On Saturday, the Cleveland Browns will complete their preseason in Kansas City Missouri taking on the defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs. We will get to see many of the starters play to tune up for the September 10th opener in Cleveland against the division rival Cincinnati Bengals. As fans, we want to see execution while avoiding injuries.
The 2023 Preseason had some heroes for the Cleveland Browns. Rookie quarterback Dorian Thomson-Robinson looked like a potential star. And wide receiver Austin Watkins Jr seems to catch every ball thrown to him. You can see the social media posts and sports call-in shows discussing their future roles with the team. The NFL preseason has never been short of stars that have floundered when the games started to count.
The 1990 Browns preseason had a battle at placekicker. Longtime Browns placekicker Matt Bahr lost his job to Jerry Kauric. Bahr went on to win a Super Bowl with the New York Giants and Kauric struggled that season as the Browns finished 3-13. A year later Matt Stover become Kauric’s replacement. Kauric looked great in the preseason and it appeared to be the right move at that time. But time showed that it wasn’t.
Let’s also be reminded of the 1995 preseason of Georgia rookie quarterback Eric Zeier had an excellent preseason for the Browns. Then starter Vinny Testaverde was out of action due to an infection. The local media asked Coach Belichick about the exhibition season star performance of his young QB. Belichick was quick to point out that he was facing vanilla defenses- with mostly backups. In practice, the more complex defenses against starters illustrated the reality of Zeier’s ability. Zeier had a career record of 4-8 as a backup and journeyman quarterback.
The 2017 Cleveland Browns preseason had the team finish with a 4-0 record. The team was still in the rebuilding process coming off a forgettable 1-15 2016 record. This was Myles Garrett’s rookie season. The fans and the press felt that it indicated more than one win in 2017. Then head coach Hue Jackson confidently proclaimed “to jump in the lake” if they didn’t win more than one game. We were all wrong. The team went 0-16, rock bottom was hit and our head coach got soaked literally.
Last year at this time, quarterback Josh Dobbs was a shining star. His athleticism and playmaking ability was on display for Browns fans to get excited. After Deshaun Watson came off his 11-game suspension. Dobbs was released. He did eventually start two games for the Tennessee Titans late last season. He went 0-2 in his starts and had 58.8% completion percentage. He has since rejoined the Cleveland Browns and is slated as a quality backup to Deshaun Watson.
To be clear, I am not saying that Dobbs, Thomson-Robinson and Watkins can’t be very good players. They certainly show that they can be. We won’t know until the games and stats count. All NFL fans at this time of the year have great hope and anticipation for the upcoming season. We all can’t wait for the season to kick off. Seeing young players on your team do well in the exhibition season feeds those emotions. I am just saying to wait and see what happens in the regular season and hopefully the postseason. They don’t hand out championship rings or make busts in Canton for accomplishments in the NFL preseason for a reason.