What should Cleveland Browns fans watch for week 1?
While all of us as fans obviously want to see a win Sunday, we need to understand the situation this Cleveland Browns football team faces. Kevin Stefanski is a rookie head coach placed in one of the most unique situations ever with a COVID shortened offseason.
He has hired nearly an entirely new staff to re-tool the offense and defense. Some crucial positions and depth are being manned by rookies that did not step on a practice field until training camp.
All of this and we haven’t even talked about the injuries to some of the key players. A win would be great, but it is a big ask from this group in Week 1.
The road so far
The new Browns regime has impressed nearly everyone with their poise and leadership this past offseason. Not only in the way they handled football decisions but also the challenges that have faced society in general during a tumultuous 2020.
Andrew Berry has not only filled holes throughout the offseason by adding players like Jack Conklin and Karl Joseph. He has also shown strong leadership stepping to speak on social injustices. Berry, the youngest GM in the NFL, never panicked even as injuries mounted in camp, showing a very calculated plan to build with the players that fit what his head coach wants to do. After Mack Wilson went down, Berry, with some whispers from DC Joe Woods, I am sure, went out and brought in veteran Malcolm Smith, who has played in the defensive system before. When rookie Grant Delpit went down, he found a young serviceable safety that can cover and has upside in Ronnie Harrison. Another player that also has played in a similar system in Jacksonville. All of this, while dealing with a pandemic that created challenges in even getting players in the building.
Coach Stefanski has balanced an offseason of establishing himself as the new head man, installing a new system on both sides of the ball, and dealing with those same social issues while in a pandemic. Stefanski has handled each new challenge with grace and dignity.
He has never wavered from what he thinks is right when it comes to the world’s injustices. Never has he given a single excuse while getting his football team ready for Week 1. His players have talked of how organized and prepared their new HC is and praised his understanding in these tough times.
Both Berry and Stefanski have shown their medal in an offseason that has been way off the norm. Now we get to see this team take the field for the first game of the year. What should we watch for in Week 1 that can create confidence for the future regardless of the outcome?