Browns lay an egg in Jacksonville

All week long the national media was heaping praise on the Cleveland Browns. And after that impressive win last week against Pittsburgh they deserved it.

But much of the praise got way out of hand, with Mike Greenberg from Mike & Mike proclaiming that the Browns would be 6-2 after facing three bad teams starting with the Jaguars. Given the unpredictable nature of the NFL, that prediction was suspect at best, and even bordered on the ridiculous when you consider that before the season started guys like Greenberg were predicting the Browns would be so bad that Johnny Manziel would be starting by the bye week.

The Browns had been very good through five games, but we know they’re not an elite team. The Browns aren’t good enough to beat any NFL team, even a winless NFL team, when they play as poorly as they did today.

Here are some observations from today’s comedy of errors:

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Get ready for Johnny Football packages

With Brian Hoyer named as the starter, the next question will be whether the Browns will have some packages ready to get Johnny Manziel on the field. Head coach Mike Pettine initially said no, but then he clarified that as the season progresses we might see special packages for Manziel.

This makes sense. Some national writers were questioning the decision, and there are plenty of arguments out there for never taking out your starting quarterback. One writer pointed out that Manziel isn’t the kind of runner that can bull his way to a first down or touchdown in short yardage.

Yet Manziel brings quickness and elusiveness, and that offers a real advantage in short yardage situations. Now the defense has to at least account for the possibility of the quarterback running, and a read-option formation offers all sorts of opportunities for misdirection. Any hesitation on the part of the defense can be the difference in getting a critical yard.

Also, this makes coordinators have to prepare for other packages, so I think offering this wrinkle from time to time makes a ton of sense for the Browns.

Bridgewater pro day a dud

Pro days can be overrated, but teams certainly take them into account. Most analysts agree that Teddy Bridgewater is the most pro-ready of the quarterbacks in this draft class, and he seems like an ideal fit for a West Coast type offense. The Browns will run the Shanahan version of that offense, so Bridgewater is certainly an option with the fourth overall pick.

But when you watch his pro day video, he just doesn’t look like someone who should be drafted that high. His arm seems to be average at best, and the floaters he threw would blow all over the place on a cold, windy day in Cleveland.

Who knows what to make of all this. The draft is pretty deep with decent quarterback prospects, so many are now speculating that the Browns will take Sammy Watkins or even a defensive player with that first pick, and then wait a bit to pick a quarterback.

Tony Grossi is lamenting the possibility of the Browns going after Matt Schaub, but that doesn’t bother me. He could battle Brian Hoyer for the starting spot along with the rookie, and with Hoyer coming off an ACL injury it makes sense to have another viable veteran option.