The 2010 NFL season is almost upon us, and the Philadelphia Eagles will be stepping on the field looking very different from last season.
Kevin Kolb will be entering his first year as starting quarterback. He will be taking over for Donovan McNabb, who earlier this year was traded to division rival Washington. Kolb has been solid in his short time as a starter. In games against the Saints and the Chiefs, Kolb became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 300+ yards in his first two starts.
Wide receiver DeSean Jackson is coming off a great season in which he went over 1,000 yards for the first time in his career and made the Pro Bowl. He was a dynamic receiver all year, and seemed unstoppable at times. Along with Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek, the Eagles had a great receiving threat.
Last year's offensive line struggled with injuries. Everyone seemed banged up. Eagles fans had to get used to seeing players like Winston Justice and Max Jean-Gilles playing on a regular basis. In some games it seemed like they couldn't block anyone (the week five Oakland game comes to mind). The Eagles may face this problem again in 2010, especially with center Jamaal Jackson expected to miss time.
Overall I think the offense will be okay this year. There are enough young weapons for a young quarterback to prosper. At the end of the day it will come down to the play of the offensive line. They have to provide good pass protection for Kolb and will need to step up their game to help out second-year running back LeSean McCoy. If the o-line can do this, the Eagles could have an explosive offense in 2010.
The Birds' defense will be their biggest problem this year. This defense is not the same defense that made offensive coordinators cringe just a few year ago. Gone are the days of Jim Johnson. The defense is in Sean McDermott's hands for a second year. McDermott will have to prove to the Eagles organization and their fans that he is the real deal. If this defense flops, the Eagles could be searching for a new defensive coordinator before 2011.
The defensive line is pretty average. Trent Cole is an absolute force, but it ends there. The rest of the line is decent, not great. Brandon Graham, a defensive end out of Michigan, was just drafted, but he is a rookie and will probably not have that big of an impact in his first year. The d-line won't have much effect against teams with good offensive lines. The Eagles desperately need to get Trent Cole some help.
The linebackers will be the strong point of the defense. Stewart Bradley is coming off a torn ACL and could really help out. Bradley really came into his own in 2009, and it was a real shame to see him go down in training camp. Ernie Sims will also be a very nice addition to the Birds. Sims recorded 113 or more tackles in each of his first three seasons with Detroit, but his stats fell off in 2010 partly due to injury, only recording 49 tackles. Sims and Bradley will be very good backers for the Eagles in 2010. However, covering tight ends may still be an issue for them.
The secondary is a crap shoot. Asante Samuel and Quintin Mikell are the only guaranteed starters. The Eagles are going to realize just how important Sheldon Brown was to their defense. Get used to seeing a lot of touchdowns by big name receivers. It is painful to say, but Dallas could really burn the Eagles this year with rookie Dez Bryant and the always dangerous Miles Austin. The secondary is a glaring weakness for this defense.
The Eagles will probably finish the season around .500. They won't finish any better than 9-7, especially not in this division. The offense will be fine, but the defense will be their downfall. Don't expect a whole lot out of this team.