Jason Kelce (Image c/o FoxSports.com)
The Philadelphia Eagles sit at 5-2 and while they’ve earned the record, it’s hard to gauge how good they are. One-half performances, the arch nemesis of the goal line and back-foot throws add to the confusion.
A four-game stretch the likes of which this team’s in the midst of should answer a few questions. Last week, most of us learned the team could play less than superb and come inches from beating the NFC’s top team – by record, anyway.
At this point, they could have a losing record. They could also be undefeated. But they are what the record dictates. With a patchwork offensive line and small remnants of a run game, most are okay with that.
Houston provides a solid opponent. A road game offers even more depth to the measure stick. The Arizona loss will give an idea of how the team bounces back from a loss when they’re in the thick of the season and St. Louis isn’t the opponent.
Keep an eye on these subplots, because who doesn’t love underlying themes?
- Kelce returns – How will the offense improve? Chip Kelly made adjustments to the run game, most notably in the Giants game, to get some production on the ground. He moved smaller center David Molk outside and tried to get to the edge. With Jason Kelce back in the line, there should be a step towards normalcy. Evan Mathis’ return will help in future weeks. While Todd Herremans’ biceps injury is a concern, see how much Kelce does to establish a line that dominated through last season. He could set the tone up front. If the offense looks similar to past weeks, it might be a hint at Kelly easing the big man back in the flow of things.
- Former Texans go back home – Connor Barwin and DeMeco Ryans obviously top this list. The duo are the two former Houston players who play nearly every snap for the Birds. Don’t be surprised to see two of the team’s top defensive starters make a bit more of an impact than they normally do. On the flip side, Damaris Johnson has actually stepped into a nice role for the Texans. In perfect Eagles’ symmetry, keep your best profanity available for his two unbelievable touchdown catches.
- Can you do it, Nick Foles? – The quarterback position is what it is. It would take an interesting set of circumstances to see anyone but Foles in shotgun. Alas, his performance last week provided a look at his pros and cons. It’s worth noting that 62 pass attempts will do that to any quarterback. Hope for less unbalanced throws. Observe his footwork. For the love of all that is holy, see if he attempts a look at LeSean McCoy or Darren Sproles out of the backfield in his progressions.
There’s plenty more to see. Can the defense force a turnover for its 20th consecutive game? Will Sproles be as electric as he was before he got bent into a slinky against New York? With attention on Jeremy Maclin, can Riley Cooper step up? Will the taste in Jordan Matthews’ mouth after that near-touchdown catch carry over to spark his growth?
See you at 1 p.m.