For Eagles fans, the start of the NFL season is finally upon us.
Now we can finally wash the stain that has been planted in our minds from the “debacle in Dallas” that occurred last January.
Here’s a few things to keep your eye on while watching tonight’s game:
Obviously the aspect of the game that Eagles fans will be watching the closest is the quarterback play and in particular Kevin Kolb. We’ve since moved on from Donovan McNabb and with that went
From what we’ve seen in a small sample of Kolb, we know he can make all the throws and is extremely accurate. Kolb will most likely only play a few series’ tonight so not many dramatic conclusions will come from this game. One thing to keep an eye on is how he reacts to pressure in his face. One good thing about McNabb’s game is he was a master of eluding pressure and being able to get out of the pocket and make plays through the air that way. Kolb isn’t blessed with McNabb’s athletic ability so it will be important for him to feel the blitz, react to the pressure quickly and make good decisions. If he can do that, and limit his turnovers then the Eagles will be a better team for it.
*Also keep an eye on the rookies, in particular defensive end Brandon Graham and safety Nate Allen. Both should see significant time tonight. Safety was a major problem last year as the Eagles never did find a replacement for Brian Dawkins. Certainly no one is expecting Allen to be Dawkins, but he is listed as the starter and if he can be adequate, limit his mental mistakes and get better as the season goes on then he will help to fill the void left by Dawkins.
*As for Graham, he’s not listed as a starter-yet. From all reports he has an incredibly high motor and his understanding of the position is far beyond his years. Watch for him tonight to see if he can consistently get pressure on the quarterback as well as be stout against the run. If all goes to plan Graham should be starting by the first few games and will be expected to be a major contributor to the Birds’ defense this year.
Arguably the biggest question so far this year for the Eagles, and justifiably so, is the offensive line. The line melted down last year in the playoffs so it’s hard to know what we can expect from the unit. Starters Todd Herremans and Jamaal Jackson will sit out this game due to injury so Mike McGlynn and Max Jean-Gilles will start in their place. Jean-Gilles has filled in for Herremans before and Herremans should be back for the season opener, but the real thing to take note of is the play of McGlynn. McGlynn is in his fourth year out of Pitt and has never seen the field. This is an opportunity for him to show the coaches he can play center in this league and be relied on to take the place of Jackson until he returns from injury, which should be sometime during the first month of the regular season.
*While the starters will only play at the most into the first quarter take not of the young guys and how they play, especially guys like: Riley Cooper, Trevard Lindley, Keenan Clayton, Trevor Laws, Cornelius Ingram, Clay Harbor, Mike Kafka, Daniel Te’o-Nesheim and Kurt Coleman to name a few.
*Take note of new guys like Ernie Sims and Darryl Tapp.