Philadelphia Eagles: Three things to watch for in the opener


Despite worries about the Philadelphia Eagles’ cornerbacks for their opener, the most vital aspects against Washington are all offensive.

If it weren’t such a sissy word, we would have to say that this week all Philadelphia Eagles fans are all atingle.  The opener is on Sunday; we’ve all convinced ourselves that the team has been improved enough; we have a Promising Young Quarterback.  Could life be any better?

Moreover, not only are we all vibrating with excitement in a manly way (even the women), we are vibrating knowledgeably.  Iggles fans are the champions of self-declared expertise.  We know what we should be looking for against the Politically Regrettable Native Americans on Sunday.  See if you have these three items on your checklist – you should:

Number One: Wentz

Number one is the easy one:  second-year quarterback Carson Wentz, the hope of the future.  The big North Dakotan has been working on his mechanics in the off-season, a matter most agreed needed work.  What exactly this involved is exhaustively documented by the Inquirer’s Jeff McLane in his Sept. 5 piece, and boy is this complicated!

Halfway through the article I felt like I did in high school during chemistry exams, but McLane’s work is a welcome expansion to the average talk radio declaration that “Wentz’ mechanics are all screwed up – he ain’t gonna be that good.”  (As Marcus Hayes tweeted late Sept. 5, the piece “is worth $4.00 a week by itself.”)

To simplify, on Sunday, see if you see that our QB has his feet more under control and if you can tell that his right shoulder is staying over his right foot on throws.  If his feet are more under control, he shouldn’t miss high as he did too often late last season.

Second and Third: O-Line and Running backs

Second, how will the offensive line do?  They haven’t exactly firmed up their teamwork in pre-season game situations.  As WIP’s Jon Ritchie has seemingly pointed out every morning since the last pre-season game against the New York Jets, they have taken only 19 snaps together as a group.  This has caused much head-shaking among the WIP crew and their callers, the most by Ritchie, a former Eagles running back.

On the other hand, the starters in front of Wentz will start the season healthy.

Third, Sunday will reveal at least one way that the Eagles will use their five running backs – LeGarrette Blount, Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood, Corey Clement, and Donel Pumphrey.

The Eagles have been careful not to tip their hand on this subject.  That, however, hasn’t stopped rampant discussion of the worth of Clement, a large undrafted free agent who had a good camp, relative to Pumphrey, a smaller back who had only a so-so camp, but who was drafted in the fourth round.  Pumphrey is apparently seen by the team as Darren Sproles 2.0 (read, minus the superhuman strength).  For the record Clement’s draft potential score was 5.24; Pumphrey’s was 5.32.

An important question here is whether all five backs will dress for the game.

Next: Philadelphia Eagles vs. Washington Redskins game preview

OK, those are the top three aspects of this game from a Philadelphia point of view.  I’ll stop here and just mention in passing the cornerbacks (number four) because that subject correctly done would take another 500 words and an unfortunate repetition of the name Joe Haden about seven times. Prediction: Philadelphia 21, Washington 20.