Thursday night was the perfect opportunity for the Browns’ starters to get a confidence boost working against Chicago’s backups.
The good news is that the first-team defense wasn’t abused and carved up by former Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer, who started for Chicago, as bad as we’ve seen this preseason.
The not so good news: the starting offense left quite a bit to be desired.
“They got the work in that I wanted,” head coach Hue Jackson told Newschannel5 at halftime. “We started slow, though. We have to start a little faster.”
Robert Griffin was hardly spectacular finishing the night 4-of-8 for 31 yards in 3 offensive series. He orchestrated a quick 3-and-out on their first offensive possession and the only scoring drive came after Bears returner B.J. Daniels muffed a punt that went off his foot into the arms of Tank Carder at the 18.
If it wasn’t for the turnover, Griffin’s night would’ve been over.
“We just have to be more consistent and sustain drives,” Griffin said. “It was good for us to capitalize on our special teams unit getting us a turnover there and getting a touchdown to finish off the preseason for us as the ones.”
Isaiah Crowell capped the drive after the muffed punt with a 4-yard touchdown run and finished the night with 11 yards on 6 carries with the score being his longest run.
“We made a check out of a pass and went to a run. We just ran it in,” Crowell said. “I feel like the running game’s been good but I feel like we still can do better, still got a lot of things to work on.”
Rookie receiver Corey Coleman was unable to come up with 2 throws from Griffin that weren’t on target. He caught his first pass – a 10-yard strike – from Josh McCown before dropping a would-be third down conversion a few plays later.
“I thought Corey battled tough tonight,” Jackson said. “Obviously, he made a catch with the ball. There were a couple of times that he came very close where we had a chance to get him, and the ball went off his hands one time. I think I’ve seen enough. I know what Corey is. We will get all these guys ready to go come this week.”
Rookies Emmanuel Ogbah, Carl Nassib and Joe Schobert showed up in the first half.
Ogbah and Nassib met Hoyer with Ogbah finishing him off for the sack on third-and-5 to end the Bears’ opening possession. On the next drive Nassib ended Chicago’s drive by batting down Hoyer’s third down pass at the line forcing the Bears to settle for a Robbie Gould 30-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead with 6:25 left in the first quarter.
Schobert sacked Hoyer on the Bears second possession of the second quarter.
“Very encouraging. Those are the young guys,” Jackson said. “Those guys made some plays early. Our defense early did a nice job.”
Hoyer finished 12-of-16 for 112 yards against his former team.
Outside of the fumble recovery by Carder in the first half and a 75-yard punt from Michael Palardy that rolled for 25 of those yards, the special teams unit struggled again.
After Bears coach John Fox iced Browns kicker Patrick Murray, he pushed it wide right from 31 yards to end the first half. The hold by Palardy appeared clean and Murray just missed the kick.
Palardy had 5 punts that averaged 48.6 yards – longest 75, shortest 14 -while Kyle Redfern had 4 that averaged 39.5 yards, including a 52 yarder.
The Browns finished the night with just 187 yards of offense.