When the Eagles hired Jim Schwartz as their defensive coordinator in the offseason, the excitement of a strong, tough, hard-hitting defense was something Eagles fans eagerly anticipated. Schwartz was well known for a style of defense that gets pressure on the quarterback, emphasizing penetration from the front four defensive linemen to set the tone.
On Sunday against the Browns, the defense as a whole was able to get after Robert Griffin III and cause havoc in the backfield the entire game. Led by Pro Bowl defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, the Eagles were able to execute the typical game plan of Schwartz's defense in the 29-10 win.
"I think we played well. There's always room for improvement, but we created turnovers and got after the quarterback late in the game when we needed it. I think we played pretty well," said Cox, who finished the game with four solo tackles, including a sack and two QB hits. He, Connor Barwin and Brandon Graham were able to get pressure on Griffin the whole game as well, with both defensive ends recording a sack as well in the win.
"I'm pretty sure (Schwartz) doesn't like to blitz much. It's going to be us four up front to create pressure," said Barwin.
Although the defense played well, giving up only 10 points and allowing the Browns to convert on just two third downs in 10 attempts, there were times in the game that Griffin was able to find his receivers for deep completions down field. Griffin completed a 44-yard pass to wide receiver Terrelle Pryor in the second quarter (which led to Cleveland's only touchdown of the game), and a 58-yard completion to rookie first-round pick Corey Coleman from Baylor to start the third quarter.
Luckily, the completion to Coleman resulted in only a field goal to finish that drive. After that offensive series, the Browns were unable to find themselves in the red zone for the rest of the game. Griffin finished 12-of-26 for 190 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. The Browns amassed just 288 total yards of offense.
"It was huge for us, they could have had momentum on that play if they scored," added Barwin on Coleman's catch.
Overall, the Eagles' defensive players were pleased with the overall effort Sunday in South Philadelphia.
"We started the game out with two three-and outs and a turnover on downs. To come out and start fast, to set the tempo, doing that right out of the gate was big for us. We were doing that consistently the entire game," said linebacker Jordan Hicks, who saw his first action since a torn pectoral muscle prematurely ended his rookie season.
The Eagles will look to use Sunday's home opener as a confidence boost as they head into next week's Monday Night Football matchup with the Chicago Bears.
The Eagles opened their regular season at home against the Cleveland Browns and went home with the 29-10 victory.