Monday, August 18, 2014
W2W4: Cleveland Browns
By Pat McManamon
The Cleveland Browns (0-1) and Washington Redskins (1-0) play Monday night at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland.
1. Passing fancy. The Browns need someone to step forward in the most-discussed race since Bush-Gore hit the Supreme Court. Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel have had moments, but neither has leaned off the horse to grab the brass ring. As a result, the Browns are splitting time in Game 2 between the two, with the hopes that one of them steps forward. If they don’t -- and coach Mike Pettine said he will do his best to ensure each ends up with equal playing time -- the Browns have to decide whom the tie favors. Hoyer has the edge of being around the league for a few years and Manziel has youthful exuberance and the ability to make something happen with his feet. A decision is expected to be announced by Wednesday at the latest.
2. Can anyone catch? With or without Josh Gordon, the Browns have serious concerns at receiver. Things have gotten so tough at practice that questions have been asked of the quarterbacks whether they can really display their ability with guys leaving the ball on the ground. Miles Austin started well, and he looks like the best of guys not named Gordon. But Nate Burleson has missed significant time, Travis Benjamin is coming back from knee surgery and Charles Johnson remains the great unknown. Somebody has to play, so the Browns will line up. But it sure would be better if the Browns lined up somebody because they're producing, not out of default.
3. Can anyone score? In a scrimmage and a full preseason game the offense has yet to score a touchdown. It’s not an anomaly for those two events, either. Touchdowns have been hard to come by in practice as well. The easy thing to say about this is that the defense is that good. It’s also wrong. These issues reside with the offense. The struggles at receiver, combined with learning a new system, combined with a new running game system, combined with a quarterback competition have the offense floundering. Any positive offensive showing would be a step forward. A touchdown might be cause to stop the game and give the game ball to the quarterback who scores.