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Eagles vs. Browns: 10 Things We Learned from Cleveland's 27-10 Loss

Todd EdwardsContributor IAugust 25, 2012

Eagles vs. Browns: 10 Things We Learned from Cleveland's 27-10 Loss

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    I hope the Browns were holding back on the game plan for the Eagles rematch on Sept. 9, because as Pat Shurmur said at halftime to the local TV sideline reporter, they just didn’t play well.

    The Browns started off well, winning the coin toss and Brandon Weeden going 4-of-4 on the opening drive. After that, not so much…with the next two plays in the red zone being a penalty and a fumble.

    The Eagles had a similar start on their first offensive possession with an interception, but it was all good after that for Nick Foles, who finished with two TD passes. Foles had very good field position for his two touchdown passes due to two turnovers, one which was a blocked punt.

    After Weeden’s hot start, the Eagles pass rush went to work on him and the Browns offensive line. The Eagles sacked Weeden four times and forced another fumble that the Browns recovered. Montario Hardesty decided to get in on the turnover party by giving up his second fumble in two games.

    The offensive line had big problems blocking the wide 9 alignment for the Eagles defensive line…the same problems they had with the Detroit Lions, who run the same alignment.

    The Eagles defensive ends line up wider than normal outside the offensive tackle…in this game the Eagles used the wide alignment to attack the interior offensive line of the Browns.

    The tackling, which had been good for the first two games of the preseason, went on vacation for the Browns defense. On two of the Eagles' trips inside the 10 yard line the Browns missed tackles that turned into touchdowns. The first team defense was attacked on the deep ball, with Sheldon Brown being the target for Foles.

    The young players on defense continued to flash with impact plays but fell victim to the same problems on defense with blown coverages and missed tackles. Joe Haden had a good game with an interception and good tackling. Foles figured out that he needed to leave Haden alone and the rest of the Browns defense obliged by not playing well.

    Not much changed when the backups got in the game. Colt McCoy was able to get the Browns in the end zone for a touchdown. After Colt’s night was over, Seneca Wallace forced a throw into double coverage which turned into an interception.

    The Browns new owner watched part of the game from the Dawg Pound and couldn’t be happy with what he saw. He told the Browns local TV crew the team has a long way to go but he is in it for the long haul. Hopefully for the Browns fans it’s not too long.

    We learned a lot in this game; here are 10 things we found out…

Joe Haden Is the Best Playmaker on Defense

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    Joe Haden continued his impressive preseason with an interception and physical play with the Eagles receivers. Haden has a possible four-game suspension coming from the NFL and he showed why the Browns will miss his play on defense tonight.

    Nick Foles, who stepped in for Michael Vick, quickly figured out after the interception that he should stay away from Haden.

It's Hard to Win When You Turn the Ball Over

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    Some things never change even in the preseason...if you lose the turnover battle, you normally lose the game. The Browns had a blocked punt, two fumbles lost, and an interception. The Eagles had one turnover on an interception.

    The Browns have to hope Montario Hardesty hasn't developed butterfingers with his second lost fumble in as many games.

The Wide 9 Strikes the Browns Offensive Line Again

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    In the first preseason game, the Browns offensive line had problems blocking the wide 9 defensive line scheme. In this game, the protection problems continued.

    The Eagles defensive ends ran up field wide on the Browns tackles, exposing the Browns young guards to interior pressure.

    When the Browns rookie right tackle Mitchell Schwartz tried to set up for the wide rush, the Eagles defensive end bull rushed him right into the lap of Brandon Weeden.

    On the bright side, they have a lot of game tape on the wide 9 to help them get ready for the opener on Sept. 9.

Weeden Played Like a Rookie

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    Brandon Weeden started off well with good ball placement on his first four throws, then the Eagles brought the pressure right in his face.

    The one problem Weeden has is also his biggest attribute: he wants the deep ball, which will causes him to hold the ball.

    In the NFL, if the quarterback still has the ball in his hand after three seconds, bad things usually happen.

    When the quarterback hits the last step in his drop, the ball has to come out, either to a receiver or a throw away.

    Aaron Rodgers does a great job of throwing the ball away and coming right back with the same play for a completion.

The Browns Aren't Good Enough to Survive Penalties

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    The Browns had 6 penalties for 50 yards, but that doesn't tell the whole story. The penalties were drive killers leaving the Browns with bad down-and-distance situations.

    On the strip sack on the Browns first drive inside the red zone, it was in large part to the penalty for holding on the previous play.

    The penalties also showed a lack of attention to detail with pre-snap fouls by the offensive line.

    When the Browns made a play on defense with an almost pick-six, they got a penalty for roughing the passer.

The Eagles Don't Need Colt McCoy

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    Once Brandon Weeden was named the starter, the Eagles were on the list of trade possibilities. The question mark of Michael Vick staying healthy for a season makes the backup quarterback job valuable for the Eagles.

    Nick Foles showed tonight there is no need for alarm in Philadelphia about the backup quarterback. He executed the offense and made quick decisions.

    The lack of pressure from the Browns defensive line and the short fields aided his success, but he made the most of those opportunities.

The Browns Pass Rush Was Missing in Action

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    As you can see in the picture, there are no Browns in sight; this is how close they got to Nick Foles most of the game. The Browns as a team ended the game with no sacks.

    The backups put some heat on the Eagles backup quarterbacks but still couldn't put them on the ground, while the run defense continued to do well with only allowing a total of 55 yards rushing.

    In a league where the ball is in the air most of the time, the pass rush will have to get better. Teams know to double Jabaal Sheard after 8.5 sacks last year, so the Browns need someone else to step up.

Sheldon Brown Is a Deep Completion Waiting to Happen

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    Sheldon Brown is the savvy veteran when he strips the ball like he did in the Green Bay preseason game. The problem for the Cleveland Browns is when teams decide to attack deep, they are going after him.

    This happened too often last year. Quarterbacks will stay away from Joe Haden because he is a shutdown corner, but they also know if they can get the protection, Sheldon Brown is an explosive play waiting to happen.

    The Browns have so many young corners playing well, it might be time to start giving them a chance at Sheldon Brown's spot.

The Eagles Defense Brings the Pain

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    While tackling was a problem for the Browns defense, the Eagles defense didn't allow for a lot of yards after contact. The Browns running backs and receivers were quickly greeted by violent tackles by the Eagles.

    Their defenders also delivered the pain with a purpose looking to knock the ball out with every hit. The Browns players will have a line for the cold tub tomorrow.

The New Browns Owner Is in It for the Long Haul

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    After watching the game from the stands, the Browns new owner Jimmy Haslem stopped by the TV broadcast booth to comment on the game. He restated that he is committed to doing what it takes to make the Cleveland Browns a winner again.

    He stated that he plans to continue to build through the draft and in two to three years, the Browns could be as good as the Eagles. Hang in there, Browns fans; Jimmy Haslem is the biggest bright spot of this game.

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