It appears the Philadelphia Eagles must prepare to face the top rookie running back on the 2012 draft class in Week 1 against the Cleveland Browns.
Trent Richardson has been medically cleared to resume playing and has returned to practice this week. How much he’ll actually play against the Eagles is unknown and will probably be a see-how-it-goes decision during the game.
The Eagles will also be facing a Browns offense that consists of a rookie QB in Brandon Weeden, running backs Monterio Hardesty and Brandon Jackson, receivers Mohamed Massaquoi, Greg Little and Josh Gordon, as well as tight end Ben Watson.
No disrespect to Cleveland fans, but that’s not exactly an all-star lineup right there.
The thought of playing a bunch of no-names has brought back unpleasant memories of players having breakout games against the Eagles. For some reason, it seems the Eagles have a penchant for allowing “no-names” to have good games and sometimes serve as a stepping stone for such a player.
Case in point: Who the hell was Victor Cruz last season before he played the Eagles?
Cruz was 4th on the depth chart and a serious “no-name” before he killed the Eagles with three catches for 110 yards and two very painful touchdowns. That game sprung him to 82-catch, 1,536 yard season (with nine TDs).
There have been other cases too when it comes to the “who the hell is he?” reaction while watching a player perform against the Eagles.
Back in 2006, rookie running back Joseph Addai of the Colts was having a so-so season for Indy. He was averaging about 62 yards per game and had scored three touchdowns over the course of the first 10 weeks.
I’d say that was probably about average of what you could expect from a rookie running back, especially in an offense that featured the passing of Peyton Manning.
However, in Week 11 he faced the Eagles and proceeded to torch them for 171 yards and four TDs.
That was far-and-away Addai’s best game of his rookie season. He only hit the 100-yard mark one other time after that (exactly 100 yards as a matter of fact) and didn’t score any more TDs.
Going back a little further in our history against the Colts, in 2002 there was a backup running back who made his first career start against the Eagles.
James Mungro, remember that name? Yeah, me neither. I needed some help in remembering what this guy’s name was (much thanks to “Connecticut Eagle” who recalled his name).
But, what I do remember is this 3rd-string “who the hell is this guy” running back who came in a proceeded to look like Walter Payton in rushing for 114 yards and two touchdowns.
There was also another backup running back who helped make a name for himself against the Eagles. This time it was Tatum Bell, of the Denver Broncos.
Back in 2005, playing as a secondary runner behind Mike Anderson in the game, Bell still managed to carry the ball 14 times for 107 yards and two killer touchdowns.
Then, who can forget the almighty Joe Webb? What? You don’t remember who Joe Webb is?
Think all the way back to the 2010 season when the Eagles were still in the running for the second-seed in the playoffs. It was Week 16 and it was the game against Minnesota that had to be rescheduled to a Tuesday night because of a bad snow storm in Philadelphia.
The Eagles had a shot at a first-round playoff bye when the game started and were facing a team that was 6-8 and would be playing without their starting QB.
Joe Webb made his first career start and the Eagles made him look like a saavy veteran.
Webb didn’t have a monster game statistically, but he made all the plays when he had to. He passed for 195 yards and rushed for 31 back-breaking yards and a touchdown. Everytime you thought the Eagles had him, he eluded the rush and kept drives alive.
Basically, he looked better than Michael Vick that game.
Oh yeah, and by the way, each of these aforementioned games that had stunning performances by no-name players were all Eagles losses in large part because of those performances.
My point with all of this, is that the Eagles better clamp-down on Richardson, Weeden and the rest of the lackluster Cleveland offense this week.
They can’t afford to let a no-name or rookie player start with a breakout performance because the Eagles simply underestimated him.
For the Eagles to be successful this season, they need to prepare every week as if they’re playing Joe Montana, Calvin Johnson and Barry Sanders on offense.
The Browns are supposed to be an easy opponent for the Eagles this week and it’s a game the birds should win.
However, never underestimate anyone. If the Eagles’ history shows anything, it’s that any player at any time can burn you if you aren’t properly prepared.
Weak or not, the Eagles better come out guns-a-blazin’ against the Browns and never let up.