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Season Preview: Winston Comes To Town


The 2015 schedule for the Philadelphia Eagles has been announced. The schedule features six nationally televised games and a second consecutive Thanksgiving Day game ...

The Eagles will wait 'til game No. 10 for their first crack at the No. 1 overall pick in May's NFL Draft. Former Florida state quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston was tapped to help turn around a moribund Buccaneers offense. Winston has a big arm and showed the ability to make anticipation throws in college, but transitioning to playing against NFL defenses takes time for all but the rarest of young quarterbacks. Winston certainly did not face any defensive lines the caliber of the Eagles' in the ACC.

Beyond Winston, the Buccaneers look much different than the team that finished with a league-worst 2-14 record in Lovie Smith's first season on the job in 2014. Tampa Bay finished 29th in scoring and 30th in total offense last year. They didn't fare much better when breaking it down further, as they finished in the bottom 10 in every offensive category, including 29th in rushing and 25th in passing (you can see why they need a quarterback). But a lot of that also had to do with an offensive line that has 33-year-old left guard Logan Mankins and … not much else. Draft picks Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet will be counted on immediately, but cconsider this game an opportunity for Fletcher Cox and the Eagles defensive line to make a serious impact.

Where the Eagles defense will be tested, though, is down the field, where the giant combination of Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans will threaten to make big plays all afternoon long. These are the games for which the Eagles spent the big bucks on Byron Maxwell in free agency.

Despite Lovie Smith's background as a defensive magician and standout players like linebacker Lavonte David and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, the Bucs fared little better on defense. They allowed over 25 points per game (28th in the league) and struggled especially in pass coverage. Jordan Matthews, Zach Ertz and crew should then relish the opportunity to make plays downfield on this Sunday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field.

The hope for the Eagles will be to put this game to bed quickly and efficiently, because they'll be staring at a short week on the back end – a Thanksgiving trip to Detroit.

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