The struggles in Cleveland are testament to the fact that it isn't easy to find the right quarterback to lead a franchise to a championship. It hasn't been easy for the Browns, who have reshuffled the deck frantically in the last 14 seasons, and it also hasn't been easy for the Eagles, who are tied with the Browns for number of Super Bowl trophies.
The question that is on the table for the Eagles this season, just as it is for the Browns, is whether they have the right quarterback now. The Eagles have placed a large wager on that proposition with Vick and have gotten some good results in return. But, to be honest about it, the Eagles don't know the answer to the question for sure, either.
In that 14-season span since 1999, which coincides with Andy Reid's tenure as head coach of the Eagles, while the Browns have had 17 acknowledged No. 1 quarterbacks, Reid has really had only three. Looking past the baby-sitting role played by Doug Pederson at the start of the 1999 season, there is really only Donovan McNabb, Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick.
McNabb won a lot of games, but sticking with him and expecting him to ever win the biggest game became the organization's working definition of insanity. Kolb was the starter for about a minute and a half, until Clay Matthews bounced his head off the turf. And then there is Vick.
If you believe the owner, Andy Reid has bet his job on Vick this season, and if the coach is wrong, someone else will be deciding on the fourth starter since 1999. There are other issues with the Eagles, as well, other questions on the table, but none is bigger than that one. Sunday's game didn't come close to sorting it out. On one hand, the offense was capable of impressive production, racking up 456 net yards. LeSean McCoy was great, gaining 110 yards on the ground. The passing game accounted for more than 300 yards and was able to gobble up half the field in a blink.
And Vick also threw four interceptions, taking a bad beating while doing so.
Reid said it was just rust being knocked off the quarterback, and the Browns were intent on knocking it off for him, along with loosening various parts of his upper body.
Maybe that's correct, but the formula that played out last season doesn't seem to have changed much. The only difference between Sunday's game and some of those horrendous losses from 2011 was that the Browns weren't good enough to turn their opportunities into what would have been an easy win for any reasonably competent NFL team. If the Eagles try this stuff against the Ravens next week, it won't turn out quite as well. They dodged a real bullet in the season opener.
"More than one. We dodged a bazooka," defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins said. "This stuff happens and our job is not to get on anybody but to keep fighting."
They did that much, and the defense was the highlight of the day. DeMeco Ryans looked like a three-down middle linebacker, the defensive backfield was very good, and the line harassed Weeden constantly. But again, there is no way to tell how much of it was that the Eagles were good and how much that the Browns were awful.
"I think the defense played well. Give them credit," Reid said.
All right, that's fair for now. It is also fair to say, on the other side of the ball, that the offensive line is both thin in numbers and spotty on its execution. It's fair to worry that the team's habit of committing dumb penalties and too many of them has not been fixed. It's fair to worry about the placekicker and the coverage units of the special teams.
It was fortunate for the Eagles that this season started out against the Browns, just as it was fortunate that 2011 started out with a flawed win over a flawed St. Louis team. That didn't turn out to be a guarantee the team would get in the film room and get things fixed, though.
There are no such guarantees. Only the games will decide, and the Eagles better find a way to play them without having the quarterback on the ground or chasing down an interception.
The exhibition schedule really ended on Sunday. Now the real season starts.
Contact columnist Bob Ford at email@example.com, read his blog at www.philly.com/postpatterns, and follow @bobfordsports on Twitter.