What We Saw: Preseason Week 1

Catch everything you missed from a weekend chock full of football

Commanders @ Browns

Final Score: Commanders 17, Browns 15

Writer: Ryan Radel (@RadelFF on Twitter)



It might only be a preseason game with starters playing minimal time, if at all, but FOOTBALL IS BACK, BABY!  After a lengthy weather delay, the Commanders and Browns took the field to battle it out on a very hot, humid Cleveland night. Most solidified starters headed to the bench after their respective first drives, letting us get a glimpse of some of the young new talent on both teams while some veterans battled for their spot on the depth chart. The Commanders fielded a signal caller familiar to Cleveland for part of the game, while Cleveland’s late round draft pick at quarterback continues to impress. There were a few great plays, including a fantastic score from Washington’s passing offense, but ultimately it was a very stereotypical preseason game. The Commanders eventually outlasted the Browns to take home the preseason “W”.


Washington Commanders




Sam Howell: 9/12, 77 yards, TD, sack | 1 carry, 8 yards


Sam Howell is currently marked as the starter for Washington and I don’t see that changing any time soon. The Commanders are currently carrying three quarterbacks including Howell, and his play has been the best by far from what we have seen. I still have my reservations about his overall talent, but he impressed me during this game. He looked poised in the pocket while remaining decisive, and knew when to roll out to extend plays when necessary – I actually was surprised by how quick he looked. The Commanders offense didn’t look like they will try to go vertical very often, as Howell ended his day with a mere 6.4 yards per completion. The offensive line probably isn’t going to do any favors for their QB either.


Jacoby Brissett: 6/10, 75 yards, INT, sack | 2 carries, 16 yards, TD


In what ended up as a triumphant return to a former team, Jacoby Brissett was the next man up after Sam Howell took a seat. Brissett is a journeyman for a reason – he won’t outright win you games, but he probably won’t outright lose you games either.  The Browns fans welcomed Jacoby back to Cleveland with a roaring ovation as he took the field (shoutout to my fellow Browns fans – this was classy. Thank you) However, Brissett did turn the ball over with a bad interception on a deep shot and wasn’t incredibly accurate overall. But, he was able to score after escaping the pocket and taking it 12 yards to the house. The odds of Brissett overtaking Howell on the depth chart are looking very slim at this point. Excellent backup,  sub par starter.



Running Back


Brian Robinson: 3 carries, 16 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, -2 yards


I am listing Brian Robinson first as he was on the field for the first snap and took the first carry out of the backfield. With that said, this is certainly looking like a 1A-1B situation, with each running back providing a different skillset. After coming back from being shot twice during a robbery last August, Robinson looked like he didn’t miss a beat running between the tackles. That strong running style looks to continue in 2023 as Robinson looks to be retaining the short yardage and between the tackles runs. His backfield counterpart seems to have the scat back/receiving back role locked down, so we may have a true thunder and lightning backfield in Washington. Robinson’s only target was a dump off from Howell that resulted in a loss of 2 yards.


Antonio Gibson: 2 carries, 7 yards | 3 targets, 2 receptions, 13 yards


Coming in as RB2 only because of the order they were deployed on the field, Antonio Gibson ended up with one more designed touch than his backfield counterpart Brian Robinson. Robinson looked better carrying the rock in the rushing game, but Gibson stood out in the passing game. As previously mentioned, it doesn’t look like the Commanders offense will be very vertical this season, and Gibson could end up with a hefty chunk of receptions on the season as a result. Unfortunately, each of these running backs will cannibalize the production of the other.


  • Technically out-touched Robinson (carries + targets)


Chris Rodriguez Jr.: 5 carries, 39 yards 


Coming in at a stout 5’11”, 225 lbs, Chris Rodriguez Jr. entered the game early in the second quarter and immediately burst through the middle of the offensive line for 8 yards on his first touch. His second touch? Another 12 yard run up the middle off of the right guard. And his third touch, you ask? Another 11 yards, this time to the right side off tackle. He isn’t flashy, but Rodriguez runs HARD and looks like he will not be easy to bring down in the backfield. Not a single one of his carries lost a yard, and that says a lot considering how rough the Commanders offensive line looked. There currently isn’t a lot of opportunity on the field for him right now but you never know when that can change.


Wide Receiver/Tight End


Terry McLaurin: 1 target, 1 reception, 7 yards


There really isn’t a whole lot to write about here. Terry McLaurin sits atop this depth chart for good reason and doesn’t need to prove that in a preseason game. He didn’t see his lone target until the third Commanders drive, which he brought in for seven yards. That’s it. That’s the stat.


Jahan Dotson: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 30 yards, TD


Like most solidified starters, Jahan Dotson was not on the field much after the first quarter. For the short time he was on the field, he definitely stood out. Dotson reeled in a short pass on the second play of the game, but erupted for a gorgeous 26-yard catch and run for a score a couple drives later (gif below.) Howell and Dotson look like they have good chemistry brewing and might surprise people this season with some big plays as he lines up across from the always dangerous Terry McLaurin. Dotson will likely benefit from the CB2 matchups he will encounter this season, and he has the skills to make that a nightmare for opposing defenses.



Curtis Samuel: 2 targets, 1 reception, 10 yards


The third member of this vertically-challenged receiving corps, Curtis Samuel looks to be the guy lining up in the slot more often than not for 2023. Similar to McLaurin, Samuel wasn’t on the field for long after the end of the first quarter. Samuel’s lone catch came over the middle for a solid 10 yard gain. His second target came two drives later, but Sam Howell missed on a deep strike. After that, it was bench time.

Missed Opportunities

  • 2nd quarter, Sam Howell missed on a deep ball to Samuel from Cleveland’s 39 yard line.


Cole Turner: 4 targets, 4 receptions, 31 yards


With Logan Thomas sidelined due to injury, there is an opportunity to make a statement on the tight end depth chart. While Cole Turner didn’t do a whole lot his rookie season last year, this could be the perfect time for that to change. Cole made a case for himself when it was all said and done, starting the game on the field as the #1 tight end. He met that opportunity by bringing in all four of his targets for 31 yards during his short time on the field. Howell looked his way for quick dump offs, and Cole looked sure-handed on his way to helping his team move the sticks. He doesn’t look like he has the range to be a downfield threat, but could still make a name for himself in short yardage/red zone situations this coming season.


Cleveland Browns

| HOF Game |




Deshaun Watson: 3/3, 12 yards | 3 carries, 20 yards


Considering Deshaun Watson was only on the field for a whopping 12 snaps, he still managed to look very impressive in a short period of time. Perfect on all three of his pass attempts and adding another 20 yards on the ground as he marched the Browns offense down the field…. until the offense sputtered and turned the ball over on downs on the Commanders 5 yard line. After that, Deshaun was sent to the bench, but not after looking like what the Browns expected him to be after giving him the bag. A score would’ve been nice but the coaches saw enough and moved further down the depth chart for the rest of the game.


  • Only on the field for the first drive


Dorian Thompson-Robinson: 9/10, 102 yards, TD | 3 carries, 11 yards


The one they call “DTR” wasn’t the second quarterback to take the field, but in my opinion he was the second most important QB in this game. Joshua Dobbs took second team reps and left a lot to be desired. Dorian Thompson-Robinson did his best to right the ship when he came onto the field, ending the game tied with the most completions, throwing for the most yards, and having the highest rating among quarterbacks from both teams. Yes, the competition isn’t the same, but the situational awareness DTR brings to the table is something to admire. He was a later draft pick for a reason and likely will be a career backup/fringe starter, but he reminds me of a Jacoby Brissett, which is a hell of a compliment all things considered.



  • It’s not really game related, but Thompson-Robinson and fellow Browns rookie Cedric Tillman were high school teammates at Bishop Gorman high school in Las Vegas. Reunited and it feels so good!



Running Back


Demetric Felton Jr.: 8 carries, 31 yards


With Nick Chubb riding the pine for this game and Jerome Ford sidelined with injury, the starting running back duties fell to Demetric Felton Jr.. After popping off in the hall of fame game, Felton continued to generate yardage out of the backfield in an effort to lock down his spot on the depth chart. He didn’t find the endzone this time and was generally held in check, but Felton has been a very pleasant surprise after a quiet start to his career buried behind Chubb and former Brown Kareem Hunt. Felton projects to be a change of pace back at best for the time being, but he has home run potential every time he touches the ball in space.


  •  The Browns currently have Nick Chubb and a bunch of young journeyman as their running backs. Watching the rest of the depth chart play during this game created cause for concern as a Browns fan.

Missed Opportunities

  • Felton had two redzone carries starting from the 7-yard line. The first went for six yards. The second attempt from 1-yard line was stuffed for no gain.


John Kelly Jr.: 6 carries, 6 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 3 yards


Considering John Kelly Jr. had a carry for 9 yards and ended the game with 9 total yards should speak for itself. Outside of a single play, Kelly was unimpressive and botched his only chance to score. Not a whole lot to write about here.

Missed Opportunities

  • After Felton failed to convert his two redzone carries, Kelly Jr got a chance from the Commanders 1-yard line and took a 4 yard loss resulting in a turnover on downs.


Hassan Hall: 3 carries, 4 yards, fumble (lost) | 1 target, 1 reception, 3 yards


Somehow less impressive than the aforementioned John Kelly Jr., Hassan Hall managed to turn one of his four touches into a lost fumble. There is an opportunity to make this team as a running back as I have mentioned, but outings like this are not going to help your cause. I will be shocked if Hall makes the regular season roster.


Wide Receiver/Tight End



Elijah Moore: 1 target, 1 reception, 6 yards | 1 carry, 18 yards


The single catch for six yards was nothing special, but what stood out for Elijah Moore was an 18-yard scamper out of a formation where he lined up in the backfield by design. A second later and he’s 18 yards down field on a sweep to the left. The Browns offense has plans for Moore this season – he just needs to stay on the field.


  • Leading up to his exit due to a rib injury (x-rays came back negative), Moore looked like he will line up all over the Browns offense this season. Backfield, slot, outside, doesn’t matter. Playmakers need to be on the field and Deshaun likes this guy. Amari Cooper has been sidelined during camp and reports are Moore is filling in just fine


Austin Watkins Jr. : 8 targets, 6 receptions, 71 yards


After securing a score in the hall of fame game, Austin Watkins Jr. continues to make a case for himself to make the regular season roster even with a packed receivers room. Watkins took the field towards the end of the first half and never looked back, looking like the best pass-catcher on the field for the Browns for the rest of the game. He has the size to be a problem in the NFL (6’3″ 210 lbs) but will likely find trouble against higher talent at this point in his career. If he keeps having games like this my tune will change pretty quickly.


Cedric Tillman: 4 targets, 2 receptions, 7 yards


A much quieter game from Cedric Tillman compared to last week, but the four targets during his time on the field is a good sign, especially considering two of those targets were deep shots. Even bigger than Austin Watkins Jr., Tillman is a 6’3″ freak athlete that can take the top off a defense and will likely be used as a deep-threat this season. The targets won’t come often in a packed receiving room, but it looks like the Browns have plans for Tillman.

Missed Opportunities

  • Tillman was targeted on back-to-back deep balls from the Browns 31 yard line on the third drive of the game. Dobbs did not put the ball in a great spot – wasn’t Tillman’s fault but the deep looks are encouraging.


Anthony Schwartz: 3 targets


I’m sure he’s a very nice guy, but Anthony Schwartz is either not cut out for professional football or needs a change of scenery. The track star turned 3rd round pick has incredible speed, but possibly the worst hands I have seen this decade. Schwartz ended 2022 with a catch rate of 42% (33 targets, 14 receptions) and that looks like its going to continue to trend downwards as he now sits at 25% for the preseason (4 targets, 1 reception). While some of these balls are batted or uncatchable, the majority of them are catchable yet slip straight through his hands.


  • Launch him into the Sun


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