The Commanders took on the Browns in Cleveland Friday night, and snuck out victorious with a 17-15 win. If you are a fan of offensive football, this was not the game for you.
Washington was outgained by almost 100 yards on offense, lost the penalty and time of possession battles, and broke even in turnovers, yet still managed to make plays down by the goal line to keep Cleveland's first team offense out of the endzone early in the contest. This turned out to be the deciding factor in the game for Ron Rivera and company.
It was a mixed bag on both offense and defense, but that is to be expected in the first preseason game (this was the second for the Browns). We saw a lot of snaps for the second- and third-team units, and those are valuable reps for guys fighting to make this roster.
Below are my Studs and Duds of the game, followed by some notes/observations.
Sam Howell - Despite being under some heavy pressure by Cleveland’s defense, and taking his first game reps in Eric Bieniemy’s offense, Howell showed good decision making in the passing game and the ability to use his legs to scramble when needed. He finished an impressive 9-12 for 77 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions in a little over a quarter of work. He also had an eight yard scamper for a key first down on a third down conversion during the first series.
4th and 3 - Howell buys time and throws a to Cole Turner for the 1st! pic.twitter.com/JlxG1MI4I5— Mark Tyler(Hogs Haven) (@Tiller56) August 12, 2023
Love how we get the QB out of the pocket and to his right here. Pretty throw by Howell across his body. pic.twitter.com/faMF6DsRYY— Mark Tyler(Hogs Haven) (@Tiller56) August 12, 2023
Jahan Dotson - Dotson caught two passes for 30 yards and an acrobatic 26 yard touchdown. The second year pro is going to be a major problem for opposing defenses this season as he builds chemistry with Howell.
Very good protection here. Howell finds Dotson who makes a great grab for the TD!!! pic.twitter.com/m0Qjsj5Eyr— Mark Tyler(Hogs Haven) (@Tiller56) August 12, 2023
Cole Turner - We know Bieneimy likes to use his tight ends, and we saw a glimpse of that Friday night from the targets Cole Turner received. Turner tied for the team lead in receptions (four) and was second in receiving yards (31) on the evening.
Chris Rodriguez - The rookie running back looked explosive and decisive hitting the hole against Cleveland’s front. He had five carries for 39 yards - an impressive 7.8 YPC average.
Nice blocking at the POA here, and good hard run by CRod pic.twitter.com/kPn0Q3HXcT— Mark Tyler(Hogs Haven) (@Tiller56) August 12, 2023
Christian Holmes - The second year corner led the defense in passes defended with two and has some nice tackles to stop opposing receivers in their tracks or jar the ball lose.
Kazmeir Allen - Allen had two kickoff returns for 41 yards and returned two punts for 24 yards. His best punt return was called back because of a holding call. I think we may have found our return specialist. Dax Milne - watch out for your roster spot...
Even though this was brought back for a holding call - I think we have found our return specialist in Kazmeir Allen pic.twitter.com/DCrLRH4rBn— Mark Tyler(Hogs Haven) (@Tiller56) August 12, 2023
Andrew Wylie - Wylie did not look good in limited action with the first team offensive line. On one series early in the game on Washington’s second offensive possession, he gave up immediate inside pressure forcing Howell to throw the ball away, and two plays later gave up pressure and was called for holding in the endzone resulting in a safety. He also got called for another holding call later in the the half. Rough night for the veteran right tackle.
Wylie beaten badly again on inside move. Is forced to hold which is called a safety. pic.twitter.com/3T3vEiU7Jz— Mark Tyler(Hogs Haven) (@Tiller56) August 12, 2023
Starting Linebacking Corps - Jamin Davis and Cody Barton looked rather slow and out of place in limited action early in the contest. It’s still early and these guys may just need some time to get their feet under them in game action...but it was not a great start.
Quan Martin - It was a tough start for Martin as he allowed some easy completions, including a touchdown in the third quarter, and was called for a pass interference penalty. The rookie will get better with more playing time, but his introduction to the NFL was not great.
- Jacoby Brissett looked very well when he came into the game in the second quarter (aside from his ill-advised throw at the end of the second quarter that was intercepted). He made some very nice throws, including a dime he dropped down the right sideline to Pringle and a nice 12 yard touchdown run.
One HELL of a pass from Brissett to Pringle! pic.twitter.com/VFtBCzENPl— Mark Tyler(Hogs Haven) (@Tiller56) August 12, 2023
Brissett steps up in the pocket and runs for the TD pic.twitter.com/gSvW9iIY7O— Mark Tyler(Hogs Haven) (@Tiller56) August 12, 2023
- I’m not going to list Nick Gates as a dud, but I thought his blocking was suspect and his movement in space looked slow and stiff.
- Chris Paul showed some nice power at left guard and his ability to pull and seal off his defender was evident on one play early in the game. A decent overall showing for Paul.
Watch the pull here by Chris Paul who makes the key block on this Gibson run pic.twitter.com/oiN50WwjCW— Mark Tyler(Hogs Haven) (@Tiller56) August 12, 2023
- First round rookie Emmanuel Forbes had a quiet night, although he did make a nice play on a 3rd down goal line stop.
Nice play at the goal line by the rookie Forbes! pic.twitter.com/lNRdUV8ZPE— Mark Tyler(Hogs Haven) (@Tiller56) August 12, 2023
- Chase Young certainly looks to have gained back the explosiveness we saw as a rookie. He should have had a sack of Watson early in the game but he was tackled by Willis as he went to wrap up Watson and the quarterback just escaped his grasp.
Chase should have had this sack. So close pic.twitter.com/dnJLvofZAg— Mark Tyler(Hogs Haven) (@Tiller56) August 12, 2023
- Montez Sweat recorded two tackles in his limited time, but none was bigger than his TFL on a fourth and goal run on the Browns first possession of the game.
Montez Sweat - BEAST! pic.twitter.com/bm8dq5Xy7Z— Mark Tyler(Hogs Haven) (@Tiller56) August 12, 2023
- Efe Obada was disruptive when he was in the game, generating two pressures and a QB hit while recording a solo tackle.
- Percy Butler had a nice interception near the end of the second quarter off a Dobbs mis-fire. He also recorded two tackles from his safety position.