Week 2 Preview: Eagles Visit the House that Peyton Built and Andrew Renovated


Sep 7, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly on the field after game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles defeated the Jaguars, 34-17. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Eagles look to start the 2014 season 2-0 Monday night as they hit the road for a primetime showdown with the Indianapolis Colts. Philadelphia can remain the sole leader of the NFC East with a win and carry momentum into a week three matchup with the Redskins to kick off their division schedule. The Colts, meanwhile, look to bounce back from a week one loss to the Broncos in which a comeback attempt fell short in Denver.

Beating the Colts would go a long way to affirming the notion that the Eagles can contend for a deep playoff run. Their slow start against the Jaguars scared off a fair amount of pundits anointing them as a Super Bowl challenger. Heading on the road and toppling a 2013 division winner like Indianapolis, regardless of the nature of the win, would most likely put some (if not all) of those concerns to bed. That being said, the Colts are a dangerous team that can put up points in bunches and possess one of the few offenses that could hang in a ‘track meet’ with Chip Kelly’s Eagles.

Taking center stage in this showdown is a pair of quarterbacks from Pac-12 schools who were selected in the 2012 NFL Draft. While Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck has taken on the unenviable task of replacing Peyton Manning in spectacular fashion, Nick Foles has quietly climbed the ladder and is steps away from joining his draft-mate in mention with some of the top young signal callers in the game. Both teams are well-coached. Chuck Pagano, along with being one of the most incredible stories of human perseverance and triumph, is 22-11 as a head coach and has never lost back-to-back games with Andrew Luck as his quarterback. The Colts brought in another Stanford transplant, Pep Hamilton, as offensive coordinator for their dangerous attack.

On the injury front, both teams are reeling a bit in important areas. The Eagles, of course, will be without Evan Mathis and Allen Barbre along the offensive line. Josh Huff’s NFL debut will have to wait at least another week as he continues to recover from a preseason shoulder injury. As for Indianapolis, most of their injury issues are on the defensive side of the ball. Though he would have missed the game anyway, due to a suspension for banned substances, Robert Mathis tearing his Achilles tendon while training can’t do much for the team’s psyche moving forward. Joining Mathis on the shelf is linebacker Jerell Freeman. Freeman is arguably the team’s best coverage linebacker and most likely would have been tasked with keeping tabs on the Eagles tight ends and backs in the passing game.


Much like the Eagles in week one, the Colts offense took some time to get going against the Broncos. After falling into an early hole and appearing totally out of sync, the gears started churning into the second half and Indianapolis’ onslaught of talented receivers and tight ends almost led to an incredible comeback. Andrew Luck is one of a rare breed of players who is almost impossible to keep from mounting a comeback when faced with a deficit. Luck’s ability to continually push the ball vertically, learn defense’s tendencies, and inspire strong performances from his teammates make him arguably the most valuable individual in the NFL today.

Though Indianapolis does not emphasize running the ball as much as one might think they’d want to, Ahmad Bradshaw and Trent Richardson make up a somewhat formidable showing at the running back position. Also like the Eagles, Indianapolis loves to attack teams with their duo of talented tight ends. Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener can stretch the field vertically and have already taken some of the load off their receiving corps. Speaking of those wide receivers, the group of T.Y. Hilton, Reggie Wayne, Hakeem Nicks, and Griff Whalen will undoubtedly test the Eagles secondary and force Billy Davis to run more nickel and dime defenses to combat. After seeing what the Redskins defense did to the same Jaguars team the Eagles were so impressive against on that side of the ball, it’s tough for me to put too much stock in their showing. That, in addition to various other factors, is why I tilt the needle towards Indianapolis in this matchup.



Despite scoring 34 points against Jacksonville, the Eagles left a lot more on the field than one would have hoped. Between Nick Foles’ horrid start and some generally sloppiness (not to mention losing two offensive linemen), the offense never seemed to hum along at the type of crisp quality we’ve come to expect against Chip Kelly’s group. To their credit, Jacksonville’s front seven was able to disrupt early on against the Eagles and create the sort of uncomfortable positions we saw Foles find himself in.

The Colts defense is by no means a top unit in the NFL. Much like the Eagles, their sole purpose seems to be doing anything to get the offense the ball back. Against the Broncos, the Colts provided almost no resistance on the defensive side of the ball until the second half. Were it not for Luck’s ability to bring his team back from the brink time and time again, the unit might face more criticism. They are without their top pass rusher in Mathis and top cover linebacker in Freeman. I just struggle to find a scenario where the Colts are able to bottle up anything the Eagles do on their own accord. If the Eagles offense struggles, it’s more likely as a result of their own faults compared to what Indianapolis is doing.



The Eagles special teams was arguably their strongest unit against the Jaguars this past Sunday. Between Cody Parkey’s place-kicking and kickoffs and Donnie Jones pinning five punts within the 20, Philadelphia was able to use their special teams as a weapon. The Colts kicking duo is pretty impressive in its own right. Adam Vinatieri, better known as the reason Parkey had no chance of making the Colts, is a future Hall of Famer and punter Pat McAfee is one of the best in the game. The Eagles probably have a bit of an edge in the return game with Darren Sproles where the Colts have one in the kicking game. I loved seeing what the coverage units were able to do against the Jaguars for the Eagles and expect more of the same at Lucas Oil Stadium. For me, this one’s too close to call.



Chuck Pagano is already a legend in his own right for beating cancer and leading his team to the playoffs in his first two seasons in Indianapolis. Pagano was once the defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens and is trying to foster the same sort of emphasis on defense in Indy that there is in Charm City. Unfortunately, personnel issues have prevented him from doing so. His offense is well beyond where I’m sure he’d hope is defense is and some think that is the reason the Colts can’t legitimately contend for a Super Bowl just yet.

While there is no doubt Pagano is a motivator and leader of men, sometimes I question whether he has the chops to cut it as far as an in-game coach. Bringing Pep Hamilton on board to run the offense simplified things for certain, but falling behind as often as the Colts have under Pagano makes me wonder if there are issues schematically with how his team prepares. I would include him in the top half of the league as far as NFL head coaches, but feel as if some of his graces can be attributed to the heroics of his quarterback. I feel that Chip Kelly is beyond where Pagano is as an in-game strategist and will only continue to widen that gap with more seasoning in the NFL. What was most impressive about the Eagles week one win over the Jaguars was that, while the entire city was running toward the Ben Franklin Bridge, Kelly’s team appeared calm, collected, and assured that they would right the ship before the final gun. That’s a true testament to Kelly’s impact on the team both in terms of preparation and in-game management.



The Colts aren’t quit in desperation mode just yet. They don’t play in a very strong division, so an 0-2 start is by no means a death certificate for the 2014 season. That said, one has to think that coming up short against the Broncos in week one probably gave them an extra ‘oomf’ at practice this week. They are playing at home, where Andrew Luck is 13-3 in his career. Meanwhile, the Eagles will have the opportunity to unleash their own high-powered offense on the speedy track that is the Lucas Oil Field turf. Though it should not come down to factors such as these, given the quality of both teams, it’s still worth debating. In this instance, give the nod to the Colts.



I really want to pick the Eagles to win this game. Something tells me the resilient Nick Foles is going to have us all forgetting the start of last week’s bizarre game against the Jaguars and go toe-to-toe with his former college combatant all evening. The Colts most likely will have a tough time slowing down the Eagles, and vice versa. This one may come down to which team can force a turnover or make a big play on special teams in order to tip the scales in their favor. My selection in this game is based purely on being a jaded Philadelphian and knowing that having a bad feeling about the result of a game is usually pretty accurate.