OK, so I had some fun with the 2010 schedule, but, seriously, it is very hard for me to assess wins and losses at this point. The Eagles aren't a finished product. This draft brings with it so much weight, so much importance, so much unpredictability that the focus is far more on the draft than one what happens when September arrives.
Oh, I think the schedule is fascinating with five prime-time games and a total of eight (at least) nationally-televised games. Ending the season for the third straight year against Dallas is, of course, exciting. There are no gimmes here. Back-to-back road games at Detroit and Jacksonville will be testers.
But the truth is, we don't know much about the season until we are there, until it is upon us. Too many times we look at the schedule now and think that this team is good and then it isn't, and then think that team is bad and then it turns out to be a good team. Minnesota in Game 15? Sounds like a challenge, indeed. But I'll take the Vikings outside, in cold weather, that late in the year.
You get the idea. I think the home schedule is incredibly good, and Andy Reid's perfect after-bye-week record will be challenged by the Colts on November 7. Up and down the schedule there are great obstacles and terrific matches. The Eagles are a prime-time, national-focus team.
But how good are they going to be? That's my real focus with the draft nearly here. And with that, some thoughts ...
- For all of the talk that the Eagles are planning to move up, well, I have no idea. It seems that the No. 12 pick, held by Miami, is a prime target for a lot of teams who want to go up and get Michigan defensive end/outside linebacker Brandon Graham. He seems to be the "hot" prospect this year. That's what my draftnik friends tell me, anyway. The Eagles tell me nothing, and I'm completely honest there. I go back to saying what I said prior to free agency: Only Andy Reid, Howie Roseman, Jeffrey Lurie, Joe Banner and probably Ryan Grigson (director of player personnel) and Louis Riddick (director of pro personnel) really, truly know what is going on.
- If first impressions mean anything, Ernie Sims is going to thrive in the Eagles defense. He certainly felt the "love" from the Eagles organization on his first day at the NovaCare Complex. I think the mental state and the feeling of want is so important for players. If they are in an environment where they feel appreciated and feel a great level of comfort, it certainly helps their early steps integrating into the system. Sims is going to be challenged in the run game in the physical NFC East. No question about that. He has to show that he can be a three-down linebacker at 225 pounds. I think the Eagles are very, very high on Sims and that they expect him to a starter and a very good one at that. Andy Reid doesn't use the word "impact" when describing a player, any player, very often.
- Don't you think the Eagles could go just about anywhere, particularly on defense, in the early rounds of the draft? They have 10 draft picks and are not going to be afraid to use them in every way. I couldn't tell you one way or the other which way the Eagles are leaning here.
- I do think this: To move up into the top 10, the Eagles would probably have to give up that 37th pick overall, the one acquired from Washington in the Donovan McNabb trade. At least that's according to the points chart that the league uses to make deals. Otherwise, the second second-round draft pick is great bait to use in a trade.
- Who is this team's fifth receiver? I happen to like Jordan Norwood and Dobson Collins based on what I saw from both last year in the practice sessions. Chad Hall, signed as a free agent in the off-season after a great career at Air Force, is working his rear end off trying to make an impression. He is not physically imposing, but Hall has terrific quickness and is going to get a shot here. But will the Eagles use a draft pick on the position? For the first time in maybe forever, wide receiver is simply not even remotely a need here.
- If I were the Rams, I'd take quarterback Sam Bradford. From everything I've heard, Bradford has great accuracy, is a smart kid, a good leader. His talent is obvious. Pat Shurmur, the offensive coordinator in St. Louis, will enjoy working with Bradford.
- I'm going to be honest with you: I was excited at first about the new draft format, but now I'm a little worried. Are teams going to take all of their allotted minutes between draft picks? Is the first round going to run until Midnight on Thursday? Are you going to be following it every step of the way on PhiladelphiaEagles.com? Please do. We have great coverage lined up.
- The mood at the NovaCare Complex is one of great excitement, high tension and a supreme level of anticipation. It's draft time! The only thing better is the start of the regular season. Right now, the players are busy in Barry Rubin's strength and conditioning program. They aren't thinking about the draft. Upstairs, the personnel department is in constant meetings fine-tuning their preparation for the draft. Then the regular Joe's like me are tallking to each other wondering what the team is going to do, asking me "what I've heard." Um, well, nothing. That's what I know. I know nottthhiiingg.
- The Eagles have made five trades and have added end Darryl Tapp, linebacker Ernie Sims and safety Marlin Jackson to the defense. The offense remains largely intact, with the additions of running back Mike Bell and wide receiver Hank Baskett for depth. I get the very strong sense that the fans are on board with the many moves made since March. More to come, people, more to come. And by the looks of it in our daily poll here, the fans think the Eagles are going to win a lot of games this season. Gotta finish off the roster first, gang, before knowing how it is all going to look. It's a marathon, not a sprint, in any NFL season -- March to May or September to January.