CLEVELAND, OH - JANUARY 01: Wide receiver Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers pushes wide receiver Joshua Cribbs #16 of the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium on January 1, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
The most important preseason game - or at least the preseason game in which the starters play for the longest amount of time - is in the books, and now it's the other most important preseason game - or the most important game to everyone that isn't assured a roster spot. Yep, the time of year where we (most-of-the-time wrongly) read oh-too-much into even the slightest little bit of minutiae about the fringiest of the fringe prospects, pine for fourth-string quarterbacks and seventh-string wide receivers that probably (and ideally) won't see any actual field time, and demand the head coach's job and proclaim the end of all time when the team loses a preseason game is finally and mercifully coming to an end (as is this sentence).
Last Year: Finished 4-12, good for last in an AFC North that had two twelve-win teams and the 9-7 Bengals. Well, someone has to eat all those losses.
This Year: This preseason they're 2-1 heading into Thursday's matchup, their two wins coming at the expense of the NFC North (Including 35-10 against Green Bay) and their loss coming 27-10 against the Eagles.
When Last We Met: Just like I mentioned last year, it was November 1, 2009, when the Bears beat the Browns 30-6.Wait a second. Didn't I write this article last year? I think I did. And much of the same still applies - hell, we aren't even going to get to see either first round pick Brandon Weeden or Trent Richardson (as far as I can find, still recovering from a scope). Seriously, why do we get so gypped against this team? That's twice now that we don't get to give this team a fair shake, because literally none of what I'd say about a team in a normal game situation will apply. The shock and outrage!
Instead, this year, we'll get to see Colt McCoy for much of the game, as opposed to what we didn't get to see of him last year. And honestly, am I the only one that thinks McCoy got a really unfair shake in this whole "draft Brandon Weeden" thing? It's like, the Browns finally figured out they need to get their quarterback weapons when they pick up Trent Richardson after the strange case and departure of Peyton Hillis, which is all kinds of awesome, well and good. Then they go and defeat the whole purpose of it by just replacing the quarterback anyway, with a rookie that's actually older than he is by three years. I'm sorry, but I'm not exactly going to file that under "Long-term Team-Planning Exercises" any time soon.
I like Joshua Cribbs, Greg Little, Mohamed Massaquoi and Brian Robiske as much as anyone, but that's not a real NFL receiving corps. Weeden's NCAA numbers are good, but he's not a transcendental talent at the position, and certainly not a franchise-builder at 28 years old. So am I really that off in thinking the Browns would have been better off picking up a target for McCoy to help him along (Coby Fleener, any of the bevy of tweener first/second round receivers) instead of Weeden? I have a hard time thinking Travis Benjamin in the fourth round will bolster the team's receiving corps all that much. I think Weeden can be a fine quarterback, but he'll still have to adjust to the NFL speed game at an older age, and with virtually the same receiving corps and weapons outside of Trent Richardson, I wouldn't be surprised to see him struggle.
But that's just me. While we might get to see Benjamin a bit on Thursday, we'll certainly get to see the team's bounty of defensive draft picks, including linebacker James-Michael Johnson and defensive lineman Billy Winn. Okay, I'm trying to make this sound interesting.
On the Bears end, there's still plenty of players to watch - there's the whole offensive line bit, there's Corey Wootton and Shea McClellin who will see lots of time on Thursday, there's the defensive back battle at the back end of the roster. Can Joe Anderson win his way into the bottom of the receiving chart or will he end up on the practice squad (or poached or on the street)? Who comes out of the Lorenzo Booker and Armando Allen battle?
What are your opinions on the Browns' Brandon Weeden pick? What are you looking for out of the Bears in the fourth preseason game?