I was watching the Browns take on the Lions last night and started to think that this team isn't the old door-mat Cleveland Browns, they looks solid, pretty good even, across the board. Their new HC Rob Chudzinski (a guy a lot of us liked when we were HC hunting) is a lifetime Cleveland Browns fan, and he has this team playing some fired-up football. This is a young up & coming team that swarms to the ball on D (with a front seven that boasts talent such as Phil Taylor, Desmond Bryant, Jabaal Sheard, D'Qwell Jackson & Paul Kruger & a back-end that features one of the better CB's around in Joe Haden) and with an uber-talented RB in Trent Richardson, an offense that's just starting to find it's rhythm.
Cleveland is a team that parallels the Dolphins in a lot of ways, even winning multiple championships and going undefeated (although in the old pre-Super Bowl days, that unfortunately for them no one seems to really count) Like the Fins they are a young team with a new never-before NFL HC (in our case 2nd year), a talented but yet unproven kid behind Center who will dictate how far his team goes, the potential of a top-tier defense and a team that continues to add key parts in their quest to catch their perennial division leader, or in Cleveland's case leaders, since everyone in their division is ahead of them.
Anyway, back to the game and a little on how the Browns are looking...Facing the always dangerous (or at least always 'dirty'!) Lions D, Brandon Weeden had his way as the Browns first-teamers easily handled the Lions equivalent..The final score was 24-6, but it wasn't even that close. Weeden ended his night after several series going 8 for 12, with 117 yds & 2 TD's, this after following last weeks win over the 'ever dirty' Rams D going 10 for 13 & 112 yds. I know it's only preseason but as the Browns continue to try and surround their young QB with talent (sound familiar?) he's looking like he's settling in and it's starting to pay dividends..They also look to have some fine young talent at the WR position; Josh Gordon (who a lot of us wanted in the supp. draft last year) has a chance to be a star, Greg Little who's finally starting to hold onto the ball and realize his potential, Travis Benjamin from the U & some #15 named Davone Bess in the slot..They also have a guy Jordan Cameron @ TE making plays all over the field.
Speaking of Travis Benjamin, this kid might not have found his groove as a receiver yet, but he is an amazing kick-returner, he had an 82 yd punt return TD called back last night (on a hold away from the play) and this on the heels of a 91 yd. punt return for a TD last week against the Rams! He's been clocked @ a 4.26 40 and as one of the fastest guys in the league, he is super-dangerous every time he gets his hands on the ball!
I must say that it wasn't all good last night for the Browns as they had some key injuries; rookie OLB Barkevious Mingo suffered a bruised lung and was to spend the night in the hospital, they also lost key reserve RB Dion Lewis (who looked fantastic last night) to a broken fibula and they lost their starting RG Jason Pinkston to an ankle injury, bad enough for him to be in an ankle boot after the game.
I really only find relevance in how the Browns are doing because they (as everyone knows) are our first test this season in a game that actually counts. The Browns are a much-improved squad and the game will be played in Cleveland where the hometown Dog Pound almost always makes sure the Brownies don’t come out flat. Many Fin fans are already counting this game a win, but mark my words, if we don’t head in to Cleveland both fired up & prepared, we’ll head out of Cleveland still looking for our first win of the season…