Yes, the Eagles beat the Browns 17-16 in Week 1 but it was UGLY … here’s what we saw:
What went wrong
2011 all over again … Aside from the defense, which looked surprisingly good, the 2012 Eagles looked a lot like last year’s version. The offense was marked by sloppiness and a lack of discipline. The Birds racked up 12 penalties for 110 yards, including two holds that negated huge gainers from LeSean McCoy. The Eagles’ offense was supposed to be disciplined one year after finishing second-to-last in turnover margin. Yesterday, the Birds turned it over five times. Saving grace was that Cleveland coughed it up four times.
Officially unofficial … Hate to do it, because we know they are doing their best, but the replacement refs’ best just wasn’t good enough. Penalty flags flew out late, calls went unexplained and they often referred to the Eagles as the “green team” and Cleveland as the “white team.” The officials also missed an illegal formation call on the game’s second play, threw a questionable roughing-the-passer call on Phillip Hunt and allowed the Browns to challenge an unchallengable fumble — they eventually realized the mistake — with 3 minutes left.
Get ready for a QB controversy … Credit him on the game-winning drive, but Mike Vick was downright inept in Week 1 as he struggled to make easy reads, refused to set his feet and constantly threw into double and triple coverage. Vick finished 29-of-56 for 317 yards (51.0 QB rating) and threw four interceptions — none excusable — and fumbled twice. Take away those two completions to Jeremy Maclin (46-yarder, 18-yard TD) and Vick was atrocious. If he gets off to another rough start Sunday, get ready for Nick Foles chants at the Linc.
What went right
Hi, my name is … LeSean McCoy wasted no time proving the money wouldn’t change him. Yes, he did fumble on his very first carry but then he turned on the afterburners. With Mike Vick struggling, Andy Reid put the game into Shady’s hands late in the fourth quarter. He should have done it sooner. McCoy delivered with huge runs, racking up 55 yards in the fourth, and finished the game with 20 carries for 110 yards. McCoy should have had a lot more if not for holding penalties.
Don’t blame the defense … Maybe Juan Castillo does know what he’s doing after all. The front four was aggressive, the linebackers stopped the run — even on third down (2-for-13) — and a star was born in Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. For all the hype his partner, Nnamdi Asomugha gets, DRC was the one who made the biggest impact. The corner grabbed two, game-changing interceptions, and watched a third one bounce right off his fingertips in the end zone.
Special sauce … Bobby April can rest easy. His special teams unit had a master plan for Josh Cribbs, arguably the Browns’ best playmaker, and smothered him on every kickoff and punt return. Akeem Jordan and Kurt Coleman, two defensive starters, were the heart and soul. Brandon Boykin also enjoyed a nice debut on kickoff returns, taking his first opportunity back 29 yards. Of course, Alex Henery did miss a makeable field goal that would have pulled the Birds within three points.