Philadelphia Eagles: 7 Up-and-Coming Impact Players to Watch This Season
In the aftermath of Sunday’s win in Cleveland, the Philadelphia Eagles have a lot of reflecting to do—especially regarding the offensive line’s disgraceful performance, the team’s starting quarterback’s horrendous decision making and whether or not the coaching staff’s “pass often” strategy is really the right way to go if the team wants to be successful.
Some familiar faces brought their "A" game, while some veterans found their touch again.
Some perennial second stringers and underachievers looked poised for breakouts, and some players with great expectations failed to live up to their potential.
If there is any good to take from Sunday, it’s that there are plenty of players on the team who will make a positive impact this season. Some of the players are new and some of them have been on the team for a while, but are stepping into new roles.
Although he is by no means new, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has flown under the radar the last two seasons.
In 2010, he failed to live up to his Pro Bowl status. In 2011, he was playing in an unfamiliar slot position, often in coverage schemes that didn’t fit his skill set.
Regardless, on Sunday DRC was the shut-down corner the Eagles were hoping for when they traded for him last offseason. At times he looked like a blanket; At others he was picking the ball out of the air. He is regarded as one of the better athletes on the team and around the NFL his closing speed is well renowned.
Look for him to return to form and thrive in the Eagles' defense this year—that is, of course, if we see press coverage.
Mychal Kendricks’ performance on Sunday was a glimpse of what’s to come. The culmination of his speed, strength, and athleticism are a welcome sight to Eagles fans who haven’t seen the team produce solid linebackers in years.
Mychal Kendricks’ run defense stood out on Sunday, and he was consistently apart of the action. He was an integral part of a run defense that held rookie Trent Richardson to just 39 yards on 19 attempts.
If Trent Richardson is what he’s supposed to be, and if the preseason can serve as any kind of substantial indicator, then Mychal Kendricks was a steal for the Eagles.
No one said the impact had to be good.
The presence of Jason Peters was missed Sunday. This was most evident in observing King Dunlap.
If Demetress Bell can’t get his act together and claim the starting left tackle job, then we can doubtlessly expect the same kind of panicked, erratic performance we saw from Vick on Sunday to be a theme throughout the season.
Dunlap looked lost at times. It got so bad in the first half that Clay Harbor was moved to Dunlap’s side to help him block.
It’s safe to say that Dunlap is a bust. Look for him to have a negative impact on the season.
Is it all right to say we haven’t given Kurt Coleman the respect he deserves? After all, he did lead the team in interceptions last season, and he had two picks on Sunday.
Oh yeah, he also had a huge special teams play on Chas Henry’s 60 yard punt, and he was run over by Trent Richardson.
He didn’t miss a beat after that.
This could be the year in which Kurt Coleman puts to bed the idea that he’s not of the caliber needed to guarantee defensive success for the Eagles.
I was unsure as to whether or not cutting Mat McBriar was in the best interest of the team. But Chas Henry was outstanding on Sunday.
Usually, it’s hard to pay notice to a punter excelling at his craft. The only time punters are brought up in conversation is usually when they make a mistake (Matt Dodge). But Chas Henry booted the ball all over the field on Sunday and had the best game of his career.
Punters are important and underrated. It looks like the Eagles may have found a good one in Henry.
We’re all expecting a lot from Derek Landri this season.
He hasn’t been talked about much in the wake of the Birds’ win over Cleveland, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
DTs are a very important part of any defense—but more so in the Eagles' wide nine formation. The Eagles’ defense clicked on Sunday, virtually eliminating the Browns’ ground attack while Brandon Weeden ruined himself.
Landri hasn’t given us any indication that he won’t be what the team needs him to be.
Although he was quiet on Sunday, it’s safe to say he’s living up to expectations.
Andy Reid has indicated that he will use Clay Harbor more this season, and that’s a good thing. We saw that he did on Sunday, most notably when he caught a touchdown and when he was used to assist King Dunlap.
Finally, Harbor can be more than just Brent Celek’s backup. He could ultimately wind up being a significant red zone threat for the Eagles. He’s also not a bad blocker.
Look for his presence to be felt this year—especially if the Birds end up running any two TE schemes.
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