The Lions continue preseason play tomorrow evening in Clevaland. As Lions fans, we’re well aware of what is going on with that side of the matchup. I had a chance earlier this week to catch up with Dawgpound Daily editor Steve DiMatteo to ask him some questions about what is going on with the Browns.
Zac Snyder: My outsider’s view tells me Browns fans have been lukewarm regarding Colt McCoy. Has that changed since a nice performance against the Packers last week?
Steve DiMatteo: I think that lukewarm feeling you’re noticing is the cautious optimism that stems from being burned so many times in the past. Browns fans have invested themselves heavily in young quarterbacks before and it’s never turned out well, so I think they’re taking a different collective approach this time around. I’m not sure that his game against the Packers changed anything, but I think people are seeing that he won’t necessarily be the spectacular bust that so many before him were.
ZS: How have Browns fans reacted to the victory over the Packers?
SD: Even after the strong performance against the Packers, no one is expecting this team to be world-beaters – a .500 record would feel like a resounding success. In that regard, Browns fans have reacted as they should, and by that I mean that they haven’t reacted with much fervor in either direction. They found the performance of the first-teamers promising, but are waiting for a few more games before getting too excited.
ZS: What are your expectations for the Browns this season?
SD: Unfortunately, this season has been given the dreaded “rebuilding” label, so expectations cannot necessarily be soaring at this point. The Browns got younger and faster, but they lack considerable depth at almost every position, which is going to hurt as the season wears on. With a new coach, new offense, and new defense, the season will be exciting, and there will be plenty to talk about, but I think this is a five, six-win team, seven at best.
ZS: What is going well and what isn’t going well for the Browns so far?
SD: After one preseason game, we can say that, so far, the new West Coast offense is going pretty well, as is Colt McCoy’s development as the starting quarterback. Of course, that’s one quarter of one preseason game, but the improvement was noticeable. As for what’s not going well, the Browns were unable to land a big free agent and still have depth concerns. The injury bug has affected a number of players so far but, luckily, few injuries have been serious (with the exception of punter Reggie Hodges’ torn Achilles). Without much depth, the Browns are going to be tip-toeing around this potential disaster all season long.
ZS: Give Lions fans a couple new names to watch this week or a hot position battle going on in Browns camp.
SD: There haven’t been many true position battles taking place in camp, but the name to look out for is running back Montario Hardesty. The promising young back missed all of last season due to knee surgery but has finally begun practicing again. The Browns also signed Brandon Jackson from the Packers this offseason, so who eventually secures that No. 2 spot behind Peyton Hillis is becoming a pretty compelling storyline in camp.