What to Watch For, presented by Arby's

Posted Sep 5, 2012

The Browns open the 2012 regular season Sunday afternoon when they host Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles.

After months of offseason workouts, weeks of training camp and days of preseason games, the Cleveland Browns are set to kick off the 2012 regular season Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

The Browns and Eagles are in the unique situation in preparation for the regular season opener, as they met just two weeks ago in the third preseason game, which was also played at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

The Eagles and Browns have met 47 times previously the regular season. The Browns hold a 31-15-1 record in regular season meetings and are 17-6-1 in games played at home. They are 14-9-0 in road games with Philadelphia.

Although the Browns have never opened the regular season with a home game against the Eagles, they have hosted the Eagles in two home openers during their history.

The Browns defeated Philadelphia, 37-13, on Oct. 10, 1953, after the team won its first two games of the year at Green Bay and the Chicago Cardinals. The Browns went on to win 11 straight games to start that year, but the Eagles stopped the streak with a 42-27 win in Philadelphia on Dec. 13.

The Browns also welcomed Philadelphia to Cleveland for the home opener in 1982. Philadelphia won the game, 24-21, in front of 78,830 fans during the strike-shortened year. The Browns came into that game on the heels of a 21-7 win at the Seattle Seahawks in week one of the season.

Cleveland has made five trips to Philadelphia for regular season openers. The Browns won two of the first three games, 35-10 on Sept. 16, 1950, and 41-24 on Sept. 25, 1960, but lost games in 1954, 1961 and 1969.

The Browns won the first game and six of the first seven meetings, but Philadelphia has won its last three games against Cleveland and four of the last five road contests.

When the Browns and Eagles last met in the regular season, Philadelphia earned a 30-10 victory at Lincoln Financial Field in front of a Monday Night Football audience on Dec. 15, 2008.

Quarterback Donovan McNabb completed 26 of 35 attempts for 290 yards with two touchdowns and an interception for the Eagles. Former Browns defensive back Brandon McDonald returned McNabb’s interception for a 24-yard touchdown with 9:11 left in the fourth quarter of play.

As the regular season opener unfolds, here are several players to keep an eye on:

Wide receiver Joshua Cribbs. The two-time Pro Bowler begins the 2012 season with 8,837 kickoff return yards, which stands seventh on the NFL’s all-time list. He is 274 yards shy of Michael Bates (9,110) for sixth place and is 952 yards away from fifth place currently held by Glyn Milburn.

Cribbs’ 10,534 combined kickoff and punt return yards rank seventh on the NFL’s career list. He is 321 yards shy of Cleveland native Desmond Howard for sixth all-time.

He has returned an NFL record eight kickoffs for touchdowns and added three more scores on punt returns. The combined 11 touchdowns are fifth all-time and with one more, Cribbs would equal former Kansas City Chiefs star Dante Hall and Browns Legend Eric Metcalf for third. Cribbs is also 453 yards away from Dennis Northcutt's mark for the most punt return yards (2,149) in franchise history.

Cribbs had five returns of over 40 yards in 2011 and all led to scores for the Browns. The 51-yard kickoff return against Cincinnati, as well as the 52-yard kickoff return and 43-yard punt runback at Indianapolis all resulted in touchdowns, while the 63-yard kickoff at Houston ended in a field goal.

Cribbs’ final return of over 40 yards was an 84-yard punt return for a touchdown at Baltimore on Dec. 24.

Kicker Phil Dawson. The man whom Cribbs has nicknamed “Old Faithful” for his productivity will play in his 200th NFL regular season game on Sunday. With a full 16-game season this year, Dawson would pass offensive linemen Gene Hickerson (202) and Doug Dieken (203) and be one behind kicker Lou Groza (216) on the team’s all-time games played list. Groza played in the second-most games in team history.

Dawson, the team’s all-time leader in field goals, could lead the Browns in scoring for the 12th straight season. Dawson kicked the second-most field goals of at least 50 yards last season when he connected on seven of eight attempts.

Defensive end Jabaal Sheard. As a rookie in 2011, Sheard led the team with 8.5 quarterback sacks. He had the second-most sacks by a Browns rookie, second only to former linebacker Kamerion Wimbley’s 11 during the 2006 season.

If Sheard paces the Browns in sacks in 2012, he would be the first player to lead the team in sacks in back-to-back years since Wimbley accomplished the feat in 2006-07.

Running back Brandon Jackson. One of four running backs the Browns have on the roster after it was cut to the league-mandated 53-man limit last weekend, Jackson enters the year with at least one catch in each of the last 21 regular season games. It is the sixth-longest active streak of NFL running backs.

Quarterback Brandon Weeden. The first-year Browns quarterback completed 24 of 49 attempts for 297 yards with one interception during his first NFL preseason. He started the team’s first three games in the preseason, but joined most of the first-team Browns on the sidelines for the fourth and final game against the Chicago Bears last Thursday.

Weeden completed 767 of 1,103 attempts for 9,260 yards and 75 touchdowns during his collegiate career at Oklahoma State University. Weeden set 15 school records in just two years as a starter for the Cowboys.

Browns offensive linemen Joe Thomas and Alex Mack. Thomas started and did not miss a snap in each of his first 80 games since the Browns selected him with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. Mack started each of the 48 games during his first three NFL seasons.

Defensive back Sheldon Brown. The 11-year NFL veteran has played in 160 consecutive regular season games, which ranks sixth among all active defensive players. He has caught an interception in each of his 10 previous NFL seasons.

Brown has collected 23 career interceptions and is tied with Ed Reed for the fourth-longest active streak of consecutive seasons with an interception. Green Bay’s Charles Woodson (14 seasons), Denver’s Champ Bailey (13) and Nate Clements of Cincinnati (11) rank ahead of Brown and Reed.

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick. Vick missed most of the preseason due to injuries suffered during the exhibition games, but returns for another year after leading the Eagles to an 8-8 record and a four-game winning streak at the end of 2011.

Vick completed 253 of 423 attempts for 3,303 yards with 18 touchdowns and 14 interceptions last fall.

Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson. Jackson led the team with 961 receiving yards, had the third-most receptions (58) and was third with four touchdown catches in 2011. Only wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and tight end Brent Celek caught more touchdowns, five, than Jackson last year.

Philadelphia running back LeSean McCoy. Known by the nickname “Shady,” McCoy proved to be shifty during the 2011 season. He led the team in scoring with 120 points on 20 touchdowns. He ran for 1,309 yards and 17 touchdowns on 273 attempts and caught three touchdowns and gained 315 yards on 48 receptions.

The Browns come into Sunday’s game after posting a 2-2 record in the preseason. They won at Detroit and Green Bay before losing to the Eagles and Chicago Bears. The Eagles posted a 4-0 mark in the 2012 preseason with backup quarterback Nick Foles getting the bulk of the snaps due to injuries to Vick.


Browns general manager Tom Heckert spent nine years in the Eagles’ front office. Heckert was the Eagles’ general manager during his last four years in Philadelphia.

Browns coach Pat Shurmur’s first NFL coaching job came as the tight ends/offensive line coach with the Eagles (1999-2001) under the direction of Andy Reid. Shurmur later became Reid’s quarterbacks coach (2002-08) before moving on to be the St. Louis Rams’ offensive coordinator.

Browns offensive coordinator Brad Childress was the quarterbacks coach (1999-2001) and offensive coordinator (2002-2005) for the Eagles, while defensive coordinator Dick Jauron mentored the Eagles’ defensive backs in 2010.

Ray Rhodes, the Browns’ senior assistant to the defense, was the head coach of the Eagles from 1995-98. He was the first coach in Philadelphia history to lead the team to the playoffs in each of his first two seasons and won the NFL Coach of the Year award in 1995. Rhodes’ Eagles posted back-to-back 10-6 records in 1995 and 1996.

Browns quarterbacks coach Mark Whipple was the Eagles’ offensive assistant in 2008 and defensive backs coach Tim Hauck played in Philadelphia from 1999-2001.

Defensive lineman Juqua Parker spent the last seven seasons with the Eagles. Sheldon Brown and linebacker Chris Gocong were drafted by the Eagles before coming over to the Browns in a trade prior to the 2010 season. Brown was a second-round pick in 2002 and spent eight years with the Eagles, while Gocong was taken in the third round in 2003 and played in Philadelphia for four seasons.

Defensive back Dimitri Patterson (2009-10), tight end Alex Smith (2009) and wide receiver Jordan Norwood (13 weeks on 2009 practice squad) also played for the Eagles.

Running backs coach Gary Brown (Williamsport) and defensive back Ray Ventrone (Pittsburgh) are Pennsylvania natives. Ventrone (Villanova University) and practice squad defensive lineman Brian Sanford (Temple University) played college football in the Philadelphia area.

Reid was an assistant for Browns president Mike Holmgren’s staff with the Green Bay Packers from 1992-98. Reid also served as a graduate assistant during Holmgren’s tenure as quarterbacks coach at Brigham Young University.

Eagles linebackers coach Mike Caldwell played linebacker for the Browns from 1993-95.

Philadelphia offensive line coach Howard Mudd served in the same capacity with the Browns from 1983-88 and Eagles quarterbacks coach Doug Pederson quarterbacked for the Browns in 2000.

Eagles defensive backs coach Todd Bowles mentored the Browns’ secondary from 2001-04, including three seasons as a nickel package specialist (2001-03).

Defensive end Phillip Hunt was signed by the Browns as an undrafted free agent in 2009 and defensive back David Sims was traded to the Eagles from the Browns following the 2012 preseason.

Eagles center Jason Kelce (Cleveland Heights High School/University of Cincinnati), tight end Brett Celek (Cincinnati/University of Cincinnati), defensive back Kurt Coleman (Clayton/Ohio State University) and Trent Cole (Xenia/University of Cincinnati) are Ohio natives.

Philadelphia linebacker Brian Rolle played college football at Ohio State.

Eagles secondary/safeties coach Michael Zordich was once a defensive assistant at Youngstown Cardinal Mooney High School and special teams coordinator Bobby April was Ohio State’s defensive backs coach in 1991.


Fans can watch Sunday’s game at 1 p.m. ET on local FOX affiliate WJW-TV 8. Dick Stockton will provide the play-by-play. Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers/Denver Broncos safety John Lynch (color analysis) and Jennifer Hale (sideline reporter) will also be on the call.

The game is also available along the PNC Bank Browns Radio Network with Jim Donovan (play-by-play), Doug Dieken (color) and Jamir Howerton (sideline reporter) on the call.

What to Watch For is brought to you by Arby’s -- Arby’s Value Menu starting at one dollar will have you coming back for more without emptying your wallet.

The Cleveland Browns match-up against the Philadelphia Eagles is presented by PNC Bank, the Official Bank of the Cleveland Browns. Upon exiting the game, all fans in attendance will receive a 2012 Cleveland Browns Schedule Magnet, courtesy of PNC Bank and the Browns.

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