All eyes will be on Kellen Winslow. We did get a sneak peak at him two years ago, but it seems like such a long time since he's been in action. He's been having an outstanding camp, and I'm sure the coaches won't showcase all of his plays just yet. However, I want to see him at least make one play where he breaks a tackle or two, showcasing the skill that will elevate him above the rest of the tight ends in the league. The Eagles' defense features a 4-3 defense that is underrated. The Eagles linebackers include Shawn Barber, Dhani Jones, and Jeremiah Trotter. Barber did not play at all last year, Jones is decent, and Trotter is solid all around.
Unfortunately for the Browns, the Eagles defensive line appeared to be in midseason form against the Raiders in the Hall of Fame game. Javon Kearse is a Pro Bowl caliber defensive end, and the Eagles signed Darren Howard to operate the other side of the line. Brodrick Bunkley may see some playing time, but if he doesn't, Darwin Walker will get a shot. With Ryan Tucker out and a questionable center as our starter, I'd be concerned with Frye and our running game early on. LaMont Jordan was absolutely stuffed at first, but Aaron Brooks was able to overcome that by throwing a touchdown to tight end Courtney Anderson. The Browns should fire to Winslow early, and then use Droughns on a draw play after the focus is already on the tight end.
The Eagles have a great secondary and will put Charlie Frye to the test. If you make a mistake, the secondary is a threat to jump the pass the take it back the distance. I don't expect the Browns to line up with more receivers than Joe Jurevicius and Dennis Northcutt with the first unit. It will not be easy to get them the football over the middle of the field, so expect some comebacker routes, and maybe a deep ball attempt to Northcutt. They were able to connect on it so often in training camp, and it's time to see if they can get it done during the game.
On our offensive line, it's plain and simple: all focus is on the center. Alonzo Ephraim will probably be the only guy to see action with the first unit, and Frye's exchange with the center could definitely be off, and understandably so. With the great ends the Eagles have, Kevin Shaffer will be put to the test, as will rookie Kirk Chambers, who I expect to get the start ahead of Tucker.
Browns Defense - First Unit
Want to know what I'm most interested in seeing? Big Ted Washington taking out a center on someone else's team. OK, he didn't really take out our centers, but the big man should draw a double team. Brian Westbrook was very good the other day against the Raiders, as was Donovan McNabb. McNabb was able to get by without a strong receiving crew, but with the way Gary Baxter and Leigh Bodden have been playing, we better not give up an easy touchdown through the air. If McNabb does see some success, I expect it to be on screen plays or pass plays designed for Westbrook. Matt Stewart isn't particularly solid at defending those plays, and the Eagles will try to capitalize on the youth of D'Qwell Jackson. This is where Jackson can step up and chase down the versatile Westbrook, which would make an impressive first impression.
McNabb may not play a lot, but we need to see Kamerion Wimbley get a chance to pass rush him on a third down play. McNabb can run fast, and a pass rusher is what we've lacked in the past against McNabb especially(remember the huge run he made on third down against us?) Besides Wimbley though, Willie McGinest will certainly help out as well. At the safety position, the battle is still on between Sean Jones and Brodney Pool. It'll be tough to gauge one over the other though, unless one of them makes a game changing play.
Browns Special Teams - First Unit
Josh Cribbs, show us those blazing returns you gave us last year! I'm not overly concerned about him taking one to the house though; I'd much rather see him take one to the 30-yard line so that our offense can attempt a normal drive. The same goes with Northcutt, I'd rather see him fair catch the ball at this point to give our offense more of a shot. There's nothing to expect from Phil Dawson, we know what he can do. If Dave Zastudil punts the ball though, it better not be a shanker. We saw too many of those with Derrick Frost and Kyle Richardson.
First Unit Winners
On offense, the Browns should be far superior in terms of wide receivers. The pure running game is dominated by Droughns, but Westbrook can provide the splash in the passing game. Both tight ends are very capable, but the Eagles have the better offensive line at the time being due to our injuries.
On defense, the Browns will be testing youth mixed with veterans, while the Eagles are testing a lot of their experienced players. Although we hope our youngsters will make a splash right away, it's easier said than done. We won't let anyone down in the least, but the Eagles have more experience on their side heading into the game.
On special teams, the Eagles have a reliable kicker in David Akers, as do the Browns in Dawson. The difference comes in the kick return unit, where the Browns have more experience and big-play ability(as long as we hold the penalties back).
Special Teams: BROWNS
Browns Offense - Second Unit
I'm not very aware of the Eagles' second unit players, so I'll more so breakdown our players quickly. For Ken Dorsey, it's put up or shut up time - plain and simple. He has blown it in training camp, and the Eagles pretty much shut down the Raiders' backup, Marques Tuiasosopo. I'm really not expected much from our second offense, and it's a shame, because I really want to see how well Cribbs and Travis Wilson can do in the receiving game. Unfortunately, I don't think Dorsey will get them the ball in a manageable situation. In the running game, it's basically down to Lee Suggs and Jerome Harrison. I'm not sure who will get more reps, but I'd have to imagine it'd be Suggs due to his veteranship. On our offensive line, our main priority will be to find out how our fifth-string centers hold up.
Browns Defense - Second Unit
Dream scenario: Rookies Kamerion Wimbley, D'Qwell Jackson, and Leon Williams are all in at the same time and swarm Jeff Garcia, forcing him into a poorly thrown pass. Then, either Jones or Pool intercept the pass and take is the distance, while Babatunde Oshinowo gives a stiff block to Garcia. OK, maybe all of that won't happen, but those are some of the players we'll have our eyes on. We can't let Garcia embarrass us, especially with how bad he looked against the Raiders.
Second Unit Winners
On offense, the Browns would have the definite advantage if it weren't for Dorsey. Garcia doesn't have anyone to throw the football to except a bunch of rookies though, and their running game beyond Westbrook isn't anything to be proud of.
On defense, the Browns should also have the clear advantage. The Eagles fell apart last year because of one reason: no depth. We will be testing out all of our depth on defense, which are young guys full of potential.
Winner: CLEVELAND BROWNS
No, this is not a homeristic decision. I expect the Eagles to possibly have a slight advantage after the first-string unit. The Eagles held the Raiders in check for the most part on Sunday, but the Raiders have no backup playmakers. Dorsey won't really rally us, but after both teams stall several times, we'll be able to actually claim that Dorsey is better than Garcia in a way. The final score will be 20-17.
-Browns Touchdowns: Steve Heiden on playaction (1). Lawerence Vickers on fullback handoff (2).
-Leading Thrower: Ken Dorsey (Simply due to playing time).
-Leading Receiver: Frisman Jackson (Veteran target for young QBs).
-Leading Rusher: Lee Suggs (Most of the action with second team, some third team).
-Leading Tackler: Leon Williams (6 tackles in the second half).
-Interceptions: Brodney Pool (from Jeff Garcia).
-Fumble Recoveries: Pete Hunter (Eagles' backup RB will fumble near sideline).
-Best Rookie: Leon Williams (Impressive showing against the ground game).
-Best Newcomer: Ted Washington (Drawing double teams helps our linebackers).
Thanks for reading everybody. There will be an open game thread tomorrow to discuss the results of the game, and I'll have my breakdown of the aftermath of the game on Friday.