Over the past four months, we’ve kept a watchful eye on the teams who appear on the Redskins’ 2013 schedule.
We’ve tracked their free agent signings. We’ve examined their drafts. Now, in our final edition of Enemy Intel, we’re taking a look at three storylines that will dominate each team’s preseason preparation.
Up today …
2012 record: 4-12, 1-5
Key acquisitions: WR Arrelious Benn, TE James Casey, LB Connor Barwin, LB Jason Phillips, CB Cary Williams, CB Bradley Fletcher, S Kenny Phillips, S Patrick Chung, NT Isaac Sopoaga
Top draft picks: OT Lane Johnson, TE Zach Ertz, QB Matt Barkley, S Earl Wolff, CB Jordan Poyer
Storyline No. 1: Chip Kelly’s offense. We know the Eagles’ new head coach has banned ‘Taco Tuesday’ and ‘Fast Food Friday’ from the team’s facility in an effort to instill better nutritional habits among his players. And that everything from practices to meetings is conducted at warp speed. That pop and techno music is pumped through enormous speakers during practice. That assistant coaches wear fly swatter-like contraptions attached to shoulders pads, forcing quarterbacks to find open passing lanes. But what exactly will the Eagles’ offensive scheme resemble under the former Oregon coach? No one outside of the organization is quite sure. Ron Jaworski said in May that an offense predicated on the ‘blur’ system Kelly used in college won’t work, adding, “I just don’t see NFL passing concepts in this offense.” But who said Kelly is going to run the Ducks’ offense in the NFL?
We might get a better idea in the preseason. But it’s more likely Kelly’s intentions won’t be unveiled until Week 1 at FedEx Field, which should worry Redskins fans.
Storyline No. 2: A brewing quarterback controversy. This, on the other hand, should make Redskins fans smile. With just over a month before training camps open around the NFL, Kelly has yet to name a starting quarterback. Will it be Michael Vick? Nick Foles? Does fourth round draft pick Matt Barkley factor into the equation? Kelly’s not saying, and it’s starting to rankle some of the Eagles’ feathers. Vick has voiced his displeasure with the situation, telling CSNPhilly.com, “Hopefully, Chip makes a decision before camp so we can go out there as quarterbacks and just focus on this season and not answer questions about competition everyday.” WR DeSean Jackson, meantime, said he “definitely” thinks the indecision is negatively affecting the team.
Kelly has maintained all along that he won't be rushed into a decision and that one likely won’t be forthcoming before the players put on pads next month.
Storyline No. 3: The revamped defense. While Kelly’s innovative offense and the unsettled quarterback situation have received much of the attention during the Eagles’ offseason program, the defense has kind of flown under the radar.
Last season was a disaster for the Eagles, who ranked 29th in points allowed per game (27.8) while yielding a league-worst 33 passing touchdowns. In one game, a 31-6 loss to the Redskins, Robert Griffin III completed 14 of 15 passes for 200 yards and four touchdowns.
This season, new defensive coordinator Bill Davis is expected to transform the Eagles' alignment from a wide-nine to a 3-4. Well, sorta.
Like Kelly and his offense, Davis has been reluctant to label his defense, telling the Philadelphia Inquirer recently, “Multiple is the best way. ...What we’re doing here is we’re taking that wide-nine 4-3 and we’re moving it in the direction of the 3-4, but where we stop is yet to be determined by the players we have.”
Well, we can be sure of this: Thanks to a free agent shopping spree that landed safeties Patrick Chung and Kenny Phillips and linebacker Connor Barwin, among other key additions, Davis will be able to put more talent on the field, regardless of how they line up. And that alone should translate into an improvement.