ENOUGH TALK: Eagles Finally Kick Off Chip Kelly Era in Washington Tonight

ENOUGH TALK: Eagles Finally Kick Off Chip Kelly Era in Washington Tonight

This is the day we’ve been waiting since before Chip Kelly was hired, when it was becoming apparent Andy Reid’s run was coming to an end. Some disgruntled followers have no doubt been waiting even longer.

But the time has finally come for this Chip fella to show us why he was one of the most coveted head coaching candidates on the market the past two offseasons. Is his offense as good as advertised? Will his philosophies translate in the win-loss column? Can he build a successful program at the pro level?

Frankly, we’ve exhausted all words on those topics and many more over the last eight months. There’s only one way to find out the answers to all of our pressing questions.

Time to play the game.

The Eagles are four-point underdogs tonight in Washington against a Redskins team that went 10-6 en route to an NFC East Championship last season. You can check out some of the prevalent storylines and predictions for those here. Also below are links to all our previews and relevant stories for tonight’s action. First, let’s pick tonight’s standout star.

Standout Star: DeSean Jackson

I’m going DeSean for two reasons. First, he had a great summer. DJacc was making big plays seemingly on a daily basis at training camp, and it carried over into the preseason. In three games, Jackson hauled in six receptions for 123 yards (20.5 AVG) and one 47-yard touchdown. He could also see some punt return duties tonight.

The past couple years have been rough at times for the two-time Pro Bowler, but DeSean is healthy and coming into this season with the right approach. Chip Kelly promises to utilize his skills in a variety of ways that will be new to him at this level, and with Jeremy Maclin sadly lost to an ACL injury, Jackson figures to shoulder much of the burden for the offense on the perimeter.

But perhaps the biggest reason this dangerous wide receiver is poised to get off to a fast start in his sixth NFL season has to do with the state of the Redskins’ secondary. Sixth-round rookie Bacarri Rambo will start at one of the safety positions, and if Brandon Meriweather can’t go tonight (listed as questionable), career backup Reed Doughty will line up opposite the kid.

Toss in cornerback DeAngelo Hall and his propensity to give up the big play, and you have a group that is ripe for the picking on. Expect to see DeSean with a higher volume of targets on short and intermediate routes, but at some point Michael Vick is going to test these defensive backs vertically, which means Jackson should have opportunities to make things happen.

And away we go.

Previously:

Eagles-Redskins Storylines and Predictions: Can Birds’ D Keep RG3 and Alfred Morris from Spoiling Chip Kelly’s Debut?
Place Your Bets! Eagles at Redskins Betting Lines: Who Will Throw for More? Vick or RG3?
Is RG3 Ready for Week 1 Against the Eagles?
2013 Philadelphia Eagles: Predictions for All 16 Games
@FakeWIPCaller’s Essential 2013 Eagles Preview: 10 Things I Hate About the Eagles
ESPN Writers Hate the Eagles, Love Andy Reid
Vick: Eagles’ Offense ‘Something like you’ve never seen before’
The Evster: So We’re Really Goin’ with Riley Cooper as our #2 WR, Huh?
Riley Cooper Says Cary Williams Scuffle Had Nothing to Do with Racial Slur
Nate Allen to Start at Safety for Eagles, but Earl Wolff Will Play
Danny Watkins Headlines Cuts as Eagles Get Down to 53 Players
‘We Will Rise’: This Video Will Get You Pumped Up for the Eagles

More from Andrew Kulp:

Breaking Down the Eagles' Inability to Stop the Run
Breaking Down the Eagles' Game Plan vs. Washington
5 Bold Predictions Heading into 2013

Doug Pederson: Dak Prescott knew he didn't have to win by himself

Doug Pederson: Dak Prescott knew he didn't have to win by himself

For the most part, Carson Wentz had a pretty successful rookie season. 

Sure, the Eagles finished with a 7-9 record, but Wentz did enough to continue the franchise's belief that he is indeed the quarterback of the future. 

Another guy in Dallas did the same thing with the Cowboys. Actually, Dak Prescott had an even more impressive rookie season, leading the Cowboys to 13 wins, while winning the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. 

Prescott, a fourth-round pick, had a great year, but didn't try to do too much. And that's what impressed Eagles head coach Doug Pederson the most. 

"[Prescott] understood this right away, that he didn't have to win the game for them," Pederson said on The Doomsday Podcast, hosted by Matt Mosley and Ed Werder. (Pederson also talked about running the Rocky steps). "He knew that he had a good defense, a tremendous offensive line, a great runner, he had some veteran players that he could rely on and he learned that early. As soon as he had the opportunity to play and that was early, from Day 1. 

"That's something that a young quarterback, sometimes it takes them a while to figure out the game that way. That's the impressive thing, that he learned how to handle that business that well, utilize the people around him and understand that he didn't have to go win the game."

While Prescott had plenty of help during his rookie season, it was pretty evident Wentz was lacking in that area. 

Prescott had a great offensive line, Dez Bryant, Ezekiel Elliott and others. Wentz had an offensive line that was missing Lane Johnson, an often-injured Ryan Mathews and receivers like Nelson Agholor and Dorial Green-Beckham playing serious snaps. 

So it made sense when the team went out this offseason and signed Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, and recently LeGarrette Blount, as free agents, finally getting Wentz some real help. 

"We had opportunities to get those two guys and it was obvious last year, we were young at the wide receiver position," Peterson said. "We needed some leadership, some veteran presence there and we went out and got that with Torrey and Alshon. We still want to build through the draft, we still want to acquire young talent. 

"LeGarrette Blount now is a guy that gives us that big back, running back, that can come in and compete and hopefully he does everything he did at New England the last couple of seasons. He had 18 rushing touchdowns for over 1,000 yards and we just expect that same level of performance here."

Maybe having weapons will allow Wentz to do what made Prescott so impressive to Pederson in 2016: not too much. 

Tonight's lineup: Michael Saunders dropped to eighth in order

Tonight's lineup: Michael Saunders dropped to eighth in order

Pete Mackanin is still searching for answers to the Phillies' offensive woes following Sunday afternoon's disheartening 1-0 loss in Pittsburgh during which the Phils could only muster three hits.

The latest lineup twist as the search for an answer continues will see Michael Saunders bat in the eight-hole tonight as the Phils open a four-game series with the surging Rockies tonight at Citizens Bank Park (see game notes).

When he has started this season, Saunders has been a fixture within the middle of the Phillies' order. After all, the offseason free-agent signing was an All-Star for Toronto last season when he hit 24 homers and drove in 57 runs.

But this season hasn't gone as planned as Saunders is hitting just .232 with four homers and 15 RBI in 41 games with the Phils this season.

With Saunders' drop down the lineup, Tommy Joseph will bat fourth, Maikel Franco fifth and Odubel Herrera sixth against Rockies spot starter Jeff Hoffman.

Tonight's full lineups can be found below:

Phillies
1. Cesar Hernandez 2B
2. Freddy Galvis SS
3. Aaron Altherr LF
4. Tommy Joseph 1B
5. Maikel Franco 3B
6. Odubel Herrera CF
7. Cameron Rupp C
8. Michael Saunders RF
9. Jerad Eickhoff SP

Rockies
1. Charlie Blackmon CF
2. D.J. LeMehiau 2B
3. Nolan Arenado 3B
4. Carlos Gonzalez RF
5. Mark  Reynolds 1B
6. Gerardo Parra LF
7. Alexi Amarista SS
8. Tony Wolters C
9. Jeff Hoffman SP