CLEVELAND — Call Friday night a reality check for the Cleveland Browns.
It’s not right to say the 27-10 defeat to the Eagles gave back all the Browns gained by beating Green Bay, but they sure followed a good game with a dud.
The Browns imploded after an impressive opening drive that went to the Philadelphia 2-yard-line.
What followed was a comedy of errors, as the Eagles dialed up their intensity — and speed — and the Browns turned into a bunch of stumblebums.
Despite it all, coach Pat Shurmur insisted he was not concerned.
“I’m not worried, disappointed or concerned,” Shurmur said. “We’re going to get it fixed. I don’t mean to be short, but let’s look at it for what it is. We just got to play better.”
No argument there.
But Shurmur was pointed when he said: “I’m not worried or concerned about anything. The concerned and worried questions, just hold those. Think of other things to ask me.”
He said it with a smile, was not hostile, and clearly meant it.
So … there’s that.
But this was a night for the Benny Hill theme song, lowlighted by quarterback Brandon Weeden fumbling twice on strip-sacks, the Eagles recovering one of them. (Weeden has three fumbles in five preseason quarters.)
The first turnover ended a good first drive in which Weeden started 4-for-4 for 66 yards with some very impressive throws. But a holding penalty at the 2 put the Browns at first-and-goal at the 12. As Weeden dropped back to throw a screen pass, Eagles defensive tackle Derek Landri came unblocked up the middle and stripped the ball from the rookie quarterback.
The rest of the quarter, Weeden completed 1-of-5 for three yards.
Heading into the second quarter, the Browns had three penalties on the offensive line, a blocked punt, two fumbles and zero first downs after their first drive. Thanks to the turnover and blocked punt, the Eagles scored 14 points while driving 18 yards.
Bad? This was 2011 bad.
The worst reality: The Browns struggled with their starters facing mainly Eagles backups.
“We’re good enough to beat anybody,” Shurmur said. “But if we don’t play well, we’re good enough to get beat by anybody.”
This was a night that should have, on paper, favored the Browns. Mike Vick did not play. The Eagles played Monday night and could have been in serious yawn mode. And the Browns were coming off a good game in Green Bay that might have built some momentum.
There were positives here and there.
Josh Gordon started off with the 28-yard reception on a nice catch down the sideline, and had three receptions the first half. Weeden showed the arm strength that prompted the Browns to draft him. Joe Haden played very well, with an interception on the Eagles second play.
But there were so many negatives. Montario Hardesty fumbled for the second game in a row. Weeden had the fumbles. There were too many penalties. And the defense made rookie Nick Foles look like a veteran.
In the first half Foles completed 12-for-19 for 146 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Rating: 99.9.
Weeden went 9-for-20 for 117 yards, with no TDs and no interceptions. His rating: 64.0.
Weeden was under serious duress, though, as the Browns offensive line had huge problems with the Eagles defensive line speed. That’s not uncommon. Philadelphia led the league with 50 sacks a season ago, with 46 coming from the line.
But some of Philadelphia’s pressure came from backups facing the Browns starters, and if the Eagles were playing “vanilla” because they’ll see the Browns again in two weeks, the opener could be an adventure.
“We started slow,” Landri said. “They had a big play to start the game off, and you never want to start like that. We’ve got to figure a way come week one against these guys to shut it down and not give up a big drive.
“We were fortunate enough to get in a good situation and make a play and kill all their momentum, which is what you want to do.”
Landri and the Eagles didn’t just kill the Browns momentum; they killed what little swagger Cleveland had coming off the Packers game.
It’s not the end of the world, but it does bring a dose of reality to the Browns world.
Even new owner Jimmy Haslam understood.
He was in the house, and spent part of the first half watching from the Dawg Pound.
At halftime, he wandered through the press box and a reporter yelled out to him: What did you think?