2. Offensive tackles vs. defensive ends
While the Browns had to go without Jack Conklin last week vs. the Bengals, both rookie Jedrick Wills and backup Chris Hubbard played extremely well. The Bengals certainly don’t have a top tier pass rush but giving up zero sacks vs. any team in the NFL is a huge win.
This week will likely be the team’s biggest challenge with rookie Chase Young (pick No. 2 overall) and Montez Sweat coming off the edge, not to mention Ryan Kerrigan who will rotate throughout the game. Through only two weeks, the Washington Football Team has already racked up 11 sacks, which leads the NFL.
While Wills showed some signs of being a rookie early in training camp scrimmages, offensive line coach Bill Callahan has had him ready to play in the regular season. He has transitioned well from right to left tackle and looks dominant in both run and pass blocking. Wills will have to be extremely focused this week, but a strong game plan will also help him in protection.
Conklin came to Cleveland to redeem himself. After earning All-Pro honors as a rookie, he lost his starting job in Tennessee. In Week 1 Conklin was great, but an injury once again took him out of action in Week 2. This was a concern coming into the season, but hopefully, he will be able to go full speed on Sunday. Luckily, Hubbard played extremely well and will be a serviceable backup if needed.
Look for the Browns to run the ball early and often to keep these rushers from pinning their ears back. The worst thing that could happen is the Browns fall behind early and are forced to throw the ball to catch up. Third and long will require chips on the edges, or it could be a long day for Mayfield.
Callahan has already proved his greatness in two weeks with the team. Expect him to have a masterful game plan and keep Mayfield protected. Look for Washington to get one or two sacks, but nowhere near the 5.5 per game, they are currently averaging.