PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It almost seems like Christmas arriving in July, doesn’t it, as the countdown to the Eagles’ Training Camp continues. What was months and weeks are quickly dissolving into hours as Friday nears and Saturday begins the 2014 season.
Here’s a look at five pressing questions Eagles’ fans may have on their minds as the season approaches.
Is Nick Foles a one-year wonder?
No. After tossing 27 touchdowns and just two interceptions in 2013 over 13 games, it’s hard to believe that Foles still has doubters. But they are there. What is hard to dismiss is that Foles led the Eagles from a 20-7 deficit in the wildcard playoff loss to New Orleans to a 24-23 lead with 4:54 left to play.
In 2012, it was Foles that snapped an eight-game losing streak by guiding the Eagles on a 13-play, 64-yard drive that resulted in a game-winning touchdown on a last-second one-yard TD toss to Jeremy Maclin. It was Foles that was 17 for 26 in the most crucial game of the year in the season finale at Dallas, which clinched a playoff berth and a six-game turnaround from the 2012 debacle.
Foles doesn’t succumb to pressure. He probably won’t produce 27 TD-to-2 INTs this season, but he has a good chance to throw for 32-35 TDs against possibly 10 INTs, which is still a very good year.
Can Mychal Kendricks emerge as a star?
Someone has to emerge defensively. Why not the third-year linebacker? Again, Kendricks, like Foles, played large on the large stage last year, looking great against Dallas in the season finale, with a team-high 12 tackles and one pass defended. This will be Kendricks first time in the same defense as a pro. A year of knowing Billy Davis’ system will only make him better—someone more prone to react, then to wait and react.
Who makes up for the loss of DeSean Jackson?
No one. This seems more likely done by the committee of Maclin, Riley Cooper, Zach Ertz, Brent Celek, Darren Sproles and rookie Jordan Matthews. Ertz could be the key here. He caught 36 passes last year for 469 yards and four touchdowns, but 22 of his 36 receptions came in the second half of the season, as did all four of his TDs and 268 yards of his total. The point being he acclimated and improved as the season progressed—and Chip Kelly felt more confident using him. Expect Kelly to use Ertz a lot more this year.
Will the NFL adjust to Chip Kelly’s offense?
No. Kelly’s strength is his ability to adjust, and to re-adjust. He’s great at making changes on the fly. He certainly benefits from a team that comes back mostly intact from a year ago that knows his system. And it’s an intricate, yet simple system of match-up advantages. It will be up to Foles to read and dissect, finding the open man. With Foles now firmly entrenched for a whole season, who knows what record-breaking numbers this team can amass?
Will the Eagles defense be better this season?
Yes. Bringing in safety Malcolm Jenkins is a marked improvement over Patrick Chung, but beginning the season with nose tackle Bennie Logan, who was inserted as a starter eight games into last year, is an automatic upgrade from where the Eagles started last year. Remember, the Eagles began last season with a brutal schedule with a defense that was mix-and-match. Add the fact that everyone was still feeling around in the dark accentuated matters. The last eight games the Eagles were a vastly different defense. They grasped Davis’ system. Now, it seems, everyone appears on the same page after a year together.
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