Previewing the Cleveland Browns' Week 3 Preseason Game vs. the Eagles
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
The Cleveland Browns take on the Philadelphia Eagles on Friday night in their third preseason game of the year. In what is usually a dress rehearsal for the regular season, the Browns will instead not tip too much of their offensive or defensive plans for the year, as the team is set to again meet the Eagles in the regular-season opener.
We will, however, see a long look at the offensive and defensive starters yet again—they'll likely play the full first half—as the younger and new players continue to get their bearings.
Here are the three biggest things to look out for when the Browns host the Eagles on Friday.
Brandon Weeden (Of Course)
Tim Fuller-US PRESSWIRE
Brandon Weeden is a rookie quarterback and a first-round draft pick at that. No, he's not Andrew Luck, but he doesn't need to be—all he needs to be is more reliable and productive in both the short and long terms than his predecessors.
Whether or not he's that guy is as of yet unknown—we've seen him play just three quarters of professional football, after all, and we're about to see him play around two more, and that's certainly not enough to get a full picture of the quarterback he'll be in the regular season or the one he'll become in the years to follow.
The important thing when watching Weeden in the preseason is his development from "Rookie" to "rookie"—i.e., making that R-word that qualifies his job as minimal as possible. This is a time for him to sharpen his skills and familiarity with the playbook and the offensive players around him, to figure out his weaknesses and how to minimize them, and to give him opportunities to learn from past mistakes.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
With the Browns yet to tip their hands on how they hope their offense will look this year, we can only go on the few things we've seen out of Weeden thus far and hope to see improvement in the areas in which he is weak.
Weeden has a good arm, great accuracy and timing, and he doesn't appear to get frustrated. However, he's still staring down his first targets—and more often than not, throwing to them, as well, rather than checking his progressions—which makes him at risk for interceptions.
In the past two weeks, we've seen a Weeden who is standing taller in the pocket and not bowing to the speed of the game around him. But the Eagles have a powerful defensive front that will be coming right for the rookie. It's important to see how he reacts to this—will he run, will he take sacks, will he make an ill-advised pass or will he throw it away?
That will be Weeden's biggest test on Friday. If he earns a passing grade, it's another solid week of improvement for Weeden.
Stopping the Run
Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE
Examining how well the Browns defense stops the run is becoming a weekly refrain when it comes to my preseason previews, and for good reason. The Browns were terrible at it last season, and it's the one area of their defense they drastically must improve if they hope to end the year with more wins than they did in 2011.
It's been a mixed bag when it comes to the Browns' success at stopping running backs these last two weeks. Against the Lions, the Browns struggled—and not just their second or third teams, either. They gave up a total of 198 yards on the ground, including the starting defenders allowing Lions backs to break off eight-, nine-, 10-yard runs on a consistent basis.
Last week, the Browns faced the Packers and their less-than-stellar run game and had far greater success, holding Green Bay to just 69 total rushing yards. However, the Packers only ran the ball 18 times; against the Eagles on Friday, the Browns will have a larger sample size to work with.
David Butler II-US PRESSWIRE
Eagles starting quarterback Michael Vick will not play—rookie Nick Foles will be the starter (via CBSSports.com)—so it's safe to assume we'll see a lot of the Eagles backs. While Foles has already had some preseason success passing the ball, expect backs LeSean McCoy, Bryce Brown and Chris Polk to have heavy workloads.
So far this preseason, the Eagles had one good game on the ground (against the Patriots, with 144 yards) and one poor one (against the Steelers, with 74). But McCoy is one of the very best backs in the league, and Cleveland's defensive front could have a very tough time containing him. At least they'll know what areas they must improve upon most rapidly, with the Eagles and McCoy coming at them to open the regular season.
Colt McCoy vs. Seneca Wallace
David Richard-US PRESSWIRE
On Monday, Browns head coach Pat Shurmur said that second-year quarterback Thaddeus Lewis would be staying on as the No. 3 passer on the depth chart, which means time is nearly up for either Colt McCoy or Seneca Wallace.
Friday's battle against the Eagles will then carry much weight for the two veterans as they try to retain their jobs in Cleveland.
Based on what we've seen over the last two weeks, McCoy appears to have the edge, but Wallace isn't far behind. Through two games, McCoy has completed 10 of his 14 pass attempts, for 146 yards; Wallace has gone 10-for-17, for 130; and neither has thrown a touchdown pass.
Financially, keeping McCoy makes sense, as he's set to make less money than Wallace this year and also has more years ahead of him in the league. Wallace, a favorite of team president Mike Holmgren, may also find himself superfluous, considering that the team's soon-to-be new owners may have no interest in Holmgren sticking around.
Mike Carter-US PRESSWIRE
It all comes down to who presents himself as the better option behind Weeden, should the rookie struggle or get injured this year.
Though common sense points to McCoy being that player, he does have greater value on the trade market than Wallace, and he's been painted as somewhat of a nuisance in Cleveland. There's his public disappointment that he didn't get to compete with Weeden for the starting job and his dad's displeasure with how the team handled Colt's concussion last season to consider, unfortunately.
But if McCoy outplays Wallace that significantly this week, no amount of McCoy's grousing may be able to convince the Browns front office that he must go. This is a major battle—if Wallace is released, his time in the NFL may be over; if it's McCoy, there's a far bigger question mark at backup quarterback than there would be otherwise.
What is the duplicate article?
Why is this article offensive?
Where is this article plagiarized from?
Why is this article poorly edited?