Four Questions About The 2012 EaglesBREAKING NEWS, Eagles, News Wednesday, September 5th, 2012
When the Eagles acquired Ryans from the Houston Texans, the expectations were that the former Pro Bowler would dramatically improve the Philadelphia defense by plugging the gaping hole at the middle linebacker position and providing some much needed veteran leadership.
Although we’ve only seen him in action briefly in the preseason, we haven’t felt a dramatic impact from his presence yet. Ryans has made a couple of nice plays, but hasn’t shown the great explosion that made him such a successful and respected player in Houston. We saw much more out of strongside linebacker Mychal Kendricks than we did from the seven-year veteran.
It’s very possible that Ryans was holding back during the preseason, saving his best efforts for the regular season. Even though he hasn’t shown anything spectacular, this is still an accomplished player with a heck of an NFL resume and reputation. Although I would have liked to see more signs that this defense will be substantially different with the 28-year old at the controls, I’m still confident that Ryans will be a difference maker in his first season with the Birds.
What can the Eagles expect from Fletcher Cox?
One thing that many people seem to be overlooking is the status of first-round pick Fletcher Cox.
Cox was pretty quiet throughout the preseason, and his impact (or lack thereof) was overshadowed by the exciting performances of fellow rookies Nick Foles, Mychal Kendricks, Vinny Curry, and Damaris Johnson.
Right now, Cox is probably this team’s fourth defensive tackle. Cullen Jenkins and Derek Landri are the starters, and Cedric Thornton played so well in August that he’ll be the first tackle off of the bench.
When the Eagles drafted him in April, Cox was billed as a perfect fit for Jim Washburn’s aggressive scheme, but we have yet to see him flourish in the way that guys like Landri and Thornton have.
Cox is going to see his share of snaps in the rotation, but we may not see a strong immediate impact from him. He might need some more time to understand the techniques that he’ll need to implement to succeed at this level. Ideally, we’ll see the rookie gradually improve as the season goes along, and eventually push Landri for the starting job alongside Jenkins.
How will the Eagles use their reserve running backs?
The Eagles kept four running backs this season because they love what each player can bring to the table. The team would probably like to cut down on LeSean McCoy’s total number of touches from a year ago (which was over 300), but if they want to do that they’ll need to trust their young running backs to shoulder more of the offensive load than they did in 2011.
Dion Lewis figures to see the highest amount of involvement this year. He had only 23 carries in 2011 (with 12 of them coming in the meaningless season finale against Washington), so his number figures to greatly increase now that he’s got a year of experience under his belt and is no longer behind Ronnie Brown.
Bryce Brown may have the highest ceiling of the three reserve rushers, but it will be hard for him to find a role on the offense with McCoy and Lewis drawing the majority of the carries. The seventh-round pick’s best chance to get more involved is for Lewis to struggle with his increased role.
Chris Polk may not even be activated for the majority of games this year. The Eagles liked him enough to stash him on the roster, but he isn’t likely to have much of a role offensively this year.
What happens at the safety positions?
I don’t think that the Opening Day combination of Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman is going to start all 16 games this year. Neither player is anything more than an average safety, and at some point this year the Eagles are going to have to consider the idea of replacing one, or even both of them with one of their reserves.
Can Jaiquawn Jarrett save his career? His presence on the current roster is more indicative of the lack of depth and talent at the position rather than his own skill. I think the speed of the game is too much for the Temple product right now. He doesn’t understand where he needs to be, takes poor angles, and makes bad decisions right now. The Eagles are holding out hope that he can still develop, but he can’t be counted on for anything right now.
Newcomer David Sims may have to be the first guy off of the bench. The Eagles liked him enough to trade for him, but we’ll have to see what he brings to the table.
If Colt Anderson were completely healthy, I’d like to think that this would be the year that the Eagles give him a crack at one of the safety jobs. He’s on the team because he’s an absolute stud on special teams coverage, but why not give him an opportunity? He seems to have some good football instincts, and he couldn’t be much worse than Jarrett right now could he?
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