CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – Hue Jackson got his wish Thursday night – the Browns won.
After winning just once the entire 2016 season and preseason combined, Jackson was happy to see his team start off on the right foot – even if the 20-14 victory over the Saints doesn’t really count.
Here’s a look at the good and bad from Thursday night:
– Safety Ibraheim Campbell went down on the second play of the game, a 12-yard run from Saints rookie Alvin Kamara. A cart was brought out onto the field but after a few minutes Campbell was able to sit up and then walk off under his own power with trainers. He did not return due to a concussion.
– Myles Garrett’s first official tackle came on the Saints’ second possession – a run that saw him drop running back Daniel Lasco for a loss of 2. Garrett nearly had a sack 2 possessions later when he was a half second late of getting to quarterback Garrett Grayson, who wasn’t able to connect with receiver Travin Dural.
“I could have got a sack, but it is what it is,” Garrett, who added he was disappointed with “nothing” in his debut, said.
His final defensive numbers – a tackle for loss and quarterback hit – but his impact was immediate as the Saints doubled Garrett on his first defensive snap.
“I thought he held his own,” Jackson said. “When he had an opportunity to rush, he rushed well and that there was a little pressure here and there. He made one play in the backfield. I did see that. I will watch more once I get an opportunity to see the tape.”
Garrett’s most impressive play came at the 10:19 mark of the first quarter when he chased down rookie running back Alvin Kamara, who broke off a 22-yard carry, from behind and helped cornerback Joe Haden bring Kamara down.
“He doesn’t cross our endzone,” Garrett said. “No matter what happens, got to make sure that I meet him, give him a shot to remember, live to play another down.”
– The Browns’ first offensive possession was a train-wreck and the 3 that followed weren’t much better.
On the first offensive snap of the night, receiver Corey Coleman appeared to run the wrong route on a quick out on first down, Isaiah Crowell ran for 3 yards on second down and Cam Erving, who was filling in for the idle Joe Thomas at left tackle, got called for a false start and then a hold that didn’t work on third down and Osweiler was still forced to run for his life and throw the ball away.
“Obviously, there was some sloppy play early. Way too many penalties for my liking,” Jackson said.
The Browns were flagged 12 times for 72 yards which bothered Jackson.
“These are the things that stop you from winning,” Jackson said. “The penalties and those type of things don’t help you win games. It stops drives, and obviously, we had to deal with a lot of that tonight.”
Also, at some point the Browns will hopefully finally figure out that trotting Erving out there is a safety hazard for their quarterbacks.
– The Browns defense caught a break early when Ted Ginn Jr. dropped a touchdown on third down after being wide open on back line of the end zone forcing the Saints to settle for a 22-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead with 8:02 left in the opening quarter.
– Linebacker Nate Orchard was the defensive star for the Browns on the Saints third offensive possession. He came up with a sack – along with Jamie Meder – on first down, then he helped to stuff a run at the line of scrimmage on second down leading to the first three-and-out for New Orleans of the night. Orchard was listed third on the depth chart entering the game finished with a pair of assists, half a sack and quarterback hit might have caught Gregg Williams’ attention.
– Jabrill Peppers showed why special teams coordinator Chris Tabor was so excited when the Browns picked him 25th overall. Peppers had a 27-yard kickoff return out to the 33 and a 13-yard punt return.
“I feel like I should have broke both of those,” Peppers said, “just got to stay on my feet, just finish what I start. I take pride in setting a lot of high expectations for myself and when I fall short of those, I don’t feel like I accomplished what I needed to.”
He also fair caught another punt but then slapped the football in frustration after realizing he had 5-10 yards of running room.
“Usually in college, when the ball hangs a little bit, you could bet a lot of money that they would be pretty much in your face, but you’ve got to take into account the distance and they can’t leave until the ball is actually punted now so I saw it hang, I looked, I saw it hanging, so I just thought the fair catch would be the best decision, but preseason game, learn from your mistakes and you move forward,” Peppers said.
– Receiver Kenny Britt, who signed a $32.5 million deal this offseason as a free agent, was unable to haul in a pair of would-be TD catches on the Browns’ fourth possession from Osweiler. Britt couldn’t get a second foot down in the back-right corner of the end zone on second down then Saints cornerback Ken Crawley broke up a fourth down pass inside the goal line to him.
– Osweiler, who got 2 full days of practice with the starters this week, didn’t tally a first down until his fourth and final possession of the night. He finished 6-of-14 for 42 yards and did little to solidify the starting job for the season. He also had a pair of deep balls sail over receiver Ricardo Louis and later tight end Seth DeValve.
“No excuses for it whatsoever,” Osweiler said. “There were a couple goal balls that landed out of bounds. That is unacceptable. I have to give my receiver a chance. I am pretty sure – I could be wrong – but I am pretty sure in the history of the game that no ball has ever been completed that was thrown out of bounds.”
– Trevon Coley, who has flashed in camp at defensive tackle, came away with the strip-sack that Carl Nassib recovered to set up Cody Kessler’s first offensive series at the New Orleans 21.
– Matt Dayes capitalized on the turnover with a 1-yard touchdown run on his third run of the 5-play drive that gave the Browns a 7-3 lead. The drive also saw Kessler complete a 9-yard pass to receiver Corey Coleman and get a pass interference flag on a throw to receiver Rannelll Hall on third-and-goal to give them a fresh set of downs at the 1.
– Joe Schobert registered a 7-yard sack on third down and also finished with a pair of tackles, a tackle for loss, pass breakup and QB hit.
– In the third quarter Cleveland’s defense ended a 13-play Saints drive with a goal-line stand inside the 3. Cornerback Brien Boddy-Calhoun sniffed out an end around and came up with a huge stick for a loss of 7 on fourth-and goal at the 2 to give Browns the ball at their own 9 and end the threat.
– DeShone Kizer made quite the debut in leading the comeback in the second half. In 5 offensive series, Kizer finished 11-of-18 for 184 yards and a touchdown while running twice for 13 yards – not counting the final kneeldown to run out the clock.
Kizer set up a 1-yard TD run by Terrance Magee with a 52-yard strike to receiver Richard Mullaney to cut the deficit to 14-13 with 12:33 left in the fourth quarter but it was his second deep ball that will be the one fans will talk about for the next few days.
On fourth-and-2, Kizer stepped up in the pocket to avoid the rush and he delivered a 45-yard dart to receiver Jordan Payton for what would be the game-winning touchdown with 1:52 to play.
Jackson will have to think about this whole QB competition a bit more.