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Random Eagles Thoughts As Season Opener Nears

This feature is a weekly piece on titled From The Eagles, featuring Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro. The intention is to provide a perspective directly from the Philadelphia Eagles in this forum for the great fans who visit BGN.

What did the preseason really mean? How much of what the Eagles showed in those games - an explosive offense, a defense that took the football away and special teams that changed field position and looked every bit as dominating as they were in 2014 - translates to the regular season?

Some thoughts ...

  • The around-the-web opinions on the Eagles are largely optimistic, but they're all with the caveat "If Sam Bradford stays healthy." I don't disagree. But I'd like to know why that's not the same caveat with every NFL team? What happens if Aaron Rodgers is injured? Or Tony Romo? Or Ben Roethlisberger? I understand Bradford's injury history, but it really seems short-sighted to single out the Eagles in this instance. Besides, and I'd love to know how Eagles fans feel about this, the team thinks that Mark Sanchez is the best backup in the league. He has to tighten up on the giveaways, but the belief here is that if he plays, the Eagles will still win games.

  • It's fair to wonder how the defense is going to handle the nickel cornerback position. Rookie Eric Rowe struggled at times in the preseason. If he's on the field, he's going to be a target. The second-round draft pick has a bright future, but he also has a lot of work to do. E.J. Biggers is an option. The Eagles could use Walter Thurmond at nickel cornerback. They could have Biggers on the outside and Carroll on the inside, or give Rowe some playing time outside. This is where a game plan comes in. Coordinator Bill Davis will give help where needed.

  • If Julio Jones runs free at all on Monday night, I will be shocked. I expect at least some bracket coverage against him. He's not going to have many (any?) chances to get into one-on-one situations. I see the Eagles taking their chances with Roddy White and then smothering Jones on the other side.

  • I love the matchup of the Eagles defensive line against Atlanta's re-arranged offensive line. Nothing is ever easy in this league, but the Eagles - on paper - have a distinct advantage at the line of scrimmage.

  • Can the Eagles dress all six wide receivers on the roster? Sure seems that way, with Seyi Ajirotutu as primarily a special-teams ace. It doesn't matter to me who starts - could be Josh Huff and Riley Cooper, with Jordan Matthews as the slot receiver - because all five of the receivers, including Nelson Agholor and Miles Austin, are going to get quality reps. This is a spread-the-ball-around passing game, with Matthews likely to have the best numbers at the end of the season.

  • Atlanta's rush linebacker, Brooks Reed, won't play on Monday night and O'Brien Schofield gets the start. This is a loss for the Falcons, who drafted Vic Beasley to provide some pass-rush punch along with Reed. Atlanta can't take too many chances with the blitz game, either. The back end isn't particularly strong.

  • Two of the greatest punt return men in history play against each other on Monday night - Darren Sproles for the Eagles and Devin Hester for Atlanta. Great test for the Eagles' coverage teams and punter Donnie Jones.

  • The Eagles have a depth chart out and it means, well, maybe not very much at all. Note the line that says "Compiled by the Eagles media relations staff." So, who really cares?

  • The book, from what I've heard, on No. 3 quarterback Stephen Morris: Big arm, good athlete, knows the game, needs to be reigned in a bit and must work on his mechanics. A young prospect worth working with.

  • Vinny Curry is likely to get some work at outside linebacker behind Connor Barwin, Brandon Graham and Brad Jones, and when he's on the field Curry will be moving forward. That's the goal. He is on the field to rush the quarterback. If Curry has to drop into coverage, it's going to be a huge challenge.

  • Areas to wonder about on this team: Depth along the offensive line, depth at outside linebacker, the nickel cornerback spot and depth at safety. Good health, of course.

  • Glad to see that Jerome Couplin made it to the 53-man roster. He made a remarkable recovery from having his appendix removed early in Training Camp. He can hit and he can play in the box, but now Couplin has to develop as a cover safety, too. Does he have the athletic ability to do so?

  • Finally, I'm saying that the split in carries between DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews won't be outrageous. I've been around long enough to see how it really didn't work with Ricky Watters and Charlie Garner - the first two-headed pairing in the Eagles backfield that I can remember - but it should here. Murray gets 20 touches and Mathews 13 each week, on average. Rushing attempts and receptions. If those two combine for 33 touches, the Eagles will be in swell shape.

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