Philadelphia goes for three straight wins in this Monday night game against the struggling Browns (4-9), who had playoff aspirations prior to the season but who are now on their third quarterback (Ken Dorsey) of a dismal campaign. Let's break down the matchups in this week's Countdown to Kickoff ...
The Eagles got a little bit of a scare this week, when tackle Jon Runyan missed practice time with a sore right knee, placing the iron-man tackle on that most dreaded of documents, the Eagles' injury report.
But the right tackle, who has played in 189 consecutive games dating back to his time with the Titans/Oilers, said Saturday that he expects to be able to go on Monday night against Cleveland. If Runyan plays, he will tie Ron Jaworski for 11th place on the Eagles' all-time games played list (142). It would also be Runyan's 200th career game.
In addition to Runyan's services, head coach Andy Reid expects running back Correll Buckhalter to be back after missing the last two games with a sprained MCL. Buckhalter could provide more fuel to a resurgent Eagles' running game, which carried them to two consecutive victories against the Cardinals and Giants.
* FROM THE COACH'S DESK*
With the Browns down to their third-string quarterback, they've got to do whatever it takes to move the ball down the field.
So with a dynamic player like wide receiver/kick returner Joshua Cribbs, Cleveland does its best to put the ball in his hands. Much like the Eagles do with the dynamic DeSean Jackson, the Browns use Cribbs in their version of the single-wing offense, the Wildcat formation.
"We expect that 'Wildcat.' That's part of what they're going to do – (Cribbs) being a running quarterback and throwing," defensive coordinator Jim Johnson said. "He has only thrown one pass, but we know that coming out of Kent State, he was a good quarterback. We are anticipating things like that. He's an excellent athlete."
It remains to be seen if the Wildcat formation has a steady future in the NFL, but many teams have at least attempted to use it this season. For a team like Cleveland, at 4-9 with very little to lose, confusing opposing defenses might be their best chance at moving forward.
"I think the offensive coordinator (Rob Chudzinski) does a great job of mixing things up anyway. Every game, he has a different wrinkle," Johnson said. "I'm sure they're going to have some different things. We anticipate some things; some things we might not have seen before."
* PLAYERS TO WATCH*
Browns LB D'Qwell Jackson:Last week against the AFC-leading Titans, the third-year linebacker had his best game as a pro. He made 15 tackles, picked off two passes and knocked down three more. Jackson has had at least nine tackles in 10 of the Browns' 14 games this season and has already set career highs in both sacks and interceptions this year.
Browns WR Braylon Edwards:After last year's breakout season in which he set career highs in receptions (80), receiving yards (1,289) and touchdowns (16), Edwards was poised for NFL stardom. Instead, Edwards has regressed this season. He's ranked 31st in the league in receiving, with 45 catches for 735 yards and three touchdowns. Edwards also unofficially leads the league in dropped passes with 16.
Eagles DE Trent Cole:The Eagles' two-game winning streak has coincided with a two-game sackless span for Cole, but it's not due to a lack of effort. Cole plays almost every down and has a continuous motor. However, he'll be squaring off against one of the best in the business in Browns' left tackle Joe Thomas. The Browns have only surrendered 16 sacks this season, so getting to quarterback Ken Dorsey might be an uphill battle.
Eagles RB Brian Westbrook:The Eagles have balanced the offense and they have given Brian Westbrook the football early and often in the last two games. Westbrook has been red-hot of late, rushing for 241 yards and three touchdowns over the last two weeks. He has also added nine catches for 92 yards and three scores. Cleveland is ranked 28th in the league against the run, so the Eagles should have success if they decide to attack the Browns that way.
* KEEP AN EYE ON ... Browns NT Shaun Rogers*
The Cleveland Browns won 10 games, but still fell short of the playoffs a year ago. In the offseason, one of the top priorities was revamping the defensive line. The centerpiece of that line was acquired when the Browns traded away a third-round draft pick and cornerback Leigh Bodden to Detroit for the 6-4, 350-pound behemoth named Shaun Rogers.
Known as an underachiever in Detroit, Rogers has flourished in Cleveland with 69 total tackles, a team-best 4.5 sacks, seven tackles for loss, 14 QB pressures, two pass breakups and two blocked field goals.
That last stat might be the most troublesome for the Eagles, who have had two blocked field goals returned for touchdowns this season. One of them came at the end of the first half of last week's win over the Giants.
But the Eagles' offensive line, in particular center Jamaal Jackson, will spend the most time dealing with Rogers, who would probably receive more recognition if there weren't a flurry of strong tackles in the AFC this season (Tennessee's Albert Haynesworth and New York's Kris Jenkins among others) and the Browns were winning more. Philadelphia's offensive line has been stout all year in pass protection - the current pass play/sack ratio would be the best in team history. The team has also caught fire in the run game, thanks to a much-healthier Brian Westbrook.
This will be a big, literally, test for Jackson and the offensive line. They've had their ups and downs against 3-4 sets this season. If the Eagles want to continue their win streak and keep playoff hopes alive, containing Rogers will be key.
FIRST AND LONG
- Andy Reid's Eagles are 2-0 against the Browns and 10-7 on Monday Night Football.
- The Browns are going for a third consecutive win on Monday Night Football in 2008.
- The Browns haven't scored an offensive touchdown in three straight games.
- In his career, Eagles QB Donovan McNabb has thrown for 216.1 yds./game with 15 TDs and just 5 INTs on Monday Night Football.
- Eagles RB Brian Westbrook averages 4.5 yds./carry with 9 total TDs in 15 career Monday Night Football games. In his most recent Monday night appearance, Westbrook caught a TD pass and ran for two more scores.
- Westbrook's 55 carries over the past two weeks are the most by an Eagle in consecutive games since Duce Staley had 58 in 1998 - 28 against the Rams and 30 against the Cards.
- Barring a setback, Monday will mark Eagles' FS Brian Dawkins' franchise record 181st game as an Eagle (surpassing Harold Carmichael's previous record of 180).
- Dawkins has 5 career INTs on Monday night, trailing only Darren Sharper (6) among all active players.
- The Eagles have allowed one sack every 27.4 pass plays, which is the best mark in team history.
- In the Eagles' seven wins, they have converted 51 of 101 third-down opportunities (50.5 percent). Opponents have just a 22.2 percent third-down success rate against the Eagles in their seven wins and tie (24-for-108).
- The Eagles have outgained their opponents in 9 of 13 games this year, and rank 2nd in the NFL in terms of yards per game differential.
- Philadelphia averages 26.1 points per game, while only allowing 20.2. With a difference of 5.8 points per game, the Eagles rank 5th in the NFL.
- The Browns are 5-0 when RB Jamal Lewis has at least 25 carries. Lewis (800) needs 200 rushing yards to become the first Browns RB since Mike Pruitt to gain 1,000 in consecutive seasons.