Browns vs. Saints: First half preseason recap
By Thomas Moore
The Cleveland Browns looked to be in midseason form during the first half of Thursday’s game against the New Orleans Saints. That’s not necessarily a good thing.
The Cleveland Browns took a 7-6 lead over the New Orleans Saints into halftime of their opening preseason game on Thursday night.
The game marked the debut of Brock Osweiler as Cleveland’s starting quarterback and, if we are being kind, things could have gone better for Osweiler and the offense.
Osweiler played into the second quarter and finished just six-of-14 for 42 yards. He did not lead the Browns to any points, the offense did not record a first down until its fourth drive of the game, and the Browns totaled just 76 yards of total offense.
Osweiler was not helped out by the fact that the Browns committed five penalties in the first quarter, including four by the offense and two consecutive penalties by Cameron Erving, who started at left tackle while Joe Thomas had the night off.
Osweiler’s best series of the night came on his last one, when he led the Browns on a 13-play, 61-yard drive that saw Cleveland have a first-and-goal on the Saints’ seven-yard line. Head coach Hue Jackson called for four consecutive passes, however, three fell incomplete and the Browns turned the ball over on downs.
Apparently all that money the Browns invested in the offensive line was not enough for Jackson to actually call a running play near the goal line. Maybe he’s saving it to spring on the league once the regular season begins.
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On the first defensive series after Osweiler exited, defensive tackle Trevon Coley stripped New Orleans quarterback Garrett Grayson of the ball and linebacker Joe Schobert recovered at the Saints’ 21-yard line. Coley and Schobert also contributed a sack each in the first half.
Cody Kessler then took over at quarterback and took advantage of the short field to drive the Browns to a touchdown as rookie Matthew Dayes took it in for a one-yard touchdown.
There were not very many bright spots for the Browns in the first half. Running back Isaiah Crowell rushed six times for 15 yards, wide receivers Corey Coleman and Kenny Britt combined for three receptions for 15 yards on seven targets, and the offense was mostly lethargic.
Defensively, rookie Myles Garrett was active and got some pressure on the quarterback, and the Browns kept the Saints out of the end zone, which is nice. Other than that, there wasn’t much to hang your hat on.
Next: Browns: What to watch for in preseason opener
Overall the first half accomplished pretty much what you want. Osweiler and the first-team offense got some work in, the defense got to hit someone other than their teammates, and the coaching staff now has film of the key players to build on.