Ladies and gentlemen, the Cleveland Browns have not lost a game in the 2017 NFL season. The Browns finished off a perfect preseason with a 25-0 victory over the Chicago Bears. The defense continued its strong play in the preseason, finishing off a preseason in which they only gave up one touchdown over the four games.
The Browns were led through the air in Thursday’s game by quarterback Kevin Hogan, who completed 13 of 18 passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns. On the ground, Matt Dayes led the Browns running game with 10 carries for 31 yards. The leading receiver was tight end Randall Telfer, who caught two passes for 53 yards and a touchdown. The Browns defense shut out the Bears offense, giving up just 159 total yards.
The game was all about the final roster spots and giving the back end of the roster playing time to make their last impression on the Browns decision makers going into Saturday’s massive roster cut to 53 players. With just two starters playing, Shon Coleman and Randall Telfer, on either side of the ball, the Browns made this game the last big examination of the players that will make up the depth of the roster behind the starters. The Browns brain trust will look at the tape and make their final roster decisions over the next few days to trim the roster to the 53-man limit.
The Browns preseason has felt a little different to me than in past seasons. Yes, the Browns actually won the games, but it was more than that. The rookies and other young players on the roster really excited me this preseason, giving me some of the most hope I have had since 1999. Myles Garrett probably led the excitement for me, showing the talent that earned him the honor of going No. 1 in the 2017 NFL Draft. As a player and a person, he is someone, who as a Browns fan, I have not quite seen before in the Brown and Orange since the rebirth. But, Garrett only starts my excitement.
DeShone Kizer outperformed his competition and won the quarterback job in the preseason. Kizer earned his job and showed snippets of the potential he has. Jabrill Peppers has shown some impressive plays on defense, but on special teams he really has me thinking back to the days of Josh Cribbs where I thought that any return can be taken back for a big play. Other impressive performances from the young Browns include Corey Coleman, Larry Ogunjobi, Trevon Coley, Matt Dayes and Joe Schobert.
Yes, this is just the preseason. Yes, the Browns will likely struggle this season and win less than eight games. But, the preseason has shown that the organization is going in the same direction, driven by the young nucleus built by the Browns current regime. It may be ugly at times. We will see a lot of rookie mistakes and slow development, but the nucleus of the young players is being built with the players receiving valuable playing experience early in their careers. I see a direction and players who I can really get excited for to watch and grow over the season.
The preseason is over and the regular season is upon us. Cleveland starts their regular season at FirstEnergy Stadium against their rival Pittsburgh Steelers. The games will finally count and matter!