The Cleveland Browns play their opening game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in just one week. Will they win that game? And how many others will they win?
The preseason is over and the roster is (almost) set. The Cleveland Browns gave their fans a lot to like in finishing the preseason with a 3-1 record. The preseason is always an imperfect indicator. Teams don’t show all their cards on offense or defense, and game plans are very basic. Still, I think there were some observations that should carry over into the regular season.
Todd Haley has shown an ability to adapt to his players. When Haley was offensive coordinator with the Arizona Cardinals, he had Kurt Warner. As offensive coordinator of the Steelers, his quarterback was Ben Roethlisberger. Both fit the classic definition of a pocket passer. Tyrod Taylor and Baker Mayfield have different skill sets, and Haley seems content to designing an offense that lets those skills thrive.
Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is going to rush the quarterback early and often. Last year, Williams quipped that he lacked the players to play the kind of defense he preferred. That does not seem to be an issue this year as no matter what personnel grouping he had on the field, he brought the pressure.
Depth may still be an issue in key areas. Successful football teams have both a high ceiling and a high floor. Looking at what should be our starting 22, the ceiling for the Browns starters is much higher than in years past. It remains to be seen if the floor has been raised.
Predicting a regular season record is always a guess, but that’s what makes it fun. C’mon and play along!