Browns fans haven't had much to cheer about over the past two decades, something that Robert Griffin III must be well aware of, because he tried to change that with his very first throw of the preseason Friday night.
On Cleveland's first offensive possession of the game, RG3 dropped back and launched a bomb to a player who's quickly becoming his favorite target: Terrelle Pryor.
Of course, this is the Browns we're talking about, so things quickly went downhill after that. But that one throw was enough to give Browns fans hope for the 2016 season.
RG3 with the DEEP ball to Terrelle Pryor! SUPER BOWL!!!!!!— CLE Sports Nation (@CLEVE216LAND_) August 13, 2016
The good news for the Browns is that RG3 made it through the game in one piece. If one thing became clear after Friday's 17-11 loss, it's that Griffin is probably going to get hit a lot this season.
Griffin wasn't great when he was under pressure against the Packers, which wasn't good for the Browns because he was under pressure on almost every play. Not only did he throw an interception, but he threw a pass so far over a receiver's head that it negated a pass interference call because refs said the ball was uncatchable.
Overall, Griffin went 4 of 8 for 67 yards. The Browns can solve part of the pressure problem if they can get their run game going, something they didn't do while Griffin was playing Friday. During his two series on the field, the Browns only ran the ball twice.
The more Griffin plays in coach Hue Jackson's offense, the better he's going to get, which should be encouraging news for Browns fans. On the other hand, don't look for Cody Kessler to play in a single game this season, because he doesn't seem to have any clue what's going on.
Actually, to be fair, Kessler did complete two passes in the game, including one touchdown.
Anyway, the Browns were actually the victims of two safeties in the fourth quarter, which is how the score ended up at 17-11. The Browns also recorded a safety in the game.
Anyway, on the Packers' end, the team has to like what it saw from Eddie Lacy. The newly svelte running back, who spent his offseason dropping weight with P-90X, carried the ball four times for 24 yards. That total included two third-down conversions.
Here are more observations from the preseason's first Friday night of football.
2. Matthew Stafford makes one big mistake
The Lions starting quarterback only played in one series against the Steelers, and for the most part, he looked impressive. Stafford took advantage of having two new weapons during the Lions' opening series when he hit Marvin Jones for a 16-yard pass and Anquan Boldin with a 30-yard pass.
On Jones' catch, he made a play that he was known for while he was with the Bengals: a tiptoe catch on the sideline.
Let's take a look at that toe touch:
On Boldin's play, the ageless wonder turned a 10-yard catch into a 30-yard gain when he trucked two defenders.
Jones and Boldin both only caught one pass each in the game.
The Lions were moving quickly down the field on their opening series, but they didn't score because Stafford got beat up by an old man. On third-and-12 from the Steelers 27, Stafford was strip-sacked by Pittsburgh's 38-year-old linebacker, James Harrison.
If the Lions' offensive line looks like that all season, Detroit might go 0-16 again. After the turnover, Stafford went to the bench and spent the rest of the game there. The Lions starter finished 4 of 6 for 58 yards.
The most encouraging thing for Lions fans has to be the fact that Stafford was spreading the ball around. In June, the quarterback said he thought the offense would be better without Calvin Johnson, and that's what things looked like until Stafford's turnover in the first quarter.
3. Hopefully, for the Lions' sake, Stafford never gets injured
As it turns out, not only is Orlovsky still in the NFL eight years later, but he's also still making horrible plays. Early in the second quarter, Orlovsky got pressured and then threw it to an open receiver. The only problem is that the receiver was Steelers corner Doran Grant.
As you can see, Grant had a lot of green in front of him, and he took advantage of it by returning the pick 39 yards to the end zone.
Although Orlovsky didn't have a completely horrible game (16 of 25, 164 yards, 1 TD), we can probably all agree that Stafford won't be looking over his shoulder at any point this season.
4. One Steeler's stock is up, another's is way down
Steelers wide receiver Sammie Coates caught three passes against the Lions, which is usually a good thing. But it wasn't for Coates, because bad things kept happening after he caught the ball. Not only did Coates fumble twice, but his fumble with under 90 seconds left in the first half led to a Lions field goal. If Coates is going to fill the void left by Martavis Bryant, he needs to be on the field, and that's not going to happen if he keeps fumbling.
Actually, maybe Coates shouldn't follow around DHB, because Heyward-Bey's touchdown catch was actually pretty lucky. If Jones hadn't thrown a perfect strike, the pass might've gone through DHB's hands.
That touchdown catch was Heyward-Bey's only reception on the night.
5. Keeping up with the Joneses
Ben Roethlisberger didn't play at all, which meant that Jones got the start at quarterback for the Steelers. The backup wasn't exactly impressive, going 6 of 12 for 55 yards. Those numbers were boosted big time by his touchdown pass to Heyward-Bey.
6. The best play you missed
When you're trying to make an NFL roster, making a highlight play on special teams can really help your cause , and that's exactly what Lions seventh-round pick Dwayne Washington did Friday. During the fourth quarter, Washington returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown that put the Lions ahead 24-17.
7. The game got kind of boring for Steelers fans
When your team is trailing 30-17 in the fourth quarter, there's only one thing to do: Play Pokemon Go.
The Steelers probably could've used that Pokemon on their offensive line against the Lions.
8. Teddy Bridgewater throws bombs
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer probably didn't plan on playing Teddy Bridgewater late into the second quarter, but that's what happened after the Vikings got off to a slow start. After a three-and-out on the Vikings' first possession, Bridgewater was sent back on the field, and the quarterback made the extra reps pay off on a 10-play, 96-yard drive that resulted in a touchdown.
The two biggest plays for Bridgewater were both long passes. First, on third-and-7, he hit Adam Thielen for a 22-yard gain that kept the drive alive. Three plays later, Bridgewater hit Charles Johnson for a 49-yard touchdown.
How did Johnson get so open? It must've been the Waffle House he ate the night before the game.
WR Charles Johnson from Cincy area So what restaurant did he plan to visit? "Waffle House They've got the Grand Slam Breakfast It's like $8"— Chris Tomasson (@christomasson) August 12, 2016
Bridgewater finished the game 6 of 7 for 92 yards and a touchdown. Although he lit up the Bengals on the second drive, there is some consolation for Marvin Lewis: He had his No. 2 defense in for that drive.
9. Zimmer probably wasn't happy with his defense
Although Bridgewater and the Vikings ' offense looked good for one series Friday night, the same can't be said about the Vikings defense. On the Bengals' first two offensive series both first-team units were mostly still in, and the Vikings had no answer for the Bengals' offense.
Out of the first 34 plays of the game, 31 were run by the Bengals and just three were run by the Vikings. The Bengals totaled 131 yards on 31 plays over their first two drives. The only upside for Zimmer is that the Vikings kept the Bengals off the scoreboard. After missing a field goal on their first drive, the Bengals didn't score on their second drive because they went for it on fourth down and didn't get it.
It wasn't just Andy Dalton that the Vikings had trouble with either: AJ McCarron was in at quarterback on the second drive. Dalton finished 4 of 5 for 32 yards, while McCarron was 11 of 16 for 125 yards and a touchdown.
Seeing Dalton out on the field had to be a relief for Bengals fans. Friday night's preseason game marked Dalton's first game action since he injured his thumb on Dec. 13.
10. Do the Bengals have any receivers left?
After Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones left in free agency, a lot of people were wondering if the quarterbacks in Cincinnati had anyone left to throw to. As it turns out, the answer to that questions is yes. During the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft, the Bengals drafted Tyler Boyd, and he showed off his skills against Minnesota with this 40-yard catch, his only reception of the game.
Just because Hue Jackson left Cincinnati doesn't mean the Bengals have lost the art of the big play. During Friday's game, the Bengals had four receptions of 20 or more yards and two receptions of 40 or more yards (including Boyd's).
11. The best play you missed from Vikings-Steelers
As I mentioned before, if you're on the fringe of an NFL roster and you want to make the team, do something wild on special teams. Undrafted free agent Alex Erickson clearly got the memo because he dazzled everyone at Paul Brown Stadium with an 80-yard punt return for a touchdown with less than three minutes left in the game.
The punt return would've won the game, but the Bengals went for two and didn't get it, which is how the game ended up with a 17-16 final.
12. Rookie watch: Treadwell shows promise
The Vikings' decision to take Laquon Treadwell in the first round of the NFL Draft already looks like a smart one. Treadwell caught four passes for 41 yards, including the 18-yarder below that set up a Blair Walsh 51-yard field goal just before the end of the half.
13. The Dolphins-Giants game didn't start on time
We almost had our second cancellation of the NFL preseason after lightning was spotted near MetLife Stadium on Friday. As you can see below, the weather in New Jersey got pretty ugly about an hour before the game was set to kick off.
Although the game didn't get canceled, Dolphins and Giants fans did have to sit through a one -hour delay. On the other hand, the delay might have actually been worth it because everyone got to see a rainbow just before kickoff.
Pot of gold at the end of this? pic.twitter.com/mMyVvKVyLo— Bob Glauber (@BobGlauber) August 12, 2016
As you probably already know, Dolphins are water animals, which is the only way to explain why they went on to win 27-10.
14. The Dolphins' first-team offense might be worse than last year's
If Adam Gase is going to fix the the Dolphins' offensive woes, it's going to have to start next week, because he definitely didn't get it done against the Giants. Miami's first team was on the field for the team's first two offensive series of the game and did absolutely nothing. The Dolphins went three-and-out on both possessions.
Ryan Tannehill didn't do much, going 2 of 4 for 8 yards. Running back Jay Ajayi didn't really contribute much to the Dolphins offense either, carrying the ball two times for 6 yards. To make things worse, the Dolphins went through their first five possessions without getting a first down.
15. Miami's best play: Just chuck it in the air
It's almost fitting that the Dolphins' biggest offensive play of the night happened almost by accident.
The Dolphins should run that play every time. Matt Moore went 10 of 14 for 122 yards and a touchdown.
16. Do the Dolphins have a running game?
After Ajayi was removed, the Dolphins' running game caught fire, including both Daniel Thomas (10 carries, 40 yards) and Isaiah Pead (10 carries, 50 yards). Pead's total included this run that featured a ridiculous spin move:
17. Rookie watch: Shepard looks like a nice catch
Giants rookie Sterling Shepard only made one catch, but it was a big one. The wide receiver came down with a 24-yard catch during the first quarter that eventually setup a 3-yard touchdown run by Rashad Jennings.
18. Everyone (aka, starters) decided to sit out
If you missed this game, you didn't miss much. Eli Manning, Odell Beckham, Cameron Wake, Ndamukong Suh and Mario Williams all sat out. The Dolphins' first-team defense was missing a total of five starters in the game.
Since Manning and Beckham didn't play, we can only offer you this one highlight from them: a completion during pregame warmups.
That looks like a 12-yard gain.
19. The Raiders are loaded at running back
If the Raiders learned one thing Friday, it's that they have some serious depth at running back. After first-team running back Latavius Murray was pulled from the game early in the first half, the Raiders gave some playing time to backups George Atkinson III and DeAndre Washington.
Now, these guys weren't going against the Cardinals' first-team defense, but they were still impressive. Washington touched the ball nine times and totaled 75 yards, which includes the 25-yard run you see below.
Washington was also able to show off his speed during a 32-yard catch.
Not to be outdone, Atkinson showed off his speed during the third quarter on a 53-yard touchdown run.
Atkinson finished the game with two touchdowns and 97 yards on just five carries.
20. Derek Carr to Michael Crabtree is still working
Derek Carr didn't play much Friday, but when he was on the field, he did look sharp, at least when he was throwing the ball to Michael Crabtree. Although Carr only went 3 for 7 for 44 yards in the game, he went 2 for 2 for 38 yards when throwing for Crabtree. That total includes the spectacular 22-yard catch below that Crabtree made in the first quarter.
The Raiders also got an impressive performance out of rookie quarterback Connor Cook, who went 7 of 11 for 71 yards. Between Cook and Matt McGloin, the Raiders could have some serious trade bait if another NFL team finds itself in dire need of a good backup quarterback.
The quarterbacks in Oakland seem like a pretty tight unit, so we can probably assume that Carr wasn't offended when Cook turned down his free water service during the game.
Or maybe Cook just wasn't thirsty.
21. The Cardinals also have some serious depth at running back
The Raiders ' running backs weren't the only ones who ran all over the field, so did Arizona's. Both David Johnson and Andre Ellington only received three carries in the game, but they made the most of them.
Ellington ran for 41 yards, while Johnson ran for 31, a total that includes the 23-yard run you see below.
Chris Johnson also got three carries, but he only ran for 9 yards. The rest of Arizona's running backs weren't bad either : Undrafted free agent Elijhaa Penny rushed for 43 yards, while Kerwynn Williams ran for 39.
22. Matt Barkley still hasn't figured out this NFL thing
If it's the preseason, that can only mean one thing: Matt Barkley's playing and he's throwing interceptions. The Cardinals' third-string quarterback saw some serious playing time and didn't do much with it. Barkley only completed 8 of 24 passes for 121 yards, and he also threw an interception.
Lol Matt Barkley is so bad lol— Gary Smith (@Garywearsnike) August 13, 2016
Matt Barkley is looking bad out here #ARIvsOAK— Good Vibes Only (@GVO_one) August 13, 2016
After the game, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said that Barkley was good, bad and ugly.
Arians' assessment of Matt Barkley's game: "Good and bad and ugly."— Kyle Odegard (@Kyle_Odegard) August 13, 2016
That's not exactly what you want to hear if you're a player, because , well, two of those things aren't good.
23. The Cardinals offense looked good
It's hard to judge a team based on one possession, but the Cardinals' first-team offense looked good during the only series they played. Carson Palmer went 3 of 5 for 38 yards and engineered a 10-play, 73-yard field goal drive during his only appearance of the night.
24. One injury to watch for the Raiders
Raiders defensive lineman Mario Edwards was carted off the field after suffering a leg injury.
The lineman was on crutches after the game, and coach Jack Del Rio refused to answer any questions about Edwards' health.
25. Finally, Raiders fans look to be in midseason form