Despite the calamitous season opener between the Browns and Steelers, there are several positives to be taken. Namely, Ohio State alum, Denzel Ward.
Ward’s rise from the depths of Ohio is no surprise, considering his performances in a Buckeye Jersey. A standout year in 2017 for Ohio State granted him both consensus All-American and First Team All-Big Ten honours, which led to his 4th overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns.
Ward’s dream debut
In what was deemed a coming out party for the Browns organisation, Ward stole the show. TWICE. That’s right, Ben Roethlisberger was picked off not once, but twice by Ward. The first interception highlights a common issue for the Steelers. The issue being that when Roethlisberger is in any form of danger he always releases the ball to Antonio Brown, who finds himself in triple coverage on this occasion, which gives Ward the opportunity for the interception.
The second interception came from a high throw by Roethlisberger which tight end, Jesse James, failed to reel in. The ball ricocheted off James’ hands straight to Ward, who managed to gain the Browns several yards with a run.
Ward also compiled six total tackles and three pass deflections on the day, all while holding Brown to just 93 receiving yards and 1 touchdown. A solid feat.
Many believed that the Browns’ selection of Ward whilst Bradley Chubb was still on the board was simply criminal. However, he proved many doubters wrong today. Ward’s performance sets an incredibly high standard for rookies like him. Could we have witnessed the first of many great performances which catapult him to the Defensive Rookie Of The Year Award?
Positives to be taken from tie
In the last three years the Browns record is 4-44. In spite of that, the Browns silenced a large amount of critics today, especially defensively. Myles Garrett completed 6 total tackles and 2 sacks on Roethlisberger, which were instrumental in securing the tie.
Tyrod Taylor was effective running the ball with 77 rushing yards and Jarvis Landry was exemplary on offence. If we have learned anything from the game, it’s that the Browns have made significant improvements from previous years, and look hellbent on making up for their disastrous records. If the Browns defence can continue to produce, they can be a formidable force in the AFC North.