Carl Nassib looked pretty good.
Isaiah Crowell had some solid runs in garbage time.
Stipe Miocic defended his UFC championship last night.
LeBron James didn’t void his recently signed contract.
As you can see, I spent some time trying to come up with positive takeaways after today’s Cleveland Browns season opener. Half of them don’t have a single thing to do with the team.
Such is life when it comes to this franchise and Week 1 of the NFL season. It’s a contest Cleveland has won just once since returning to the league in 1999, and that was 12 years ago. Since that day – and before it, honestly – the Browns have put up dud after dud.
Today was no different. Facing the Philadelphia Eagles and a rookie quarterback Cleveland’s newest front office deemed wasn’t worthy of the No. 2 pick, the Browns laid yet another egg. Making things worse is the fact that, if asked to find some sort of redeeming quality, really anything to build upon for the rest of this season, you’re not going to find much.
To be fair, the amount of youth on Cleveland’s roster is overwhelming. An alarming amount of positions on the depth chart are filled by players who are either rookies or are entering their second year. Growing pains are going to be an undeniable aspect of the Browns’ 2016 season.
Still, look at today’s 29-10 loss and tell me what we’re supposed to be encouraged about. Something about this defeat which could force anyone to say “you know, it was a tough game, but (fill in blank here) has me feeling good about where things go from here.”
If you’re looking at the defense, well, you’ll be turning back in a hurry.
Carson Wentz, the rookie team chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta claimed wasn’t a top 20 quarterback, threw for almost 300 yards against Cleveland. He notched a couple touchdowns and, outside of a few plays here and there, looked nothing like a deer in the headlights facing the Browns’ defense.
Cleveland had a huge opportunity to take advantage of playing a QB who was deemed destined for the practice squad as recently as three weeks ago, and instead gave him the perfect platform to prove the team was wrong for passing on him. No, Wentz didn’t look like he was destined for the Hall of Fame. Still, the way the Browns defense played, it was the perfect opponent to help get his career off on the right start.
And then there’s Cleveland’s offense, led by the supposedly rejuvenated Robert Griffin III. Earlier this week, team VP Sashi Brown claimed Griffin could be a long-term solution for Cleveland’s everlasting hunt for any semblance of a franchise quarterback.
If we’re only looking at today’s performance, I would encourage Brown to change his plans.
Griffin looked OK at times, hitting some good throws to Terrelle Pryor and a “we’ll call it strategically under-thrown” long-ball to rookie Corey Coleman. Outside of that, the 2012 Rookie of the Year was inaccurate for much of the afternoon.
Cleveland’s offense had 13 drives on the day. The team failed to advance the ball farther than 20 yards in eight of them. Of these disastrous drives, seven didn’t even net double digit yardage.
Look, I get it. This is going to be a rough season for the Browns. The team is nowhere near contending, despite pretending otherwise. The amount of inexperience on the roster is going to make the entire year one which is learned on the fly.
However, we’re going to need to see something, anything that proves the misery of watching bad football on a weekly basis is all going to be worth it in the long-run. I openly welcome anyone to find evidence from today’s defeat which even remotely qualifies as such a thing.