5 Philadelphia Eagles to Watch for the Rest of the Season

Bernie OllilaContributor IIINovember 15, 2012

5 Philadelphia Eagles to Watch for the Rest of the Season

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    Of course, the Philadelphia Eagles’ 2012 season is not over mathematically yet. However, everything substantial that doesn’t involve mathematics points to the contrary.

    At 3-6, the Eagles are an NFL playoff-contender afterthought. Losing Michael Vick to a concussion was probably the nail in the coffin.

    Now, the rest of the 2012 season will be spent by many evaluating which players currently on the team should stick around after the season is over.

    This list is comprised of some of the younger players who have shown enough promise this year to earn themselves some attention the rest of the way out.

    Be warned, however: Guys like LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Trent Cole and a few of the team’s other veterans are not included because we know who and what they are. They are established. The aim of this list is to highlight the team’s younger players who are looking to establish themselves—and one veteran in an identity crisis.

5. Brent Celek

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    Who is this guy? Seriously.

    Throughout his career in Philadelphia, Brent Celek has put up some big numbers. He’s had some big games, and he’s been in the discussion of one of the NFL’s better tight ends.

    However, since his Week 2 breakout against the Baltimore Ravens, Brent Celek has left much to be desired.

    He has missed blocks, dropped passes and cost his team a lot.

    Celek is unquestionably one of the reasons the Eagles are in the position they are right now.

    If he can’t turn it on for the remainder of the season and show some of that “talent” that has earned him his reputation, it’s time he became expendable.

    Sure, he’s good. But it might be time to move on if the Birds aren’t winning with him. 

4. Mychal Kendricks

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    Mychal Kendricks hasn’t been great over the last few weeks. However, during the early part of the season he was a big part of the reason why the Eagles kept themselves in some of their closer games.

    Kendricks has shown that he has the ability to shut down some considerably formidable tight ends. However, he hasn’t been the best tackler in the world.

    When he was in college, Kendricks was an excellent blitzer in a 3-4 defense.

    The Eagles will more likely than not be in the market for a new head coach in the offseason. And the NFL is in a 3-4 defense movement. Given those two things and the promise Kendricks has shown in coverage, No. 95 is a guy to keep your eye on the rest of the way out.

3. Brandon Graham

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    Brandon Graham was drafted ahead of Jason Pierre-Paul and Earl Thomas, two defensive players who are among the best in the NFL at their positions. Their success has cast a shadow over any progression the Graham has made, which wasn’t much at all until now.

    Graham hasn’t been on the field as often as he should be because of Trent Cole and Jason Babin. However, when he been out there, Graham has been one of the Eagles’ most effective defensive players this season.

    He hasn’t had a breakout game because of his limited participation, but now his upside is brighter than ever.

    He probably won’t see much playing time the rest of the way out, but keep an eye on him when he’s out there. 

2. Nick Foles

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    It’s going to be hard not to see everything Nick Foles will do. He will be the subject of a lot of discussion, scrutiny and praise regardless of how he performs.

    There is a lot of hype around Foles because of the way he performed in the preseason, his size and the “poise” that many have said he’s shown.

    However, there have been many big, calm quarterbacks who have failed in the NFL.

    It’s unwise to give up on Foles or condemn him because of the small sample we’ve seen. However, it’s also unwise to invest a lot of faith in him for the same reasons, as well as the fact that he was a third-round draft pick, he gave the ball up several times in his debut and his offensive line isn’t very good.

    It’s interesting that Foles was named the team’s second-string QB and is now seeing the field. After all, Andy Reid wouldn’t start Donovan McNabb when he was a rookie because he didn’t want to ruin him.

    This is a different situation, though. For anyone who thinks Reid isn’t at risk to lose his job, remember the Donovan situation. McNabb was probably the best quarterback on the team, but Reid wanted him to develop. In this case, he's throwing Foles out there.

    Let’s see if Foles can throw a few touchdown passes when the receivers aren’t wide open. Let’s see if Foles can turn the ball over less than three or four times.

    All of the hype around Foles may or may not be warranted. However, perhaps the best thing about him that no one is talking about is how tough he is. He was leveled against the Cowboys, and he got up right away.

    Toughness can’t be taught or developed. It looks like Foles may have the essential raw skills to develop moving forward, as rough as they may be, but toughness is essential.

    It’s exciting to see a new quarterback. Let’s hope he lives up to expectations.

1. Fletcher Cox

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    Who cares if Nick Foles is the new quarterback? This year’s Eagles defense has been awful in every facet imaginable from coaching to coverage.

    Fletcher Cox, though, is the brightest young star on the team.

    Like Brandon Graham, Cox hasn’t been on the field as much as he should have been. But in the future, he should see a significant bump in his playing time.

    When he is out there, Cox is one of the best pass-rushers on the team—and he’s a rookie!

    Stop thinking about how good you want Foles to be in the future and think about how great No. 91 is going to be.

    He’s fast, he doesn’t look like he gets tired because he doesn’t play lazy, he swats at the ball and he’s strong.

    Fletcher Cox is a monster, and he should definitely be on everyone’s radar moving forward.