Biggest Questions Facing Philadelphia Eagles in Week 1 Against the Redskins
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First, an end-of-preseason observation with the Philadelphia Eagles, and then on to some questions:
Back in 2011, as the season which was supposed to be a "dream" started turning into a nightmare, I wrote about how Andy Reid's time as head coach had run its course. We now know that he'd make a return for an additional anticlimactic—and even more disastrous—season, but that year set the tone, leaving residual effects still being felt today.
Even more than his game-day decisions, the biggest black mark of Reid's legacy, with the help of former team president and current Cleveland Browns CEO Joe Banner, was his drafting. And with the recent release of first-round bust Danny Watkins—who preferred to put out fires rather than lay out defensive linemen—it leaves just four players out of a whopping 11 still on the roster (Casey Matthews, Alex Henery, Julian Vandervelde and Jason Kelce) from just two years ago. And two of them (Matthews and Vandervelde) may very well not make it through September before being cut.
Furthermore—and this stat is going to knock your socks off—since 2003, Reid oversaw the selection of 48 defenders (including the first five in 2010), which produced a whopping one (Trent Cole) who has made a Pro Bowl.
Again, that's 48 defensive draft picks in 10 years and one Pro Bowler. And not even a perennial one.
Forty-eight. One. Try wrapping your head around that stat. I know I have. Which has led to a massive headache.
And to that I say: Good luck, Kansas City!
But I digress. Slightly. Because some of the challenges which face the Eagles—not only in Week 1 against the Washington Redskins, but throughout the 2013 season—is a direct testament to the past decade's dumbfounding defensive drafting disasters.
So, awesome alliteration aside, let's get to the questions. Because, if anyone knows how to ask questions—and only questions—in a slideshow, it's yours truly.
Can the Eagles Defense Stop Robert Griffin III?
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Will a new 3-4 defense (which has looked more like a 5-2) help contain the elusive RG3? And even if it does, will it make a difference, considering their still-suspect secondary?
Most importantly, will his team find a way to lose yet still do enough to help my fantasy team win?
Can Michael Vick Exploit the Redskins Defense?
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In what could very well be his last season as an Eagle, can Michael Vick begin his swan song on a good note? Can he out-RG3 RG3?
Will his turnover issues continue? Or will a much-improved offensive line and much less predictable offense be just the right recipe for a resurrection?
Who Will "Win" the Time of Possession Battle?
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Is it coincidence that the Eagles lost both games to the Redskins last season but won the time of possession battle? Is it safe to assume that finishing minus-four in turnovers in those two contests was the real culprit?
Even so, could a defensive line that remains undersized match up to a methodical yet bruising running game led by Alfred Morris? Or will a new and dizzying hurry-up offense be more than enough to offset that?
What Type of First Impression Will Chip Kelly Leave?
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Assuming he played his hand close to the vest over the summer, what additional tricks might Chip Kelly have up his sleeve in his head coaching debut?
Is he ready to show the football world on national television on a Monday night that his style can translate to the professional ranks? And will he have his players ready to play three games in just 10 days—something no team has ever done to start the season?
What Other Intangibles Are There?
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Although many on the Eagles' active roster were lucky enough to not be a part of the debacle which was last season, will it still motivate them enough to come out guns blazing against the Skins? Or will the pride of defending a long-awaited division title in front of their hometown crowd win out?
How explosive can this Philly offense truly be? Will the lack of a proven No. 2 receiver be a sticking point, or will the read-option be effective enough to make it a nonissue?
Is this the year that DeSean Jackson's talents finally match up to his ego?
Will Eagles fans—and especially LeSean McCoy—finally get their wishes answered and see a focus on the running game?
Regardless of any of these answers, has there ever been a more anticipated season for a team fresh off of a 4-12 campaign?