At first glance, the 2017 schedule is one of the most unusual the Eagles have ever been given. They open with road games at Washington and Kansas City, play four of their first six away from Lincoln Financial Field, and later in the season have a killer three weeks at Seattle, at Los Angeles Rams, and at the New York Giants.
Christmas night against Oakland? That’s going to be a wild one. Five prime-time games, with one on Thursday and two each on Sunday and Monday nights.
Three straight games at home against Washington, San Francisco, and Denver before a mid-November bye week? The weather should be plenty perfect for the fans at Lincoln Financial Field.
But the schedule is as the schedule does and so we have some definition to the 2017 regular season. We know the where and the who and the when. Now it’s time to find out a way to go out and win.
Does it really matter where the Eagles play or when they play or that they’re going to travel roughly 256,043 round-trip miles this season? No, not at all.
This much we know: The Eagles have to get right into it in the NFC East on September 10 at Washington, a place that has not been very kind to the Eagles since Chip Kelly’s debut in 2013. The Eagles put on a show that night at FedEx Field, beating the Redskins and serving notice that the Kelly offense would change the way the game would be played at the NFL level – for about a year and a half. And then it all fell apart. Just like the Eagles at FedEx Field, where they lost in 2014, 2015, and in 2016.
After that, the Eagles play in Kansas City, taking a 3-1 lifetime record at hallowed Arrowhead Stadium. Then it’s the home opener against the Giants and a road game at the (ahem) Los Angeles Chargers and a home game against Arizona, and then a Thursday night game at Carolina followed by a Monday Night Football game at Lincoln Financial Field against Washington.
The Eagles play Washington twice in seven weeks to open the season. Maybe that’s the story right there. It’s a quirky schedule waiting for the Eagles, and that’s about all we know of the challenge ahead for this team in 2017.
NEWS, NOTES AND A LITTLE BIT OF THIS AND THAT
- Howie Roseman and Joe Douglas met the media on Thursday at the NovaCare Complex and didn’t give up much about their plans, other than to say that if they stay at No. 14 in the first round, they feel good about the chances of landing a high-quality player. The number of cornerbacks likely to be drafted is “significantly higher,” said Douglas, than it was a year ago. What does all of that mean? Maybe the Eagles stay put at No. 14 in the first round and maybe they draft multiple cornerbacks over the course of seven rounds. Beyond that, Thursday’s NFL Draft just can’t get here fast enough.
- Tight end
Zach Ertzalso had time with the media on Thursday and then afterward talked about what it will mean to have wide receivers Alshon Jefferyand Torrey Smithwith the offense and the impact they will make.
“It was frustrating last year to lead the league in time of possession and then struggle as much as we did in the red zone,” Ertz said. “We just didn’t score enough touchdowns. Now we go out and get Torrey, who can be an explosive player and get us some chunk plays, and we add Alshon, who is going to be a weapon in the red zone. He can go up and get it. That’s exciting. I think those two are going to command a lot of attention from defenses and open things up for me and Jordan (Matthews). I think we’ve improved a lot offensively.”
It’s very hard to argue with that optimism.
- Defensive end
Brandon Grahamwas an alternate to the Pro Bowl after the 2016 season, so he’s still got an individual goal or two in mind for 2017. “I would love to be in the Pro Bowl, so I have to go out and earn it,” he said. “You know, being in this defense for a second season is going to help. I think we’re going to get after it up front. We have some attacking guys up there. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
- There is still one more week to go in Phase One of the team’s offseason conditioning program before the players are permitted to take the field for any kind of organized work. So, we’re still a ways away from salivating over the Wentz-to-Jeffery connection we’re bound to see.
- Will the Eagles draft an offensive lineman? It’s hard to see that they will. The Eagles have a whopping 17 linemen listed on their roster, and of that 17 there are 12 players who have started games in the NFL. The Eagles have covered themselves very nicely along the offensive line between adding players last year in the draft and after the draft and adding
Chance Warmackand retaining Stefen Wisniewskiin free agency this spring.