This makeover began the day after the Eagles lost to Dallas in the 2009 playoffs, when Andy Reid and the team returned to the NovaCare Complex with a huge task ahead: Become a better football team and make sure to make the defensive line a priority. Lo these many months later, we're about to find out. The Eagles were aggressive from the word "go" in the off-season and they overhauled so many parts of the roster and in the process they became younger and faster and ... better?
We don't know that yet. We know the Eagles are younger -- 12 rookies among the 53 players on the active roster -- and we know they are faster simply by watching them in practice and in the preseason games. We know the mix here is intriguing, to say the least.
We're going to find out very quickly how the wins and losses factor into the equation. Green Bay comes into Lincoln Financial Field equipped with some of the best talent in the league. Many experts have the Packers pegged as a Super Bowl team, and it is hard to argue that point of view. Green Bay is loaded, experienced and hungry.
As some early-week food for thought, let's talk about some of the keys to victory for the Eagles as they prepare to open the season -- and a grand weekend of celebration honoring the 1960 NFL Champion Eagles team -- on Sunday ...
IS THE DEFENSE PREPARED FOR THE PRESSURE?
Green Bay is not a three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust team. The Packers are a quick-strike attack that throws the ball very well to a great group of receivers and a star-in-the-making tight end in Jermichael Finley. Aaron Rodgers may be the best quarterback in the NFC at the moment. It is a talented, versatile group.
How do the Eagles stop Green Bay?
Well, there is no secret here: The Eagles have to win the battle at the line of scrimmage. The Eagles have to pressure Rodgers and make him turn the football over and take sacks. They have to figure out a way to slow down Finley, who moves all over the formation and who runs like a wide receiver.
It won't be easy. I'm sure Sean McDermott is putting together a terrific scheme, and he knows the Packers are going to attack every phase of this defense. The Eagles have to win at the line of scrimmage or they will have major problems.
This is not rocket science, gang. This is basic football. Green Bay's weapons are the envy of most teams in the league, but if the Packers don't block well, they don't move the football successfully.
Do you order up blitzes against Rodgers? Do you think the front four can create pressure on its own?
DOMINATE ON SPECIAL TEAMS
Bobby April is putting together his special teams as we speak, and he knows that with all of these young players there is going to be a lot of energy and a lot of nerves on the field. It remains to be seen who returns kickoffs, but the Eagles have some options. They need to be explosive here. They can't break even with Green Bay. They need to score a decisive victory on special teams and force Rodgers into long fields.
DeSean Jackson is returning punts and he can turn a game around with a big return. Ellis Hobbs is an accomplished return man on kickoffs, but it is not known if he is returning kickoffs on Sunday.
Huge game for special teams. Absolutely huge. The Eagles must score a major, major victory here.
RUN THE FOOTBALL ON OFFENSE
No duh, right? I just don't see the Eagles wanting to trade haymakers with a team like Green Bay, so playing some ball-control offense may be the ticket to eat some clock and keep Rodgers off the field. The Eagles did not run the ball very well in the preseason. They must run the ball effectively here.
LeSean McCoy is a bright, rising player in this league who could very well be the next outstanding Eagles running back. He has to be sure with his ball handling and he has to be patient against an attacking Green Bay defense.
*GET JACKSON 10-12 TOUCHES *
How creative can the Eagles be getting the football to Jackson? Let's say he returns four punts, catches 6 passes and has the ball handed to him twice. Not a bad day, right? You would expect that with 12 touches Jackson could do some major damage against a Green Bay defense that has injury question marks.
Jackson is too explosive to be a decoy. Move him around in the offense and force-feed him the football. The man makes great things happen. No matter how a defense tries to take him out of the offense, the Eagles must be more creative and get him the dang ball.
GET KEVIN KOLB GOING EARLY
Whatever that means ... short passes, high-percentage throws, quick drops ... the Eagles need to get Green Bay's defense on its heels and provide Kolb with some immediate momentum. He knows the offense and he has a chance to be terrific in this scheme. The Eagles have weapons to match any team out there, but they also have an offensive line that hasn't had time to play together this summer -- although the group has been together since last year -- and they know the Packers are going to try to blitz the line of scrimmage and force Kolb into early mistakes.
The Eagles must keep the revved-up crowd at Lincoln Financial Field in the game and roaring. Moving Kolb around on waggles and some roll outs isn't a bad idea. The kid throws the ball great when he is on the run. I'd love to see tight end Brent Celek involved early in the game.
The Eagles must avoid the lulls that plagued this offense in recent years. They would score 10 points on their first two possessions and then go silent for a bunch of series. That part of the game, the consistency thing, has to be better.
I could go on and on here, and the view is going to change a lot between now and Sunday, but those are some basic thoughts early in the week. More to come. The best time of the year is here, and the days just can't race by fast enough to see how the new-look Eagles perform in their season-opening game.