Those who follow the Eagles had split opinions ahead of the team’s joint practices this week against the Browns. Some thought Cleveland would be a cupcake opponent, while others were looking forward to the challenge this revamped roster could pose.
Well, those who expected Eagles to blow the doors off the Browns were met with a rude awakening on Monday. By all accounts, these squads were evenly matched in their first joint practice, with Cleveland getting the better of Philadelphia in some areas, and vice versa.
This certainly isn’t the result many were anticipating, but there’s a good thing about these early struggles.
On the Eagles’ side, one theme several reporters mentioned was the offensive line being overwhelmed by the Browns’ pass rush. Eliot Shorr-Parks had “at least” seven sacks on Jalen Hurts across 27 drop backs, showcasing how often Cleveland got past the quarterback’s protection.
After lighting it up against the Eagles’ first-team defense throughout camp, Hurts didn’t find nearly as much success against the Browns on Monday. He had to work for every completion against this improved secondary, and the QB also failed to record a passing touchdown, which isn’t something he’s had troubles with so far.
And you know what? I think this helps wake up the Eagles a bit ahead of the season.
This teams knows how much talent is in its locker room. They’ve surely heard all of the preseason buzz about them being Super Bowl favorites. While Hurts is the ultimate leader who’s entering the year without letting the past get to his head, not everyone will be as good about staying laser-focused on the main goal.
It’s absolutely possible some players came into this week expect to steamroll the Browns. After all, this was a team that had few positive things going last season and finished three games below .500.
An offseason is a lifetime in the NFL, though, and Cleveland’s been smart about its additions. Signing the likes of Dalvin Tomlinson, Za’Darius Smith and Ogbo Okoronkwo were all about giving star Myles Garrett the help he needs to lead this unit back to the top.
Judging by the word out of this joint practice, the Browns’ moves have already paid dividends. The Eagles’ dominance on the O-line was one of the driving forces in the team’s deep postseason run. They’re regarded as the league’s best unit once again heading into the 2023 campaign, but even they couldn’t slow down Garret and. co on Monday.
That’s not because Philly lacks the talent, though. Energy and motivation can go a long way toward making a difference on the field. Kevin Stefanski’s team clearly brought it to open these practices sessions.
Now I want to see the Eagles’ offensive line hit back. This is a reminder that they can’t simply show up and beat teams — it requires effort, too.
It’d be no surprise if we look back at these joint practices as blessing in disguise for Philadelphia. The Browns are the ideal opponent to give the Eagles an early test considering their defensive talent. These sessions should serve as a preview of what Nick Sirianni’s team can expect in 2023, especially as franchises around the league look to knock Philly off after what they did last year.
They say iron sharpens iron, so the Eagles should embrace this opportunity against the Browns to get even stronger before the start of the regular season.
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