So there was that. And the Eagles probably knew coming in that they weren't going to get much credit if they beat the Browns - as they did, 17-16 - and especially on the defensive side going up against a rookie quarterback.
But Juan Castillo's unit really did dominate, most notably in the second half when they surrendered only 74 yards. Overall, the defense did not allow a touchdown, accounted for four interceptions and allowed the Browns to convert on just two of 13 third downs.
"I think the defense played well," Andy Reid said. "Give them credit."
The defense saved Michael Vick's posterior. It saved offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, who devised a reprehensible offensive game plan that leaned heavily toward the pass. It saved Reid, who is ultimately responsible for the sloppiness of his players, who tallied 12 penalties.
They may have to save more than Mariano Rivera if Vick continues to play as bad as he did Sunday.
But can they be this good against running back Ray Rice and the Ravens next week? Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Stafford, Matt Ryan, Drew Brees and Tony Romo - the quarterbacks the Eagles face in Games 4 through 9 - will certainly provide a stiffer test.
There were encouraging signs Sunday, however. There were hopeful signs late last season as the Eagles won their final four games. The defense improved statistically across the board. But, again, their competition wasn't great. The quarterbacks they saw weren't above average.
"There is carry over," cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha said. "When you can go into a place and hold them to no touchdowns, I think that's a big deal."
What was most impressive about Sunday's performance was that the defense was not led by its line. The whole scheme is built around getting pressure up front. But the Browns were intent on not giving the Eagles' pass rushers much time. So there were extra blockers, and Weeden threw quickly.
The heroes were in the back seven. DeMeco Ryans quelled fears based on his preseason play. The middle linebacker led the Eagles with five solo tackles and headed a run defense that held ballyhooed rookie running back Trent Richardson to just 39 yards on 19 carries.
Reid had said Friday that he was going to use all six of his linebackers, but Ryans was playing so well that Jamar Chaney and Casey Matthews never saw the field.
"They were ready to go if he got tired, and he felt like he needed to sneak out for a play or two," Reid said.
There had to be more behind Reid's plan to rotate his linebackers than Ryans possibly getting "tired." Middle linebackers that make $6 million aren't supposed to get tired. That may be a question for another day, but Ryans negated any alternative plans.
Ryans wasn't getting caught up in the moment. Asked how important his performance was because it delivered upon the promise of the acquisition in the offseason, the linebacker said it was noteworthy only because "it was the first one."
The cornerbacks, meanwhile, played as many believed they would when Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie finished last season as the starting tandem and Asante Samuel was traded to the Falcons in April.
They didn't exclusively press at the line, but Asomugha said he and Rodgers-Cromatie played more man-to-man than zone. On the Browns' second play from scrimmage, however, Asomugha was 10 yards off receiver Mohamed Massaquoi, and Weeden hit him on a slant for 24 yards.
"Once we got away from that we just got in their face, and we were kind of getting into a groove," Asomugha said. "It felt good."
Rodgers-Cromartie notched his first two interceptions with the Eagles - and could have had another - and Asomugha mostly held his own against the Browns' big receivers. But they did get open at times.
Massaquoi should have had a touchdown after he got behind Rodgers-Cromartie in the first quarter, but Weeden overthrew him. There's no way Brees misses that throw.
So the victory comes with a caveat, which may not be entirely fair. But for Castillo, whose seat will remain hot until his defense defeats a top-tier quarterback, Sunday was all that he could have hoped for out of his defense.
"We did our job," Castillo said.
It's a long way from over.
Contact Jeff McLane at 215-854-4745, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Jeff_McLane.