With so much attention for the debut of Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, the defense under new coordinator Jim Schwartz also hit the ground running in the season opener on Sunday.
Granted, the Eagles faced a Cleveland offense won't be confused with the elite of the NFL, but there were still many positives defensively in the 29-10 win over the Browns at Lincoln Financial Field.
Besides holding Cleveland to 10 points, including three in the second half, the Eagles limited the Browns to 288 yards. Even that number is misleading because Cleveland gained 40 yards on a final meaningless drive that ran out the clock.
"Besides a couple of plays here and there, I thought we played solid," Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins said.
Cleveland had four plays of 20 or more yards, including a 58-yard bomb to rookie Corey Coleman on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter. The ball hung up for a long time, but Coleman made an adjustment on the underthrown ball and caught it with Rodney McLeod and Nolan Carroll around him.
"There are a couple of big plays we gave up and I have to play the ball a little better," Carroll said.
That gave the Browns a first down on the Eagles' 17-yard-line, but Cleveland had to settle for a field goal, cutting the Eagles' lead to 13-10. Keeping Cleveland out of the end zone on that series was a turning point for the defense.
"They could have gained a lot of momentum on that [drive] if they would have scored," said defensive end Connor Barwin, who had one of the Eagles' three sacks. "We held them to a field goal and that kind of shut it down there."
The Eagles put much more heat on Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III in the second half, when they recorded all three of their sacks.
"We just had to get off our blocks and it was a challenge for us out there," defensive end Brandon Graham said. "We kept coming and didn't get frustrated."
The Eagles kept Griffin off balance by giving different looks.
"I think they mixed it up the entire game," Griffin said. "They pressed, played off. They had a good game plan and we knew it."
Early in the game, the Browns helped the Eagles with some dropped passes, including two by tight end Gary Barnidge, a Pro Bowl performer last year.
Then as the game wore on, the pressure intensified on Griffin. What made that more impressive is that under Schwartz, the Eagles rarely blitz.
Pro Bowl defensive lineman Fletcher Cox, who had a sack, four tackles, and two quarterback hurries, said the defense got a major boost immediately from the offense, which scored on the game's first series, a 19-yard scoring pass from Wentz to Jordan Matthews.
"It is always good when the offense scores on the first drive," Cox said. "It gets them going and gets everybody fired up on defense to get a stop and put the ball back in their hand and score again."
The defensive players conceded that there is plenty to work on, but by staying the course, the Eagles were able to eventually shut down Cleveland.
"I don't think we skipped a beat," Cox said. "There was no finger-pointing when we gave up big plays. It was just about playing the next play."