It has been a question for the last couple of years as the Eagles turned over the roster and blended youth in with the experience on the team: Who are the leaders in the locker room? We're going to learn a lot about the 2010 team as they prepare for and then play Detroit, because if ever there was a time for the leadership to step forward, it is now.
A normal NFL locker room produces several leaders each year. The notion that there is one leader and one leader only really isn't true and it isn't fair to the rest of the 53-man roster. You probably already recognize Quintin Mikell, Stewart Bradley and Trent Cole are leaders here and there are others who aren't as visible who step up and help the team focus. All will need to be on hand in Detroit.
The loss of last week is over, but what lingers is the impact from the game against Green Bay: Valuable veteran leaders Jamaal Jackson and Leonard Weaver were injured and lost for the season. Bradley and quarterback Kevin Kolb suffered concussions and will have their status updated on Friday. You have to believe they are very questionable, at best.
This is a road game against a team that is snorting mad after losing a controversial game in Chicago on Sunday and so, yeah, the Eagles are walking into a, ahem, Lion's Den, in Detroit.
Who steps up and leads the way to make sure the Eagles are at their best? Who passes the word to the young Eagles that these aren't the "same, old Lions?"
This is a critical early-season game for Andy Reid's Eagles and it is a test on many levels. One of those tests comes in the form of the locker-room intangible that we label "leadership." It bears watching as we monitor the makeup of this team.
How much will new fullback Owen Schmitt play? He should be active, of course, and the Eagles would love to get him involved. Schmitt is said to be a tough runner, a physical blocker. Maybe he adds to the special teams, too. Schmitt isn't a "touch" player at all. Where the Eagles worked Leonard Weaver into the weekly plan on offense and made sure to get him the ball, it remains to be seen if they consider Schmitt that kind of threat.
- He has shown the maturity that you just don't see very often in rookies and now we have some understanding of why the Eagles loved Nate Allen so much in the draft. Allen has made mistakes, of course, but he has been around the football more and more every game and has not been lost by the enormous responsibility that he has earned. Barring setbacks, Allen is going to be a special player. This week, he has to be physical against the run and make sure that star receiver Calvin Johnson doesn't go over the top on the defense.
- If it is Michael Vick at quarterback this week, and Andy Reid will update that situation on Friday afternoon, then I sure don't want him taking the kind of hits he took in the opener. Vick said he had normal pain after the game, but he has to take care of his body. To succeed, Vick has to throw the ball accurately and on time from the pocket. The high-wire show is a blast to watch and it can be effective for short bursts, but the truth is that he needs to be a quarterback first, and then a runner.
- I think Trevor Laws is doing a nice job getting a push inside at tackle in the nickel. Keep up the good work. The Eagles need Laws to be a consistent factor.
- The defense, in the big picture, played well against Green Bay, but there were still some missed tackles. Can't afford any this week. I expect Detroit to play a relatively conservative game with quarterback Shaun Hill.
- David Akers has a range of 55 yards this weekend. No wind. No conditions in Ford Field. Akers is going to be a weapon against Detroit. It will be interesting to see what strategy Bobby April uses on kickoffs. Touchbacks would be a nice thing, huh?
- Does Antwan Barnes play as much in Week 2? How many new looks does McDermott give Hill? Can't wait to see what the defense looks like against Detroit's offense.
- Detroit had a tough time in the loss to Chicago defending the screen pass and LeSean McCoy did damage in the screen game against Green Bay. Let's hope two plus two equals touchdowns for the offense on Sunday.