2. Plenty of room to grow on both sides of the ball
The Browns would’ve preferred for York to not be in that situation at all, though.
Not when they held a 20-7 lead at the end of the third quarter. Not when the defense had minimized damage for most of the game. Not when the game plan, albeit not being executed to perfection, had led the Browns to a position to possibly close out a win in the final minutes rather than final seconds.
“It wasn’t clean,” head coach Kevin Stefanski said. “It never is in a Game 1. There’s plenty to clean up.”
The Browns initially dominated the Panthers’ offense, holding Panthers QB Baker Mayfield to just 101 passing yards, one interception and a 46.2 pass rating in the first half. The Browns batted seven total passes from Mayfield in the game, five of which at the line of scrimmage, and sacked him four times.
But he still managed to give the Panthers a chance to win with a 7-yard scramble for a score and 75-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
“I think it was a good start (for the defense) in the first half,” DE Myles Garrett said. “We let a couple things slip as far as our men on the field. We got schemed up on a couple plays. It was consistent throughout, but we had a few leaky plays.”
Offensively, the Browns started slow, too, and struggled to contain a rhythm for most of the game. Outside of two consecutive drives that led to Kareem Hunt touchdowns, the Browns couldn’t find much success in the pass game, and QB Jacoby Brissett finished 18-of-34 for 147 yards and one touchdown. His passer rating was 74.0.
The Browns want things to be more crisper in the future, but as Stefanski mentioned, it was Week 1, and Week 1 is never perfect.
“You never really look up at the scoreboard until the end,” Brissett said. “We knew it was a 6-minute game and they would make plays, so it was just about sticking to our plan and finding ways to keep making plays at critical moments.”