This is an interesting year to write an Eagles preview because frankly, there's not a lot that you don't already know. The Eagles owned the news cycle during free agency, every media outlet on the planet seemed to write about Vince Young's offhand "dream team" comment, the New York Times and Wall Street Journal have written features on their salary cap wizardry, ESPN has evidently decided to dedicate the full sources of their entire empire to talk about Michael Vick for the past week... So it's likely that even if you are outside of Philadelphia you've been inundated with Eagles coverage. Knowing that, let's try to look at things other than the obvious.
Many people asked "how can the Eagles afford all these guys" as they were cleaning up in free agency. The answer is also part of the concern for the Eagles this year. For one, it was definitely in part that their front office understands the cap and planned for this year probably better than any other team in the leauge. However, it wasn't all cap credits and "likely to be earned incentives." Part of the way the Eagles could afford all those free agents is the old fashion way, go cheap at certain positions. They're going to be starting a rookie at middle linebacker (Casey Matthews), two rookies on the offensive line (Danny Watkins, Jason Kelce) and starting a number of young, cheap players at the safety and outside linebacker spots.
So the Eagles head into the year kind of top heavy. They've got very good, proven defensive lineman and inexperienced linebackers. They've got the best corners in the NFL and young safeties. They've skill position players on offense that rival any team, but they've got two rookies starting on their offensive line. How the team manages to balance their high end talent with their youth and inexperience will ultimately be what decides how far they go this year.
Oh and one more thing...
Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy, Ronnie Brown, Jason Peters, Steve Smith, Asante Samuel, Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Trent Cole, Cullen Jenkins, Jason Babin. Yeah, they're going to be pretty good and anything less than probably 11 wins and an NFC East title will be considered a huge disappointment. But of course, the expectations are that this team is talented enough to break the Eagles now 51 year championship drought.
Best Game On The Schedule
The Eagles home opener, which doesn't come until week three this year, against the Giants could certainly set the tone for the early part of the year. While week two in Atlanta is a tougher game, a win over the hated Giants in the home opener would certainly feel like a bigger victory.
Breakout Player Candidates
The Eagles drafted S Kurt Coleman and LB Jamar Chaney in the 7th round of the 2010 draft. Both players ended up in starting roles late last year and played well. They now both enter 2011 as firmly entrenched starters who both had great preseasons and look to be the young, emerging leaders on the defense. Coleman did not miss a tackle last season and I'm not sure he's missed one in preseason either. It's interesting that the Eagles have invested two second rounders in the safety position in the last two drafts and so far Coleman has outplayed both.
Jamar Chaney was a guy that many didn't understand how he fell to the 7th round. He was a standout at Mississippi State playing against top competition in the SEC. So to grab him in the 7th felt like a steal and so far seems like it was. Chaney is quick enough to be a plus in coverage, but still tough against the run. Last year he played middle linebacker thanks to injuries, but this year will be on the outside, which is where he played in college.
Best Player To Follow On Twitter
I'm going to say Jamar Chaney is the most fun Eagle to follow on twitter @Jamar51Chaney.