RGIII’s Browns Debut Produces Explosive Plays For Offense And Defense

The Cleveland Browns debuted their new-look offense yesterday—or at least a decidedly vanilla flavoring of it, as this is, after all, the preseason—with quarterback Robert Griffin III under center, who led the unit for the team’s first two drives before giving way to the rest of the Brown’s four quarterbacks.

All told, he completed four of eight pass attempts for 67 yards, but he also threw an interception. Cleveland failed to score during his two drives as they fell to the Packers overall to the tune of 17-11. It was perhaps the sort of start that you might have expected to see, really.

The Browns took their first offensive possession about midway through the first quarter, and Griffin almost immediately truck with the big play, finding Terrelle Pryor down the field for a 49-yard hookup. In spite of the fact that he is still fairly new to the wide receiver position, the former Ohio State quarterback is currently in the starting lineup for the Browns.

Griffin proceeded to connect with Pryor again, and with tight end Gary Barnidge, but as he looked for another completion to his tight end, things went awry. Just near the end zone, he looked for Barnidge down the middle of the seam, but the tight end was unable to get over in time, and the Packers safety was in position behind the play to make the interception.

In all, Griffin completed his first three passes for 64 yards, and went just one-for-five for three yards and an interception on his final five throws. But he was also under duress for many of those throws, and the second play of the game, from second-year center Cameron Erving, was botched. The handoff to the running back, that is, but training camp reports suggest a number of poor quarterback-center exchanges.

It’s worth pointing out that the Browns are undergoing adjustments along their offensive line, with new starters at center and right tackle. Griffin even took a shot on the first pass of the game, the 49-yard strike to Pryor. He lay on his knees for a moment, but then got up and sprinted downfield.

Clearly, the Robert Griffin III era in Cleveland is in beta testing right now, and there were some intriguing flashes, but there is still a lot to work on. While he offers exciting mobility in the pocket, his decision making in that regard, particularly with respect to his own safety, is a work in progress.

Of course, this is just the first preseason game, and as should go without saying with a team that is dealing with a new quarterback, new wide receivers, new offensive linemen—and, oh, a new head coach and front office, too—there may be some kinks to be ironed out. The goal is for there to be more polish on each game from here on out.

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