Every Friday, during the season, I'm going to take a look at the state of the Eagles, going position-by-position.
These are just various opinions and observations. I'll try to offer my take on the topics that were most heavily discussed during the week.
Quarterback: It's amazing to me how much stock some are putting into one half of football for Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick. When Kolb is healthy, he is going to start. Since he arrived as the head coach, Andy Reid has shown that he will not cave in to outside pressures from the fans or the media. He has a plan and he sticks with it. That plan is to groom Kolb into his next franchise quarterback.
Could this develop into an even stickier situation than it already is? Yes. But that has nothing to do with what the fans or media want. The way this becomes a mess is if Vick plays great this week (and maybe next week), Kolb comes back, plays poorly, and the players begin to strongly believe that they have a much better chance to win games with Vick on the field. Even if that does happen, Reid will stick with Kolb, but he'll have a tricky situation on his hands.
As for Kolb, consider this. On the second drive of his first start as the Eagles' starting quarterback in 2010, Kolb attempted one pass. Vick replaced him and carried three times on designed runs. Building and maintaining Kolb's confidence will be paramount to his development, and regardless of whether you like it or not, that's what this season is all about.
And as for Vick, it seems that everyone is on one end of the spectrum or the other. Either he's back and destined for greatness, providing a weapon with his legs that is unmatched by any quarterback in the NFL. Or he's a gimmicky QB whose accuracy will be exposed once teams game-plan for him.
The truth, as is most often the case, falls somewhere in between. To the Vick backers, it was one half of football. To the Vick haters, it's OK to admit he played well.
What we saw in Week 1 is that Vick brings an excitement factor that made him so popular earlier in his career. His speed and quickness seem to have improved dramatically from a year ago, and that's something we saw during training camp also. He made good decisions against Green Bay, and I didn't think he was too eager to escape the pocket and run. Every down he plays is another chance for Vick to prove himself and resurrect one of the most bizarre careers in NFL history. That continues this week against the Lions.
Running back: LeSean McCoy is probably No. 4 on the list of Eagles this team can least afford to lose (behind DeSean Jackson, Trent Cole and Asante Samuel). With Leonard Weaver out, and Mike Bell's injury issues, the Eagles are extremely thin at halfback. In 2009, McCoy averaged 4.1 yards per carry and 7.7 yards per reception. In Week 1, he averaged 5.0 yards per carry and 9.4 yards per reception. It's a small sample size, but the Eagles need to get him the ball more.
Wide receiver: DeSean Jackson did not touch the ball on offense until the 28th play from scrimmage last week. I would be shocked if that's the case against the Lions. Are teams figuring out how to better contain Jackson? Probably. He's averaging just 31 yards receiving per game in his last four, going back to last season. That being said, he has world-class speed, and defenses will not be able to shut him down consistently. Don't be surprised if the Birds make a concerted effort to get him involved early.
Tight end: Brent Celek's blocking last week is a concern. He had a stretch last season where it looked like he had made major strides in that area. He also did not have a catch until the fourth quarter against the Packers. Vick went to tight end Alge Crumpler quite a bit during his time in Atlanta, and Vick and Celek hooked up for a nice-looking 27-yard gain in Week 1. He'll be more involved against the Lions.
Offensive line: What we sometimes forget when breaking down the various aspects of this team on a daily basis is what's at stake for certain individuals. We know that Vick is trying to prove himself with the ultimate goal being to earn a permanent starting job in the league. That's also the case for the guy who will be snapping the ball to him: Mike McGlynn. McGlynn will be a free agent after 2011 at the age of 26. A good performance as the Eagles center this season could earn him a life-changing payday. That's quite a bit of pressure. He'll face a tough test right away against the Lions' interior linemen. We'll see how McGlynn responds.
As for the line as a whole, I might be the only person in the country who thinks this unit really does have a chance to be good. Winston Justice played well in Week 1. At left tackle, Jason Peters shows his potential during stretches, but everyone is tired of the mental errors. Todd Herremans can play at a Pro Bowl level. And Nick Cole played last week like a guy who doesn't want to lose his job to Reggie Wells.
McGlynn, of course, is the key, and the biggest unknown. Continuity is a major issue here. Dont' be surprised if the line struggles for the first month of the season but then really begins to come together.
Defensive line: I don't claim to have anywhere near the amount of expertise as Sean McDermott. Still, I have a tough time understanding his decision to drop Trent Cole back into coverage four times last week - more than any other defensive lineman. The guy has 34 sacks in the last three seasons. Why give him four fewer opportunities to get to the quarterback?
Linebackers: The dropoff from Stewart Bradley to Omar Gaither is much greater than the dropoff the Eagles would face if they lost Akeem Jordan or Ernie Sims. As of this writing, it's unclear if Bradley is going to play, although I don't expect him to. Sims was OK last week. I was expecting a huge upgrade to this unit in 2010. It wasn't there in Week 1.
Secondary: "I played terrible. I missed a lot of throws I make in my sleep. Personally, I made too many dumb mistakes and didn't play as well as I'm capable of playing."
That's what Aaron Rodgers told the Green Bay media after last week's game. And he was right. OK, terrible might be a bit harsh. But Rodgers looked like a very average quarterback.
So it's tough to put too much stock into the performance of the Eagles' secondary, which limited Rodgers to 6.07 yards per attempt and picked him off twice. Rodgers rarely threw to Asante Samuel's side, instead choosing to attack Ellis Hobbs. That's something we can expect to continue until Hobbs proves himself.
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