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PFT Preseason Power Rankings No. 26: Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia Eagles Introduce Chip Kelly Getty Images

Should we be skeptical or optimistic about the 2013 Philadelphia Eagles?

Both feelings seem appropriate. Not buying into the Eagles? We can’t blame you. No team has disappointed more in the last two seasons. The much-hyped 2011 squad finished .500, while last year’s club managed a mere four wins in a playoffs-or-bust year for coach Andy Reid.

With Reid gone, Chip Kelly inherits a roster that’s lately looked better on paper than on the field. But let’s look on the bright side. Can you imagine Kelly’s fast-paced offense with the Eagles’ skill-position players?

And let’s consider the Eagles’ division. The NFC East doesn’t  have one team that stands above the rest. Every one of the clubs seems capable of playing that role in a given week, but in recent years, this division has been contested all the way until the end.

Of course, if the Eagles are to be competitive down the stretch, they must improve on their surprisingly poor recent form.


The Eagles’ depth chart has some top-end skill players at running back (LeSean McCoy) and wide receiver (DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin). Their offensive line could be very good if left tackle Jason Peters stays healthy and rookie right tackle Lane Johnson proves a quick study. The Eagles will be strong inside, with guards Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans an above-average tandem. This could be a dynamite running team; McCoy and Bryce Brown are a nice 1-2 punch, and Kelly oversaw impressive rushing attacks at Oregon.

Even in areas where the Eagles don’t have clarity, they at least have some viable options. Case-in-point: Michael Vick or Nick Foles each have the potential to be serviceable at quarterback — and perhaps more than that. Also, the Eagles should be able to get a solid pass rush from outside linebackers Connor Barwin, Trent Cole and Brandon Graham, even with Cole and Graham transitioning from defensive end.


The Eagles have committed a combined 75 turnovers in the last two seasons. One positive: Eagles quarterbacks threw 10 fewer interceptions in 2012. Prudent passing and better ball security could give the Eagles — who outgained opponents last season despite finishing 4-12 — a bit of a lift.

The Eagles also need to get better in the red zone; they scored touchdowns on just 44 percent of their trips inside the opposition 20 a season ago, fifth-worst in the NFL.

From a personnel standpoint, quarterback is the greatest concern for Philadelphia, which enters training camp without a clear-cut starter. That’s never a particularly comforting feeling. Also, the Eagles’ pass defense could be vulnerable even after investing in the secondary in free agency.


The Eagles’ changes aren’t just confined to offense. Their defense is different, too, with a new coordinator (Bill Davis) and a new base scheme (the 3-4). The scheme change necessitated a couple front seven additions in free agency, as the Eagles signed the ex-Texan Barwin and former 49ers nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga. However, the Eagles are trying to run the 3-4 primarily with the personnel brought in for various versions of the 4-3 the club employed under Reid and his defensive coordinators.

The Eagles are starting over in the secondary. Cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie are gone after disappointing two-season stints, replaced by Cary Williams (ex-Baltimore) and Bradley Fletcher (ex-St. Louis). At safety, the Eagles signed Patrick Chung from the Patriots and Kenny Phillips from the Giants to push incumbents Nate Allen and Colt Anderson. Considering how lackluster the Eagles were against the pass in 2012, wiping the slate clean would be perfectly understandable, but with so many new faces comes the prospect of everyone needing time to get on the same page on the back end of the defense.

On offense, there’s great anticipation about what Kelly has planned. At the very least, the Eagles are likely to play at a quicker-than-average pace. They would also figure to employ some read-option concepts, too. That said, the Eagles’ new offensive coordinator, Pat Shurmur, is grounded in the West Coast scheme. Philadelphia would seem to have the schematic and personnel flexibility needed to show numerous looks on offense.

Camp battles.

Vick and Foles are the primary contenders for the starting quarterback job, with rookie Matt Barkley seeming likely to hold down one of the reserve roles. Vick, 33, has just one year left on his contract, and he took a big paycut earlier in the offseason. Miscues (15 turnovers in 10 starts in 2012) are the major concern with Vick.

Foles, who’s nine years younger than Vick, got some valuable experience late last season. While Foles did show some potential in a six-game starting stint, he too had some issues with turnovers, and he faltered against a very good Cincinnati defense late in the campaign.

Other positions where there could be competition are safety, cornerback, outside linebacker and defensive end. The Eagles need stability to develop at the secondary positions.


Every team could use 1) a good start to the season and 2) some injury luck. Well, the Eagles really could use these things. Half of the Eagles’ road games are in the first six weeks of the season, including three straight games away from Philadelphia, with trips to the Broncos (Sept. 29), Giants (Oct. 6) and Buccaneers (Oct. 13) in Weeks Four through Six.

The Eagles open the season at defending NFC East champion Washington on Sept.9 — the first of three games in 11 days for Philadelphia. Home tilts vs. San Diego (Sept. 15) and Reid-led Kansas City (Sept. 19) are games the Eagles have to believe they can win — and they may very well need to win them with that challenging road stretch thereafter.

The Eagles do not get their bye until Week 12 — hence the need for that run of good collective health — but they do have the benefit of having their week of rest sandwiched between three home games: Washington (Nov. 7), Detroit (Dec. 1), Arizona (Dec. 8).

By then, we’ll have a good idea of how Kelly’s offense looks. If Kelly’s personnel takes to his scheme and opposing defenses are caught a little off-guard, the Eagles could be a sleeper in the NFC East. However, if the Eagles sputter early, they could be left with too much work to do down the stretch.

The other major storyline to watch, of course, is whether a quarterback emerges as a solid starter. If not, the focus turns to how the Eagles address the position in 2014.

For now, though, there’s the matter of whether Kelly can get more out of a team that’s left us wanting more the last two seasons.

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Geno Smith exits with right knee injury

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 23: Quarterback  Geno Smith #7 of the New York Jets runs on the field during the first quarter of the game against the Baltimore Ravens at MetLife Stadium on October 23, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) Getty Images

Geno Smith’s return to the Jets lineup turned out to be a short one.

Smith was sacked by Ravens linebacker Matt Judon in the second quarter and limped off the field to get attention from the team’s training staff. He spent time laid out on a table as they looked at his knee, got up to try some jogging and then headed back to the locker room with just over six minutes to play in the half.

Ryan Fitzpatrick is warming up on the sideline and looks set to enter the game the next time the Jets get the ball. Fitzpatrick was benched in favor of Smith in last Monday’s loss to the Cardinals and coach Todd Bowles announced later in the week that Smith would start against the Ravens.

Smith’s last run as a starter also ended with an injury, although it was of the off-field variety when a punch from then teammate IK Enemkpali broke his jaw. This one is more conventional, but the result is the same when it comes to Smith’s spot on the offense.

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Raiders jump out to 13-3 lead on Jaguars

Oakland Raiders cornerback David Amerson (29) intercepts a pass intended for Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Marqise Lee (11) during the first quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan Ebenhack) AP

The Raiders finally pushed through to the end zone, which hasn’t been that difficult for them in the past.

The Raiders are up 13-3 on the Jaguars, in a game of missed opportunities and made field goals.

The Raiders had been very good in the red zone on offense all season (12 touchdowns on 15 trips). But the Jaguars held them to Sebastian Janikowski field goals on the first two trips, keeping things close.

Then running back Chris Ivory emerged, with a season-long 42-yard rush which put the Jags in position, but they too had to settle for a three-pointer.

The Jaguars also have a pair of turnovers early, and the Raiders finally cashed in on a long drive. Latavius Murray’s 2-yard touchdown run capped an 11-play drive, when they looked like their normal, efficient offensive selves. Of their 75 yards, 63 of them came on the ground, as they patiently made their way downfield.

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Darius Slay, Brandon Scherff go down in Detroit

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 18:  Cornerback Darius Slay #23 of the Detroit Lions reacts after a defensive stop against the Chicago Bears during the fourth quarter of the NFL game at Ford Field on October 18, 2015 in Detroit, Michigan. The Lions defeated the Bears 37-34 in overtime.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

It’s been a fairly ugly game so far in Detroit today, and injury news has made it uglier.

Key players on both teams — Washington guard Brandon Scherff and Detroit cornerback Darius Slay — have exited with injuries.

Scherff appeared to hurt his shoulder, and Washington’s offensive line suffered and gave up pressure a few times after Scherff exited the game. Slay appeared to hurt his leg, but the Lions’ defense was able to hold on its first drive without him.

Neither team has gotten close to the end zone and both teams have missed field goals. The Lions have also made a field goal and lead 3-0.

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Kessler forced out to be checked for concussion

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 9: Quarterback Cody Kessler #6 of the Cleveland Browns warms up prior to the game against the New England Patriots at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 9, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) Getty Images

The officials forced Browns rookie quarterback Cody Kessler to leave Sunday’s game in the second quarter to be checked for a concussion.

Kessler grabbed for his helmet after taking a hit from Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap after releasing a pass. He was escorted to the sideline by referee Ed Hochuli, then TV cameras caught Kessler talking with an independent neurologist on the sideline.

Kessler eventually jogged on his own to the locker room.

The Browns had already been using Kevin Hogan as a change-of-pace running quarterback. Hogan became the sixth different player to take snaps at quarterback for the Browns this season.

The Browns got an Isaiah Crowell touchdown run to cap the drive on which Kessler was forced out to go up 10-7. The Bengals answered right back with a long touchdown pass from Andy Dalton to Brandon LaFell to go up 14-10.

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Jets offense ends long touchdown drought with long pass

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 17:  Quarterback Geno Smith #7 of the New York Jets prepares to snap the football during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 17, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Jets 28-3.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

Geno Smith has thrown his first touchdown pass since returning to the starting job and the Jets have scored their first offensive touchdown since the second quarter of their Week Five loss to the Steelers.

Smith hit Quincy Enunwa over the middle and Enunwa ran away from the Ravens defense for a 69-yard touchdown that ended a long spell without a touchdown for the Jets offense. The score cut the Ravens’ lead to 10-7 after the first 15 minutes at the Meadowlands.

Smith ended his first quarter back in the starting job 3-of-7 for 88 yards, so the big play was an outlier after two ineffectual drives to open the game. The Jets also saw center Nick Mangold leave with an ankle injury. His return is called questionable.

The first of those drives was followed by punter Lachlan Edwards letting a snap go through his hands for a Ravens touchdown and the second saw the Jets defense give up a 53-yard pass to Mike Wallace before settling down to force a Justin Tucker field goal.

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Eagles cornerback Ron Brooks carted off

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 11: Ron Brooks #33 of the Philadelphia Eagles plays against the Cleveland Browns at Lincoln Financial Field on September 11, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Eagles defeated the Browns 29-10. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) Getty Images

Turnovers and injuries have been the story of the day so far in Philly.

Eagles cornerback Ron Brooks has been carted off with a leg injury. He seemed to injure his right knee without contact while trying to make a tackle.

With Brooks out, safety Malcolm Jenkins is expected to fill Brooks’ slot role.

The game between the Vikings and Eagles remains scoreless through one quarter.

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Chiefs strike quickly, on both sides of the ball

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) looks for a receiver during the first half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) AP

The good news is the Saints can score in a hurry. The bad news is they can give points up just as quickly.

They have multiple problems at the moment, beginning with the way the Chiefs came back to take a 14-7 lead.

Spencer Ware took a screen pass 46 yards for the touchdown, blowing his way through a number of bad tackles and bad angles against the league’s worst defense, in terms of points allowed.

And then things got tougher for their offense, as left tackle Terron Armstead was just helped off the field by athletic trainers. He had just some back from a knee injury, and backup Andrus Peat is out with a groin injury. That left journeyman Tony Hills at left tackle.

The Chiefs then pounced, with a tipped pass falling into the hands of safety Daniel Sorensen, who returned it 48 yards for a touchdown and a quick 14-point turnaround.

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Bills, Dolphins trade field goals in first quarter

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 23:  Ryan Tannehill #17 of the Miami Dolphins warms up during a game against the Buffalo Bills on October 23, 2016 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Bills scored touchdowns in the first quarter of all four games in their current winning streak, but they couldn’t get the ball in the end zone over the first 15 minutes in Miami.

Their only points of the quarter came on a Dan Carpenter field goal in the final minute. The score was set up by a 30-yard Brandon Tate punt return that gave the Bills the ball on Miami’s 30-yard-line.

Carpenter’s kick tied the score at 3 and the score remained tied through the remaining seconds of the opening quarter. The Dolphins got their points at the end of a 15-play, 64-yard drive that opened the game. Jay Ajayi ran well and Ryan Tannehill threw for three first downs, but things petered out after a holding penalty on center Mike Pouncey.

Bills running back LeSean McCoy came into the game with a hamstring injury, but has run the ball three times and been on the field for a few other plays early in the game. The Bills have only run nine overall, so that’s helped keep the workload down even if the Bills haven’t shown signs of limiting McCoy.

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Andrew Sendejo carted off for Vikings

SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 18:  Safety Andrew Sendejo #34 of the Minnesota Vikings warms up prior to the game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on August 18, 2016 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

The injury bug primarily has hit the Vikings on the offensive side of the ball this year. It’s now possibly striking on defense.

Safety Andrew Sendejo has been carted off after suffering a lower leg injury. Officially listed as questionable, he suffered the injury after making a first quarter interception of Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz.

The game has featured five turnovers in the first quarter, with three from Wentz and two from Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford.

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Bradford throws first pick of the year

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 23:  Shaun Hill #13 and Sam Bradford #8 of the Minnesota Vikings look onto the filed from the tunnel before warming up against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on October 23, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) Getty Images

Sam Bradford’s head apparently has been Photoshopped onto Ryan Fitzpatrick’s body.

With the Vikings on the door step of the end zone following a Carson Wentz interception, the Vikings starter threw an ugly interception in the end zone, picked off by Eagles safety Rodney McLeod.

The Vikings got the ball back after a Wentz fumble, and then Bradford promptly fumbled.

The Bradford fumble apparently was returned for a touchdown by Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, but replay review showed that Jenkins was down by contact after recovering the ball.

Either way, Bradford already is having his roughest day as a Viking. Especially since on the team’s first drive of the game he underthrew receiver Charles Johnson for what would have been an easy touchdown.

If Bradford doesn’t settle down quickly, it’s going to be a long day for the Vikings.

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Saints get out to another quick start, up early on Chiefs

NEW ORLEANS, LA - AUGUST 26: Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints sits on the bench during the second half of a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on August 26, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Steelers won 27-14. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Saints have a horrible defense, for sure.

But they at least don’t have to worry about being in deep holes early.

Drew Brees just hit Brandin Cooks for a touchdown pass, giving the Saints a 7-0 lead over the Chiefs.

It’s the fourth straight game in which the Saints have scored a touchdown on their opening drive, a franchise record.

They need that kind of performance, as they’re last in the league in scoring defense, giving up 33.6 points per game.

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Jets botch punt snap, Ravens lead 7-0

LANDOVER, MD - AUGUST 19:  Punter Lac Edwards #4 of the New York Jets punts against the Washington Redskins at FedExField on August 19, 2016 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Jets are losing, which is familiar enough this season, but the way they went down 7-0 shows a little creativity.

A snap from long snapper Tanner Purdum to punter Lachlan Edwards flew through Edwards’ hands and into the end zone where it was recovered by Ravens wide receiver Chris Moore for a touchdown. It’s windy at the Meadowlands, but the snap didn’t appear to be affected by it enough that Edwards should have missed the ball completely.

The punt came at the end of Geno Smith’s first drive in his return to the starting job. He was 1-of-3 for eight yards, although a third down pass to Charone Peake should have been caught for a first down that would have kept the drive alive.

It didn’t, however, and the Jets were trailing just a few moments later.

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Taylor Lewan scored a touchdown. By design

NASHVILLE, TN - AUGUST 09:  Taylor Lewan #77 of the Tennessee Titans blocks against of the Green Bay Packers at LP Field on August 9, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) Getty Images

There’s nothing like an old-fashioned offensive tackle touchdown.

The Titans went up 6-0 on the Colts after a 10-yard touchdown pass from Marcus Mariota to Taylor Lewan on a designed throwback screen to the tackle.

The Titans drove 78 yards in 10 plays. A dropped snap on the PAT kick never gave it a chance.

The Colts came right back with an impressive drive of their own and took the lead after Andrew Luck threw a touchdown pass to Frank Gore. The Colts drove 72 yards in 10 plays.

Mariota was 5-of-5 for 47 yards on the opening drive. Luck was 4-of-6 for 52 yards.

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Bengals march for quick touchdown

bernard getty Getty Images

The Bengals got the ball first Sunday. The Browns provided little opposition on the first drive.

A 5-yard touchdown run by Giovani Bernard opened the scoring. The Bengals went 75 yards in seven plays.

Jeremy Hill had a 40-yard run on the drive. A.J. Green caught two passes for 18 yards, and given the state of the Browns’ secondary, Green might go on to have a really big day.

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C.J. Anderson says he’s feeling no pressure

SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 13:  C.J. Anderson #22 of the Denver Broncos carries the ball as he is followed by  Caraun Reid #91 of the San Diego Chargers during the fourth quarter of a 21-13 Charger win at Qualcomm Stadium on October 13, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Broncos’ running game is struggling, but the guy at the top of the tailback depth chart isn’t feeling the heat.

I’ve got nothing to lose,” Anderson recently said, via Cameron Wolfe of the Denver Post. “I wasn’t supposed to be here. I wasn’t supposed to be in this position or this spot.”

Undrafted in 2013, Anderson got some sage advice from former Broncos safety Mike Adams.

“[H]e told me, my rookie year, you can go out there and make 10 great plays and one bad play and that’s why you were undrafted,” Anderson said. “Other guys, they can go out there and make 10 bad plays and one amazing play and that’s why they were drafted.”

Anderson, who signed a four-year, $16 million contract in March, has a career-low average of 3.5 yards per carry. With fourth-round rookie Devontae Booker likely to get more reps, that means Anderson could be getting fewer.

“There’s nothing wrong in the National Football League when two running backs can make plays,” Anderson said. “I’m actually happy that he’s coming along, I’ve been helping him through the whole way. I’m just glad he’s here.”

Still, Anderson had hoped that a workhorse performance in the Super Bowl would lead to a bell cow role in 2016. If looks like the Broncos are moving toward a two-man committee approach, fueled in part by Anderson not generating the kind of yardage he has in the past.

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