The Philadelphia Eagles 2010-2011 team will be setting forth in a new era. Gone from the team are long time veterans such as RB Brian Westbrook and CB Sheldon Brown. Most importantly, Eagles legendary quarterback Donovan Mcnabb has been traded to NFC East Division rival, the Washington Redskins. QB Kevin Kolb is now the new leader of this team. This team is young, as the average age is 25 years.
Under head coach Andy Reid, the Philadelphia Eagles love to pass. Last season, only 4 teams ran the ball less times than the Eagles. This season will be different than previous seasons as Kolb is now the quarterback and this is his first year as starter. Reid may also run the ball a few more times to help him out as he gets used to full time starting. Last season, this offense has been characterized as either making huge plays (such as long bombs) to score or stalling into a 3 and out. With Kolb in, the Eagles are hoping for longer drives utilizing shorter passes.
The Eagles will carry their usual 3 Qbs this season. QB Donovan McNabb is no longer on the team, in which is strong deep ball passes and his scrambling ability and ability to make a play when things collapsed was a huge key to this offense. Kolb is the main guy and Vick will come in for certain plays while Kafka will learn on the bench and during practice.
Kevin Kolb (starter)- Kevin’s strengths are his accuracy in the short and intermediate routes and his quick release. Last season, he started 2 games when Donovan McNabb was injured and passed 718 yards as well as 4 touchdowns during that time. One of these games was against the eventual Super Bowl champs New Orleans Saints. Kolb is fiery and energetic and many of his teammates in the off-season spoke highly of him.
Kevin has been shown to force passes and throw interceptions, in both this preseason and his starts last season, so he has lots to improve on. One key critique is that he throws off of his back foot, which affects his passing. Kolb can throw the ball deep, but that’s not his strength. This preseason, he didn’t throw any TD passes and didn’t look too sharp at times, so he has his work cut out for him. He’ll have plenty of ups and downs this season so, he’ll get better as the season progresses. The comparisons between Kolb and McNabb will be ever present in the media and Kolb needs to focus on being Kolb and not the next McNabb.
Michael Vick- This is Vick’s second year with the Eagles. He gives Kolb a veteran presence to look upon, as well as some special plays. He is brought in for a few plays, known as the wildcat plays, where he can utilize his ability to tuck the ball and scramble for a few yards. One of which, is he fakes handing the ball off to a RB then runs in a separate direction with the ball which can confuse the defense long enough to make a play. Vick also has a strong arm and can throw the ball deep. His flaws are that he is inaccurate as a pocket passer and if he is contained from running, he can be stopped. He is only useful in very specific times.
Mike Kafka- Mike was drafted this season to be the 3rd String QB, and possibly a starter in the future. During training camp, it is said that he was able to pick up the playbook very quickly. He had the game winning TD pass in the 3rd preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs right before the game ended. He probably won’t see much duty this season besides mopping up games when the lead is not in doubt.
Running back and Fullback
Even though the Eagles love to pass, the RB’s and FB are still vital to the Eagles success. A huge reason for the 6 game winning streak that enabled the Eagles to make the playoffs last season, was running the football. Eagles star RB Brian Westbrook is no longer with the team, in which he was versatile in his receiving, pass blocking, returning, and ability to dodge defenders on carries. McCoy, Bell, Weaver, and sometimes Buckley, will be key in trying to fill Westbrook’s shoes as well as adding their own identity to this team.
Lesean McCoy- McCoy was valuable in his rookie season last year when taking over for Brian Westbrook when he was hurt. He was able to provide those tough yards when given carries up the middle and had some nice breakaway runs. He also had some nice catches as well. McCoy has speed and has the moves to break tackles in the open, and will look to improve this season. He is now the go to RB and will be the main back that will get touches. McCoy eventually worn out by the end of last season, but should be fresh and more prepared this season. He needs to be more decisive when hitting a running into a hole the offensive line provides and show more patience in running with the football instead of trying to do too much. McCoy also needs to improve upon pass blocking, especially in blitz pickup, to help keep defenders off of Kolb. He had a few fumbles, which also needs to be worked on.
Mike Bell- Bell was a member of the Super Bowl winning New Orleans Saints last season. He is a power runner and runs tough between the linemen. Bell is an excellent complement to McCoy and will be able to spell him some touches to keep him fresh. Hopefully Reid will be able to use him enough in the running game for some balance. The only concern of Bell is that he’s not that great at receiving the ball and having many receiving yards/catches, where the Eagles do love to throw to their RB’s. He isn’t really fast either, or has many moves to dodge defenders. He’s good enough for blocking, though needs to improve on that some. Bell is also injury prone, and that might affect the amount of touches and playing time.
Eldra Buckley- Eldra is the 3rd RB. He’s there primarily for special teams and will probably not see many touches during the season, besides running out the clock for a big lead or injuries to the others. If he improves upon pass blocking and receiving, he might be used more this season.
Leonard Weaver. Weaver is the team’s fullback. He’s different than most FB’s in the league since other FB’s in the league are used primarily for blocking and getting catches/carries sparingly, whereas he carries and catches mostly as opposed to just blocking. Weaver had an outstanding year last season as the team’s big back to get those tough yards, as well as some quickness to dodge defenders when running in space. He has great hands to catch the ball in space, as well as a burst to gain yards after the catch. Weaver is able to block in both passing and running plays effectively, but needs to improve on blocking harder when lead blocking for the other RB’s as well as in blitz pickup/chip blocking on passing. If he can get more aggressive in blocking, it will aid the RB’s and Kolb when he’s not catching or carrying. He wore out towards the end of the season from getting more touches than his previous career years and he might have been overworked. The addition of Bell should keep him fresh.
Tight ends are an integral piece in any offense, especially the Eagles. Tight ends must be able to help the offensive line block, as well as become a target for the QB. The Eagles will only carry 2 TE’s this season. Hopefully that will be enough for the year, though another blocking TE or a vet might have done well for the 3rd spot. Two TE sets may have their appearance this season as the oline has shown there to be blocking problems.
Brent Celek- Brent is the primary TE on the team. He’s improved each year while on the team and is becoming more and more aggressive when catching the ball. Celek has a knack for finding the open spots and bringing in the ball. Last season, he had 8 TD’s and he’ll probably reach that or even more. When he has the ball in his hands, he runs hard and battles for those extra few inches. Celek is getting better at blocking, but he needs to improve more in his blocks. In preseason, he was supposed to block a DE so the offensive tackle can pull and move to block for a running play and Celek wasn’t able to keep the blocker away from the play.
Clay Harbor- Clay was drafted this season as a decent TE backup. He appears to have some speed to get open and can catch well. During preseason, he was able to make the most of his limited catches. His blocking seems to be well for now, and will probably improve during the season. He is a rookie, so he’ll have some adjusting and growing pains. Harbor, might not see the field too often since Celek is the “go to” guy, but Harbor will be able to contribute on special teams and some double TE sets and some blocking assignments.
Wide receiver seems to be the biggest strength of this offense. They are young overall, but each knows their own role. Each WR on this team has the capability of making huge plays as well as the tough small plays to keep the chains moving and scoring points. It will be different this season since Kolb is the main QB instead of McNabb. McNabb was able to spread the ball to different receivers and had a strong arm to make those deep plays, as well as able to move around and scramble to make a pass when the pocket collapses. Kolb probably won’t throw as many deep passes at first, but he is a leader who will make plays.
DeSean Jackson- DeSean is the #1 receiver on this team. He has the speed to get open and get down the field. He also has great versatility to be used in various roles besides receiver: punt returner, wildcat qb, running back, and end around/reverses. DeSean also has great hands to catch. His biggest strength is the deep routes and he’ll have to adjust to a shorter passing game. Since he’s been named as the primary punt returner, a concern might be that he might be overused as both the primary receiver and punt returner and that might lead him to become injured since he has a small frame. He has been cocky at times, but will mature as the season goes. He also needs to work on downfield blocking when other receivers have the ball and running plays.
Jeremy Maclin- Maclin had a good rookie season last year and will look to improve it this season. He has 4 Tds last season and 773 yards, which are one of the best stats for an Eagle rookie wr. Maclin has some size and can go inside towards the middle to make a catch. He can also block when needed to. He’s a perfect complement to Jackson and he’ll look to have a bigger role in this offense. A few times he dropped some passes and fumbled, etc., last season and during this preseason, but he’ll improve. He also needs to play more assertively and become more of a leader.
Jason Avant- Avant is the slot wide receiver in the Eagles offense. He has made himself a reputation on getting those tough third down catches when he has lined up as the third WR in the slot. Besides being in third down plays, he has grown and improved to make various other plays in multiple WR packages. He is aggressive in going in the middle of the defense and having tough hands in catching, as well as getting open in broken plays. Avant also plays on special teams and is willing to do the dirty work that doesn’t appear on the stat sheet, like blocking. He needs to become more of a vocal leader on this team since there are plenty of youngsters on this team since he’s one of the veterans now. He needs to demand the ball more also.
Riley Cooper- Cooper is a youngest in the Eagles WR corps, and is the 4th WR. At 6’3″ he has the size to become an end-zone target for Kolb, as well as a fast receiver in multiple WR packages. During preseason, he caught the game winning TD against the Kansas City Chiefs in the closing seconds of the game. He’ll be an excellent member of the special teams as he works on getting onto the field. Cooper is a rookie, so there will be some adjustments in the game for him. Cooper might not get many plays, but will be an integral part of the team.
Hank Baskett- Baskett is the 5th Wr on the Eagles. He has played for the Eagles before and understands the system, so he’ll be a key veteran for Kolb to count on. Baskett has great size at 6’4″ and is a great blocker and good on special teams. Once in a while he can make a great catch, but most of the time is inconsistent in catching the ball. He does tend to juggle a catch. When he does catch the ball, he can make that crucial play but those plays are rare for him. He was infamous on his fumble in the Superbowl in special teams when the Saints attempted an onside kick to start the second half and the ball bounced off of him as he tried to get the ball and the Saints were able to get it.
The base of any offense in the NFL is the offensive line. They need to block the defenders to allow the QB enough time to make a pass and make holes for a RB to run. The biggest question mark on the Eagles offense this season is the offensive line. Last season, injuries and lack of continuity during training camp and the season contributed to spotty Oline play. This preseason showed that these Oline problems still exist and will probably continue during the season. The main problem is the interior of the line, as blitzes and strong pressure from inside defensive lineman have forced their way through. On a positive note, the starters going into the season Jamal Jackson, Todd Herremans, Winston Justice, Jason Peters, and Nick Cole have played together last year as a unit and that chemistry can improve upon the season. They haven’t practiced much together in the off-season due to injuries though. Depth is a concern for the line.
Jason Peters- LT- Peters will protect the left side of the line, which is also the blindside of Kevin Kolb. Peters has shown that when he is at his best, he can move well to protect that side and is a reliable lineman. Speedy rushers can give him fits, as well as linebackers/DB’s during blitzes on his side, but he can manage when he is focused. He does have a habit of being flagged for false starts, which can hamper plays. He’s not too bad at run blocking, but needs to become more aggressive when running to the left side. Peters also can be injury prone.
Todd Herremans-LG- Herremans is probably the most consistent lineman in the whole line. He is also versatile enough to play tackle when needed, though he’s better off as a guard. Herremans is massive and is great at either run blocking or pass blocking, for most of the time. When a run play is called to the left, he loves to plow into the defense to make holes. Herremans can have his hands full with strong DE’s and massive DT’s and can struggle against a good blitz. He does have issues with his left foot as he had surgery to fix a stress fracture. His foot might affect his explosiveness if the injury keeps affecting his play.
Jamal Jackson-C- Jamal Jackson is the key to the offensive line. His greatest strength is making the right line calls to get the line into form. He has a good eye in recognizing the defense and making adjustments. His blocking is adequate, but can be improved upon. He can be aggressive and make the crucial blocks. The main concern is whether he has fully healed from his ACL surgery in the off-season and if he is being rushed to play too soon. When he was hurt in December, the offensive line fell apart as the line could not adjust and make plays. During preseason, others have tried to play center and having very little success.
Nick Cole-RG- Cole has been a quality backup on the line and has stepped in and been adequate at times. He has improved to become a starter and can play center if need be, though is better off as a guard. Cole has become more dependable filling in for others during his career and now is capable of being a starter. He does remain healthy and is probably the most consistent lineman in terms of health. Cole does need to become more consistent in pass blocking in the interior. Run blocking is a little better, but needs to improve greatly upon that.
Winston Justice -RT- Winston has improved as a tackle after he was named the starter last season. He has improved on pass blocking on the right side. His run blocking needs to improve but is decent enough at times. He can block a DE well enough when engaged solidly, though he has his moments when he misses a block and allows speed rushers to blow by him and sometimes bull rushers to over power him. Blitz protection is something he needs to work on as well, but that should improve during the season.
Austin Howard -LT- Howard is a possible future OT in the Eagles. He has the size and strength to hold his own, but still needs some work to do before being unleashed onto the field. During preseason, he was able to flatten a rusher, which drew praise from the coaching staff. Howard might see some reps towards the end of the season as he improves. He’ll be in special teams for the most part.
Max Jean-Gilles-LG- Gilles is a quality backup that can play either guard spot. He is able to fill in any spot needed. He is massive enough and can run block pretty well, but is inconsistent in pass blocking. Sometimes he is slow and can’t get into the second level of defenders or able to block blitzers. He isn’t starter material and should only be used in the short run and/or for a few plays.
Mike McGlynn-C/G McGlynn played some snaps at center during preseason, but was not able to make the appropriate line calls or block effectively and consistently. Mike is able to play backup at either guard or center and will be kept as a backup as he develops into a better lineman. He probably won’t play much this season unless there’s injury and perhaps some special teams play.
Reggie Wells-RG- Wells is a veteran who came over from the Arizona Cardinals. He has great veteran experience and will push Nick Cole for that starting RG spot. Since he joined the Eagles right before the end of preseason, it’ll take a while for him to gel with the other lineman/teammates and just be a backup for the first few games. He can pass block well but isn’t that great of a run blocker. Wells is versatile enough to play either guard spot or center, which can help if Jamal Jackson isn’t fully ready.
King Dunlap -RT- Dunlap is a massive tackle. He has the size to be a decent backup tackle and has experience in this offense. Not overly impressive, but can play well enough in certain plays. Probably can get some playing time this season at RT if Justice gets hurt.
The Philadelphia Eagles have always prided themselves with playing strong and tough defense. The Eagles love to bring the pressure to their opponents and tend to bring the blitz. Last season, the defense had trouble getting pressure on the QB, covering receivers/tight ends/pass catching RB’s, and stopping the run. The defense gave up 27 TD passes. In his second year as Defensive Coordinator, Shawn McDermott will look to improve upon this Eagles 4-3 defense. This defense has a lot of young players, 2 of the starters are rookies, so there will be some key mistakes early on in the season. The defense has plenty of talent and will make strong plays this season.
In any 4-3 defensive scheme, the key is the defensive line. The defensive line’s job is to get to the QB and tackle any RB’s. The Eagles like to rotate their lineman in order to provide fresh rushers to any play. An improved Dline that can cause pressure on their own will allow the rest of the defense, the linebackers and defensive backs, to have better coverage on the other teams when not blitzing, as well as some better pressure when blitzing. The starting front 4 of Brandon Graham, Mike Patterson, Brodrick Bunkley, and Trent Cole will provide the Eagles with a solid base to their defense.
Brandon Graham- LDE- Graham has shown his ability to get up the field and put pressure in the QB’s pocket. In training camp and preseason, he was able to penetrate and make plays. He might be lined up inside as a defensive tackle on some 3rd down plays to create a strong pass rush inside. Very aggressive and highly motivated, he should provide that consistent rusher opposite Trent Cole. Graham is a rookie, so it will take time to get used to the speed of the game and learn how to deal with stronger and faster offensive lineman.
Mike Patterson-LDT- Mike is a veteran of this Eagles defense. He is strong in holding the point of attack to eat up blockers and allow the other blitzers to penetrate the line. He can also stuff the run at times with little support. Patterson needs to work on developing a stronger push inside when the defense isn’t blitzing and learn to shed blockers when taking on a strong inside run. He’s the most durable lineman as he has yet to miss a game and is always looking to improve.
Brodrick Bunkley-RDT- Bunkley is a massive run stopper and solid defensive tackle. He is strong enough to handle blockers and can draw double teams to allow the others to penetrate. He’s improving on each season and is starting to learn how to generate pressure by himself. Bunkley needs to improve upon tackling quick and strong RB’s as well as looking to sack the quarterback when the play calls for a pass rush with only the front four. He had 2 sacks last season, and needs to look to get more than 2 this season.
Trent Cole-LDE- Trent Cole is the best pass rusher on the line. He has 12.5 sacks last season and with Graham to take some of the double teams away from him, can look to cause more mayhem in the pocket. Cole is highly motivated and will help Graham and the other new Dline teamates understand the game better. He’s getting better in playing the run, but needs to improve upon that. He is getting older, so he might lose a step in the upcoming season.
Juqua Parker-RDE- Parker is a great rusher, especially on 3rd down. During passing plays, he has the speed and quickness to get to the quarterback. He’ll be able to rotate with Graham in order to give him rest as Graham gets used to the rigors of a full NFL season. Parker has a variety of moves to get past offensive linemen and get sacks. Parker has trouble dealing with the run at times and is inconsistent. Some games he’ll get great pressure and get a few sacks and other times he won’t be much of a factor. Playing in rotation should help that.
Daryl Tapp-LDE- Tapp joins the team as a veteran defensive end who can rush the passer. Tapp can be used inside as a DT to rush the passer from the inside and blow by an offensive guard on some nickel and dime packages on third down. He will make a decent backup, and help the youth of this team to excel. Tapp has great size and has the mass to stuff the run. The only issue is will he be able to see the field with so many linemen ahead of him and can he attack consistently when rotated in and out.
Trevor Laws -LDT- Laws is a decent backup to help spell Patterson and Bunkley for some plays to give them some rest. He hasn’t seen much action and hasn’t really pushed Patterson or Bunkley for a playing spot, so this year is crucial for him to make plays or he’ll probably not be on the team next season. Laws has been having a terrific training camp and hopefully he’ll be able to shine during the season.
Antonio Dixon-RDT Dixon has been able to make the most of his limited playing time as backup defensive tackle by making crucial tackles, even getting a sack last season. He is able to generate a pass rush from inside as well as play the run. Dixon needs to become more competitive and needs to be used in the rotation more, as it gives the Eagles a solid backup defensive tackle.
Daniel Te’o Neshiem -LDE- He’s the 3rd string DE. Most likely play special teams at first with a few reps as a pass rusher during nickel and dime situations. He could be lined up in the “joker” position, which means he can line up behind the defensive line as a linebacker, but only has to rush the quarterback from a standing position. He probably will not see much time on the field since there are many linemen ahead of him.
Antwan Barnes -RDE- Barnes was recently added before the end of preseason from the Baltimore Ravens. He can play either defensive end or linebacker, which means he can be used anywhere on the field for many plays. Since he just joined the team, it will take a while for him to get acclimated to the Eagles style of play and probably not get many plays at first, due to the many pass rushers on the team. It is good to have him as depth since the Eagles like to blitz and he can be used in various blitz packages.
Linebackers was a troublesome spot for the Eagles defense last season. First, mlb Stewert Bradley was hurt and the Eagles tried any LB for his spot with little success. Then they had all sorts of LB combinations to see which one would work on the outside as injuries piled up. They had trouble lining up in the right formation, covering TE’s and RB’s on receiving routes, and even stopping the run on cutback lanes and outside runs as well as some inside power runs. This season, the Eagles attended to the LB position and with everyone healthy, this LB corps will be a force to be reckoned with.
Stewart Bradley- MLB- Stewart is the starting middle linebacker of the Eagles. He is a natural leader and is found where the ball is. He’s strong in run stopping and is quick enough to cover RB’s and TE’s, as well as blitzing the QB. Bradley can push blockers aside to make a play on the ball and can move sideline to sideline. The only concern is whether he has healed fully from his ACL tear in his knee from last season, and can he have enough explosiveness to last this season. He had another knee surgery in college so it is a concern on how much longer can he play at such a high level.
Akeem Jordan-SAM LB- Akeem Jordan can play many LB positions and is quick in making plays. His best attribute is his covering ability as well as his quickness in getting to the ball. This season he is going to start as the strong-side LB and there are questions as if he’s big and strong enough to handle RB’s and blockers at the point of attack during the running game and can he tackle and cover a strong TE one on one.
Ernie Simms -WILL LB- Simms is a new addition to the LB corps this season. He is a solid hitter and looks to make a play on the ball. In training camp, he had a great tackle on TE Brent Celek during a drill and Celek had to take the rest of the day off. That can provide a spark in the defense, as a team loves when a player makes a hard hitting play. Simms does have a problem in overpursuing a pass catching RB and TE and attempt to make tackles at bad angles, though he may improve upon that coverage in this defensive scheme that likes to generate pressure to the QB.
Omar Gaither -LB- Gaither is a veteran of this team’s LB corps. He is versatile enough to play all 3 LB positions and is a dependable backup. Gaither may not shine or excel in any particular area very well, but can do the job consistently overall and make plays. On certain nickel and dime packages, he’ll be used due to his versatility. He also does well on special teams. He needs to improve upon being more assertive when playing and needs to shed blockers better.
Moise Fokou- SAM LB- Fokou played the strong-side LB during the second half of last season. Fokou is massive and can play the run. He is valuable for his special teams play. Last season, he started as the team’s SAM LB for a few games and can build upon his experience. He needs to improve upon shedding blockers and in his coverage duties. He also needs to cut down on penalties.
Keenan Clayton- WILL LB- Clayton is a rookie LB and will most likely spend most of his playing time on special teams. He will probably also see some playing time in nickel and dime plays, though mostly limited. He has played some safety in college, so he might be positioned in deep coverage and possibly line up as safety. It will take him a while for him to see the field regularly and learn the Eagles defensive system.
Jamar Chaney- LB- Chaney is a rookie LB and most of his time will be on special teams. He’ll add some depth to the LB corps and will probably be used sparingly in the upcoming season.
Secondary is the last line of defense for any team. Cornerbacks and safeties are responsible for covering receivers and stopping the run, as well as providing pressure as the Eagles like to use the secondary to blitz. This Eagles secondary must step up and improve from last season if there’s going to be any success. The new Eagles Defensive Backs coach, Dick Jauron should improve upon getting them ready for the season. Longtime Eagle CB Sheldon Brown is no longer with the team and the team will miss his coverage skills as well as his tackling ability. There are 6 CB’s and 3 safeties on this current team. There is concern about only having 3 safeties, 2 of them are rookies, as there might not be enough depth. Using only 3 safeties can wear them out, and it puts pressure on the 2 rookies to learn quickly and not make too many mistakes. If one safety does get hurt, look for the Eagles to sign a safety.
Asante Samuel -LCB- Asante is the Eagles #1 CB and is probably their best coverage corner. He is matched up against the best opponents WR. He is usually great in being in position with a WR to make a play on the ball. He is able to catch many interceptions and can make plays on the ball to disrupt a passing play. Since he is so skilled in coverage, QB’s are reluctant to throw to his side. Being one of the veterans on the secondary, he is able to lead by example and will be a great mentor to the younger players. Samuel needs to be more aggressive physically and hit harder when needing to make a tackle, as well as providing better pressure when jamming the receiver on the line of scrimmage in press coverage. At times, he can be over aggressive in covering that he can be fooled by pump fakes from the QB, multiple moves by WR’s, and can jump routes too early when looking for an interception that he leaves them open if he doesn’t come in contact with the ball. He has also been shown to not handle wide receiver screens to his side very well.
Ellis Hobbs -RCB- Hobbs is now the starter at right corner back, replacing Sheldon Brown. Hobbs is a skilled veteran and a dependable player, with plenty of experience. He is very aggressive in making plays and can be known for making plays. Hobbs can also play as the team’s kickoff returner, so he is valuable in getting the Eagles offense in good field position after returning a kick. Hobbs can make good tackles. The concern with Hobbs is that he isn’t as talented and doesn’t make as many plays as he did in the past. He is also injury prone, missing the latter half of the season with a neck injury, and by using him as the team’s starting CB and returning kicks, he might get another injury.
Joselio Hanson -CB- Hanson is the team’s nickel back, which means he’ll guard the other WR when the other team uses multiple WR’s (usually the third WR). He will be mostly used on 3rd down, when the other team looks to make a pass and uses another receiving target in the formation. He also is a key special teams contributer. Hanson is dependent and reliable, even though he isn’t the best CB on the team. He is a solid tackler. He has a tough time guarding very strong and skilled receivers. In the preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals, he couldn’t stop Terrell Owens from getting a deep pass. Hanson needs to become aggressive and make better plays this season, or he might no longer be on the team next season. If he has to replace either starting CB due to injury, he needs to be more consistent in making plays on the ball.
Dimitri Patterson-CB- Dimitri has improved his play and is becoming better each season. He has shown that he is aggressive in tackling as well as coverage. He will give Hanson competition in the nickel role, as well as the primary backup, and will probably see more playing time this season as he did well during the preseason. He’ll provide excellent depth needed on this team. Dimitri has also done well on special teams. He will probably spell the starters a few plays and will be utilized in more nickel and dime packages, possibly used as a safety at times. Patterson has still a long way to go to become a solid corner and star in the NFL, but his future is bright with the Eagles. He still needs development and become more comfortable with the increased playing time.
Trevard Lindley- CB- Lindley is a rookie CB on the Eagles team. Most of his contributions this season will be on special teams and in multiple DB sets to cover multiple WR sets. He is known for his play on the ball and will be looked upon as another DB to provide coverage. He will probably be used in man coverage as he gets more familiar and comfortable with the Eagles playbook, since the Eagles do like to leave their CB’s covering their receivers on their own as everyone else provides blitzing. He can also make tackles, but will need some time to adapt to the physical style of the NFL.
Jorrick Calvin-CB- Calvin was a late addition to the Eagles. He was signed to the team the last few days of preseason, so it will take him a while to get used to the team and will probably not play much at first on defense. Calvin’s role might primarily be for kickoff returns and other special teams duties.
Quintin Mikell -SS- Mikell returns to the team as the starting Strong Safety. Mikell is a seasoned veteran and will be looked upon help lead the secondary and get the younger players acclimated to the Eagles defensive system. He led the team in tackles last season and will probably be one of the tackling leaders this season. He also made a few plays on the ball and can provide good help on coverage. Mikell needs improve on being able to cover a receiver/tight end/pass catching RB on his own in man- to- man coverage, as the Eagles look to use CB’s and LB’s to blitz. At times, he was out of position and had a hard time keeping up with a receiver. He needs to become more aggressive when tackling and be able to make a key defensive stop. Mikell needs to be more opportunistic and look to make some interceptions and cause fumbles, as well as deflect some passes.
Nate Allen -FS- Nate Allen has been drafted to become the Eagles new starting Free Safety. Allen has been known to have great covering skills and making plays on the ball. This is important as the Eagles defense allowed 27 TD passes last season and had trouble covering speedy and skilled WR’s and TE’s. In preseason, he was sent on a blitz and was able to turn around and tackle from behind a RB when he caught a screen pass, preventing him from making a first down. Allen has the speed and range to be a great safety in the NFL. He needs to work on bulking up and making solid tackles, as the Eagles like to send their safeties on blitzes. On one preseason play, he was ran over by a running back when he tried to fill a hole and didn’t have a good tackling angle. The main concern of is whether he can adapt to the NFL so quickly as a rookie starter and will the Eagles put too much pressure on him since he’s their only Free Safety and he might try to do too much at one time.
Kurt Coleman -SS- Kurt Coleman is the backup safety. He has shown aggressiveness and has a reputation of hitting hard and forcing fumbles. In the final preseason game this year, Coleman was able to recover 2 fumbles and return them for touchdowns. Plays like those are what this Eagles defense shine and hopefully, he can make plays like those during the season. He will most likely see plays in nickel and dime packages, and spell some plays from the 2 starters for them to rest. He has played some Free Safety in college, so he will be able to give Nate Allen some quality help, as well as some added coverage. He is still raw, so it will take some time for him to develop. His coverage needs to improve as well this season.
Special teams play a vital role in the game of football, as it determines the field position of a team. The kickoff return and punt return can help an offense get closer to the end zone in order to have a shorter path to the goal. The kicking and punting team sends the ball deep in order to give the defense lots of room to prevent the opposing offense from going down the field so easily. The kicking team also allows for the vital field goals, which are vital in a close game, as well as the extra points after a touchdown.
Punter– Sav Rocca is the punter this season. He has a strong leg and can send the ball deep during punts. Rocca’s biggest concern is that his accuracy isn’t to great on shorter punts and can send the ball into the end zone instead of just sending it right before it.
Kicker– David Akers is the longest tenured Eagle on the team. He is very reliable in kicking those long field goals and can send the ball deep in kickoffs. Akers is also great in kickoff coverage, being the last man to cut off a kick returner if he gets through the other special teamers.
Holder- Sav Rocca is the holder. The holder is important since he has to make sure he gets the ball from the snapper and positions it well for a kick to be made. Rocca has sure hands and is able to secure the football for Akers to kick it. Jason Avant is the backup holder in the team.
Long snapper- Jon Dorenbos is the team’s long snapper. A long snapper is crucial since his long snaps allows the team to kick and punt. Jon is able to snap where the ball needs to be and can block well after the snap. Brent Celek is the backup.
Punt returner – DeSean Jackson is the primary punt returner for now. He went to the Pro Bowl last season as a punt returner and has been able to return a punt for touchdowns. He is quick and fast and can dodge defenders and has great patience in setting up his blockers. Jeremy Maclin has fielded punts as well, and he will field some punts also this season. As Jorrick Calvin gets more experience on this team, look for him to get more punt return reps as Jackson and Maclin are very vital to the team’s first offense as wide receivers and having Calvin will allow them to focus on the passing game and keep them fresh.
Kick returner– Ellis Hobbs is the main kick returner in the team. He is strong in fielding kicks and allows blockers to block before he makes a move. He needs to work on securing the ball, as he has fumbled last season. Jorrick Calvin is looked upon to eventually be the main kickoff returner since Hobbs is a starting CB and Calvin’s returns can help keep Hobbs fresh.
USA Today Philadelphia Eagles Preview.