The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Sports

August 27, 2013

Eagles ready to hit the ground running — literally

(Continued)

MICHAEL VICK HAS TO PROTECT THE BALL: Vick was outstanding in the first two preseason games, winning the starting job over Nick Foles and showing a solid grasp of Kelly’s system. But the old Vick showed up in the third preseason game. He made some dazzling plays, including several with his legs that proved he’s still a weapon running the ball at age 33. But he also made questionable decisions similar to the ones that plagued him the last two years. Vick was indecisive at times in the pocket, forced one throw that resulted in an interception and nearly had another pick when he foolishly tossed the ball straight up in the air while going down on a sack. If Vick plays more like the Pro Bowl starter he was in 2010 rather than the turnover machine he was in 2011-12, he could shine in Kelly’s offense. Otherwise, Foles looked sharp and he’ll get his turn.

OFFENSE IS THE TEAM’S STRENGTH: Whether it’s Vick or Foles under center, the Eagles have potential to be a dynamic offense. Playmakers LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson seem poised to thrive in Kelly’s high-octane system. Jason Avant appears ready to make up for the loss of Jeremy Maclin and tight ends Brent Celek and Zach Ertz could post big numbers. Bryce Brown complements McCoy nicely, giving the Eagles two strong running backs. Brown, however, needs to solve his fumbling issues. The offensive line is healthy and boosted by the addition of first-round pick Lane Johnson. Overall, the Eagles should score plenty of points and they’re going to need it with a suspect defense.

OPPONENTS WILL TRY TO PASS OFTEN: A secondary that was one of the worst in NFL history last year underwent a major overhaul. Gone are cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, two former Pro Bowl guys who were part of a unit that allowed 33 touchdown passes and had only eight interceptions. Free-agent acquisitions Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher are the starters and there’s not much depth behind them. There hasn’t been a playmaker at safety since Brian Dawkins left. Quarterbacks had a 99.6 passer rating against the Eagles last year, and it doesn’t appear there’s a reason for them to stop throwing against this secondary.

DEFENSE IS WORK IN PROGRESS: Billy Davis is the team’s fourth defensive coordinator in five years. Davis brings a new 3-4 alignment that requires several holdovers to make adjustments, including defensive ends Trent Cole and Brandon Graham moving to linebacker. There’s depth on the line and strong potential among the front seven. End Fletcher Cox, a 2012 first-round pick, could be a breakout player.

 

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