Everyone knows this feeling.
With the start of training camp just a little ways away, the Eagles have done a good job of keeping all their ducks in a row leading up to the season.
Fletcher Cox is now being paid like a mid level NBA starter, which takes care of the team’s most disgruntle Eagle. The gapping hole that was the team’s head player personnel position has now been filled. And all signs of QB controversy seem to have faded as the blood from everyone’s Carson Wentz boner returned to their head.
Plus it turns out Nelson Agholor is just really friendly with his strippers!
Yep, things are looking pretty good for the birds of Broad Street. Everything’s coming up Milhouse.
And yet I still have these little inklings of “This could be a loooooooong season.”
I look at this team on paper and see a solid group with a few minor holes. My head tells me this roster is good enough to win a few NFL games, but my gut has me worried about those few minor holes; it doesn’t take much for a little divot in a team to become a huge chasm. The strengths of this team are pretty strong, but I just have that feeling that their weaknesses could be their undoing.
It’s not just the roster that has me concerned though, there are some things that are totally out of the team’s control that have me paranoid.
Here are the ten things that have me scared about the Eagles going into the season:
1. The Eagles have to play a BRUTAL schedule
I’ll be honest, this is the thing that has me most pessimistic about the Eagles going into the season.
This team could be decent, but I just don’t see how they’d walk away from this season with a winning record with the schedule they have to play.
I think they have a chance to start out nice and possibly have a 3-0 record going into the bye, depending on a Leveon Bell suspension and what type of mood the Steelers are in. But after that YEEEEEESH…
They come out of the bye in Detroit and as much as I wanna call that a gimme, Im not ready to sleep on the Lions after last Thanksgiving. After that they travel to the nation’s capital to take on the Washington DC team, and they’ve gotten GOOD at home. Jay Gruden knows what to do with a home field advantage.
The Birds then come back home to face the Vikings, a team that was a chip shot of a field goal away from beating the Seahawks in the playoffs last season. Im calling a loss here.
Then they have a little bit of a breather in the middle of the season playing in Dallas, in New York, and then at home against Atlanta, but week 11 is when they enter the Thunderdome.
First they have to go to Seattle, that’s a loss and you can write it down now in permanent marker. Then the Eagles see Green Bay in Philly, a late season game against the Packers is never easy. And after that they have to go into Cincy to face the Bengals, who were arguably the best team in the AFC before Andy Daulton went down with a thumb injury last season.
Then they get Washington at home which should give them a minute to lick their wounds. But after that they have to go into Baltimore to face a Raven’s team that will be much healthier than they were last season. I think this will be the last nail in the Eagles’ coffin.
I expect the Eagle’s playoff hopes to be officially dead by the end of week 15.
2. The wide receivers are basically the same
The success of the Eagles’ receivers may hinge on this guy.
Let’s be real, the Eagles upgraded their wide receiver position with wishful thinking.
They didn’t do dick.
For a team that was plagued with inconsistency and drops at they wide receiver position last season I would of though they would go out and get a veteran presence to compliment the young core thats already in place. Instead they signed Rueben Randle, one of the most inconsistent, brick handed receivers in the NFL, and called it a day.
Seriously, the only thing Rueben Randle does consistently is play inconsistent.
Sure, he has a little bit of upside as a former early round pick and had close to 1,000 yards two years ago, but he’s really just not that good. Randle was ranked 77th among all wide receivers according to PFF last season.
I do like the Chris Givens signing though, it gives Sam Bradford a little bit of a familiar face and fills a need at deep threat for the Eagles, but I don’t think Givens makes the receiver position that much better as a whole.
The Eagles didn’t really upgrade or downgrade their wide receiver position this offseason, it was more or less just a step to the side.
3. Rookie Head Coach
Doug Pederson could be good, but it’s not gonna be right away.
I think everyone in Philadelphia had about the same reaction when news broke the Eagles had rumored interest in Doug Pederson as a possible Head coach, “UGH Really, this guy?!”
Pederson comes from a Kansas City Chiefs team who is notorious for having an offense so boring it made vanilla look like a Michael Bay movie.
Dougie is an Andy Reid disciple and former Eagles’ quarterbacks coach who saw Donovan McNabb through some of his worst seasons as an Eagle.
The one thing I will commend Pederson on, and this is the thing that has me most excited, is his work in the run game. When Jamal Charles went dow to injury last season, Pederson got Probowl production out of a tandem of back up running backs. Seeing as how the Eagles basically have a bunch of back ups at running back, Im intrigued.
The thing that has me most curious though is how much of the credit in Kansas City should go to Pederson and how much should go to Andy Reid, seeing as how Reid is one of the better offensive minds in football. I guess that’s just something we’re gonna learn this season.
If all things go as planned, Doug Pederson could be the second coming of Andy Reid in Philadelphia, Im just not expecting it to be next season. I think Pederson will definitely look the part of a rookie head coach this season, but in time he could be a good one.
4. The linebackers are Meh
Mychal Kendricks may be pretty enough for Rihanna, but Im starting to get a little tired of him.
Linebacker might be my least favorite position of the Eagles.
Mychal Kendricks is overrated. He can make awesome plays, but struggles with consistency and can get burnt in coverage better than any other linebacker in football. Seriously, worst linebacker in coverage in the NFL, just check PFF.
Jordan Hicks makes me optimistic, but he’s already starting to look like Mr. Glass from Unbreakable. Dude could be awesome, but I am seriously concerned about his durability, especially considering he didn’t finish either of his last two seasons at Texas due to injuries.
He also isn’t the best in run defender from what he showed in his shortened rookie season, which makes me nervous seeing as how that was the Achilles Heel last time the Eagles ran a wide nine.
I definitely think getting rid of Kiko Alonso was the right move, he didn’t fit in a 4-3 and he’s better off somewhere else, but Im tepid on Nigel Bradham. Bradham is a nice replacement and all, he’s played well in Jim Schwartz defense a few seasons ago, but he’s better served as a backup on most other teams. Bradham graded out as one of the worst linebackers in football last season playing under Rex Ryan. He’s still young so he could rebound, but Im iffy on the guy.
Going into this offseason I was hoping the team would of put more of a focus on pass coverage skills in their linebackers, especially seeing as how the Panthers earned a trip to the Super Bowl thanks in large part to their linebackers’ ability to drop back in coverage, but naw. My dreams of the Eagles going out and getting themselves a moneybacker — that’s the new name for those fancy linebacker-safety hybrids that are all the rage now — sadly never came true.
The team might be able to survive with these linebackers for the season, but I feel like upgrades are gonna be necessary going into the future.
5. Eric Rowe hasn’t run away with the starting corner job
After Byron Maxwell was shipped off to Miami, Rowe became the de facto number one corner, or at least so it seemed.
After Nolan Carroll was placed on season ending IR last year, Rowe looked impressive taking over his spot on the outside. He graded out as one of the better cornerbacks in football over the last five games of last season, which pretty much made him a lock to start this year.
I was one of those people who always saw Eric Rowe’s future at safety, and Im still not completely ruling it out, but after his starting stint last season Im a believer. Rowe has the size and length to operate on the outside and showed some ability allowing 51.7 percent of passes thrown against him to be completed, giving up 30 receptions against 58 targets for only three total touchdowns, which is quality production from a rookie.
After all, you can’t earn a nickname like Death Rowe while playing like a scrub.
But so far this season, the early reviews from mini camp have been mixed. While he hasn’t been bad, he also hasn’t stood out as the team’s best corner like he should. The transition to a new defensive scheme can be tricky for a young corner so there’s still time for him to acclimate, but Im already beginning to temper my expectations for him going into the season.
Right now Rowe is slotted behind Leodis McKelvin on the depth chart and Im not sure how soon that’ll change. Apparently the Eagles staff have been paying less attention to Rowe compared to some of the other corners, namely Jalen Mills. Eliot Shorr Parks even went as far as suggesting Rowe might not be a lock to even make the team.
I do think Eric Rowe is the best corner on this team, but it’s looking like it might take a little bit longer before it’s fully realized.
6. There’s a lot riding on Jason Peters
Jason Peters ain’t the young man he use to be.
As far as Im concerned, Jason Peters is the lynchpin that holds the offensive line together. They go as he goes until he is released or retires, whatever comes first.
It seems as though every season the Eagles’ offensive line is seen as suspect, Peters is usually the culprit. Most times it had been due to injury, but last season it was due solely to poor play. Peters is 34 and it’s looking like the wheels are starting to fall off.
I can’t blame the shortcomings of the entire offensive line last season on Peters, after all the Eagles got what they deserved for starting Allen Barbre and Andrew Gardner at guard.
Still, the left side of the line was bad from tackle to center last season and seeing as how the team is expecting to roll out the same group this season, Im concerned. The way I see it, Jason Peters very well could make or break the line this season. He wasn’t entirely terrible last year, but he was very far from his former six-time All Pro self. Peters doesn’t need to be an All Pro this season, he just needs to be serviceable enough.
Honestly, if I were the Eagles I’d probably move Lane Johnson to left tackle now and just get it over with, but I understand you have to pay respect to your future Hall of Famers.
I think the team could survive if Barbre plays poorly, but if Peters follows suit I can’t imagine things going well.
7. Ryan Mathews is as fragile as a China Doll
I don’t have much faith in Wendell Smallwood as a rookie.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Ryan Mathews, but only when he’s on the field. And seeing as how that doesn’t happen often, he tests my love.
If I could expect 16 games out of Ryan Mathews I’d be ecstatic, the Eagles would have some semblance of a running game, and this list would be titled “9 Things That Have Me Scared About the Eagles.” But seeing as how he’s about as durable as a glass twig, I got beef.
I do think Ryan Mathews is a great running back and is capable of rushing for 1,000 yards, but he needs a full season to do so and you just don’t get that from Ryan Matthews.
Mathews was probably the best running back on the Eagles’ roster last season, and still is, but due to injuries he was never able to actually capture the starting job from DeMarco Murray until the end of the season and by that point it was more starter by committee than actually having someone be the bell cow back.
Last year, with DeMarco Murray starting, Mathew’s injuries didn’t have too major of an impact, although they were felt. This season, if (when) Matthews goes down with an injury, its gonna hurt.
Darren Sproles is now a 33 year old running back who has regressed in each of his last three seasons. I have no problems with Sproles starting in the slot, but I wouldn’t feel confident about him as the top dog in the Eagles’ backfield.
Wendell Smallwood, the Eagles’ new rookie running back, is a third down back in my eyes until proven otherwise. The kid has decent size, is pretty shifty, and has great hands, but lacks a second gear and is not a good pass blocker. Duce Staley may have a hard on for Smallwood, but the feeling is not mutual.
Ryan Mathews is 28, turning 29 in October. He has only played a full season once in his six seasons as a Pro. I can’t imagine he plays the second full season of his career this year, just like I can’t imagine the Eagles having a solid ground game this year.
8. Cody Parkey’s alive?!
Once upon a time Cody Parkey was a Probowl kicker, here’s hoping he could get back to that form.
Cody Parkey was the best pick up of the entire Chip Kelly era. He was picked up for pigeon feed and instantly became one of the most important members of the Eagles.
Had Parkey been healthy last season, the Eagles would of made the playoffs and Chip Kelly more than likely would still be head coach.
Parkey had ice in his veins throughout his entire rookie season, but come the preseason of year two he was slumping HARD. He had struggles with consistency and would routinely miss chip shots.
There was a lot of mystery behind Parkey’s sudden slump until the team put him on IR and gave him the year off. I honestly felt a little relieved when the news broke about Parkey’s injury because it meant his poor play wasn’t entirely on him, but it didn’t make me feel anything close to optimistic.
Caleb Sturgis did an alright job in relief of Parkey. He wasn’t great, but he did well enough to still be sticking around.
Now Parkey is back and is forced to fend off Sturgis in hopes of earning his job back. So far the results have been not terrible as both have done ok, but neither has really jumped out in front of the other.
My main concern here is that Parkey was just a one year wonder. Kickers tend to be a lot like relief pitchers in baseball, they play an incredibly vital role, but they’re a dime a dozens and their greatness can often be fleeting. Caleb Sturgis looked like he had the makings of a future Probowl kicker his rookie year, but he was cut by the Dolphins two years later and now might be fighting for his NFL life. I would hate to see Parkey go down the same path after a rookie season that was even more impressive than Sturgis’.
At his best, Parkey is better than anything Caleb Sturgis has ever shown; Caleb finished the season strong but was still inconsistent AF. Im hopeful the better kicker can win the job and Parkey can rekindle his old spark, otherwise Sturgis is back taking field goals and that just doesn’t make me feel as confident.
I doubt the Eagles will be among the league leaders in offense next season so field goals could be pretty important. Parkey will be vital to the team’s success, but I can’t shake the feeling that the dude is shook. Im hopeful it’s all just rust and Parkey can win the job in training camp, but if not I can’t expect good things.
9. Sammy Sleeves or Sammy leaves?
Sam Bradford’s sleeves are so long because he doesn’t want to blind anyone with his sick ass guns.
I’ll admit, I am a Sam Bradford believer. I feel like the guy gets a little bit of an unnecessarily bad rep. Im not gonna say the guy should be considered a top ten QB — because he shouldn’t– but I just feel there is a huge anti Sam Bradford bias in the NFL.
The guy hasn’t had the easiest road to where he is now, albeit a lot of that is on him, but I still think he’s shown enough to be seen more favorably than most people see him.
With that said, Sammy pulled some little bitch shit this offseason. The team gave him a two-year “prove it” deal and he got all pissy as soon as he realized he would actually have to prove it. I can understand being a little annoyed when the team your still somewhat new to goes out and gets a new QB of the future, but crying and locking yourself in your room is not the way a suppose to be franchise quarterback acts.
Now that Sam has been talked off the ledge and made goodie goodie with Carson Wentz Im cautiously optimistic about him going into this season. He ended last season strong, he’s actually built a repertoire with some of his receivers, and the interior O line is much improved from last season.
I think Sammy could play pretty well in Doug Pederson’s offense — It’s much better suited to his skill set than Chip Kelly’s ever was — but I just question how well a team can rally behind a guy who asked to get going as soon as the going got tough.
10. Who is this team?
For the past three seasons the Eagles have been known as the fast pace, revolutionary offense that changed the face of the NFL. Outside of last season, they regularly ranked among the league leaders in almost every offensive stat. When a team played the Eagles they knew they were going to be playing against speed.
That isn’t the case anymore.
With Doug Pederson taking over you can expect something a little slower and more methodical, but its gonna be hard for me to expect offense to still be the trademark of this team. As of right now, this Eagles team has no identity.
At the start of the offseason they were seen as one of the most dysfunctional teams in the NFL thanks in large part to the whole Sam Bradford saga. While that situation has since resolved itself, the team is left as a relative unknown.
The Eagles have some good things on offense and some good things on defense, but not enough to be seen as either an offensive or defensive threat in my eyes. Neither is a complete group yet.
This is still a relatively young team that will need time to find out who they are and what they really have in their players. This team very well could turn into a defense force similar to what Jim Schwartz had in Buffalo or they could turn into a offensive machine akin to the Andy Reid days of yore. One thing is for sure though and that is neither will fully take shape this season.
I really just have no idea what to expect out of this team. The defense could be good, but I can’t expect it to be great and hell if I know what to expect out of this offense because I feel like they could be anywhere from piss poor to half decent.
One of the oldest and most common fears is that of the unknown and I gotta say, these unknown Eagles have me pretty scared.