7 Valuable Things the Philadelphia Eagles Can Still Learn in Remaining Games
Although the Philadelphia Eagles only have three games remaining, there are still some very important things that can be taken away.
Whether they are headed for a new contract, fighting for a starting spot or trying to earn a job next season, almost everyone has something to prove.
As the season comes to a close, which players and coaches should fans be keeping an eye on most?
1. What Do They Have in Running Back Bryce Brown?
The Eagles' running back situation has been relatively stable ever since the departure of Brian Westbrook. The transition was as smooth as possible, thanks to the star replacement, LeSean McCoy.
With that being said, the need for depth in the NFL due to injuries and other factors has always been important.
Dion Lewis showed flashes of potential last season, but after signing an extension he was stashed for the majority of the 2012 season. That brings us to Bryce Brown.
Brown amassed almost 350 yards and four touchdowns in his first two games as a starter after a McCoy concussion. He also totaled three lost fumbles, two of which came in key moments of both games.
After those two games, it seemed the Eagles found a diamond in the rough in Brown. After all, elite running back Adrian Peterson had a fumbling problem early in his career as well.
However, Brown followed those monster games with a 12-carry, six-yard performance Sunday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Talk about a curveball.
With McCoy still in the stages of concussion recovery and the Eagles out of playoff contention, there is a high possibility Brown could be penciled as the starter for the rest of the season.
These three games will be critical to determine if his breakout performances were just a flash in the pan, or if he could really be a legitimate threat for years to come.
If the latter is true, the Eagles will face the good obstacle of too much talent at one position.
2. Can Either Nnamdi Asomugha or Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie Win a Job?
The Eagles have, among many others, a potentially large hole for 2013, cornerbacks. Could we see one, if not two, back in green? The answer to both questions is probably no.
Nnamdi Asomugha will likely be bought out, as his contract allows, for only $4 million of the $15 million that is owed to him next season.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will hit the free agent market no matter what, but will the Eagles decide to be one of his possible suitors?
These last three games could be the final "tryout" for the two players, creating a lasting image in the minds of Eagles management before they evaluate each one.
It is also interesting to note (from the same article linked above) that $3 million could be knocked off Asomugha's 2013 salary. This is possible only if the injury he suffered Sunday is severe enough to keep him out for the remainder of the year.
Will the two men show anything to warrant the Eagles not having to fill two starting cornerbacks in the offseason?
3. Is Brandon Graham a True Starter on the Defensive Line?
After the departure of Jason Babin two weeks ago, Brandon Graham was finally given the chance to earn his place as a starter. With six tackles and 1.5 sacks against the Cowboys, that's exactly what he did.
Moving forward, he must turn this into a trend.
Until Graham solidifies his place on the defensive line, he will be forever looked at as the player the Eagles drafted over the New York Giants monster defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.
Coming out of Michigan, Graham was a hybrid mix between linebacker and defensive end. In these last three games he will have to prove he is more than a jack of all trades.
Graham needs to be the king of the defensive line.
4. Does Danny Watkins Need to Be Replaced?
Danny Watkins went down in the middle of the season with an ankle injury, but after suiting up a couple weeks later, he still hasn't started a game since the Eagles played the Detroit Lions in October.
Either way, Watkins seems to be the weakest link of the healthy offensive line. If the Eagles can see Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce and Todd Herremans recover for 2013, the offense will be a totally different machine.
As the saying goes, though, you are only as strong as your weakest link. If Danny Watkins continues to be unreliable, the Eagles may have to look elsewhere.
These three games are all he has left to prove the he isn't.
5. How Fast Can Nick Foles Develop as a Quarterback?
Nick Foles really looks like he's starting to figure out this whole quarterback thing.
After recording three interceptions (and could have been more) in his first two career starts, Foles hasn't thrown a pick in three games since.
Against Tampa Bay Sunday afternoon, he had the best day of his career with a 381-yard, three-touchdown (total) performance. As he continues to work with the first team offense, Foles seems to really be settling in.
This is why the next three games are pivotal for the rookie quarterback.
With Michael Vick on his way out of the city, the remainder of the season is all that will be left to determine whether a competitor for the starting job must be brought in.
Will the Eagles be willing to let Foles develop as a starter next season if he cannot finish strong?
6. Does Anyone on the Coaching Staff Have Long Term Value?
If you talk to an Eagles fan right now, there is a high chance they would like to see the end of the Andy Reid era.
With that being said, could we be jumping the gun on gossiping over his replacement? Coming into this season, owner Jeffrey Lurie stated that a second straight 8-8 season would be unacceptable.
With the Eagles' best possible finish being 7-9, it's hard to imagine Reid still around in 2013.
But what if Andy Reid wins out? What if Foles continues to develop the rest of the season at an unbelievable pace. Could Lurie reconsider?
This isn't an argument to keep Andy. However, he is still a man trying to save his job, and he has three days left to do so.
Todd Bowles will need to show that things on the defensive side are moving in the right direction headed into the offseason. After taking over for Juan Castillo, Bowles has not had a full season to display what he can do.
If the head coach is on the way out, Bowles may need to shine to prove that Lurie, or the new coach in charge, should keep him around.
7. Does This Team Have Any Heart?
The clock hit :00 on Sunday and as the pass from Nick Foles landed in Jeremy Maclin's arms, a collective exhale could be heard across the Eagles fanbase. Well, besides those rooting for a higher draft pick.
While the games may not matter anymore, the Eagles have shown that they still have some fight in them.
This Eagles team has lacked a leader or consistent voice all season, and that is something you could see on the field. Between players on the defense blaming each other on the field and various firing of coaches and starters, the team has lacked an identity.
The winning culture that the Philadelphia Eagles established close to a decade ago has disappeared.
Sunday's game against the Buccaneers showed that all is not lost. While it may have been easy to give up for the season, fail to prepare or take some plays off, they didn't. They showed heart.
You could tell that the season has laid a mental beating on the whole team. As Andy Reid wore his emotions on his sleeve after the game winning touchdown, it was clear they still cared.
Hard work and the will to win can sometimes make up for a lapse in talent. If the Eagles can finish the season strongly, there's no doubt everyone in the organization will take note of the players who were the driving force behind it.
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