CLEVELAND — Hi everybody from a very happy Cleveland Browns Stadium, albeit wet. But even a rain that hung around the entire day can't dampen the mood at all.
The Browns dominate — and I mean totally dominate defensively — the Cincinnati Bengals, and win the opening game of this important season by a final count of 24-3.
If you thought in the offseason that maybe the biggest acquisition was the Browns securing Jim Schwartz to be their defensive coordinator, you are exactly right. Schwartz has brought a different mentality, a different scheme, an aggressive defensive style that really fits with this city, and obviously with this football team.
Because I have to tell you, folks: I can't remember in a long, long time a defensive performance being turned in by the Browns against a quality team. That's what the Bengals are, but that's what happened from start to finish.
Joe Burrow — fresh with that huge contract he got the other day — he was just pestered all game long; never had any room in the pocket. Really, the Bengals struggled to do anything offensively in the game, and the Browns ended up dominating defensively.
Offensively, a different story. Jack Conklin went down with a knee injury, and we don't know how long he'll be out. But on the plus side, rookie Dawand Jones — a fourth-round draft choice from Ohio State — came in there and settled down the Browns' offensive line.
Really, I think Joe Burrow and Deshaun Watson would say the same thing: It was miserable trying to throw the football on this rainy day. Both guys had a lot of trouble getting a grip on the ball and completing passes.
But the Browns' offense hung in there, and finally churned out some big numbers — Nick Chubb going over 100 yards rushing, Watson scoring himself on a brilliant 13-yard quarterback draw call by Alex Van Pelt and Kevin Stefanski, and then Watson throwing a touchdown pass to Harrison Bryant along with a 2-point conversion he kept himself.
And oh yeah, the thing that has really kept us up at night? The Browns' kicking game? Dustin Hopkins came in and he was perfect: 3 for 3 kicking field goals, made his extra points, his kickoffs were good.
It was a grand day down on the old Lake Erie. Now, here's the next step: Can they finally go over to Pittsburgh and win? The Steelers got pummeled on this Opening Day at home by the San Francisco 49ers, but as you know, the history over there has always been tough for the Browns.
If this defense is really going to be what we saw in this opening game, can they do it again in that Monday night game, Game 2 against the Steelers? If they can, then we really do have something here.
This offense will get better, but this defense was absolutely magnificent on Opening Day. Do you realize the last time the Browns won the opening game of the season at home was back when Jeff Garcia led the Browns to a 20-3 win over the Baltimore Ravens back in 2004? That's a long time ago.
This one was even easier, and more dominating. Two thumbs up for the Browns' defense, coordinated by Jim Schwartz.
Listen to Jimmy's calls of the game below: