Eagles Preparing for Browns: ‘Pack an Extra Mouthpiece, Extra Shock Pads’

Kareem Hunt, Nick Chubb

Getty Browns standouts Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb are arguably the best RB tandem in football.

Everyone knows what the Browns do best. They run the football — down your throat, over and over and over again. While it may be easy to predict what’s on the horizon in Cleveland, it still may be impossible to stop for an Eagles defense ranked near the bottom of the league against the run.

“Yeah, it’s our biggest challenge of the season in the run game,” defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz told reporters on Tuesday, “and how well we stop the run is going to go a long way to how well we play in this game. They are an outstanding run team. Probably the best two running backs we face this year. Not just the best two on the team, but the best two overall.”

That’s strong praise from Schwartz but it’s far from hyperbole. The Browns rank fourth in the NFL for total rushing yards (1,431) and rushing yards per game (159) with nine rushing touchdowns. They live and die on the hefty shoulder pads of standout backs Kareem Hunt (633 yards) and Nick Chubb (461 yards).

Not only that, these guys are the most physical rushers in football. Chubb has averaged 2.7 yards after contact (fifth-best) while Hunt has averaged 2.6 yards after contact (seventh-best). They have a combined 557 yards after the first hit.

“They are a good contact-running team and like I said both of those guys, Hunt and Chubb are both outstanding running backs,” said Schwartz, “and it’s going to be our biggest challenge of the year and we need to be up to that challenge.”

Eagles safety Rodney McLeod took it one step further. He’s bringing an extra suitcase to Cleveland.

“I think we’re a good running defense, first of all,” McLeod said. “It’s going to be a battle. It’s going to be one of those games where you pack an extra mouthpiece, pack extra shock pads.”

Follow the Heavy on Eagles Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!

How Bad Have Eagles Been Against the Run?

Statistically, the Eagles are the eighth-worst defense against the run after allowing 1,197 yards on the ground on 275 attempts. They have also surrendered 14 rushing touchdowns, the third-worst mark in the league.

Not ideal, right? But some of those numbers are skewed due to teams busting loose on long runs (see: Daniel Jones’ 34-yarder … see: Daniel Jones’ 80-yarder).

Take the splash plays out and the Giants only averaged 3.2 yards per carry last week. It hasn’t been nearly good enough but Schwartz has liked some of what he’s seen, particularly in containing the opposition’s running backs. Obviously, they need to do a better job limiting mobile quarterbacks.

“I’ve continued to be pleased with the way our defense has stopped running backs but that’s not enough,” Schwartz said. “All those rushing yards count and particularly the quarterbacks.”

Bigger Role for Will Parks Moving Forward

There was modest hype surrounding Will Parks coming into training camp. The versatile safety was supposed to take over the “big nickel” role and possibly fill-in at cornerback in a pinch. Granted, Parks missed the first five games with a lingering hamstring issue.

Still, the Philly native has seen his number of defensive snaps fluctuate randomly since coming off IR. Parks logged a season-low six snaps last week after seeing 28 against Dallas. According to Schwartz, it has more to do with down and distance than performance. The Eagles aren’t going to put three safeties on the field on 2nd-and-1 or 3rd-and-1.

“When it’s third down and one and they are in 13-personnel, we are not going to be in three safeties,” Schwartz said. “We’re going to have our load-up defensive line and linebackers on the field and that’s the way this game just played out. It was more a fact of that than not having a plan for him or not having confidence in him.”

Good to hear. Remember, Parks was rumored to be on the trading block before the deadline but ended up staying in his hometown.

READ NEXT: Travis Fulgham Makes Impact vs. 49ers

READ NEXT: Raiders Possible Landing Spot for Carson Wentz?

READ NEXT: Eagles Coach Sounds Off: ‘We’re Moving Forward’