The Philadelphia Eagles are set to play their “most important” preseason game on Thursday night in a “dress rehearsal” against the Cleveland Browns. I put those terms in quotes since this is still a relatively meaningless outcome we’re talking about here.
In any case, I reached out to our SB Nation associates over at Dawgs By Nature in order to preview this week’s tilt. The dutiful Dan Lalich kindly took the time to answer my questions about the upcoming game. Let’s take a look at the answers. Also don’t forget to check out my Q&A exchange coming up at DBN.
1 - Let’s address the elephant in the room. The Browns are 1-31 since passing on Carson Wentz. How do Browns fans feel about that decision? I’ve seen some suggest that drafting Wentz wouldn’t have made a difference but I find that very hard to believe, especially after watching the 49ers turn around with Jimmy G last year.
Most Browns fans wish the team would have drafted Wentz. His first two seasons have shown everything you want in a young QB, and the Browns haven’t had a good quarterback in about two decades. Having said that, count me as one of the people who isn’t sure Wentz would have succeeded in Cleveland. You gave Jimmy G as an example of a QB turning a team around, but those situations were pretty different. Garoppolo was a veteran QB going to a team with an outstanding offensive coaching staff. Carson Wentz was an extremely raw rookie with a lot of growing to do (as shown by his struggles as a rookie) and I’m not sure our coaching staff would have done as good a job as Philly’s. This is a contentious point among Browns fans, but personally I think 1-31 has a ton more to do with coaching than talent.
2 - How long should we expect to see the Browns’ starters on Thursday night? Who has already been ruled out? What’s the quarterback situation look like?
Expect the starters to play into the second half, but maybe not three full quarters. Tyrod Taylor is pretty firmly entrenched as the starter, despite Baker Mayfield having a great camp, so if I had to guess he will get all the snaps with the ones. Depending on how much of a look the coaching staff wants to get at Mayfield, we could see the starters come out after a series or two in the second half.
3 - Which players are Browns fans most excited to see this preseason?
Should I just put “Baker Mayfield” here like 40 times? When you draft a quarterback first overall, that’s who you want to see. But I guess I should also mention guys like Jarvis Landry and Nick Chubb. There’s also been a lot of interest in whether or not Jabrill Peppers can turn his career trajectory around (results have been mixed). On a team as full of young players as the Browns, interesting storylines are everywhere, but Baker Mayfield really does dominate the discussion. We’ve hardly even talked about the battle for kicker!
4 - How many games do you realistically expect the Browns to win this year?
This one is easy. 19. Not sure if you’ve heard, but the Browns are really good now. Get Hype.
5 - What’s the latest on former Eagles LB Mychal Kendricks? How has he done this summer and how does he fit into the team’s plans this season? (Also: how does former Eagles CB Denzel Rice look? I saw this interesting stat from PFF.)
I’m a big fan of Kendricks, and was pretty shocked to see him sign with the Browns. The team already had three quality linebackers in Jamie Collins, Joe Schobert, and Christian Kirksey, and Kendricks has certainly shown he belongs on the field as well. This is probably the deepest position group on the team, and it will be interesting to see who gets snaps out of these four guys, especially given how often the defense will be in nickel with just two linebackers.
This is probably like the third time I’ve heard Denzel Rice’s name in my entire life I think. Maybe I’m not paying enough attention and he’s passed up some of the more established names, but I don’t see him making the final roster. Maybe the practice squad if he’s still eligible.
Bonus: Meaningless score prediction?
Browns 11, Eagles 5.