Editor's note: Tony Grossi covers the Cleveland Browns for 850 ESPN Cleveland.
Instant takeaways from Browns' 30-10 preseason win against the Washington Redskins …
1. A new era: In his first in-game decision as Browns head coach, Freddie Kitchens took the ball after the Washington Redskins lost the opening coin toss. That departure from analytics-driven deferrals signified a new era. The Browns have a star-studded offense and Kitchens intends to ride it. Kitchens’ aggressiveness – which continued with a snappy opening drive for a touchdown -- set the tone for the Browns’ 30-10 victory in Kitchens’ coaching debut in the preseason.
2. 3-2-1, liftoff: The Browns looked like they scripted to get a quick touchdown from the No. 1 offense – and the script worked to perfection. Minus receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, who did participate in pre-game warmups, Mayfield sped 89 yards in seven plays in an uptempo, no-huddle dash. The Redskins were wholly unprepared for that. The last six plays gained 11 yards (completion to Jaelen Strong), 14 (underneath to Nick Chubb), 12 (Chubb run), 14 (underneath cross to Dontrell Hilliard), 14 (completion to Hilliard) and 24 and the touchdown to Rashard Higgins. After being on the field for 2 minutes, 13 seconds, Mayfield -- 5 of 66, 77 yards, 1 TD, 158.3 passer rating -- retreated to the sideline to cheerlead the rest of the night. Greg Joseph made the PAT. Joseph also was good on a 43-yard field goal later in the first half.
3. Just rewards: The starting defensive line missed the last two days of practice with assorted nicks and bruises, but Myles Garrett and Larry Ogunjobi were well enough to play the first defensive series. As in camp practices, Garrett was unblockable. He drew one holding call during a stretch of three plays on which the Redskins’ offense was flagged for holding four times (two infractions on one play). Washington had to punt after its only first down came on a Case Keenum 10-yard scramble and slide. Other defensive starters who did not play were cornerback Denzel Ward (undisclosed injury on Tuesday) and linebacker Joe Schobert (excused for personal reasons).
4. Preseason for everybody: The Redskins scored on a Case Keenum pass of 46 yards to wide open Robert Davis when it appeared Greedy Williams miscommunicated with the defense and gave up coverage. In the timeout after the PAT, a pre-scheduled hype video of Williams played on the giant video boards. Fans applauded, nonetheless. Later in the second quarter, however, Williams atoned with an interception of Haskins on a pass intended for tight end Matt Flanagan.
5. Back to drawing board: Drew Stanton relieved Mayfield and drove the offense – behind the second-team line + starter Eric Kush at right guard – to the Redskins’ 2. Higgins lunged for the goal line after a 38-yard catch-and-run came up just short. So Kitchens had first-and-goal at the 2 – exactly the situation he’s been practicing relentlessly in inside run tackling periods. Hilliard gained one yard on first down. On second and third downs, Stanton’s tosses for Antonio Callaway were incomplete – the first one surviving a replay challenge by Kitchens on a Callaway near-catch before falling out of bounds. On fourth-and-1, Kitchens called for Hilliard over Kush at right guard. Hilliard was popped by cornerback Jimmy Moreland at the line of scrimmage and lost the ball. Two things here: 1. The Browns are entrusting Hilliard to hold the fort after the trade of backup Duke Johnson, and 2. This was a big opportunity for Kush to secure the starting job. The competition with Austin Corbett now is likely to drone on.
6. Ouch: Hilliard also cost the Browns a long-distance field-goal attempt at the end of the first half. With Garrett Gilbert at quarterback, the Browns got close to field goal range on three completions to Higgins. There was 11 seconds left and the Browns out of timeouts. On third-and-5, Gilbert threw incomplete for Callaway in the end zone. It would have left the Browns with a 51-yard field goal try, but Hilliard was called for holding, moving the ball out of range at the Redskins’ 43. Gilbert then was sacked to end the half.
7. Nose for the ball: Fifth-round rookie linebacker Mack Wilson was known for interceptions at Alabama and displayed that knack with four over the last four practices. Well, he topped The Week That Was with a pick 6 in his first preseason game and then a second interception in the fourth quarter. Both times Wilson leaped to make the grabs. He returned the first 32 yards and blasted through a Dwayne Haskins tackle attempt inside the 5 for the touchdown. His second theft was equally impressive on a high throw over the middle by Josh Woodrum.
8. Name to remember: Last week Kitchens shouted out backup defensive tackle Devaroe Lawrence after a particularly good practice. In the second quarter, Lawrence put on a bull rush on Haskins and sacked him at the Redskins’ 5. Haskins lost the ball into the end zone, but he was ruled down at the 5.
9. Oops: Gilbert had the Browns’ third team offense on the move in the third quarter until Ishmael Hyman had the ball knocked out of his hands at the Redskins’ 5 after a catch. That was the offense’s second turnover on the night.
10. Quick strikes: The Browns closed the scoring with two touchdowns in the span of 1 minute, 14 seconds in the fourth quarter. Free agent quarterback David Blough of Purdue moved the bottom of the offensive roster 80 yards in 11 plays, capping it with a nice back-shoulder throw to D.J. Montgomery from 11 yards. Austin Seibert made the PAT, his second. After a defensive stop, return specialist Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi flashed his speed with an 86-yard touchdown on a punt return. Joseph doinked the left upright to miss the PAT.