The Eagles will open their 2012 campaign on the road in the Cleveland tomorrow at 1pm. Philadelphia comes in as heavy 9 point favorites against the Browns, who finished last year 4-12.
These two teams have some of the youngest rosters in the NFL, but the difference is that the Browns’ youth will be starting. Cleveland could be starting as many as 5 rookies on Sunday, 2 on defense and 3 on offense.
The Eagles will have their sights set on the rookie combo of QB Brandon Weeden and RT Mitchell Schwartz. In their preseason matchup, the Eagles sacked Weeden 3 times, forced 2 fumbles and limited him to just 9 of 20 passing. Oh and that was the Eagles’ 2nd string defense. Weeden will have the combo of Nnamdi Asomugha & Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to deal with this time, while Schwartz will have to contend with one of the NFL’s top 5 pass rushers last season in Jason Babin.
The Browns were expected to lean heavily on rookie RB Trent Richardson, but after he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery this summer missing the entire preseason and most of training camp. He is reportedly going to play tomorrow, but it would stand to reason that he’ll be limited.
With no real opportunity to see Richardson play, Andy Reid said the Eagles went back to look at his college film.
“I know [defensive coordinator] Juan [Castillo] has gone back and looked at the college stuff and made sure that he’s got a good feel on what they did there,,” Andy said. “It’s a little different scheme, but he’s taken a peek at it. He’s a good football player and we know that and so we’ve got to be ready for him. He’s very tough and quick and strong and everything. He’s a good running back.”
On offense, there was a clear way to attack the Browns last season. They held up very well against the pass limiting opponents to just 184.9 yards per game, 2nd best in the NFL. However, there were awful against the run giving up over 147 yards per game, the 3rd worst in the NFL.
And so far, its hard to say whether the Browns’ run defense will be any better. DT John Hughes, a 3rd round rookie who many saw as even a reach there, will be starting. Fourth round pick James-Michael Johnson was slated to start at SAM, but an oblique injury is likely to keep him out, which will likely make way for UDFA L.J. Fort to start on opening day.
Fort is actually the third string at SAM behind Johnson and veteran Scott Fujita, who despite having his bounty suspension lifted is not expected to play due to a leg injury. The Browns will actually only dress 2 LBs that have ever taken an NFL snap.
So if there was ever a week to feed LeSean McCoy and work in Bryce Brown… Its this one.