Two teams looking to take steps forward in 2022 in their respective conferences will square off on Sunday afternoon, as the Philadelphia Eagles visit Cleveland to take on the Browns.
As the Eagles look to become a factor at the top of the NFC East, they have to be feeling pretty good about the progression their offense stands to make. Although it was in an exhibition setting, that side of the ball looked tremendous for Philadelphia last week against the New York Jets. Starting quarterback Jalen Hurts completed every pass he threw, including a 22 yard touchdown to tight end Dallas Goedert. Prized offseason acquisition A.J. Brown did not play in the team’s first game, and the coaching staff might use caution with his appearances in August.
A hot topic surrounding the Eagles has been how their running back room figures to shake out in 2022. Miles Sanders has been the starting running back for the better part of the last three seasons, but has been vocal in his desire to have more of a chance to contribute in the offense. His carries have dropped in each of his NFL seasons. Against the Jets, Sanders did not receive a carry, but was a part of the passing game, catching two passes for 20 yards.
Philadelphia did not use Kenneth Gainwell or Boston Scott in their preseason opener, with most of the work going to Jason Huntley. Sanders came out of the first game against the Jets with a hamstring injury, so it is unlikely that we will see him suit up against Cleveland.
While every coaching staff has a lot of work ahead of them to prepare for the NFL season, the Browns’ brain trust might have the most. As it stands right now, it is unclear who will be leading the team on offense against the Carolina Panthers in Week 1 of the regular season. Deshaun Watson was handed a six game suspension that many parties do not seem to be happy with. Watson and his representatives would like to see that punishment reduced, while the NFL is looking to increase the amount of time the quarterback misses.
In the meantime, Cleveland is trying to get ready for the season, thinking Watson may be in the mix for the opener. He played last week in the preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but looked very rusty after not having played in a game since January 2021. He was only 1/5 passing for seven yards. No one should overreact to a brief appearance in a game in August, but Watson’s display should remind fans that he might need time to get his rhythm back to the level fans are used to seeing. Second string quarterback Jacoby Brissett did not play against Jacksonville last week, and the team might be holding him out so he can enter the regular season healthy.
The Browns have lost two offensive linemen for the season due to injury in the last few days, including center Nick Harris and backup center Dawson Deaton. The organization will patch things together up front moving forward.