The Browns minicamp is over and now it’s on to training camp at Greenbrier, West Virginia for eight days starting on July 22. I like the idea of getting out of Cleveland for the beginning of training camp, this team needs to bond and come together. Looking at the minicamp that just concluded, I have some thoughts (go figure, no surprise).
First of all, I know it’s June, but from what I’ve read and seen on social media, quarterback Deshaun Watson is throwing the ball well. Franchise quarterbacks usually do. I know during 7 on 7 and 11 on 11, there’s no pass rush, but for the ball to hardly touch the ground is impressive. This is what these drills are supposed to look like when you have a talented group of wide receivers and a great quarterback. This is what it’s supposed to look like in Kanas City or Buffalo or Philadelphia. I could get used to this. You could see Watson going through his progressions. Even though there was no pass rush, there was coverage. The Browns’ talent in the secondary is one of the reasons Jim Schwartz came to Cleveland. Yet, receivers were open and Watson fit the ball into tight windows.
As for the rest of the offense, I notice more pre-snap motion, wide receivers were in a stack formation instead of being lined up along the line of scrimmage and wide receiver Elijah Moore lined up in the backfield. Moore had great success in college when lined up in the backfield. Also, running back Nick Chubb was catching more passes, which is a very good thing. When the local media interviewed Watson, I was surprised of how long the interview went on and how much Watson loves to talk about this offense. Watson and head coach Kevin Stefanski seem to be on the same page and if all goes well, this offense is going to be special.
On defense, Za’Darius Smith is a very big man. He’s just as big as Myles Garrett. The defensive line in the first 11 on 11’s was Garrett, Galvin Tomlinson, Smith and Ogbo Okoronkwo. I like it. From hearing the interviews with the defensive players, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is keeping things simple, communicating well with his players and holding every player accountable. What a hell of a nice change of pace. I hope defensive tackle Maurice Hurst can stay healthy. He is far better than just a situational defensive lineman. Linebacker Jordan Kunaszyk is settling in nicely as the number two middle linebacker.
On special teams, former Pro bowler Jakeem Grant was seen catching punts and kicker Cade York was five out of six on 50+ yard field goals. To keep Grant the Browns will have to carry seven wide receivers on their final 53-man roster. Usually, they carry six. It will be something to watch during preseason games. Speaking of preseason games, I’m very happy the Browns have an extra game, especially with a new offense and a new defense.
All in all, I’m starting to get a little excited, but will temper my expectations until is see a few pre-season games. I’ll keep repeating to myself, “it’s only June.”