After a lengthy off-season, it is finally week 1, Browns vs Panthers, and an entire slate of football this weekend. Back in May when the schedule came out this game didn’t seem exciting outside of each respective fan base. But now this matchup seems pretty interesting for one sole reason. Baker Mayfield who is now the starting quarterback for Carolina Panthers was the starter for the Cleveland Browns for the first 4 seasons of his career. He was only traded away 3 months ago. This game has the potential for fireworks.
Baker Mayfield vs Cleveland Browns
Former 1st overall pick Baker Mayfield in his very first game as a Carolina Panther will face his former team. Known for his explosive personality this seems like a revenge game in the making which Mayfield is no stranger to. Earlier in the summer, he commented on playing the Browns by saying it’s a matchup he has circled and won’t pretend like he doesn’t care. Then following a pre-season it was stated by an NFL reporter that Baker wants to expletive the Browns up. Later commenting he didn’t say it and was taking it out of context. Browns are saying it’s not bulletin board material and that they won’t be overly hyped against a former teammate. On the other hand, Baker will be highly motivated and hyped.
To make it plain and simple the Cleveland Browns want and need to win this game. Baker Mayfield aside, the Browns haven’t won a season-opening game since 2004. Browns vs Ravens. So as much as it would be great for fans to hear from the Browns they want to be Baker Mayfield. The team needs a win in week 1 beyond the reasons of Baker Mayfield. Another reason is this team needs to start hot while they can with Deshaun Watson serving his 11-game suspension. The game plan for those 11 games will be a grind-it-out style of play and play top 5 defense which they can do. Most importantly for this week 1 matchup the Browns need to get a win to put behind them, all of the off-season drama.
Browns Style Of Play
The number one thing the Browns have been known for under head coach Kevin Stefanski is running the football. Running the ball is tried and true to the west coast style offense. To be exact when mentioning the team’s style of play he wants the defense and offense to be multiple and play physical. Which simply means being versatile week to week. For 11 weeks of the season, the style of play will not change from the identity they have established. Run the ball and be physical on offense and then for defense be a top 5 unit that carries the team until week 11. There will be a lot of bootleg and play action, and not just in week 1 against the Panthers. There has been a lot of talk of possibly giving Josh Dobb a package for the more athletic things Brissett can’t do.
Game Plan Offense/Defense vs Panthers
The Cleveland Browns defense will look to start fast against Baker Mayfield in week 1. The defensive unit would like to force Mayfield to love up into the pocket and stay between the tackles. In addition, the defensive run game will do its best to limit Christain McCaffery. Nonetheless, the Browns will force the run game to the outside toward Clowney and Garrett. Meanwhile as stated before the game plan will be a steady dose of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. There might even be more packages where both will be on the field together. The passing game may be a work in progress until Watson is back until week 1. The Browns will look to control the ball and bleed the clock out. Finally, for all of the question marks surrounding the wideouts. The plan is to use various skill positions as pass catchers.
Browns win in a close hard-fought battle 28-24 final score.