NFL Preseason: Carolina Panthers Vs. Philadelphia Eagles Should Be Eye-Opener

By Ricardo A. Hazell
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Last week, the Philadelphia Eagles looked like the football version of the yin and yang symbol. There was some good, there was some bad. But when you took them both, what did you have? A 31-22 loss to the New England Patriots. Coaches will prattle on all day about how the preseason isn’t very important, but Eagles’ fans are a notoriously fickle bunch.

This past week, we learned that the Eagles are not too shabby at the running back position. We saw some flashes from Matthew Tucker and Felix Jones. When LeSean McCoy gets back on the field, they should be one of the best in the NFC East, if not the entire NFL. That new 3-4 scheme that head coach Chip Kelly is running was a mixed bag of nuts. Though the front seven sacked New England quarterbacks three times, knocking them down a total of 10 times, New England’s running back core dashed and gashed the Philly defense to the tune of 248 total yards.

There were still too man feeble, spaghetti-armed tackling attempts occurring in the secondary. That needs to be addressed like, the day before yesterday. The light-speed offense that had been alluded to was on display versus New England, and it produced 85 plays last week. Look for more of the same.

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The much-hyped quarterback battle between Michael Vick and Nick Foles is reportedly still a wait-and-see situation as far as Chip Kelly is concerned. But I don’t know what the heck he’s waiting for. Vick appears to be the better and more poised of the two combatants for the starting spot. Foles is slated to start versus the Panthers.

Athletic tackle Jason Peters is still out, and there is still no date set for his return. He missed the entire 2012 with an Achilles injury. The first preseason game didn’t reveal anything new for the Eagles’ offense.

Look for Chip to open it up just a bit more versus the Panthers. Missed tackles in the secondary accounted for a lot of yards and touchdowns on the opposing team. It appears the Eagles do not have the raw offensive talent to simply outscore their opponents. The defense has to be better than what has been advertised so far. Perhaps this second preseason game will reveal a more focused and swarming effort from the Eagles.

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The Carolina Panthers‘ offense was a whole lot of Cam Newton, a dash of  Steve Smith, a slathering of Greg Olson, a sprinkle of running back D’Angelo Hall and the occasional Mike Tolbert sighting in 2012. They were spectacular at times, but that wasn’t good enough for the playoffs.

Perhaps that will change with the return of running back Jonathan Stewart, who only played nine games last season. But he can’t help them much until he comes off the PUP list. The Panthers’ offense ranked 19th overall in the NFL last season. Their team defense was only slightly better at 18th overall in 2012. They weren’t “that” bad, but weren’t very good either. Lukewarm is the only word to describe their 7-9 season. Perhaps more on the luke side, and less on the warm.

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Stiff inter-divisional competition meant Cam would have needed to incorporate the mythical Force into his repertoire in order for them to make the playoffs.

The offense was asked to do too much. The selection of DT Star Lotulelei and DT Kawann Short will help them up front. Fifth-round draft pick A.J. Klein isn’t likely to see the field much barring injuries at the position. The Panthers were one of seven teams to not have a player selected to the Pro Bowl in 2013. Yes, Steve Smith had 1000-plus receiving yards last season, but the Panthers really need to find a viable threat on the other side.

Opponents will certainly key in on him this season. In defensive ends Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson, the Panthers have two double-digit sack artists returning to their defense, but the guys up front were never really the problem. It was the secondary that struggled last year and, from the looks of things, those struggles will likely continue in 2013.

Ricardo Hazell is a freelance writer for Follow him on Twitter @NikosMightyDad or at him to your network on Google.

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