The Cleveland Browns defeated Jacksonville Jaguars 24-13 to kick off their 2022 preseason campaign. In this game, the Browns went on a 24-0 run to end it after the Jaguars had a 13-0 start.
The Jaguars wanted to demonstrate that their youthful team was coming together while the Browns had high hopes going into the game.
As former Clemson quarterbacks, Trevor Lawerence of the Jaguars and the disgruntled Deshaun Watson of the Browns led their respective offenses, both teams were searching for something new.
When the dust settled, the Browns’ depth shone through to give them a win. Great play from their defense and backup QBs ensured that coach Kevin Stefanski would go 1-0 to kick their preseason off.
There were some questions that still lingered after the game, though. One of them was which projected starters might lose their spots looking ahead to the start of the 2022 regular season.
Browns first-stringers in danger of losing starting jobs in 2022
2. Wide Receiver David Bell
The pass catchers for the Browns had little impact against the Jaguars. Just seven of the 13 WR and TE targets received for a total of 64 yards and three first downs. Those are plainly paltry numbers.
Nakia Griffin-Stewart, a former undrafted free agent tight end, took the lead after receiving two of his targets for 26 yards and added another 13 after the catch. Right now, he’s not even on the Browns’ depth chart, but if he continues to play like this, Stefanski might give him a look.
One of the starters on their depth chart is 2022 third-round pick David Bell. He was extremely effective in college at Purdue, but he struggled in the NFL combine due to subpar test results. He looked well throughout offseason workouts, but up until recently, a foot issue held him out of training camp.
During those aforementioned workouts, Bell ran routes well. He seemed to separate himself from other players and caught any throws that came his way. When training camp formally opened, though, Bell missed it due to a stress fracture. Last Saturday, he was taken off the PUP list but still opted out of team reps. As such, he also didn’t play a single snap of the game against the Jaguars.
Bell doesn’t know when the injury happened. He took part in the full offseason program, and he stood out as one of the guys in the spring. He would only say that the pain began a few weeks before rookies left town for summer vacation.
David Bell has been listed as WR4 on the Browns first unofficial depth chart. pic.twitter.com/MIElBknrl8
— NFL Rookie Watch (@NFLRookieWatxh) August 9, 2022
For Bell, it was an irritating speed bump. Again, during spring sessions, he made a name for himself as the club’s premier slot receiver. He even ran mostly with the first team outside with Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones. He acknowledged that he had only dropped one pass all spring during a team practice held at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on June 15.
Moving forward, Bell’s spot is uncertain due to this lingering foot issue. If he does see action in the Browns’ other preseason games and does well, then maybe he keeps his spot. The reality, however, is he might actually be in danger of losing it to the likes of Anthony Schwartz, Ja’Marcus Bradley, or even Daylen Baldwin, who went 3-3.
1. Quarterbacks Deshaun Watson & Jacoby Brissett
Trevor Lawerence outperformed fellow Clemson alum Deshaun Watson for the first three series and even threw a TD. The Browns’ offense had a challenging first quarter, and Watson’s below-par performance didn’t help one bit. In fact, he only completed 1-of-5 passes for 7 yards.
Basically, everything that could go wrong, did.
Deshaun Watson apologizes, then struggles in Browns preseason debut. https://t.co/mxXwanQiW2 pic.twitter.com/rjRC9SVfy1
— theScore (@theScore) August 13, 2022
He looked bad in those five throws and three drives. On a bootleg, his bad pass resulted in a complete failure. Even if his passes were shaky, he will probably become more reliable the longer he plays in this system. Remember that he missed the entire 2021 season. No matter how good you are, missing an entire season means you’ll be a bit rusty.
The Browns were fortunate, then, that they had Joshua Dobbs. Listed as the team’s third-string quarterback, Dobbs managed 55.6 percent of the team’s dropbacks with Jacoby Brissett also out. He performed particularly well with a clear pocket, going 9 of 11 for 99 yards and a score with a passer rating of 134.5.
Dobbs deftly guided the group on three scoring drives. He surely left a lasting impression on the squad by showcasing his abilities to everyone. Due to Watson’s performance and off-court issues along with Brissett’s absence, Dobb’s suitability as the team’s backup will now be seriously discussed.
The Browns must utilize the remainder of the preseason to determine who will start for the club while Watson is absent due to his impending suspension. Brissett must demonstrate his ability to guide this squad since, according to sources, he isn’t currently looking terrific in practice. Dobbs’ performance on Friday also turned a lot of heads. This means some QB competition is up in the cards.