10 Potential Concerns for the 2011 Philadelphia Eagles
These are in no particular order.
1) Michael Vick’s health.
Vick is the Eagles’ most important player, and they proved that this offseason when they signed him to a six-year deal worth $100 million. His health is vital to the success of the team. Last year, he missed three (and three quarters) games with a rib cartilage injury, and the offense wasn’t as dominant without his arm and legs. Vick is likely going to get hit ten times every game. He will need to figure out a way to remain healthy.
2) Jeremy Maclin and Steve Smith.
Many consider Maclin to be the team’s most complete wide receiver. He missed all of training camp with a mysterious illness that many thought was lymphoma. He is expected to play in week 1, but who knows if he’ll be at full strength?
Smith was signed by the Eagles a month ago and was considered to be a long shot to play in week 1. In fact, many thought that he would open the season on the PUP list. Instead he is preparing to play against the Rams tomorrow.
3) The entire offensive line.
Not once this preseason did the entire Eagles’ offensive line play together. In fact, at the beginning of the camp, four of the five starters changed, with only Jason Peters (at left tackle) remaining. Evan Mathis is at left guard. Rookie Jason Kelce beat out Jamaal Jackson at center. First-round draft pick Danny Watkins was benched in favor of Kyle DeVan at right guard. And the reliable Todd Herremans was switched from left guard to right tackle, where he will protect Vick’s blind side.
4) Alex Henery.
Henery was drafted in the fourth round–extremely high for a kicker–and is expected to replace David Akers, the greatest kicker in franchise history. Henery had an inconsistent preseason and many wonder if the rookie kicker will be able to accurately (literally) replace a legend.
5) Nate Allen & Jaiquawn Jarrett.
Allen was a second-round draft pick in 2010, Jarrett in 2011. And neither is starting in week 1? Wow. Allen isn’t starting because he is still battling a torn patellar tendon in his knee from last year, and Jarrett isn’t starting because, well, he really didn’t play too well during training camp and the preseason games.
6) Juan Castillo.
An offensive line coach as a defensive coordinator? Really? The Eagles shocked the world when they named Juan Castillo as the defensive coordinator this offseason. After all, he hasn’t coached a defense since the 1980s, and that was in high school. Nobody really knows how Castillo will fare this season but if he fails, he doesn’t have any excuses, considering the incredible talent brought in on defense this offseason.
7) Casey Matthews.
8) Tackling in the secondary.
Last season, Nnamdi Asomugha was ranked as the eighth worst tackling defensive back in the NFL. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was ranked as the second worst. And Asante Samuel took his usual spot as the worst in the league. Now all three are on the same team. It’s awesome, from a coverage standpoint, but they’re going to need to make tackles occasionally and that could be a problem.
9) Dallas Cowboys.
Even though the Eagles had the most impressive preseason of any team in the NFL, maybe ever, they’re no guarantee to win the division. The Dallas Cowboys are energized under new head coach Jason Garrett and they will return quarterback Tony Romo from a clavicle injury that forced him to miss the majority of the 2011 season. They also have Rob Ryan as their defensive coordinator. Look for them to win double-digit games.
10) Green Bay Packers.
The Eagles did everything they could this offseason to build a team that can compete with the Green Bay Packers. From planning to use three cornerbacks like the Packers did last season (with Shields, Williams, & Woodson) to signing Cullen Jenkins away from Green Bay to solidifying the bench with quality backups in case of injury troubles, the Eagles have their sights set on Green Bay this season.