A new era is definitely under way in Philly as the Eagles will be without long-time stars Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook when they open the 2010 season.
McNabb helped lead the Eagles to a 11-5 regular-season record last season, but back-to-back poor performance by the quarterback in the season finale and Wild-Card playoff game against Dallas led to his shocking trade to the Washington Redskins. It wasn’t really a huge shock that McNabb was dealt, as that had been rumored, but that the Eagles dared trade him in division. The six-time Pro Bowler led the Eagles to five NFC Championship Games and one Super Bowl in 11 seasons in Philadelphia. He is the franchise leader in yards passing (32,873), completions (2,801), attempts (4,746), completion percentage (59.0) and touchdown passes (216). He also rushed for 3,249 yards and 28 TDs.
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For all his criticisms, McNabb didn’t turn the ball over much, as in the past four seasons the only QB with at least 1,000 attempts and a lower interception percentage is Aaron Rodgers. McNabb has thrown 683 more passes than Rodgers in that time period.
Now it’s Kevin Kolb’s team and he showed some glimpses of stardom in his two starts for an injured McNabb in Weeks 2 and 3 last year. Kolb threw for 391 yards in a loss to the Saints and 327 in a win over the Chiefs to become the first player ever to throw for at least 300 yards in his first two starts. And now Michael Vick, assuming he isn’t released or suspended after a shooting at a party he was at, is now one injury away from starting again.
As for Westbrook, it was probably time for him to go as he couldn’t stay healthy any more so the team cut him. He had an MVP-caliber season in 2007 with a league-leading 2,104 yards from scrimmage and accounted for 12 touchdowns that season. That season he accounted for 36.7 percent of the team’s offense. Last season he missed eight games with concussions and an ankle injury. He scored only two touchdowns in 2009 and managed 455 yards from scrimmage. Now second-year player LeSean McCoy is the featured back and the Eagles also signed Mike Bell from the Saints to back him up.
With McCoy, receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin and tight end Brent Celek, the Eagles have tons of potential, but it all rests on Kolb. The defense does have a few questions as in defensive coordinator Sean McDermott’s first season running that unit it allowed 21 points per game, ranking 19th in the NFL. The linebacking corps should be better as Stewart Bradley returns to the middle after a preseason knee injury cost him all of 2009, and Ernie Sims was acquired from the Detroit Lions to man the weak side.
Here is the 2010 Philadelphia Eagles schedule (all times Eastern):
Week 1: Sunday, Sep. 12, Green Bay, 4:15 PM
Week 2: Sunday, Sep. 19, at Detroit, 1:00 PM
Week 3: Sunday, Sep. 26, at Jacksonville, 4:05 PM
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 3, Washington, 4:15 PM
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 10, at San Francisco, 8:20 PM
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 17, Atlanta, 1:00 PM
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 24, at Tennessee, 1:00 PM
Week 8: BYE
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 7, Indianapolis, 4:15 PM
Week 10: Monday, Nov. 15, at Washington, 8:30 PM
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 21, NY Giants, 8:20 PM
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 28, at Chicago, 1:00 PM
Week 13: Thursday, Dec. 2, Houston, 8:20 PM
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 12, at Dallas, 8:20 PM
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 19, at NY Giants, 1:00 PM
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 26, Minnesota, 1:00 PM
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 2, Dallas, 1:00 PM
Philly’s schedule ranks as the ninth-toughest in the NFL, with an opponents’ 2009 winning percentage of .520 (133-123). And the networks love the Eagles as they will be on national TV at least eight times.
The Eagles better start fast because their schedule after the bye week is a monster. Things didn’t go too well the last time they opened against Green Bay as the Packers won 16-13 in 2007. This game for Week 1 is currently a ‘pick’em’ on BetUS. The following week, at Detroit, looks like a major trap game even though the Eagles put up 56 on the improving Lions last year. And then Philly has a tough one in the likely heat and humidity in Jacksonville, which is the only active NFL franchise that the Eagles have yet to defeat (0-3). It’s Philly’s first visit there since its last Super Bowl.
But then comes what probably will be the most hyped game of the season when McNabb returns to Philadelphia with the Skins. Strangely, Washington is the only NFC East opponent the Eagles face until Week 10, when they will travel to play the Redskins on "Monday Night Football." That 49ers game looks like a loss, as it’s never easy to travel across country to play, especially after the no-doubt emotional Washington game (even though the Eagles beat the Niners, 27-13, last year). Philly was 0-2 on the West Coast last year. Overall, this looks like a 4-3 team heading into the bye week.
If there’s ever a time for Philly to play the Colts, it’s after the bye because Andy Reid has never lost following the bye week. Both the Colts and Texans visit Lincoln Financial Field for the first time. After visiting Washington, the Eagles see only playoff-caliber teams the rest of the way. It’s the fourth year in a row that Philly has played Chicago (third straight there) and the past three have been decided by four points or less. Good luck getting through those final four games without at least two losses. It’s the third year in a row that Philly closes with Dallas, and the first two had playoff implications. This one probably will as well.
The Eagles’ ‘over/under’ for NFL season win totals is 8.5 wins and they are +275 to win the NFC East (second behind Dallas). This one is tough to predict because who knows what Kolb really is, but Philly should be able to get to nine wins yet seems unlikely to beat out Dallas or the Giants for the division title. A wild-card spot is a possibility but will be tough.
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