Jason B, the manager of Bleeding Green Nation (SBN's Philadelphia Eagles community), was kind enough to answer some questions of mine about the Eagles (I did the same over at BGN). Now some might be calling them the Dream Team, but in my book, there can only be one:
It should also be noted that Chris Mullen suffered from translucence for most of his adult life. Technically, his skin is 50% stratified squamous epithelium, 50% hard boiled egg whites. Technically, your eyes can handle direct exposure to a solar eclipse better than they can handle you staring at his shoulders. Dear God, that guy's pasty.
Let's get back on track. My Q&A with Jason after the jump.
The "Dream Team" proclamation was July 30th. Has the Eagles' fan base come back down from the free agent signing high? Does it seem like the Eagles have?
Well, I don't think the Eagles as a team were ever on a high. All you really ever heard from the players, Vince Young aside, was really how little time they had to work and get themselves familiar with the system. And at training camp, that clearly was the focus. As for us fans, yeah I think we're done with that. Signing lots of a free agents is fun, but we all know that's not when games are won. You're talking to a fanbase that gets to see the Redskins fall flat every year after "winning" free agency. So we're pretty practical about those things.
Aside from Nnamdi, what signing will make the biggest impact? Which will be the most valuable pick up?
I was surprised at the amount of pressure generated by Cullen Jenkins in the preseason. The Eagles have always had pretty good run stoppers at DT, but really have never been able to generate a consistent pass rush from that spot. So his presence in there, albeit in limited time, was really trans-formative for the defense.
If he wasn't getting the sack or hit himself, he was collapsing the pocket for someone else to get it. The Eagles led the NFL in sacks during the preseason and he was a big part of that. So, not only was a he a tremendous value pickup, he could really have the most dramatic impact.
Well, first, Michael Vick missed three games to injury last year. He sat out the final game of the season, as did all the all the Eagles starters, because it was meaningless. Actually, I've found that this is a widely held belief that Vick is somehow "injury prone" and it simply isn't true. You'll hear people say he's "only played one full season" but not mention that only once since becoming the starter in Atlanta did he not play at least 15 games. So really, he's been remarkably durable in his career.
As for Vince Young, he's supposed to be back practicing this week. So I don't think there's really any concern there.
What is the weakest unit on the team? Is it the LB corps? How worried are you about that unit?
That's hard to say. There's been a lot of change on the right side of the offensive line, so without really seeing that unit in action that's a concern. Danny Watkins was a first round pick and everyone seems to really like him, but anytime you have a rookie there it's a cause for concern. Todd Herremans has been moved from guard to right tackle and while he's always been built to be a tackle more than a guard, but that move happened after the last preseason game so we haven't even seen him there. He's played LT before so it's not entirely new for him, but obviously we would like to see him there and playing well before really feeling comfortable about that side.
As for the LBs, the only real concern is in the middle with rookie Casey Matthews. Jamar Chaney played at a very high level last year and he's been moved from the middle to the WILL spot. He really had a standout preseason and we've got a lot of high hopes for him. Moises Fokou has been a solid SAM for the past couple years. He won't be challenging for any pro bowls, but he does his job out there. Matthews is really the key to it all. If he plays well, the LB corps could be quite good. If he struggles, it could mean that they have to move Chaney back to the middle and find another solution at WILL. It's been interesting to follow Matthews in the preseason because we saw him really struggle against the Steelers.
However, in that game the Eagles were without their two likely starters at DT, Mike Patterson and Antonio Dixon, both of whom are really good run stoppers. So Matthews was dealing with guards and tackles blocking him on every play and was having trouble. The following week, the Eagles got those guys back and suddenly Matthews was freed up to make plays and look notably better. Plus, he's looked quite good in coverage all along. So the key for success for him and all the LBs really will be for the DTs to eat up blocks and keep them free to make plays. Of course, that's pretty much the key for all LBs isn't it?
Is anything less than a Super Bowl appearance acceptable this year? It seems as if the expectations for this year's Eagles are as high as they could be. Can any result that doesn't involve a trip to Indy be considered "successful"?
I feel like I've been asked this question prior to week one for the past decade. Are the expectations high this year? For sure, but when have they not been for this franchise in the Andy Reid era? There have certainly been plenty of years where the Eagles weren't branded as favorites to win it all, but they've generally at least been one of the teams in the conversation almost every year for the past decade.
So, there's no doubt that expectations are high and for sure we'd be disappointed with an early exit, but honestly I don't know that I feel a whole lot different than I have in years passed. In fact, even given all the hype the Eagles have gotten this year, I don't think the level of expectations and the pressure that comes with them is even higher than it was in 2003 or 2004.
Now you've got the intel. Holler.