Cleveland Browns football is now officially back for the 2018 season. In a battle of the No. 1 and No. 2 overall picks, Baker Mayfield and the Browns came out on top against Saquon Barkley, 20-10 in the first preseason game.
While it is only the first game in the preseason and things should be taken with a grain of salt, there were still positives and negatives that can be taken away for the Browns.
PRO: The Quarterback Play Was Encouraging
Tyrod Taylor was named the starting quarterback by head coach Hue Jackson for a reason and that showed on Thursday evening. In two drives, Taylor went 5/5 with 99 yards and a touchdown pass. The first play from scrimmage was a nice throw to Jarvis Landry and in the second series, he led a touchdown drive while the offense played up-tempo.
All eyes were on Mayfield, however, as this was his first game action in the NFL. He played well and showed why he was deserving of the first overall pick. He threw for 212 yards on 11/20 and had two touchdowns on a perfectly placed throw to David Njoku and a well-timed pass to Antonio Callaway. Mayfield showed what could be done with his legs, too, as he got outside the pocket and picked up a few first downs.
CON: The Running Game Was Nonexistent
An area that the Browns addressed this offseason was the running backs. Signing Carlos Hyde, drafting Nick Chubb, and extending Duke Johnson showed this. But there was no production out of this group in the first game. Hyde and Johnson both got one carry. Chubb ran the ball 15 times and only had 11 yards. Again, it is only the first preseason game, but this was not a positive sign. With the talent at quarterback and at receiver, the run game will need to step up and show that they can produce. With Chubb being a rookie, he should see improvement with more playing time.
PRO: Antonio Callaway Shows What He Can Do
Leading up to the game, it was a controversial week for the rookie wide out. He was driving with a suspended license and marijuana was found in the car he was driving. The Browns decided to play him against the Giants and Callaway played well amid the distractions. He showed why his talent was good enough to go in the first round. Three catches for 87 yards and a score from 54 yards was an impressive outing. If the off the field issues stop, he will continue to be a big part of the Browns offense.
CON: Too Many Penalties
Cleveland committed 13 penalties for 141 yards on Thursday. Denzel Ward got flagged for an unsportsmanlike penalty after breaking up a pass and standing over the receiver. As a young DB in the NFL, he is going to have to learn how to keep his emotions in check while going up against some of the best at the position week after week. Landry was also whistled for an unsportsmanlike penalty after jawing with the defender and spinning the ball on the ground after the first offensive play from scrimmage. These will have to be cleaned up before the regular season starts. If not, those penalties and yards given up will come back to hurt against some of the better teams on the schedule.