Semi-Coherent Eagles vs. Redskins Preview: The Season Begins on Monday Night!


Aug 13, 2013; Richmond, VA, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) throws the ball during afternoon practice as part of the 2013 NFL training camp at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL season is upon us! After four weeks of preseason games that were sporadically exciting, the NFL season begins for realsies.

I’m not sure exactly how I feel about the Eagles opening their season on Monday night.  For week one, I’m usually over-excited for the season to begin, and it’s kind of a letdown knowing that I’ve got to wait an extra day.  I realize that by playing on Monday night, the game has more of a “big game” feel to it, but do we really need week one to have a big game feel?  We’ve been waiting over eight months for it, so it should feel big regardless.

In a way, that big game feel might cause people to place more importance on an early game than it actually deserves.  In the NFL, the way things stand at the beginning of the season doesn’t often reflect how things stand at the end of the season.  For evidence of this, please recall that in week two of the 2012 season, the Eagles improved to 2-0 with a victory over the Baltimore Ravens.

That’s probably a good thing as far as the Eagles are concerned.  There’s a good chance that they get off to a slow start this season, at least defensively.  With a ton of new personnel, as well as defensive coordinator Bill Davis’ attempt to switch to a predominantly 3-4 scheme on defense, I expect there to be some growing pains along the way.

Before I take a look at the opponent for this week, I’ll look at the Eagles themselves and go over some areas I see as strengths and weaknesses.

Strength- Chip Kelly

He’s no Andy Reid! Image Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Do I think Kelly is going to be a success? I honestly don’t know. I have gotten more than a few Steve Spurrier vibes from the guy, and that frightens me a little. On the other hand, he’s not Andy Reid which makes me feel optimistic by itself.  He will at least bring a new approach, and that alone qualifies as a strength in my book.

Weakness- Michael Vick

For a second there, I bought into the whole “new Michael Vick” propaganda. Then I saw him repeat the same old mistakes against the Jaguars and I remembered how Vick always seems to talk a big game, and then reverts back to his old ways

Strength – Running backs

With LeSean McCoy, Bryce Brown, and Chris Polk, the Eagles actually have a positional group that matches up favorably with any other in the league.  I hope that Kelly realizes this as well.

Weakness – Secondary

I’ve talked about how the Eagles secondary doesn’t fill me with much confidence. Is there any quarterback on the schedule who isn’t looking forward to facing the Eagles? The pass rush had better get the job done, or else the Eagles are going to be giving up a lot of passing yards.

Strength – Linebackers

Yes, that’s right. The linebackers are a strength for the Eagles. This is all relative of course. The Eagles linebacking corps probably isn’t one of the top ten best in the NFL, but compared to the other defensive units on the team, the LBs don’t look so bad.

In Trent Cole, Mychal Kendricks, DeMeco Ryans, and Connor Barwin, the Eagles have some guys who can actually play a little. Compare that to the illustrious group from 2011 in which Jamar Chaney (who was recently cut) was actually considered the best player. Jamar Chaney!

Strength – Chip Kelly

I really can’t emphasize enough how happy I am that Andy Reid is gone. I don’t care if the Eagles go 0-16 this season, (that’s a slight exaggeration. I would care, and I would likely be extremely upset by this) I will just be so happy to have someone else coaching them.

What’s the Deal with the Redskins

We recall Griffin going down with a torn ACL in their playoff game against the Seahawks.  (A game in which the Redskins blew a 14-0 lead in case you forgot)  There has been much debate over whether Griffin should have even been in the game at that point considering he was already hobbled and the field conditions were atrocious.  Thanks to modern science, Griffin is going to be ready to play in the opener despite head coach Mike Shanahan’s less than enthusiastic endorsement of the idea.

I’m sure Redskins fans envision Griffin running all over the field making big plays on Monday.  But for a more realistic projection, they should probably watch footage of Donovan McNabb from September 2007 when he was recovering from a similar injury.  The best way to describe his play would be tenuous.  (Oddly enough, McNabb had one of his best games ever in week three of that season.  Although that was probably only due to the fact that the Eagles were playing the Lions.)

Some Redskins fans believe that Griffin will be able to ease back into action because the offense will be carried by running back Alfred Morris.  Morris was the latest unknown back to experience a successful season under Shanahan, as he was second in the conference in rushing yards in 2012.  We’ll see if Morris seems quite so elusive when teams aren’t as concerned about Griffin escaping and making plays.

Featured Redskin: Pierre Garcon

Pierre Garcon is a speedy receiver who gives Griffin a dangerous downfield target…when he’s healthy.  Garcon has had some issues with being able to stay on the field and off the medical report.  And sure enough, Garcon is on the injury report for this week.  His latest malady is a toe injury, although he’s listed as “probable” and should be able to play.  Still, it can’t be seen as a good sign that he’s already dealing with an injury before games have even begun.

Pierre Garcon is dangerous…when healthy. Image Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Tweet of Optimism

I’ve discussed how the Eagles’ offensive line might turn out to be a disappointment, but as it stands right now, the line certainly looks like a team strength.

Tweet of Pessimism

As I mentioned, Garcon might not stay healthy all season, but he will be playing on Monday.

Inane Dave Spadaro Tweet of the Week

Once again, the Eagles’ in-house reporter provides a thrilling non-answer to a question.

The Week in Andy

After 13 years together, many Eagles fans are feeling some Andy Reid withdrawal.  I’ve decided to help them out by providing a weekly look at what Big Red is up to in Kansas City.

The scene: Andy Reid is sitting in his office when general manager John Dorsey enters.

Dorsey: I can barely wait for Sunday!

Reid: Why’s that?

Dorsey: You know, it’s our first game and all.

Reid: Oh yeah, right.

Dorsey: So do you like our chances?

Reid: I don’t know.  Who are we playing again.

Dorsey: …….Jacksonville….the Jaguars.

Reid: Right.  Jacksonville.  Why does that sound familiar?

Dorsey: Um, you coached in the Super Bowl there.

Reid: No, that’s not it.  Let me think…oh yeah, my quarterback once threw up on the field there.

Dorsey: So McNabb really did throw up in the Super Bowl?

Reid: I don’t know about that.  I had stopped paying attention by that time.  But we played there once before and he puked big time.

Dorsey: Okay…Do you have a game plan to stop the Jaguars?

Reid: (Opens a binder, turns a page, and then shows it to Dorsey) Nah, it says here that the Jaguars suck.  So we’ll probably win.

Dorsey: You really think so?

Reid: The binder doesn’t lie.

Dorsey: Um…great!  I guess I’ll see you on Sunday then?

Reid: Sunday, sure.

The binder doesn’t lie. Image Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports`

Final Take

On Monday night, we’ll get our first real impression of how the Chip Kelly offense will perform in the NFL.  I’m hoping it’s a good one.