Skip to main content
Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia Eagles News

In Week 2, More Time For Discovery

You know how, in the days leading to the Eagles' opener in Carolina, you didn't really know what to expect and there was a sense of wondering just what this football team was all about? Well, I think this game against New Orleans could be very much the same. I think the first two weeks of the NFL season are about as unpredictable as the weather, so what we saw on Sunday in Carolina might not necessarily be what we're going to get at Lincoln Financial Field against the Saints.

As unpredictable as the NFL is week to week later in the year, it is absolutely crazy early on. Rosters are just now settling. New wrinkles in schemes are just that -- new -- so the element of surprise is so much greater. Personnel departments and advanced scouting teams are only now learning how good some of the new players on each team truly are.

This is still a sense of discovery for everyone. That said, there are some things we should know about the Eagles. A list from this perspective ...

1. The left side of the line is much improved in the run game

Jason Peters appears to be a beast in the running game. He is big and strong, moves his feet very well and gives effort down the field. He teamed with the underrated Nick Cole on Sunday in Carolina and the Eagles dominated Julius Peppers and Co. and actually sent Peppers to the bench gasping for oxygen.

Cole is something to behold. He went in last year and did the job at right guard down the stretch run of the season and is now playing well at left guard. He isn't pretty, not at all, but Cole uses leverage and technique very well.

Peters started slowly in Carolina with a couple of early false starts. He bounced back and played a full game and blew open the left side in the running game. That is something the Eagles haven't had in a long time.

*2. Sean McDermott has a lot of wrinkles up his sleeve *

Whether it is using Sheldon Brown as a deep safety or Trent Cole as a Joker in a middle blitz, it is obvious that Sean McDermott has a very creative mind. Now, the Eagles have used Brown as a safety before, and they have used a Joker for years and years. There were, no doubt, many subtle rubs McDermott added that we didn't see, and there are going to be many more to come.

McDermott knows he has a completely different challenge this week. Drew Brees is a different quarterback than Jake Delhomme. Brees works the pocket brilliantly and he makes very few mistakes mentally or physically. McDermott has to be aggressive, but smart, to disrupt Brees' rhythm.

So what will McDermott do? He will try to get a strong, consistent pass rush going without sacrificing down the field. McDermott wants Brees to work for every yard, and even when Carolina went 13 plays and 70 yards to open the game on Sunday, the Eagles felt the Panthers had to earn every bit of that drive.

We'll see what twists McDermott has in store for the Saints, an offense that runs and throws the ball so very well.

*3. Depth and talent is clearly obvious in the secondary *

It is exciting to see a young secondary -- young veterans, let's say -- come together and know they are going to get better and better over the course of the year. The cornerbacks are an excellent group with Asante Samuel and Sheldon Brown, Joselio Hanson, Ellis Hobbs and Dimitri Patterson. Macho Harris can run and cover and the game is going to slow down for him. Quintin Mikell is a Pro Bowl strong safety. Quintin Demps and Sean Jones are good depth players who can start.

One of the reasons McDermott is so free to move his scheme around so liberally is that he has great faith in his group of cover people. There is a whole lot of team speed back here. This test on Sunday is a great one. The Saints run well and they have receivers, tight ends and backs who catch the ball extremely well.

*4. DeSean Jackson and the return game can turn games around *

The young man is one of the league's best punt return men. Did you see the speed he had once he got into the open field? Incredible. Both Jackson and Hobbs are fast and have excellent vision and quickness. The Eagles are now threats on every kick to do serious damage. Jackson is going to be a huge star as a receiver and a return man. The Eagles know Hobbs and Demps are threats on kickoffs.

Field position is so important in the NFL, and the Eagles can turn it around just like that with their return game.

5. Andy Reid isn't going to shorten up his game plan

Do you think that if Kevin Kolb starts at quarterback on Sunday the Eagles will use a dink-and-dunk approach and go conservative offensively? I can't see that ever happening with Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. They have too much faith in the scheme, and in their ability to get players open all over the field.

Oh, the Eagles will always alter the scheme based on matchups. They didn't take a foolish approach with Winston Justice at right tackle last week in his first start there, for example. He had a tight end on his side, or a back, and the Eagles didn't leave him alone much with Peppers. Smart. Justice responded by playing well and doing his job and the offense had the big day running the football.

Kolb has never started an NFL game, and should he go on Sunday he will bring his own talents to the field. He moves well, is not afraid to take off and run and has good vision and accuracy. Should Kolb play, it will be interesting to see how the offense is structured. If Donovan McNabb plays, sore ribs and all, you wonder what changes the coaching staff will make.

The key thought here is that the Eagles will tinker with the scheme, but they won't roll up the sidewalk. They want to be aggressive and threaten to score from all areas of the field.

6. Brian Westbrook looks great in the offense

A 38-10 win was probably the best way for Westbrook to break his way back into the offense. He had his carries, gained his yards, caught a shovel pass for a touchdown and then called it a day with no muss, no fuss.

Westbrook looked good, didn't he? He showed his speed and he blocked well and ran physically. He looked like Brian Westbrook averaging 4.9 yards per carry. The Saints play a different scheme, use some man-to-man on the corners and have fast linebackers. The Eagles might look to get Westbrook more involved in the passing game on Sunday and he will have to deliver.

It is great having him back on the field, healthy and ready to go.

7. There is a whole lot of improvement to go

Despite the big win, every player and every coach knows the Eagles can be so much better. That is what is so exciting -- what is ahead should the Eagles put it all together. The Saints come in feeling good about themselves, too. They blew away the Lions in their opener. So to beat New Orleans, the Eagles have to step up their performance and play a great game to win in Week 2.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content