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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Philadelphia Eagles 2010 Preview

The Philadelphia Eagles are a team at the center of NFC East controversy, maybe even league controversy. Former franchise quarterback Donovan McNabb was unceremoniously given the boot from Philly, in what I believe to be a selfish act by the franchise. Granted McNabb didn't deliver on the grand stage, which is what QB's of his caliber are graded on, but he still has a few more prime years left in him. To add insult to injury, McNabb lands in the same division with the rival Washington Redskins. Competitively speaking, I would look for McNabb to find away to have a career day against the Eagles.

Then there is the Michael Vick experiment. On the whole, it was good to see Vick out of trouble for the football calendar year. On the field, he showed glimpses of the talent that made him the NFL's most exciting player, as a member of the Atlanta Falcons. Even in the playoff loss to Dallas, Vick threw a TD pass that looked like the old Vick was back. The experiment, however, did not go as planned, as McNabb felt the 2 QB system would get him out of rhythm. In my humble put up points opinion, the Eagles offense could have been more explosive than it already was if McNabb could have found away to buy in to this and make it work.

So where does that leave the 11-5 Eagles of last year this year...

With the departure of McNabb, the Eagles will turn to Kevin Kolb to lead the offense onto the gridiron. Kolb is steady quarterback, who filled in well when McNabb was hurt. I look for Kolb to manage games this season, getting into a West Coast offense feel, rather than stretching the field for big plays. I also see Vick playing more of a roll this season at QB, since he can use his athleticism to buy time for the occasional big play. I also see Vick having a pretty descent year rushing the ball if those big plays are going to happen.

The rumor mill says, the Eagles may go with the 3-back approach to the running game. Led by LeSean McCoy, the RB group will also feature Mike Bell, Charles Scott, Eldra Buckley and J.J. Arrington. Look for Arrington to maybe get some looks out of the backfield, Bell and Scott swapping short yardage duty, while McCoy carries the bulk of the load. I think McCoy's versatility will be the key for the Eagles this season, since it could open up the one thing the Eagles are above average at, play action passing.

Which brings us to the wide receiver group. The explosive DeSean Jackson leads the way for this group, who can, if given some open field, can score with anyone. The Cal product had 9 tds last season, 7 of the 50yd + variety, not to mention 2 punt return tds. Jermey Maclin came into his own during the season, so look for that duo to try and prove they are a WR tandem to be taken seriously. Someone, however, will have to be the reliable move the chains type of player. I see that being tight end Brent Celek, who hauled in a team leading 76 catches and 8 tds of his own. My biased opinion says rookie Riley Cooper may fill that role at some point as well (Go Gators).

I still think the Eagles offense has the potential to score big points, but it depends on if Kevin Kolb gets to play free and spread the field. If Kolb can't manage, let Vick try and recapture the athletic magic he used to have. Fans could be in for an offensive treat if that happens, I won't hold my breath though.

Philly's defense was ranked middle of the pack in pretty much every category as a team. Look for the secondary to be the catalyst if anything were to change this year. They have an elite CB in Asante Samuel, who had 9 interceptions last season. On the other side CB Sheldon Brown held his own with 5 interceptions of his own. With Brown now a Cleveland Brown, the battle for the other CB spot is heating up in camp. SS Quintin Mikell led the team with 90 tackles and DE Trent Cole led the team with 12.5 sacks. LB by committee will be the theme in the middle of the defense, and that's all I have to say about that.

My vision of a Michael Vick resurrection of the Philly offense will probably not happen, simply because Kevin Kolb is not a bad QB at all. Look for the Eagles to compete in the division but ultimately fall into 3rd place, I'm going 9-7 for the regular season.

- @lostherod

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