Preseason Game #2 – Five Keys for the Browns

Five Keys Against the Redskins – the Browns’ preseason Game #2

After much hype and many talking heads scrutinizing their opener against the Lions, the Browns had a mediocre performance on the field.  To their credit, the same could be said for their counterpart – the end result was a 13-12 loss that did included few injuries.

Now it’s off to the D.C. area (Maryland, to be exact) and ESPN Monday Night football for the Browns.  This is a huge game for several players, and for a multitude of reasons.  I expect both teams’ playbooks being a little more open in this contest – hopefully that will increase the excitement.  Let’s take a gander at five things the Browns need to become a reality.

#1 – Solidify the starter at QB

Both Hoyer and Manziel did a decent job in last week’s performance, but now it’s time for one of these guys to take command.  Coach Pettine said he wanted his starter named by the third preseason game; Monday’s game could be the final opportunity for each to prove he’s the guy.  I’d be surprised if it’s not Hoyer, barring a lights-out performance by Manziel.

#2 – Finding Depth at the Offensive Line

The starting five guys excelled at driving back defenders, but the same could not be said for the reserves against the Lions.  Garrett Gilkey and Paul McQuistan appear to be the only guys who could step up and start, if needed to.  Pettine and Shanahan need to find men who could fill these roles – I’d love to believe the starting five will not miss a snap the entire season, but that’s not realistic.

#3 – Getting Gilbert in the Lineup

Rookie cornerback Justin Gilbert was held out of last week’s game with a minor groin injury.  Hopefully the Oklahoma State star can suit up and experience his first contest in the exhibition season.  It’s rather apparent that rookie cornerbacks tend to struggle to begin their professional career – missing some of the preseason surely will not help Justin Gilbert.

#4 – Corralling RGIII

The dual-threat opposing quarterback might not play a great deal, but the defense of the Browns must prepare for anything.  During the regular season, the unit will face Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, and to a lesser extent Jake Locker.  If the defense wants to be on the same page and not let their opponent exploit their weaknesses, Monday night would be a tremendous starting point.

#5 – Trying out a Few Things

These games do not count in the standings, in case I haven’t harped on it enough.  That being said, the coaches should try some things they normally wouldn’t in September and beyond.  This is not to advocate reckless play, especially by the quarterbacks, but maybe see what some of the younger guys can do against completion.  There’s no turning back in a few weeks – so why not?

Conclusion:  To some this may appear as another ho-hum three-hour game for the Browns.  However, for those in the locker room, it could be a chance to confirm that he belongs on the field (not the sidelines) a majority of contests in the fall.  I, for one, am very excited and hope the Browns have an excellent outing!

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