CLEVELAND - You're a first-time head coach with an inexperienced quarterback and lack of depth across the board, and your first preseason opponent is the defending Super Bowl champion.
Thankfully, for Browns coach Pat Shurmur, the game doesn't count in the standings. It does matter, however, in the critical area of player development, which is one way of saying job security.
Shurmur was asked this week what questions he wants to see answered when the Browns host the Green Bay Packers tonight at Cleveland Browns Stadium. He wasn't being flip when he said, "How good our team is."
All coaches need to figure that out early in camp, but it's a more pressing issue for coaches of teams in transition. Not having an offseason in which to evaluate the players because of the lockout, Shurmur is serious when he says he's not sure what to expect.
"You're looking at a situation where 90 players and 20 coaches have gotten together for the first time for two weeks, so I want to see where we're at as a team," Shurmur said.
"My sense is that we have a long way to go.
"Within the position groups we want to see good competition. When I brought the team in initially I said, 'Make it as hard on us as you can to decide who the 53 guys are going to be.' I hope after a performance against another team, we have guys that show up and make plays. There's going to be a lot to see and a lot to evaluate."
At the top of the list for evaluation is quarterback Colt McCoy, who started eight games in his rookie season of 2010.
There's no question that McCoy will be the starter to open the season, but he's still a part of the evaluation process as he gets acclimated to the west coast offense.
"It's day to day," McCoy said. "That's the way we look at it in the locker room. We're still installing some plays. We're improving each time we get out here. That's the most important thing."
McCoy hasn't had the luxury of working with a full cast of receivers. Mohamed Massaquoi hasn't practiced one day because of a foot injury. Joshua Cribbs missed time early in camp with a knee injury, and Carlton Mitchell was out early with a shoulder injury.
It's critical that McCoy starts to develop chemistry with his receivers.
"For me, most importantly you've just got to know where to go with the football and what's a good decision and what's not a good decision," he said. "Sometimes that throw may or may not be there, but that may not be the right place where you're supposed to go with the ball based on our concepts."
Shurmur plans to play the starters for one quarter. The second units will play the second and most of the third quarters. Players farther down on the depth chart will play in the fourth quarter.
"These preseason games are important," Shurmur said. "It's important that we learn a lot about our whole team. Most teams approach it this way. Whether you're a first- or second-teamer or a guy fighting to make the team, every rep is valuable. To start the year out against an opponent like the Super Bowl champs will be a good gauge."
Running back Peyton Hillis gets his first chance to pick up where he left off last season, when he rushed for 1,177 yards and scored 11 touchdowns. He caught 61 passes for 477 yards and two TDs.
"The backs have to be very involved in the passing game in the west coast," Hillis said. "As far as getting more balls, it's very possible."
Defensive coordinator Dick Jauron will get his first chance to critique the 4-3 defense being installed. The Browns were shy on quality defensive linemen, which led to the decision to use their first two draft picks on linemen- tackle Phil Taylor and end Jabaal Sheard.
The defense will likely face Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers for a couple of series.