Christmas season for an adult male is finally here. Offseason’s are always too long, Preseason is even longer. The Redskins escaped the unforgiving training camp & preseason without significant injuries to any starters. That’s good news entering the season against one of their hated rivals the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles will be a much different team than the team the Redskins faced a year ago, specifically on offense. I’ll try to detail as much as possible about the new look Eagles here.
Eagles on Offense
What we do know to expect from the new offense implemented by new head coach Chip Kelly, is a very up-tempo offense. What we don’t know is how he’ll plan to utilize his playmakers. The Eagles have 3 dangerous guys on offense in QB Michael Vick, RB Lesean McCoy & WR Desean Jackson.
Vick has already stated that he’ll be running a lot more this year, even at 33 years old Vick is still a dangerous runner. But can Vick be the passer that he was in 2010? In 10 years in his career Vick has only completed over 60% of his passes one year, that being 2010. Since then he’s thrown 24 interceptions in 23 games played & also 29 turnovers in that span. Ball security will definitely be something to watch with Vick this year, especially if plans to run a lot more.
Lesean McCoy figures to have his best season as an Eagle as long he stays healthy, because Chip Kelly is expected to rely heavily on him as a receiver & a runner. McCoy is coming off a down year, where oddly he didn’t break a play over 40 yards all year. Bryce Brown is the spell back, & he can be a gamebreaker, I can see instances where Chip will put both backs on the field at the same time to create a disadvantage to the defense.
It will be interesting to see the ways the Chip tries to get the ball in Desean Jackson’s hands, most likely a lot of bubble screens & reverses. With Jeremy Maclin out for the season, there will be a microscope on what other Eagles receivers can step up & be a threat. Jason Avant has been a solid slot guy in his career with the Eagles. Riley Cooper will be the starting receiver opposite of Desean Jackson. A sneaky guy to watch out for in this offense will be Damaris Johnson, he’s a small receiver that can stretch the field & can be used on gadget plays.
When healthy, there are few teams that can boast a better offensive line than the Eagles. Jason Peters is the anchor but he’s coming off an ACL injury at 31 years old, it’s interesting to see if he returns to form. Evan Mathis is probably a top 3 guard in the NFL, he’s coming off of ankle surgery, & Todd Herremans also missed 8 games last year with a dislocated foot. They drafted Lane Johnson with the 4th pick in the draft who is very athletic & has the potential to be great in this league. But the stability of this offensive line will remain a definite concern.
Eagles on Defense
The Eagles are switching to a 3-4 defense this year with new defensive coordinator Billy Davis. This is where the real concerns are with this Eagles team. The Eagles don’t have many guys in the front 7 that has experience in the 3-4 defense. Also to mention Billy Davis has been a defensive coordinator for the 49ers & Cardinals for 2 years each & never fielded a defense ranked higher than 20, with 3 out of 4 years finishing below 25.
When switching to a 3-4 defense, you’ll learn early if you’re trying to put square pegs in round holes in the front 7. Arguably the Eagles most talented defensive player Fletcher Cox, makes the move from DT to 5 technique. He’s expected to make a big leap in production after having a solid rookie year. The Eagles signed Isaac Sopoaga who played NT for the 49ers. Sopoaga is a run-stuffing specialist but will be rotated off the field a lot. Cedric Thornton is an unknown variable starting at the last spot on the line, showed flashes last year but unknown whether he’s starting material. The Eagles only have one 3-4 OLB with experience, that’s Connor Barwin. They converted Brandon Graham & Trent Cole to OLB’s from DE’s. Trent Cole is the interesting move, he probably had his worst year in the NFL in his 8 year career. Now at 30 years old he’s making the move to a position he hasn’t played in his career, will be interesting to see if he’s a liability in coverage, as well as Graham who has been a pass rushing specialist his career in Philly. DeMeco Ryans will basically be the QB of the defense, he played in the 3-4 in Houston & didn’t have that great of a year in the 3-4. The other starter Mychal Kendricks is an unknown because he’s athletically gifted, but can he make plays?
The Eagles secondary with Nnamdi Asomugha & Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was supposed to be a formidable one. But it was a failure, now the Eagles have turned to free agent acquisitions Bradley Fletcher & Cary Williams. Bradley Fletcher didn’t get to shine much behind Courtland Finnegan & Janoris Jenkins in St. Louis, & he ended up losing his nickel job at the end of the year. Cary Williams was solid for Baltimore during the Super Bowl run, but he’s a guy that can let his emotions get the best of him. More of a concern is the safeties. Patrick Chung & Nate Allen are the expected starters at Safety, but neither guy are necessarily “ball hawks”. Chung is very solid in the box, but Allen is known for taking poor angles & being a liability in the backfield.
5 for 5′s
1. How effective RGIII will be in his first live contact game since January?
I say this all the time, ballers are ballers & the game don’t change. There’s some people that are just meant for the spotlight. Mike Shanahan has said RGIII has had more practice reps this year than he’s had as a rookie, while there could be some rust, I’d actually be surprised if he is rusty.
2. Jim Haslett vs Chip Kelly. Haslett was on the hot seat until the team pulled off 7 straight wins last year. He will have his hands full with a guy like Chip Kelly & the offensive mind that he has. I expect Philly to move the ball early, & Haslett will have to make the necessary adjustments.
3. Pierre Garcon vs Cary Williams. Both of these guys are physical at the line of scrimmage, Cary likes to get underneath the skin of guys, will be an interesting battle to watch.
4. Bacarri Rambo. People were starting to worry after the first 2 preseason games that the Redskins issues at safety weren’t addressed. But Rambo got better as the preseason went on & didn’t give up any big plays in the passing game. He gets a big first test against the speed of Desean Jackson whom I’m sure the Eagles will send deep with the arm of Michael Vick.
5. Time of Possession. The Eagles will be running an uptempo offense, looking to score quickly, but the Redskins have the type of offense that can grind out long possessions & score. If the Redskins grind this game out, it could frustrate the Eagles & make them feel like it’s a game where they can’t make a mistake.
The Redskins swept a very bad Eagles team last year, but that was last year. We can expect that the Eagles will be better on offense this year, however the defense could actually be worse. Monday night at Fed Ex, the return of Robert, new everything for the Eagles, continuity for the Redskins prove to be too much for the Eagles.
Redskins 34 Eagles 20