A week from today, the Cleveland Browns will be playing meaningful football again.
First up is a showdown with the Carolina Panthers and old friend Baker Mayfield.
Today, we will highlight three players that will have to perform well if the Browns want to leave Carolina with a victory.
Nick Chubb and the RB room
With the Browns trotting out Jacoby Brissett as their starting quarterback for the first eleven games of the season, they will be more reliant than ever on their stable of running backs.
The leader of that room is, of course, Nick Chubb. The Browns will be leaning on Chubb in a big way until Deshaun Watson returns.
It’s going to be a lot of ground game this year. Thank goodness we have Nick Chubb. 🔥🏈💪🚀 #Browns pic.twitter.com/7RuFvY1xpR
— Craig Fountain (@CraigAFountain) August 30, 2022
Chubb will be joined, for now, by Kareem Hunt and D’Ernest Johnson in leading what will likely be a run-heavy offense both against the Panthers and for the first eleven games of the season.
Carolina was ranked 18th in rush defense during the 2021-22 season. Barring massive improvement from that unit, Cleveland should be able to control the game, and the clock, on the ground in week one.
If Cleveland’s defense lives up to the hype, the Browns’ rushing attack should be good enough to win them a handful of games early in the season.
While the Browns’ identity will likely be that of a run-centric team, there will, of course, be times when they rely on the quarterback to win them games.
In his only pre-season action, Brissett looked lackluster, completing 13 of 23 passes, and throwing for an unimpressive 103 yards along with an interception.
While Anthony Schwartz did drop multiple passes and could be blamed for the interception, Brissett still looked average at best against a Chicago team that was not fielding all its starters.
Brissett has shown the ability to play at a starting level in the past, throwing for nearly 3,000 yards, along with 18 touchdowns and only four interceptions as the Colts starter in 2019.
I ain't worried about Jacoby Brissett 11 game season. Here's why ⬇️⬇️ pic.twitter.com/A66cJXFPwd
— Browns & Gators fan (@cle_rebuild) August 28, 2022
Carolina is expected to be an improved team this season with Mayfield at the helm and Christian McCaffrey back from injury.
Brissett’s role in a lot of games this season will be to simply not lose Cleveland the game and to stand in and deliver an accurate ball when the team needs it.
I expect the Browns to largely utilize a run-centric attack in week one, but if the game remains close, Brissett will be called on to step up.
Some remarks that were allegedly made by Baker Mayfield made the rounds on social media this past week.
When asked about it, Myles Garrett essentially chalked it up to Mayfield being Mayfield, but the star pass rusher said the team was still going to use it as motivation.
Myles Garrett responds to Baker Mayfield's remark… Photo: Joshua Gunter, clevelanddotcom https://t.co/NbpYJUcUeP pic.twitter.com/UGiAglSLfL
— clevelanddotcom (@clevelanddotcom) August 30, 2022
Without external motivation, Garrett is one of the most dominant forces in the NFL coming off the edge.
Coming off a career-high 16 sack season, Garrett is still looking for his first Defensive Player of the Year trophy, and with Carolina starting a rookie at left tackle, it’s easy to assume that Garrett will look to get an early start on putting his name in consideration for the award.
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