and young players are at. It allows the coaches to get an honest assessment of what these players do well and what needs to be improved.
The first exhibition is best thought of as a snap shot. It is used by coaches to get an assessment of how OTAs and camp has gone so far. Most importantly, it shows the coaches what needs to be done moving forward.
As a fan watching the exhibition, look for areas of execution, communication and alignment. Try not to focus on the score or competition, focus on how well the Browns are executing.
Next: The Second Preseason Exhibition