Philadelphia Eagles' Biggest Concerns Heading into the Regular Season
September 9 is almost here.
Football fans across the country have been waiting for this day since Super Bowl XLVI ended on February 5. More importantly, Philadelphia Eagles fans have been waiting for this day since the last day of what was a horrible 2011 regular season.
The Eagles enter 2012 with high expectations and carry the hopes and dreams of the fifth-largest city in the United States on their shoulders.
As always, with those expectations come a few question marks.
The answers could end up making the difference between another 8-8 season and winning the team's first ever Super Bowl.
Health of Michael Vick
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Michael Vick got injured in each of the Eagles' first two preseason games and has a well-known history of injuries.
Vick's health is the key to the entire Eagles season.
Nick Foles has shown some promise in the preseason. However, if Vick were to go down, would Foles really be able to step in and win games?
Vick needs to learn how to protect himself and settle for short gains if this team is going to succeed in 2012.
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All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters is out for the season, which creates a huge hole on the left side of the Eagles' offensive line.
Philadelphia signed Demetress Bell to take over for Peters, but it looks like King Dunlap will end up filling the 6'4", 340-pound hole left by the Pro Bowl tackle.
If the Eagles plan on keeping Mike Vick healthy, Dunlap and the rest of the offensive line will need to play much better than they did for most of last year, and that won't be easy without Peters.
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The Eagles run defense made it difficult for fans to watch games last year.
The team allowed an average of 4.4 yards per play on the ground, which ranked 19th in the NFL.
Philadelphia has one of the best pass rushing defensive lines in the league, but they struggle with the run.
There is a lot of depth on the line this year, especially at defensive tackle, with Cullen Jenkins, Derek Landri, Fletcher Cox and Cedric Thornton. In addition, Jason Babin and Trent Cole create one of the best defensive end combos in the league.
Nevertheless, they'll need to be helped out by the linebacker unit.
The addition of DeMeco Ryans should help plug up the middle, and rookie outside linebacker Mychal Kendricks has been impressive in the preseason as well.
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The biggest concern among Eagles fans this offseason is how the team would improve at linebacker.
The team acquired veteran middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans and drafted Mychal Kendricks out of Cal. However, the position is still a question mark.
Ryans is a Pro Bowl-caliber player who hasn't been too impressive so far this preseason. If he doesn't live up to the hype, Philadelphia will let him know about it.
Kendricks will be on the strong side, but he is an inexperienced rookie who could struggle to adjust to the NFL.
On the weak side will be Akeem Jordan. Also in the rotation will be Brian Rolle, Casey Matthews and Jamar Chaney.
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Safety, seemingly, is the one position that the Eagles didn't really address in the offseason.
Poor play by the safeties cost the Eagles some games last year and it will again if things don't change.
Kurt Coleman will be the strong safety and Nate Allen will be the free safety. Coleman has shown signs that he can be a reliable safety, but he has also struggled at times.
Allen looked like he would be the team's best safety during his rookie year, but has struggled since.
The Eagles signed veteran Oshiomogho Atogwe in the offseason, supposedly creating depth and a veteran presence to help the young players learn more quickly, but the Eagles announced that they cut Atogwe after he was unable to overcome a hamstring injury.
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