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

Flyers returning from World Cup enjoyed playoff-like atmosphere

Flyers returning from World Cup enjoyed playoff-like atmosphere

VOORHEES, N.J. – It’s as if the season began right where it left off for the handful of Flyers players that participated in the World Cup of Hockey. 

Five months removed from their first round series with Washington, the group that played in the international tournament says it was nearly identical to the tempo they saw in the NHL playoffs.

“Our division was really tight so right from the get-go you couldn’t afford to lose a game,” said Sean Couturier, who suited up for North America. “It definitely felt like playoffs, and it definitely didn’t feel like September.”

Couturier was joined by his World Cup teammate Shayne Gostisbehere, along with Team Czech Republic’s Jake Voracek and Michael Neuvirth, in their return to Voorhees for their first practice with the Flyers on Monday. Team Canada’s Claude Giroux and the Team Europe duo of Mark Streit and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare will be competing in the finals this week.

While it may have been an early exit for the first wave of Flyers who reported back, the experience of playing in a tournament with that high of intensity has left them more confident than they’ve ever felt at this time of the year, particularly for Gostisbehere. 

The Calder Trophy runner-up underwent offseason hip surgery following his 46-point season. Having missed a season two years ago because of a torn ACL, Gostisbehere is thankful for how much the World Cup prepared him for his second year. He says he feels better now than he ever has in his career after picking up four assists in the tournament.

“You don’t play in those games in September normally so it was pretty cool to do,” Gostisbehere said. “I think the tournament was a good stepping stone for me and to branch off my injury and give yourself the confidence that you’re feeling good for the year.”

Like Couturier and Gostisbehere, Voracek said the World Cup gameplay mirrored that of the NHL postseason. 

“When I look at the season for the Flyers, it was the best thing that could have happened for me,” Voracek said. “The World Cup was high level… I’m six games in before training camp even starts.”

After what he calls a “good offseason” of training, Voracek saw this opportunity as almost a saving grace – a chance to regain form before embarking on his sixth season in Philadelphia. The winger had one goal and one assist in three games that “felt like I was playing in the playoffs.”

Had this tournament occurred in 2015, the mindset coming back may have been different. Dave Hakstol was coaching his first professional season and as evidenced by their record to start the year and the comments made throughout, things took a little longer than expected when it came to picking up the new coach’s system.

That process is behind the Flyers, and it makes missing the first weekend of camp and possibly the first week of preseason games an easier obstacle to overcome.

“It’s always better when you know the system and what Hak wants in you,” Voracek said. “It’s obviously going to get better and better.”

The best-of-three World Cup finals will begin on Tuesday with the third game (if needed) commencing on Saturday. If the teams go the full distance, the remaining three Flyers involved would likely not play their first preseason game until October 6 if not October 8, the final exhibition game. 

Carson Wentz By the Numbers: Not much precedent for this success

Carson Wentz By the Numbers: Not much precedent for this success

The way Carson Wentz is playing, we may have to make this a regular feature.

Generally, when an Eagles quarterback plays lights out, we pull out the [Insert Name Here] By the Numbers.

We did it for Nick Foles after his seven-touchdown game against the Raiders, we did it for Sam Bradford a couple times late last year, we did it for Michael Vick a couple times during his hot 2010 season.

With Wentz? This might have to happen every week.

He's been that good.

So here is this week's Carson Wentz By the Numbers. Don't be surprised if you see it again very soon.

• Wentz is the first rookie in NFL history to have a game in which he completed 74 percent of his passes with 300 yards, two or more touchdowns and no interceptions. He’s also only the fourth Eagle to have such a game. Randall Cunningham did it against the Giants in 1988, Donovan did it four times (in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2007) and Nick Foles did it against the Raiders with his historic seven-TD game in 2013.

• Wentz is the first quarterback in NFL history to throw 30 or more passes with no interceptions in each of his first three career games.

• Wentz’s 73-yard TD pass to Darren Sproles was the longest touchdown pass by an Eagles rookie since John Reaves' 77-yarder to Harold Carmichael against the Giants at Yankee Stadium in 1972.

• Wentz is only the second quarterback in NFL history to be 3-0 three games into his rookie year. The other one is former Eagle and current Cowboy Mark Sanchez, who opened his career in 2009 with wins over the Texans, Patriots and Titans. Sanchez then lost six of his next seven starts.

• Wentz is the fourth quarterback to win his first three NFL starts (not necessarily as rookies). That list includes Wentz, Sanchez, 35-year-old Dieter Brock of the Rams in 1985 (who had played a decade in the CFL) and Marc Bulger of the Rams in 2002 (in his third NFL season).

• Among quarterbacks who’ve thrown at least 100 passes in their career, Wentz now has the second-highest passer rating in NFL history at 103.8. He trails only Aaron Rodgers’ 104.0 figure. The only other quarterback over 100 is Russell Wilson, at 101.1.

• Wentz’s 125.9 passer rating Sunday against the Steelers is highest ever by an Eagles rookie. The previous high was A.J. Feeley’s 114.0 mark against Tampa in 2001. But Feeley didn’t start that game. So the previous high by a rookie Eagles starter was John Reaves’ 105.7 rating against the Browns in 1972.

• Wentz has already tied Mike Boryla’s franchise record for most wins by a rookie quarterback. Boryla won three games in 1974. Since then, Eagles rookie quarterbacks were a combined 5-21.  

• Wentz’s 102 pass attempts without an interception are the most in NFL history by a rookie in his first three games. Second-most are Dak Prescott’s current streak of 99 attempts. The record before Wentz and Prescott came along was 86 by Chad Hutchinson of the Cowboys in 2002.

• It was widely reported that Wentz had broken the NFL record for most pass attempts without an interception to begin a career at 102. But he actually has the second-longest streak. Tom Brady began his career with 147 attempts without an interception before getting picked off by safety Eric Brown of the Broncos in his seventh career game.  

• Wentz's 103.8 passer rating is third-highest in NFL history by a quarterback three games into his rookie year. His trails only Greg Cook of the Bengals (111.9 in 1969) and Marcus Mariota of the Titans (110.3 last year). Robert Griffin III (103.5 with the Redskins in 2012) and Jacky Lee (102.5 with the Oilers in 1960) are the only other quarterbacks over 100 after Week 3 of their rookie season (based on a minimum of 50 attempts).

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