Fans of the Cleveland Browns are far more excited about Game 3 than almost any Preseason game in memory. While Johnny Manziel brought curiosity, Robert Griffin III, Josh Gordon, Terrelle Pryor, Corey Coleman, Duke Johnson and Hue Jackson's offense have brought real excitement, and expectations.
Fans are expecting to see an offense that is capable of scoring at a snap of the fingers, or a #flipofthewrist.
Here, in my weekly game prep series called 4th and Go, I give you four questions I hope to have answered tonight:
Can the Browns Offense Sustain Drives?
Most expect the Browns to hit deep throws and be more exciting than anything we can remember. The bigger question for me is whether they will be able to sustain drives with the run game and short passing.
While exciting plays and big touchdowns are great, some offenses like that also have a lot of three and outs. With the way the Browns defense has played, it is important that the offense gives them as little time on the field as possible.
Look for the Browns to balance the big pass plays with bubble screens and pitch plays to try to get outside of Gerald McCoy and the Bucs interior defenders.
Can the Offensive Line Get a Push?
Even with great players at three positions, the Browns offensive line didn't always seem to get a great push in the run game. Now Alex Mack and Mitchell Schwartz are gone and the Browns line still struggled getting a push in the first two games.
While the offensive talent is on the outside, Jackson wants to have a strong running game as the primary foundation of the team. The offensive will have to be able to get a strong enough push to make that happen. Isaiah Crowell isn't gifted enough to make things happen with bad blocking and Duke is on the smaller side and more prone to injury.
Even as fans expect high flying, pass first offense, expect Jackson to try to force the running game tonight.
Will We Find Hope for the Defense?
The Browns have spent a lot of resources on their defense, far more than their offense over the last few years, but the outcome hasn't changed. For two years, it has been terrible. For two Preseason games this season, it has been terrible.
Players like Danny Shelton, Nate Orchard, Xavier Cooper, Emmanuel Ogbah, Carl Nassib, Justin Gilbert and Christian Kirksey have all been high draft picks. Joe Haden, Tramon Williams and Paul Kruger are highly paid veterans. Ray Horton is back as the Browns Defensive Coordinator.
Even with all of that, Browns fans hope is that the offense is good enough to make up for a truly bad defense.
Tonight, against Jameis Winston, Doug Martin and Mike Evans led offense, can the Browns show some signs of hope? Can they stop the run a little bit? Can they keep Winston from passing all over the field? Can they get the ball back to the offense on 3rd Downs?
Who Will Breakout Among the Backups?
Finally, while Game 4 is the game for backups, Game 3 could should unearth a player who surprises fans. Whether that is an undrafted guy, a random street free agent or one of the late draft picks, who will be the guy that opens fans, and coaches, eyes?
Maybe it is one of the corners, Trey Caldwell and Tracy Howard. Maybe Chigbo Anunoby shows that he can help plug the run from the middle. Maybe Josh Boyce pushes his way into the fight at the deep wide receiver position. Maybe Mike Matthews puts his stamp on the center position, and makes Browns fans happy to have another Matthews on the team.
Maybe Terrell Watson finally gets his chance to shine after being talked up by Jackson this offseason.
Maybe my favorite from last year, E.J. Bibbs gets a chance with his great hands and feet.
Either way, I expect someone to be the talk of tomorrow, on top of the Big Three Receivers as discussed in the video above.
What do you expect from tonight's Preseason Game 3?null