The passing hot seat. The two quarterbacks competing to become the starter get their first taste of game action, and if Johnny Manziel continues the progress he showed in practice during the week, Brian Hoyer may not be able to hold him off. Manziel took a bad first series in the team’s first scrimmage personally, and since then, he’s been efficient and effective. However, he has yet to do it in a game with another team trying to stop him. Hoyer will get the start and work with the first team, and he’ll need to get something accomplished to keep hold of the job. Given the Browns' starters will play longer than usual, Hoyer may get some time against Detroit’s backups. Manziel will work with the twos, which should help him some, especially when he scrambles. Bottom line: Neither can afford a bad night.
Running on. Ben Tate and Terrance West get their first chance in a real game to display, along with the offensive line, how well the new running game is coming along. Coach Mike Pettine was not happy with the way the Browns worked the zone-blocking scheme in the scrimmage, and in Detroit there might be an equal emphasis on developing the run and pass games. Wide receiver Josh Gordon’s uncertain situation means the Browns will have to run the ball this season.
Are they for real? The defense has been well ahead of the offense throughout camp. That’s a normal trend, but with the Browns, it has been marked. And it’s exaggerated by the fact that Pettine’s defense is an exotic scheme with a lot of confusion and different looks, which causes a lot of problems for the offense. If the Browns' defense really is this far along, it might bode well for the season. Then again, the Browns and their fans were feeling good about the defense a year ago, so . . .