Sunday, September 11, 2016

Browns Preview: Cleveland Browns @ Phiadelphia Eagles

By Katelin Marshall, @KatelinKnowsCLE

The Cleveland Browns led by new Head Coach Hue Jackson take on the Philadelphia Eagles and their new Head Coach Doug Peterson. This game has a lot of first considering both teams are in the process of rebuilding. Also this is the first game for rookie quarterback Carson Wentz who was taken number two overall by the Eagles after completing a trade with the Browns last April.

Browns Offense vs. Eagles Defense

The Browns offense will be based on the run game. Isaiah Crowell is expected to get a huge chuck of the carries this Sunday. Now against the Eagles and their wide 9 defensive scheme the Browns might have some trouble with stretch runs on either side of the ball. The Eagles have a solid defensive line highlighted by Fletcher Cox and Connor Barwin. Cox is arguably one of the best defensive tackles in the game and just signed a 6yr/103 million dollar extension this off-season. How and why are these two guys a problem for the Browns to have success in this game? Look at who they are matched up with: Cox and John Greco will be matched up and the same with Barwin and right tackle Austin Pasztor. On paper, the right side of the Browns offensive line will struggle against these two so it will b up to Crowell to take advantage of every hole they can create. The Eagles are also very athletic. Barwin and Brandon Graham are former outside linebackers in a 3-4 defense and since the wide 9 in now implemented they are now defensive ends. And along side of Cox and Bennie Logan the Browns could struggle to start the game.

Where there is hope offensively, is the passing game. If quarterback Robert Griffin III can stay upright the Browns could have a field day. Yes the starting receivers Corey Coleman and Terrelle Pryor are making their first starts, but the threat of Pryor down the field and ability of Duke Johnson to catch the ball out of the back field will give the Browns some balance. By balance I mean the way the Eagles will have to defend the passing game. Whether that is having a safety over the top and RGIII dumping down to Johnson or Gary Barnidge or its press-man coverage and throwing the ball down the field for Pryor or Coleman to run it down. Now saying all this the key is keeping RGIII upright. If the Browns O-line can give him some time RGIII will make the right decisions, whether its checking down or just throwing the ball away.

The last key for the offense is to prolong drives. The Browns were terrible converting third downs during the preseason. They won't be able to bank on the big plays down field all the time this year.

Browns Defense vs Eagles Offense

The Eagles are starting rookie quarterback Carson Wentz, who only played in one preseason game before injuring his ribs. The Eagles have a really good offensive line even without right tackle Lane Johnson. Expect a high dose of running back Ryan Mathews this game. The Browns defense during the preseason couldn't stop the run. It will be the most important thing to do it this game. They need to force Wentz to pass the ball so defensive coordinator Ray Horton can call up the blitz. Blitzing Wentz and forcing him into mistakes will give the Browns a great opportunity to win this game. Now some of the other weapons for the Eagles are tight ends Brent Celek and Zack Ertz. Tight ends are the safety blanket for quarterbacks so expect a lot of dink and dunks to those two.
Also backup running back Darren Sproles (yes that Darren Sproles). Sproles is still really good catching the ball out of the backfield and for the same reason as the tight ends expect him to catch a handful of balls this game. I won't expect the Eagles to throw the ball down field as much even though they have solid receivers in Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor. Passes down field will give the Browns an opportunity to get to Wentz which is what the Eagles might want to avoid for many reason including his inexperience, lack of practice time, and the injury he is recovering from.

Wentz will try and be a game manager on Sunday. The Eagles want to see what they have in him but if he can't get it done there is a possibility backup quarterback Chase Daniels gets into the game.   Yes it is a long shot but if  the game is close and Wentz isn't playing well the Eagles might go to Daniels for the win...yes, Chase Daniels for the win.

Five Guys to Watch

Joe Haden: This is Haden's first game back since the middle of last year. This is also a put up or shut up year for him. If he want to reclaim his spot as an elite cornerback it starts this game going up against Wentz.

Cam Erving: This will be his first game as a full time center. Can he control the o-line and make the correct adjustments? Well time will tell which is why he's a guy to watch.

Corey Coleman: The first round pick out of Baylor and the first pick of Hue Jackson and company. Coleman has a ton of talent and balled out during training camp but he did struggle during the preseason games. If he can catch 5-8 passes and go for 70 yards it will be a solid debut. Its important to get him into a rhythm early so he doesn't get discouraged.

Carl Nassib: Can Nassib continue to ball out as he did during the preseason. Yes he won't be starting but on passing downs he will be on the field because he has a nose for the quarterback.

Robert Griffin III: This will be his first regular season game since 2014. Griffin looked solid during the preseason. Lets hope he continues to develop and can correctly read defenses. Also like stated before its important for him to take what the defense gives him and throwing the ball away is ok.

Injury Report 
Line: Browns +3.5 *subject to change


The Browns are going to win this game 27-21. They will create havoc for Carson Wentz which will force him into some bad throws. The Browns who finally have some weapons on offense will take advantage of the takeaways. Griffin will throw for 250+ yards and two touchdowns. And Crowell will run for a touchdown. Also expect a trick play with Terrelle Pryor either throwing the ball or running it out of the "wildcat" formation. Its important for Hue Jackson to start out 1-0 and if the Browns win it will be their first opening day win since 2004.

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