Times are certainly changing for the Cleveland Browns. Gone are the days that the preseason games were imperative to sort out the majority of the depth chart. These days the Browns seem pretty set through the depth chart. Most camp battles this year are simply for final roster spots. While it is true that the Browns have finally ascended to position where they can use these games to assess their depth, they have yet to show their first string offense. Projected starting wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry have yet to take a snap. Starting running back Nick Chubb only saw the field for a couple downs in the first preseason game. There hasn’t even been a small sneak peek at what might be the most anticipated offensive unit in Browns history.
While around the league the amount of playing time that is being set aside for starting units in the preseason is dwindling, one could ask if the Browns are being perhaps too cautious. Unfortunately for Head Coach Freddie Kitchens being a rookie head coach, he will be second-guessed every step of the way. By not playing the starting unit at all through the preseason he will certainly take some heat if there are early chemistry issues on the offensive side of the ball.
Any Browns fan who was hoping for at least one sampling of the new look offense had their hopes dashed Friday night. Many had speculated that the Browns would at least run a drive or two with the full first string. While Baker Mayfield saw significant action he only played with the backups at every skill position. With Antonio Callaway and DJ Montgomery no longer in the running for the opening day roster the remaining receivers have a clearer path to making the team. While Jaelin Strong and Derrick Willies looked to be the first in line for the opportunity neither player set themselves apart. Mayfield had a forgettable game that featured little help from his pass catchers. While it was frustrating to watch, it was important to remember that wasn’t the team that will take the field when the games count.
Whatever disappointment anyone had over not seeing the first team offense should have been eased by the first showing of the first team defense. It was great to finally see the entire defense together. The defensive line tandem of Myles Garrett, Sheldon Richardson, Larry Ogunjobi and Olivier Vernon did not disappoint. Again and again they quickly got themselves off the field with an incredibly disruptive pass rush. While Garrett only saw action for a couple drives, the rest of the starters shut out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first half. If that sampling was any indication of what is to come the offense won’t even need that many points anyways.
The Browns wrap up the preseason on August 29 against the Detroit Lions. There is very little chance that any starter will see any type of action in that game so the Browns have shown all they are willing to show. Soon the practice sessions will be private and the Browns will be in full regular season mode. With any hope the magnificent defense we saw is what we should come to expect, but the offense will remain a mystery for a couple weeks longer.