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Observations from the Eagles’ preseason tie with the Browns, 18 to 18

It was not Marcus Mariota’s night, but rookie Tanner McKee looked solid in the second half.

NFL: Preseason-Cleveland Browns at Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Eagles had their 2023 NFL preseason home opener on Thursday night in a matchup against the Cleveland Browns.

Most of the Philly starters didn’t play, as expected, but it was still a rough showing, with the Eagles tying the Browns by a score of 18-18.

One of the more notable things to come out of Thursday night’s game was the list of injuries that seemed to keep growing throughout the evening.

Read on for some other insights from the Eagles second preseason game.


  • Marcus Mariota is getting another start at QB, and Nakobe Dean will get his first chance as the starting MLB.
  • RB Kenny Gainwell and SAF Terrell Edmunds led the team onto the field.
  • Boston Scott, Derek Barnett, and Josh Jobe were the Eagles captains for the toss, which they lost, so defense is up first.
  • Rookies Nolan Smith and Sydney Brown were out with the kick-off unit.
  • Dean and Zach Cunningham were the starting LBs, Zech McPearson and Josh Jobe were the outside CBs, and Terrell Edmunds and K’Vonn Wallace at safety, to start. Up front, the DL starters were Nolan Smith, Jalen Carter, Jordan Davis, and Derek Barnett.


  • K’Vonn Wallace made a nice tackle on 2nd-and-7, but the Browns still managed to move the sticks shortly after.
  • Zech McPhearson missed a huge PBU opportunity resulting in a deep ball into the redzone , but luckily Terrell Edmunds was there to clean it up and make a tackle. McPhearson quickly shook it off and — despite being a little handsy — stopped a TD, and then followed that up by making a big tackle at the line of scrimmage setting up 4th-and-inches.
  • Nakobe Dean drew a personal foul for unnecessary roughness with a big hit on DTR, followed by a neutral zone infraction by Dennis Kelly, putting the Browns next to the endzone.
  • Dean quickly made up for his flag, forcing a fumble on the goal line. K’Vonn Wallace recovered for Eagles ball.
  • After Mariota’s first pass fell incomplete, he handed the ball to Kenny Gainwell in the endzone, who couldn’t get through the defense, resulting in a safety. Browns get the first points of the night, going up 2-0.
  • Browns couldn’t do anything the next drive, mostly due to their own inefficiencies, but McPhearson had a few nice plays.
  • Maurice Hurst barreled through Josh Sills and got to Mariota fast on his first play of the second drive — Gainwell missed a block on the sack, as well. On 2nd-and-15, Mariota had a nice pass to Olamide Zaccheaus who was able to get a first down.
  • The Eagles QB has been pretty inconsistent, his very next throw was overthrown, before connecting on a long throw to Greg Ward.
  • Gainwell had a nice run, breaking a tackle, but the run game the rest of the second drive was largely ineffective.
  • Jake Elliott made a 56-yard field goal to put the Eagles up 3-2.
  • The Browns’ third drive started with a flag for holding, followed by a fumble that they were able to recover. The Eagles’ defense was able to prevent a first down on the next run play, and Nolan Smith had a nice play leading to a sack by Kentavius Street to close out the drive.
  • Smith looked like he might have injured his arm on the play, but was able to jump up and stay on the field for the punt return.
  • Zaccheaus’ night was seemingly cut early after a pretty nice first quarter, who then went into the locker room with a shoulder injury and was listed as questionable to return.
  • Mariota was still in at QB with two minutes left in the first quarter. His first pass was bad, Rashaad Penny found a hole to run in for a first down, and then Mariota threw another bad pass. And then, again, but this time throwing an interception with a ball so far past his target.
  • Nicholas Morrow and Christian Ellis come out big for the defense, and made a big tackle for loss on the first play.
  • At the start of the second quarter, Nolan Smith avoided a flag for a horse-collar tackle, but ended up in the medical tent afterward for whatever seemed to be bothering his right arm. Shortly after, Smith went into the locker room — but, he was smiling and seemed in good spirits, so that was at least encouraging.
  • The defense was a bit sloppy on the rest of the Browns drive, with Janarius Robinson getting a flag for neutral zone infraction, followed by a huge missed tackle by Christian Ellis. Shortly after, the Browns converted 3rd-and-12 with a wide open lane and missed tackle by Zech McPhearson.
  • McPhearson ended up injured on the play, grabbing his right leg on the ground. He was helped to the sideline and took the cart to the locker room.
  • The Eagles offense did mostly nothing on the next drive, which included a false start and multiple missed catches.
  • Browns were able to march their way down the field on their next drive, and took the lead, 5-3 with a 43-yard field goal.
  • Trey Sermon was back for the kick return, and got the offensive snaps to follow. The RB, unfortunately, had the ball punched out of his first carry of the game, resulting in a fumble and turnover — something Nick Sirianni is probably seething about.
  • Kelee Ringo missed a big opportunity for a pass breakup, and looked as though he was staring right at the ball... go right over his head and into the hands of a receiver. The Browns scored on another field goal shortly after that, going up 8-3 just ahead of the two-minute warning.
  • Sermon was back at the goal line to field the next kick, had a chance to return it and got to the 20 yard line before being stuffed backward.
  • Both the Eagles and Brown had six penalties each with about 1:55 left in the first half. Mariota, once again, didn’t do anything spectacular, and the Eagles ended up punting on 4th-and-18.
  • The Eagles ended up with one more chance, but it resulted in nothing.


  • Tanner McKee was the Eagles starting QB coming out of halftime.
  • The Eagles looked so much different (read: better) in their first drive out of the half, with McKee completing long passes to Joseph Ngata (12 yards) and Devon Allen (15 yards), and Trey Sermon carrying the ball three times for 48 total yards and a touchdown — certainly making up for his fumble earlier in the game.
  • Linebacker Zach Cunningham is still in the game, even though he started the night, but has been all over the field. Myles Jack, despite dressing for the game, hasn’t taken a snap up to this point. Eagles defense was able to force several mistakes and the Browns ended up punting.
  • Tyree Cleveland wasn’t able to make a grab on 3rd-and-8 for a 25 yard pick-up, and was left squirming face down on the field following the tackle. Coaches and trainers took to the field, and ended up leaving the field on a stretcher. Thankfully the team reported that the WR had movement in all his extremities.
  • Four plays later the Browns took the lead back, 15-10, after Eli Ricks lost his footing and gave up a 32 yard touchdown.
  • The Eagles offense did absolutely nothing on their next drive, going three and out and even losing four total yards. With Cleveland’s injury still fresh, it doesn’t seem entirely surprising that Sirianni and OC Brian Johnson might go a little more vanilla to finish out the night.
  • Early in the fourth quarter, the Eagles defense was able to do just enough to force a field goal, but the Browns made another one, extending their lead 18-10.
  • Deon Cain was back for the kick return, and was able to bring it back 34 yards. One of the better returns of the night.
  • Kennedy Brooks got four carries in the Eagles first drive of the fourth quarter, totaling 18 yards.
  • McKee seemed to overthrow Cain on a deep pass, but the WR drew pass interference to move the sticks, anyway. The QB then connected on a 35-yard pass to TE Tyree Jackson, setting up the offense in the redzone.
  • McKee scrambled on 4th-and-goal, tossed it to Deon Cain in the back of the endzone, only to end up incomplete and turn the ball over on downs.
  • The Eagles defense missed an opportunity for a safety and for several tackles with the Browns backed up against the goal line, but they seemingly collapsed as Kellen Mond made it seven yards for a first down.
  • DT Moro Ojomo was injured on the play after a collision with a teammate, injuring his head and requiring a stretcher for the second time tonight. He was lifted onto the cart shortly after that, but did give a thumbs up on his way to the locker room. The team announced shortly afterward that he had movement in all his extremities.
  • Tanner McKee got another chance to lead an offensive drive, and this time, with a mix of deep passes and short runs, ended up in the endzone on a 22 yard throw to TE Brady Russell. They went for two and were successful thanks to a pass to John King. Eagles ended up tying things 18-18 late in the fourth quarter.
  • Tarron Jackson had a really nice showing overall for the Eagles defense on Thursday night.
  • Browns missed a field goal with two minutes left in the game, but the Eagles drew a flag for illegal formation. Luckily, they missed the second attempt, as well — but, still not great from the Eagles group.
  • McKee had another chance to lead the Eagles to a win. The final drive was a bit of a mixed bag, but the rookie QB kept a level head and had some drops (again, still, etc...) by his receivers.
  • It was a lackluster finish by the Eagles, but Nick Sirianni and his coaches sure have a lot of things to work on in practice over the next few days.


Marcus Mariota: 9/17 (52.9%), 86 yards (5.0 average), 0 TD, 1 INT, 42.5 passer rating ... 1 run, 5 yards.

  • The QB played the entire first half, and struggled... a lot.

Tanner McKee: 10/18 (57.1%), 147 yards (8.2 average), 1 TD, 0 INT, 100.9 passer rating.

  • The rookie QB got little help from his receivers, who had several drops throughout the second half. McKee is not afraid to throw the ball deep and looks a lot more comfortable on the field than the other Eagles QB who played on Thursday.

Ian Book: Did Not Play


The Eagles host the Colts — and former OC Shane Steichen — for joint practices early next week, followed by the final preseason game on Thursday, August 24. As always, stay tuned to BGN for more Eagles coverage.

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