Philadelphia Eagles vs. Cleveland Browns: Eagles' Biggest Winners and Losers
The Philadelphia Eagles played the sloppiest game of the week, and somehow, still managed a victory. Michael Vick threw four interceptions, LeSean McCoy lost a fumble early and the offensive line couldn't stop committing penalties.
The Eagles hung on late, thanks to a touchdown reception by Clay Harbor and a game-clinching interception by Kurt Coleman. As bad as Vick was, Browns rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden was even worse. He threw four picks as well and had just 118 passing yards.
Neither one of these teams looked like a playoff team, but the important thing is just getting the victory. Winning ugly is still winning. It always beats losing a thriller to an evenly matched team. You don't get style points in the NFL.
Loser: Michael Vick
Michael Vick was beyond horrendous against the Browns. He completed 29 out of 56 passes and threw four interceptions. He made poor decision after poor decision and did his best to lose the game. You can call him rusty all you want, but he didn't look like an NFL starting quarterback.
For Vick, it is just a matter of playing smart. That was one of my keys for the Eagles against the Browns. He continues to throw across the field off his back foot, and he usually pays for it. He did throw the game-winning touchdown to tight end Clay Harbor, but his defense was the reason he was in that position.
Next, the Eagles face a much tougher challenge in the Baltimore Ravens. A repeat of this performance by Vick will spell doom for the Eagles.
Winner: LeSean McCoy
LeSean McCoy finished with 20 carries for 110 yards on Sunday. It's important to note that at least 50 more yards were negated by penalties. He also had six catches for 26 yards.
McCoy took advantage of a mediocre run defense and had a lot of success on the ground. He will be a huge factor in the Eagles' success this season. Whenever you have a quarterback who is turnover-prone, you need to have a solid running game to take the pressure off him.
We already knew that McCoy was a special back. Performances like he had on Sunday will be crucial going forward, especially next week against an elite defense like the Baltimore Ravens.
Loser: Marty Mornhinweg
Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg called a pretty lousy game on Sunday. The Eagles were facing one of the better pass defenses and also one of the worst run defenses. Michael Vick also had one of the worst games of his career.
So, why did he call just 23 running plays out of 85 total plays?
His play-calling was a mystery to me. The Eagles decided to keep four running backs on the roster this season. What is the point if you aren't going to use them?
You have to have balance in the NFL in order to win consistently, especially when your quarterback is having a nightmare of a game. Hopefully, he learns from this as a play-caller and brings some balance to this offense next week.
Winner: Jeremy Maclin, Brent Celek and DeSean Jackson
DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek all fell short of the 1,000-yard mark last season, but all three are on pace to get to that mark this season. Jeremy Maclin finished Sunday's contest with 86 yards, Jackson had 77 and Celek had 65.
Celek and Macin have never eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark. All three showed the ability to put up big numbers this season. They are all on pace to reach 1,000 yards, even after a game where the Eagles had five turnovers. It's a great start for an offense capable of being unstoppable.
Loser: Offensive Line
The Eagles really missed All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters on Sunday as their offensive line really struggled. Michael Vick was sacked twice and was under duress for most of the game. The offensive line was also called for four offensive-holding penalties.
The pass protection is going to have to set it up this season. Vick is far too injury- and mistake-prone to not get at least decent protection from his line. It's only going to get tougher for this line as they face the Ravens next week the Giants in Week 4 and the Steelers in Week 5.
Winner: Run Defense
Cleveland Browns rookie running back Trent Richardson has been compared to Adrian Peterson all summer long. The Eagles run defense made him look more like Eldra Buckley.
The run defense and open-field tackling was a huge issue last season. DeMeco Ryans was brought in to fix those issues, and he didn't disappoint. Ryans finished with five solo tackles and helped the Eagles hold Richardson to just 39 rushing yards on 19 carries.
It's only one game, but it was a terrific effort by the run defense in that one game. They will get a much tougher test next week against Ray Rice. After next week, we will have a better idea of just how good this run defense can be,.
Winner: Pass Defense
As good as the run defense was, the pass defense was even better. It picked off four Brandon Weeden passes, shut out Greg Little and held Josh Gordon to just 32 yards. Weeden finished with just 119 passing yards on 35 passes with a completion percentage of 34 percent.
Everyone in the secondary was great on Sunday. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Nnamdi Asomugha and slot corner Brandon Boykin all played like shutdown corners. The safeties were equally great. Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman were consistently around the ball and made plays when they were in position.
Last year, the issue with the secondary was missed assignments. Receivers were able to get wide open because there was confusion in the secondary. That wasn't the case against the Browns. The talent was there with the defensive backs. As long as they play with great chemistry on the field, this group can be one of the league's best.
Winner: Philadelphia Eagles
Nobody likes to win ugly, but it is a great learning experience for a team that hasn't won a playoff game since the 2008 season. In the past, this has been a game the Eagles would lose. You have to give everyone credit; they found a way to win in a game they should have lost.
Michael Vick, especially, deserves a lot of credit. He threw four interceptions, but he kept his head up high and made all the plays on the final drive. The Eagles took over with just over six minutes to go, down by six.
They were pinned inside their own 10-yard line, but drove down the field on a 16-play, 5:01-minute drive. By the time the Browns got the ball back, the had just over minute to score with zero timeouts.
This was a poor managed game up until that final drive. You have to give credit when it's due. When they had make clutch plays, they were able to do it. This clearly isn't a game the Eagles would have won last season. It may not have been pretty, but clearly, progress was made going into this season.
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