First, Reid doesn't have time to waste after Lurie's mandate. He must win. Like now. And second, he had already remade the roster and hired new staffers last offseason. If the lockout hindered the Eagles because of the short turnaround, then what would be the point in overhauling the team?
The Browns game may not tell Reid much about his squad (third youngest in the league at an average of 25.5 years). The Eagles are nine-point road favorites against a team that is on its fifth opening-day starting quarterback in the last five years.
The Eagles kicked off last season at St. Louis - a team similar in rank to the Browns - and beat the Rams, 31-13. They lost their next four, of course. A convincing win over Cleveland would not warrant the booking of tickets to New Orleans in February.
But a balanced outing with few errors would be a good start.
Here's how the teams match up:
When the Eagles run
LeSean McCoy led the NFL in touchdowns, first downs, and rushes over 10 yards on the way to all-pro honors last season. The running back will be without his best run blocker: Left tackle Jason Peters is likely out for the year with a ruptured Achilles tendon. Dion Lewis has backed up McCoy through the preseason, but he's been slowed by a hamstring injury, and rookie Bryce Brown, who should get some carries Sunday, may have already moved ahead of Lewis on the depth chart. Cleveland surrendered nearly 150 yards per game on the ground a year ago. The Browns will be without defensive tackle Phil Taylor (pectoral injury) and linebacker Chris Gocong (Achilles tendon).
When the Eagles pass
Michael Vick took 12 snaps in the preseason and threw only seven passes, four of which were completed for 11 yards. He did not look sharp in training camp and bruised both his thumb and ribs in the only two games he played. Confidence in the quarterback isn't especially high. But it isn't as if he's forgotten how to the play the position. (Right?) And he still has receivers DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, tight end Brent Celek, and McCoy at his disposal. That should be enough against the Browns' pass defense, which did rank second in the league last season. Cornerback Joe Haden is expected to play even though he faces a possible four-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. Haden is good. He'll start opposite former Eagle Sheldon Brown. He is old (33).
When the Browns run
For a running back who has yet to play a down in even a preseason game, Trent Richardson faces some lofty expectations. Cleveland's top pick had arthroscopic knee surgery Aug. 9. Richardson's availability for the opener was once in question, but he is expected to carry the ball 10-15 times Sunday. Montario Hardesty, whom the Eagles saw in the preseason, will get his share of totes. The Birds' run defense remains a giant question mark. DeMeco Ryans was brought in to man middle linebacker and help stop the run, but he looked tentative in the preseason. Rookie Mychal Kendricks, however, has a nose for the ball and could help fill those running lanes that were often unplugged last season.
When the Browns pass
At 28, Brandon Weeden isn't your typical rookie quarterback. But he looked as such during the preseason and will probably have the usual ups and downs that occur in a first season under center. The Oklahoma State product faces one of the fiercest pass rushes in the NFL. Jim Washburn's front four recorded 46 of the Eagles' league-high 50 sacks last season. Defensive end Jason Babin was out for all of the preseason with a calf strain and returns to face rookie right tackle Mitchell Schwartz. Trent Cole, on the other side, will have to contend with Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas. Weeden has a couple of big targets on the outside in Josh Gordon (6-foot-3, 225 pounds) and Greg Little (6-2, 220).
The Eagles' return game was lacking last season, but there should be improvement with rookies Brandon Boykin returning kicks and Damaris Johnson handling punts. A warning: Johnson bobbled a few in the preseason. The Browns have one of the game's best return men in Josh Cribbs, the NFL's active leader in kick return yardage (8,837) and touchdowns (eight).
There wasn't much to gain for either side when the Eagles and Browns faced off 16 days ago in the preseason. Neither team showed much. The Birds' first team played hardly a quarter. The Browns, who are ranked last in the AP Pro32, played their starters a little more than that and still lost, 27-10. Cleveland opens at home for the 13th time in 14 years. It's 1-11 in those games.
Pick: Eagles, 28-17.
Contact Jeff McLane at 215-854-4745, email@example.com or on Twitter @Jeff_McLane.