Given the lockout, the quality of play at the start of the NFL season remains an open question.
Ron Jaworski said the other day that he thought it would take 3-4 weeks for teams to get to the usual high quality. Juan Castillo said the difference early in the season will be which teams are in the best condition. Others have said the teams with the edge will be the ones with limited turnover in the coaching staff and experienced quarterbacks.
The Eagles are 5-7 in season openers under Andy Reid, having had success recently after struggling early in his tenure.
"I have looked at that and it is .500 [record] or really close to it," Reid said. "So there’s really not one thing you can put your finger on there but I think we’ve prepared well and we’ll see how it all works.”
Some interesting factoids from NFL.com's Gil Brandt regarding Week 1: The 12 playoff teams last year went 9-3 in Week 1. Two of the losses were against other playoff teams, including the Eagles' loss to the eventual champion Packers.
Since 1978, of the 474 season openers, winners made the playoffs 251 times and eon 147 division titles. The losers made the playoffs 106 times and won 63 division titles.
A few observations from the Rams coaches this week, heading into Sunday's game:
Steve Spagnuolo on how to game-plan to stop Michael Vick: "It’s one thing to stay with all the threats that they have and all the weapons, in some regards I worry , especially some of our zone coverages, that we’ll get caught being entertained by #7. And by that I mean he is so dynamic when he starts moving around back there if you just look at him and the other skill, fast, real talented guys behind you start running around, then it’s a problem. So guys know what we’re in for, what we’re facing. We’ll just try to play as fast and as physical as we can and see what happens.”
Defensive coordinator Ken Flajole on the Eagles' offensive line: "“I hope it’s a factor for us. Their interior three are people that are either new guys or they haven’t played together for an extended period of time. Hopefully there will be an advantage for us a little bit that way, the fact that they have some newness there up front. I know our crowd will show up and it will be an exciting game.”
New Rams offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels on new Eagles defensive coordinator Juan Castillo: "“I think every opening day, it’s really kind of an extension of a training camp practice in my mind where you watch their preseason games and you also see what they did last year. Then you try to figure out what they may do, but you’re really not sure. We’ve told our guys, it’s very similar to a training camp practice. You come out here and it’s Rams versus Rams and you’re going to see a new blitz that you didn’t see, and you’ve got to trust your rules and follow what you know and work together and try to handle it. I think Juan has certainly coached a long time in this league. He’s certainly done a great job in any role that he’s had, and I’m sure he’s going to do a great job as the defensive coordinator there.”
Special teams coordinator Tom McMahon on the Eagles' rookie kicker and punter: "Personally I’ve never had two rookies, but those guys are in this league for a reason. They’re very, very good specialists. They deserve to be here. We look at them the same as anybody else. We charted them the same. We’ve schemed them the same off of what they do with their tool box. To me, I’m not going to look at them any differently. If I had two rookies and they make the team, they deserve to be here. They’re in this league for a reason. You go into the game and kick away and I think that’s what they’re going to do.”
Running back Steven Jackson on the Eagles' defense: "“The Eagles defensively, they throw a lot of different challenges at us. we all know about their secondary, three Pro Bowlers. Guys that are going to give our receivers some match-up problems, but I believe those guys are up for the challenge. As an offense we have to make sure whatever they throw our way, if it’s guys getting open, they’re going to pressure us, that we have to block all eight or however many they bring to pressure us, that our receivers get open. And if it’s the running game that we move the line of scrimmage, first of all with the offensive line. And for me and the other running backs, that we’re explosive and we take full advantage of this. It’s going to be challenging. We all know what they present but we look forward to the challenge and I’m very excited to see how we match against an elite team.”