Chip Kelly’s first full training camp practice as head coach of Philadelphia Eagles has just gotten underway at the NovaCare Center. As Kelly attempts to overhaul the culture of this franchise, he will need to set the tone today for what he expects to get out of his team. The Eagles are blessed with starting camp with all players healthy and ready to go today. While we eagerly anticipate what unfolds today, here are a few of the most important things to watch out for in the next few weeks.
1. The QB Battle
Historically, The Eagles franchise has always been a focus of the national media — and this year will be no different. Along with the era of Chip Kelly beginning, the major storyline out of Philly is the quarterback battle. As we all know, Chip has made it known that all quarterbacks will need to compete if they want to be the Eagles starter.
Dixon (sorry, G.J. Kinnie).
Some of the key things Chip and quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor will be keeping an eye on are the quarterback’s ability to make quick reads and adjustments at the line, and how fast they are able to get the ball out of their hands and into the hands of the teams play makers. Ball security is another item of great importance for Chip. Although it will be difficult to watch for this as there will be no contact on the quarterbacks, clean hand-offs and the selling of fake hand-offs are extremely important in Chip’s offense and will be scrutinized.
Vick needs to prove he can make quick reads with good anticipation on his passes; and Foles will need to show he has improved his footwork and mechanics to have more zip and velocity on his passes.
2. A Tale of Two Tackles
If the quarterback battle is considered the most important topic for the Eagles this training camp, I would say the progress of their two offensive tackles is a very close second. Jason Peters, who when healthy is considered one of the best left tackles in the league, is coming off a twice-blown Achilles.
It has been stated that Peters is in great shape and ready to go, but when need to see if he is truly back in old form. Has he lost any power? Does he still have the ability to get to the 2nd level with the same tenacity as he used to? Peters is under contract until the end of next season, but the Eagles are free to cut him at any point now with no cap loss, so Peters play this year will determine weather or not he will be in midnight green next year or looking for a new deal on an unforgiving market for anyone north of 30.
On the other end of the line, Eagles fans will be watching to see how rookie Lane Johnson develops. We know he has the athletic ability to play in this offense, but does he have the strength and discipline? You have to think that, barring Johnson being flat out terrible, Chip will have him starting Week 1 at right tackle. He will benefit from playing next to a seasoned vet in Todd Herremans. He has a great coach in Jeff Stoutland. He will need to take advantage of all these resources to get up to NFL speed and size. The ball is in Johnson’s court now.
3. Weapon Usage
While their may be uncertainty about the level of talent on the defensive side of the ball, the offense has no shortage of weapons. Returning players DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy, Bryce Brown and Brent Celek, coupled with new guys like James Casey, Zach Ertz and Arrelious Benn — Chip Kelly has no shortage of weapons to work with this season.
Kelly has preached versatility, and this trait will be especially important when it comes to running a no huddle offense. During training camp we’ll keep an eye on where Chip plans to line some of these guys up. Will we see a lot of Ertz in the slot or in line? Will Jackson see any time in the backfield like De’Anthony Thomas at Oregon? James Casey will be one of the most interesting to watch. He’s a Swiss army knife-type player, who can play tight end or H-back. Look for him to get heavily involved in training camp. Watch for who comes out on top for the remaining wide receiver spots, and the third running back spot.
It’s an exciting time of year folks! Football is here! Stay tuned in here at Inside the Iggles, where we’ll be keeping you updated on all things Eagles this season.