April 14, 2024

​This past week the Cleveland Browns and the Philadelphia Eagles held joint practices in Philadelphia PA ahead of their Thursday night pre-season game. Both teams did this last year in Berea OH. And the reports coming out of the practices from last year were crystal clear. The Eagles were a superior team to the Browns. I wasn’t surprised to hear that knowing how well-run the Eagles organization is. I also understood that the Browns were yet to be a complete team. And that showed on the field when the 2022 season unfolded.

Fast forward to this week in 2023, the reports came out on Monday that the Browns dominated the Eagles on that day of practice. One former NFL coach Rex Ryan stated on an NFL Sirius XM show that the Browns defensive line “looked like the 1985 Chicago Bears.” Let’s pump the brakes on that comparison. However, it is encouraging to know the offseason investment that was made on the Browns defensive line was well worth it. They were able to play well against one of the league’s best offensive lines.

Then came the reports from Tuesday’s joint practice. The Eagles defense answered the challenge and the Browns offense struggled as a result. We heard that the offense appeared limited without WR Elijah Moore in the 11 on 11’s drills. From what I can gather from all the reports, on Monday the Browns caught the Eagles by surprise. And the Browns were probably taken lightly by the defending NFC Champions. Tuesday was the Eagles responding to the challenge from the Browns. That same response led to some on-field skirmishes and coaches from both teams separating players. I find these reports encouraging about the 2023 Browns.

​NFL fans in general crave content, hot takes and eye-grabbing headlines about their favorite team. This propensity to seek acknowledgment of a team’s prowess doesn’t stop with Cleveland Browns fans. This week was not at all short of the content that thrives on the anticipation of the upcoming NFL season. This can be to the detriment of the fans themselves. Expectations can be set either too high or too low for any team-based only on pre-season games and controlled scrimmages.

The Thursday night 18-18 tie for a pre-season game was exactly what it was. Very few starters if any played in the game. Most of the work was done with the joint practices.

Avoiding serious injuries seems to be more of a priority than the final score in the exhibition season. The only major concern for Browns fans after this week is placekicker Cade York and his inconsistent accuracy. He has the leg strength and the ability to kick over 50-yard field goals. But for some reason, he is struggling this pre-season. To truly contend this year, the Browns need their kicker to be reliable within 45 yards. What steps the Browns will take to remedy this problem remains to be seen.

​The Philadelphia Eagles are an excellent team, just over six months ago they were close to winning the Super Bowl. As compared to last year, this was a good measurement of growth for the Cleveland Browns. After this week of joint practices and a pre-season game, the Cleveland Browns showed the Philadelphia Eagles that they should not be taken lightly. As the 2023 season progresses, maybe the rest of the NFL will be shown that too.

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