By Kevin McGuire
The Philadelphia Eagles open the 2013 season on the road against the Washington Redskins, a longtime division rival, in one of the most anticipated season openers in recent franchise history. It seems only fitting the year will kick off under the spotlight that tends to come with playing on Monday nights, because the Redskins and Eagles each have some of the most interesting story-lines entering the new NFL season as far as the NFC East is concerned.
Chip Kelly will make his head coaching debut and everybody watching will finally get an opportunity to see whether or not his up-tempo offense will cause problems for opposing defenses the way it did at Oregon in the Pac 12. Kelly’s offense has been stopped before by defenses built to slow down the momentum Kelly’s Ducks often had, which serves as a caution for fans expecting the Eagles to start running up and down field on their opponents, converting two-point conversions after every touchdown and putting up 50-60 points on a regular basis. That is certainly a reach in week one of Kelly’s career, but that will not stop the Redskins from reviewing Oregon game film in preparation for the season opener. Kelly practically expects it.
“We are different, but I would do the same thing,” Kelly said last week according to PhiladelphiaEagles.com. “It’s either watch Oregon tape or watch nothing. It’s going to be a combination of our preseason games.“
To properly prepare for what Kelly and the Eagles offense will throw at the Redskins, concentrating more on the Oregon game film may be advisable. That is because Kelly has plenty more plays in his playbook to unload on unsuspecting defenses this season that he held out of the preseason, and for good reason. Why show off your entire playbook in games that ultimately mean nothing in terms of wins and losses?
New Look, Familiar Faces
This new-look offense will have some familiar faces in key positions of course. Mike Vick has been dubbed the starting quarterback following a hyped quarterback battle with Nick Foles. LeSean McCoy will line up in the backfield and will likely be used in various formations in the new offense. DeSean Jackson will be the team’s top wide receiver target and potentially the biggest offensive threat. Jackson will be everywhere in this offense.
One of the detriments to the Eagles in 2012 was the breaking down of the offensive line. Having Jason Peters back at left tackle should help provide some stability, along with Jason Kelce at center and Todd Herremans at right guard. Top draft pick Lane Johnson will settle in at right tackle as well.
The defense will be equally intriguing this season for the Eagles, although with a much more cautious sense of optimism. Having an actual defensive coordinator take over on the sidelines is a start, but Bill Davis has a checkered past in the role.
Unfortunately, the Eagles have a defense that is in total rebuild mode after an atrocious 2012 campaign. They will surely be put to the test in the season opener against the Redskins, who welcome back quarterback Robert Griffin III. All indications seem to suggest Washington’s franchise quarterback will be playing exactly eight months after undergoing surgery to repair his ACL, MCL and LCL in his right knee. His mobility should be a concern for Washington, but should not be taken for granted by the Eagles defense. Last year Griffin combined for 486 yards of offense and six touchdowns in two games against the Eagles.
Everybody in Philadelphia has something to prove, on offense, defense and coaching. It all gets underway Monday night.
For more news and updates, visit Philadelphia Eagles Central.
Kevin McGuire covers college football for Examiner.com and is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. Follow him on Twitter (@KevinOnCFB). His work can be found on Examiner.com.