In the game often dubbed as the dress rehearsal for the regular season, the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles failed to post any points on the way to getting edged out by the Cleveland Browns in FirstEnergy Stadium.
Offensive struggles, sizzling Browns defense highlight the first half
The offensive units of both ball clubs will probably spend a little extra time in the film room this week. In a first quarter that would give most head coaches nightmares, the Browns sideline watched with concern as starters Tyrod Taylor and Chris Hubbard were slow to get off the field after a couple of high-collision plays. Taylor was eventually cleared to return to action, but outside of a few positive plays courtesy Carlos Hyde’s 6.4 yard average on 7 carries, the Browns provided little excitement on the offensive side of the ball.
The Eagles offense led by the reigning Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles also struggled as they simply could not find an answer for the smothering attack of the first-team Browns defense coached by the feisty Gregg Williams. Foles was missing a few of the regular suspects from the first team, and outside of a handful of positive plays from running back Wendell Smallwood who is close to adding his name to the 53-man roster, the Eagles were completely decimated by the Browns D, who generated five first half turnovers. Leading the charge was the top overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft Myles Garrett, who chimed in with two sacks, including one safety which gifted the Browns with two precious points in this low-scoring affair. "Five turnovers in one half is impressive" Garrett said about his team during the post-game press conference. "I believe we can get better". The defense was missing its other recent top draft pick in Denzel Ward, who exited the game with a lower back injury early in the first quarter.
More victories for the defense in the second half
Despite a glimmer of hope from the tandem of Baker Mayfield and Derrick Willies in the second half, Mayfield found himself on the receiving end of a few sacks courtesy of Steven Means, Haloti Ngata, and Fletcher Cox before throwing a pick to Avonte Maddox and retiring to the sidelines.
A rare positive offensive play from the Eagles came from a end zone TD connection to Rashard Davis, which was ultimately called out of bounds; the clearest example of how things went for the Eagles.
As the Eagles move to 0-3 in the preseason, they will be focused on the health of Carson Wentz and finally getting some offensive production from their on-the-bubble talent from the likes of Smallwood and Matt Jones as they get ready to face the New York Jets in next Thursday’s finale. The Browns will improve to 2-1, and will likely spend some time focusing on their offensive production, as their star receiver Josh Gordon returns to practice full time with the team.