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The Focus Now: Beat The Browns

Feel free to debate the 53-man roster and those who aren't here, and talk all you want about how this player is going to fit and how that one has a challenge ahead. The Eagles are whole, and they return to the NovaCare Complex on Monday to practice and to focus on the Cleveland Browns next Sunday.

The goal, then, is to get to 1-0 on the season. It's a week-by-week proposition here. With that in mind, here are some thoughts about the Eagles as the coaches put together the game plan for the Browns ...

  • How much does a 4-0 preseason mean for the Eagles? Somebody told me that ESPN's Colin Cowherd was on the air the other day saying that teams that went 4-0 in the preseason reached the playoffs 55 percent of the time. I don't know the validity of that, and it doesn't much matter to me. Every team starts 0-0. That's just the way it is. I will add this, though: A lot of folks said that those four games to end 2011 meant nothing. I will tell you that in retrospect those wins started the ball rolling, and the momentum continued into the offseason and through training camp and the preseason. This team believes in itself, and that's a positive attitude to have going into the regular season.
  • Will running back Trent Richardson play for the Browns on Sunday afternoon? That's a big question for Cleveland, and one for the Eagles defense, too. Richardson is Cleveland's meal ticket and at some point this year he's going to be the focal point of the offense. He may play on Sunday, but I can't imagine that he will get a lot of work after missing three weeks with a knee injury. I expect, and this is just me thinking out loud, that the Browns will have a fairly conservative approach offensively with rookie quarterback Brandon Weedon. Don't you think screens, draws and three-step drops will be the norm against this pass-rush-heavy Eagles D?
  • A note about new Eagles and what they are expected to bring to the table, and I refer specifically to safety David Sims and offensive lineman Nathan Menkin. I asked Howie Roseman about Sims the other night after our Xfinity Studio interview and he said, "We have to get him in here first before we really know." And that's the truth. I can tell you that Sims, for example, is a pretty athletic safety, that he doesn't have ideal size and that he has to come in and play well on special teams. But, really, how do we know until we see him as an Eagle? Same with Menkin. He's a good athlete, or the Eagles wouldn't have him here. I can't tell you if he's closer, though, to Kyle DeVan or Evan Mathis.
  • How much will the Browns look to blitz Michael Vick next week? Isn't the idea for defenses to contain Vick in the pocket while coming on blitzes from guard to guard? This whole season sets up as a fascinating series of mind games within the many battles of the games. I would like to see Vick get the football out of his hands very, very quickly, though. Having the offense's tempo quickly is going to be the most challenging thing after Vick's inactive preseason.
  • A big congratulations to Ryan Rau for making the practice squad. Who knows where he goes from there? The kid plays hard, he isn't afraid to speak up and he gives everything he has. Rau was invited to the spring camp as a "last name" and ends up on the team. Good for him beating the odds. As for reaction for the rest of the practice squad, I am always interested in receivers, so we'll track Marvin McNutt and B.J. Cunningham, and I want to see how much Chase Ford develops. Hard to tell much about anybody else, though. The Eagles rely on that group of players a lot during the season, so don't be surprised ...
  • Will the Eagles really dress six defensive ends each Sunday? I can't see it happening, especially if they plan to play Cullen Jenkins some at end in the "heavy" packages. Who sits, then? Vinny Curry is a strong candidate, for sure. The rookie played well in the preseason, but there isn't a lot of room for reps with that group of ends.
  • Good for players like tight end Brett Brackett (Jaguars), offensive tackle D.J. Jones (Giants), linebacker Keenan Clayton (Raiders) and offensive guard/center Julian Vandervelde (Bucs), who found new NFL homes after they didn't make this 53-man roster.
  • Big week ahead for placekicker Alex Henery. He needs to work out his kinks and get his stroke back. All the pieces are there with Jon Dorenbos snapping and Chas Henry holding.
  • Dion Lewis is the team's second halfback, but I wonder how much work the Eagles can give rookie Bryce Brown to see what he's got. At some point, and it may be very soon, Brown is going to challenge for playing time. It's hard to ignore a young man who is 218 pounds and who runs that well.
  • Bobby April has to put together his coverage teams in short order this week. Brown will be a big part of things. Brandon Boykin, too. Can Casey Matthews recover from his high ankle sprain and help? What about Riley Cooper? How long before he plays?
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