Wins or losses don't matter in the preseason, right coach?
"Even though it's preseason, you want to win the game," said Eric Mangini at last Thursday's press conference.
Trailing by three points with 7 minutes, 10 seconds remaining in the game, the Browns' back ups to the back ups, and Phil Dawson's right leg, rallied to win the game: Browns 27, Green Bay 24.
You play … to win … the game. When Herm Edwards said that he wasn't referring to a preseason game. No doubt the victory made for a pleasant trip back to Cleveland for the players and coaches, but despite what Mangini said last Thursday, how the Browns offense executed is more encouraging than the win.
Some early reports out of training camp spelled doom and gloom for the Browns offense. Every Delhomme interception was tweeted and blogged with dire overtones. Considering Delhomme threw 18 interceptions in 11 games last season that was understandable.
While one preseason game doesn't ease all those concerns, hey, it could have been worse. Let's take a quick trip back to 2009. The Browns opened the preseason with a 17-0 stinker at Green Bay. The offense couldn't move the ball. The Browns' three quarterbacks were a combined 14-for-26 with 152 yards with no touchdowns and four interceptions. The Browns wore solid, brown pants. In all, it was an inauspicious debut and that lingered well into the regular season.
A year later, a different looking Browns offense — donning white pants — was on display at Lambeau Field. Throughout the game, the Browns' offense executed.
It started with Jake Delhomme. His first and only appearance resulted in an 11-play, 80-yard drive culminating in a 4-yard touchdown run by Jerome Harrison. Delhomme finished 6-for-7 passing for 66 yards and, most importantly, no interceptions. During the drive, Delhomme displayed leadership from behind center, a trait the Browns have sorely missed.
Like in the scrimmage, the Browns showed another positive sign. At Family Day, Delhomme connected with Ben Watson on a third-and-goal from the 5-yard-line. Traditionally, this would lead to a field goal for Cleveland.
A week later, Green Bay fumbled on its first play from scrimmage and the Browns recovered at the Packers 13-yard-line. Again, past experiences would lead most to believe the Browns will kick a field goal. Yet three plays later facing a third and 10, Seneca Wallace found Brian Robiskie for a 13-yard touchdown pass. The Browns capitalized with a touchdown off a turnover. Fittingly, Wallace's second touchdown pass — a 20-yarder to Watson — was also on third down and in the red zone.
Browns scoring on their opening possession? The Browns making plays and converting on third downs? The Browns scoring touchdowns in the red zone? Regardless of a win or loss, those are positive experiences the Browns offense can use as they creep closer to the games that count.
"For me, I want to see a jump from the brown and white game," said Mangini, also last Thursday. " I want to see some improvement from there. Then the next week, I want to see a jump from that. Then the next week, I want to see a jump from that. I mean that collectively and individually."
When it comes to the offense, the Browns did just that from the scrimmage to the first preseason game.
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