After the NFL season officially kicked off last night after a slight delay, the resounding sentiment at Redskins Park this morning is excitement. Despite still being three days away, the players are ready to defend their NFC East crown against an Eagles team that they swept last season by a combined score of 57-26.
Season opening games usually come with a bevy of storylines to follow as every team starts on even playing grounds, 0-0 and as optimistic as ever. While the season opening game isn’t an all-encompassing indicator for how the final 15 games will play out, it does at least give a sample of what a team has to offer.
As everyone saw last season during the Redskins’ 40-32 victory over the Saints, the offense was going to be elite and Alfred Morris was indeed the real deal. It was also evident that the secondary was going to encounter some struggles.
Anyway, Monday night’s game marks the 157th the Redskins and Eagles have tangled since 1934 when the Redskins squeaked out a 6-0 victory. Just as the team and Redskins fans are following several players and storylines closely, so are the Eagles.
Here’s what Philadelphia and national media outlets are saying before the game:
Last season, the Philadelphia Eagles suffered their worst season since 1998, finishing 4-12 and being a playoff nonfactor from the get-go. While there were several reasons behind the Eagles struggles, one of the more evident ones might have been the loss of five-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman Jason Peters to a season-ending injury. Now fully healthy, Peters will have his hands full with another returning player from injury—Brian Orakpo. Their duels could be the matchup of the night.
Similar to the Redskins, the Eagles secondary is in transition. Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie are gone and Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher, Patrick Chung and Earl Wolff are in. The newly assembled unit believes they are underrated and are coming in with the “chip-on-our-shoulder” mentality. They will have their hands full with a completely healthy receiving core. Santana Moss scored two touchdowns, Aldrick Robinson showcased his speed en route to a 49-yard touchdown in the first game and Logan Paulsen recorded a 17-yard touchdown reception off of a Robert Griffin III pass against the Eagles last year.
Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson entered 2012 with at least 900 receiving yards in each of his first four seasons. Due to injury however, Jackson had perhaps the worst season of his young career last fall. Before going down with injury, he was entering elite receiver discussions. Jackson, who dipped down the Eagles’ depth chart during OTAs before reappearing as a starter, says that he is still driven to be one of the best. In his only game against the Redskins last season he recorded two catches for five yards.
Just like the Redskins did when they hired Jim Haslett to be defensive coordinator in 2010, the Eagles are converting to a 3-4 scheme under Bill Davis. The player that has been most affected by the move is veteran Trent Cole. Considered one of the better defensive ends in the NFL, Cole is now listed as an outside linebacker. His first test of progression comes against Griffin III and Alfred Morris.
Similar to Jackson, running back LeSean McCoy is return from an injury-shortened season. McCoy talked to Philly media about the season ahead and an offensive line featuring the return of Peters and highly touted rookie Lane Johnson.
The Redskins offense, as you know, can put a scare in opponents. They don’t know whether Griffin III will throw a deep bomb to one of the speedy wideouts, Morris will pound it up the middle churning out positive yardage even when it appears he’s going to be taken down in the backfield and yes, Griffin III occasionally keeping it himself. On Wednesday, Davis told the media at his press conference “I’m very anxious for the Redskins to show us who we are and where we are.”
For the first time since November 15, 1998 the Eagles will trot onto the field without Andy Reid leading the way. Instead, Chip Kelly will be the man in charge and he’s hoping that a culture change will go a long way into reverting the Eagles into a contender.
Finally, Redskins.com’s Brian Tinsman has four keys to watch on Monday as well as a provocative read on the first ever Robert Griffin III-Michael Vick matchup.
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