NFL Philadelphia Eagles

5 Biggest Challenges for Philadelphia Eagles’ Defense During 2013 Season

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5 Biggest Challenges for Philadelphia Eagles Defense During 2013 Season

Philadelphia Eagles Defense
John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

Boasting a young but inexperienced defense in a new 3-4 system, the Philadelphia Eagles have a lot to prove in the upcoming 2013 season. Will they exceed expectations or falter under the pressure?

Although the preseason didn’t start on quite the note that defensive coordinator Bill Davis was hoping for, the Eagles did make a large improvement in their second showing. Continuing to increase their output and upgrade their play with each passing week, the Eagles may be able to make advances quickly enough to meet the rigors of a long NFL season and make themselves a viable option in the NFC East.

In order to show their maturity as the season progresses, the games, which they play against some the league’s most experience play callers and offenses along with the performances they turn in, will be a key in demonstrating their growth. Getting pressure to the elite quarterbacks and counting on a questionable secondary to show progression throughout the season will have a large effect on the outcome for an Eagles team attempting to return to relevancy in a perennially tough division.

Dealing with different formations and speeds of play, as well as some of the best passing/receiving tandems in the league, is just the start of a laundry list of challenges the defense must deal with to be considered successful. The improvements made to this point in the preseason should be taken with a grain of salt, but should the defense be able to show continued success against their greatest challenges this season, the Eagles will have a dual threat, matching a strong defense to go along with their lethally explosive offense.

Bob Francis is a Philadelphia Eagles contributor for Follow him on Twitter @rfrancisjr, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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Week 1: Washington Redskins

Robert Griffin III
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Assuming that Robert Griffin III is back under center, Week 1 will provide the first real challenge for the Philadelphia defense. The mobility that he possesses in leading the Washington Redskins will have the defense covering sideline to sideline and keeping an extra eye on the quarterback at all times. Although he doesn’t boast the receiving core of some of the other teams that the Eagles will meet later in the season, his individual ability is a challenge in itself. Look for the linebacking group to be especially important in containing RGIII’s production and setting the tone for the season as far as the Philadelphia defense is concerned.

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Week 4: Denver Broncos

Peyton Manning
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Visiting the Denver Broncos at Mile High Stadium is always a challenge in itself, preparing the body for less oxygen in a higher altitude. Add competing against one of the greatest playcalling quarterbacks, Peyton Manning, to the mix and it could spell disaster for a young defense trying to find its way. In addition, the Eagles secondary will be responsible for taking care of a reliable and great receiver in Wes Welker, the newest addition in Denver and likely Manning’s new favorite target. Looking ahead, any successes the Eagles can find against a master game manipulator like Manning, the better the outlook on the remainder of the season will become.

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Week 5: New York Giants

Eli Manning
Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

Any football game between the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles is automatically circled on the schedule before the season even begins, but add to it the pressure of gaining a leg up early in the season in the NFC East and the challenge becomes even greater. Eli Manning will lead an experienced core of receivers, at home, including high reward star Victor Cruz. Don’t be surprised if Eli has a leg up with the Eagles playing the Denver Broncos and brother Peyton Manning a week earlier. The Eagles will have to be at their best fairly early in the season to meet this NFC East challenge and keep themselves in the mix against a division foe.

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Week 10: Green Bay Packers

Aaron Rodgers
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

A key point in the season when the playoff picture is beginning to take shape, Philadelphia will play another tough venue visiting the confines of Lambeau Field against the Green Bay Packers. As if that isn’t enough in itself, add to the slate another of the elite quarterbacks in the game, Aaron Rodgers, and this becomes another stiff challenge for the defense. The positive of Week 10 is that by this point, the youth will have gained some game time experience against both NFL perennials and division rivals that will make this game an attainable goal in order to keep the Eagles in the picture as the season heads into its critical juncture.

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Week 14: Detroit Lions

Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

A late-season opportunity for the Eagles defense to show their development, in front of the home crowd, against the Detroit Lions and a unique and young passing/receiving tandem. Calvin Johnson has become one of the elite receivers in the game and a go to during pressure game situations. With Matthew Stafford behind center, the Detroit Lions present some matchup problems, especially in the secondary. Look for the Eagles to show their gained experience, counting on the front seven to pressure the quarterback and give the secondary a chance to contain Johnson, giving themselves a chance to stay in the chase in the final weeks of the season.