The Eagles are going to run the ball more with Kevin Kolb at quarterback. The offense has to look different with Kolb in there. The defense is eyeing more of a 3-4 threat. Special teams will be a gambling, hold-nothing-back group as Bobby April raises the stakes. What is true, what is false and what makes for good water cooler chit-chat right now? ...
Some of the talk you hear now is simply not true. And some of it ... well, we'll find out exactly what the coaching staff is thinking when training camp begins. I'm here to discuss ...
**ARE THE EAGLES GOING TO RUN THE BALL MORE?
The answer to this is a big, definitive yes. With a caveat, of course. The Eagles would love to run the ball more. They really would. I truly believe that. They would love to have leads to play with and then use their four-minute offense and grind out first downs and eat the clock and finish off games that way. To do that, of course, the Eagles must have leads and then everything falls into place.
In the general sense and scope of the offense, I don't think you are going to notice much of a difference. Perhaps a few more runs here and there. There won't be a wholesale philosophical difference with Kolb at quarterback. I don't anticipate that the Eagles will "rein in" the offense. On the contrary, actually. I sense that the Eagles have enough confidence in Kolb and his knowledge of the offense and his skill set to expand the scheme, add more motion, have a more complete short- and mid-range passing game.
The Eagles aren't turning into Ground Reid here, but they have the ability to beat a defense any way they want. The recent offenses were extremely explosive, but at times the Eagles lacked the sustained, move-the-chains mentality. Maybe they tweak things and become more of that kind of offense now.
**WILL THE DEFENSE SHOW SOME 3-4 LOOKS?
Fans have talked about this for years and years, and Sean McDermott will experiment with just about anything. The Eagles are staying in their 4-3 base. They will do just about anything to get some pressure on the backfield, and if that means using three down lineman, so be it.
It's going to be interesting to see, for example, how Brandon Graham and Darryl Tapp work their way onto the field. It wouldn't be a huge surprise if the defense uses some tweaks here and there and tries to get a player out in space. McDermott demonstrated last year that he loves to get creative.
The defensive linemen here aren't big enough to play the 3-4 on a consistent basis. This is a defense built for speed, and built for the 4-3.
**IS APRIL A DAREDEVIL AS A COACH?
It remains to be seen. Bobby April is a fun coach to watch running special teams, and that is saying a lot. Who really gets a kick out of watching special teams? April, though, comes up with some interesting drills and his enthusiasm is contagious.
The Eagles should be better on special teams, but they have always been pretty darn daring. I'm sure we will see some unusual alignments, some bold use of personnel and a lot of confidence in the group. April will take calculated chances. He isn't a fool. He will order an onsides kick, for example, if he knows it's there. Whether it works or not is an entirely different question.
**WILL THE EAGLES BLITZ MORE ... OR LESS?
They will blitz as much as is required to get the job done. The entire key to this defense is pressuring the backfield, so whatever McDermott has to do to dial up some pressure, he will do so.
The defense gave up way too many touchdown passes last season, in large part because they made a lot of mistakes in coverage and, of course, the consistent pass-rush pressure just wasn't there. Now, the secondary has two new starters -- at free safety and right cornerback, to be determined -- and so the risk/reward on blitzing is increased even more.
Let's just say that McDermott will take a look at everything. If it means he has to blitz more, he will. But there is no if/or here. The Eagles have more talent on defense than they did last year. It's a matter of having it all come together now.
THE EAGLES ARE YOUNGER, THEREFORE THEY ARE NOT AS GOOD
Proof is in the pudding, as they say, but the Eagles were really young in key areas last year and still won 11 games. I say this idea is balderdash, but who knows? The Eagles are relying on some kids to come through -- Nate Allen at free safety, right away -- and if they do, wow, what a huge plus that will be.
The general premise here is that just because the Eagles are younger doesn't mean they plan to take a step back. But let's see how the kids mature in the heat of Lehigh, which, by my watch, is coming soon.