The Cleveland Browns are off to a promising start to the season. The team that went 0-16 last year kicked off the preseason last week with a win over the New York Giants. They’re also in the national spotlight, featured on the HBO documentary series, Hard Knocks.
But WKSU commentator Terry Pluto cautioned fans not to get too excited about the preseason.
"Fans can go out and see training camp, and you'll be surprised by how little hitting or tackling is done. Sometimes it's not at all," he said.
Some viewing tips
Pluto offered some tips on how to view the NFL preseason.
First, he said you can learn more about a team by which players look bad on the field versus who's performing well.
"If you're looking bad under these circumstances, what are you going to do when they're playing for real, and starters are out there all the time and the hits are harder?" he said.
Eyes on the quarterback
Second, Pluto said it's easy to keep an eye on the quarterback.
That's because there's always quarterback drama in Cleveland. The team has been through dozens over the years, and there's usually a preseason QB competition. While the Browns have already named Tyrod Taylor their regular season starter, rookie Baker Mayfield is turning a lot of heads.
The Browns drafted Baker with the No. 1 pick in June. In his debut against the Giants last week, Mayfield completed 11 of 20 passes with 212 yards and two touchdowns.
"He was impressive," Pluto said.
"If you're a Browns fan and Mayfield went out there and looked lost, you're thinking this is going to be a long-range project. What you can see in the preseason is usually if a quarterback is looking bad, you're in big trouble because he's facing vanilla or bland defenses. They're not blitzing a lot. It's real basic," he said.
The preseason is like a salad
Pluto flashed back to last year, when the Browns were 4-0 in the preseason and went 0-16 record in the regular season.
"It's like, I know I'm going to have a four-course meal, and I'm going to judge it by looking at the salad," he said. "I sort of see the soup in the distance. The steak and the lobster is way back there, and they're supposed to have some dessert I can't even imagine. Yeah, that salad looks good, but we're still not so sure about the steak."