Let’s start out by stating that there are no moral victories in football, really. Last night’s game against the Baltimore Ravens still counts in the loss column for the Cleveland Browns. But it was an entertaining game, one in which the Browns were in until the final play.
There were encouraging signs throughout the game. Brandon Weeden did not seem afraid of the spotlight on a nationally televised game. For the most part, he was accurate and on time, despite completing less than half of his 52 pass attempts on a rainy night. His stats were hurt by several dropped passes on catchable balls. Sure, he threw the interception, and that final pass at the end of the game was not close to catchable. I just thought he played remarkably composed, given the setting.
Trent Richardson continues to show that he was worth taking with the third overall pick in the draft. He only had 14 carries for 47 yards, but added four receptions for 57 yards. He also provided quality blocking on several plays. What impresses me about him is his refusal to go down after first contact. He always seems to push the pile forward, and usually requires more than one person to tackle him. He also showed how fast he can be on the Browns lone touchdown, beating the Ravens to the corner of the end zone on a stretch run.
It is important to note that neither Weeden nor Richardson could have played well without the offensive line playing well against a Ravens defense that, while missing the reigning defensive player of the year in Terrell Suggs, still has Haloti Ngata, Ray Lewis, and Ed Reed. The Browns officially only gave up one sack, and despite Weeden getting hit several times, I still consider it a good game for the offensive line. In a stadium in which the Ravens were 30-5 since 2008, the Browns offensive line outplayed their counterparts.
So overall, while this still counts as a loss, I believe that the Browns are, for the most part, playing competitive football, and appear to be on the right track. There is still work to be done, but despite an 0-4 record, things are looking up for my hometown Browns.