CLEVELAND – Nostalgic Monday Night Football kicks off with a bang in Cleveland on August 21st on ESPN.
The Browns defense looked like it had the Gregg Williams brand as it was tenacious, fast and hard hitting in the week one 20-14 win over New Orleans. The Browns take on the New York Giants at First Energy Stadium.
Rookie defensive end and 2017 number one overall pick Myles Garrett will get his first true test against veteran Super Bowl winner Eli Manning. The home fans will also see if the secondary will be able to shut down the Giants receiving core dominated by Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall.
Make no mistake; this preseason game is the measuring stick to see if the revamped, energetic core of Jabrill Peppers, Garrett, Danny Shelton, Jamie Collins, Christian Kirksey, Emmanuel Ogbah and Carl Nassib are ready to be discussed as an elite defense. This is not an ordinary preseason game. It will also be interesting to see what else DeShone Kizer will do. Although Brock Osweiler is expected to start with Cody Kessler as the second quarterback, Kizer torched the Saints defense in week 1 in the comeback win.
The offensive line was stellar against New Orleans. Although Joe Thomas did not play (rest), the newly acquired free agents J.C. Tretter and Kevin Zeitler gave Osweiler more than enough time to throw completions.
The lack of impact blocking was a major issue last season as multiple quarterbacks went down with injuries. Although that was just the first game of preseason, Browns fans were surely excited to see the line hold against the pass rush of New Orleans. It is not far-fetched to say the Browns offensive line looks like a playoff caliber one.
It will also be interesting to see if Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson get off to a hot start rushing against the Giants defense. New York ranked tenth in total defense last season.
Prediction: There should be a lot more scoring in this game. Fans on both sides, as well the national television audience, should expect the best performances from the offenses.
Browns 27 Giants 24
The Josh Gordon Situation: Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon is expected to reapply for reinstatement next month. Although the Browns expect Gordon to be reinstated, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is not in a hurry to reinstate him. Goodell said he entered into a program for rehabilitation and he respects Gordon’s privacy.
Although Goodell’s reaction was to temper enthusiasm, the Browns expect Gordon to be reinstated next month. Browns fans should still take that news with a grain of salt.