Dud: The starting guards
Last season, the two starting guards for the Browns were able to make plenty of room for quarterbacks to find clean pockets as well as some nice holes for running backs to move the chains. On Thursday, they didn’t look as strong.
To be fair, neither of their starters from 2017 was playing guard in this one. Joel Bitonio has been kicked out to left tackle since they failed to replace Joe Thomas — who retired this offseason — and Kevin Zeitler was out with an injury.
That left the team relying on rookie second-round pick Austin Corbett in Bitonio’s old spot and Spencer Drango in at right guard. The result was simply ugly. As a whole, the Browns managed just 50 yards on 33 carries on the ground. While the running backs deserve some of the blame, there really was limited space to operate.
On top of that, there weren’t many times the quarterbacks could stand in the pocket comfortably. It got even worse when Baker Mayfield hit the field as he was constantly having to move around in the pocket to find room to operate. It was nice to see him able to remain poised in these situations and the return of Zeitler will help, but moving Bitonio could cause issues throughout the season.