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

Philly Mayor goes to bat for Eagles fans, cheesesteaks against John Oliver

john-oliver.jpg
HBO's Last Week Tonight

Philly Mayor goes to bat for Eagles fans, cheesesteaks against John Oliver

Charter schools. They're complicated!

After watching John Oliver's segment on them over the weekend, you'd agree there is plenty of nuance involved in the charter school debate. But also that some of them are dirty as all get out. An underground nightclub at a SCHOOL? Jeez. That can't be okay anywhere.

It's a solid segment. But it also took a couple of unneeded digs at the city of Philadelphia, its cuisine, and its sports fans.

That irked the Mayor of Philadelphia and he fought back today on Twitter.

"Agree on charter oversight but English soccer fan who eats fish from newsprint can't judge Eagles fans, cheesesteaks," Jim Kenney tweeted.

Take that you fish-eating Brit!

You can also watch the entire John Oliver segment from Last Week Tonight below.

On Eagles' roster bubble, Marcus Smith finally showing signs of improvement

On Eagles' roster bubble, Marcus Smith finally showing signs of improvement

Final cuts are a little over a week away. Marcus Smith is trying to impress a coaching staff that didn't draft him. Steven Means has had a very good preseason. Smith has little to show for his first two NFL seasons.

If time is running out on the former first-round pick from Louisville, it's not weighing on him.

"I try not to think about those things," Smith said. "Just go out there every single day and not worry about what's going on around me because everything will take care of itself."

Smith, in his first year as a 4-3 defensive end after struggling in two seasons as a 3-4 linebacker, missed the preseason game against the Bucs with a concussion but actually played very well Thursday night in Pittsburgh, with four tackles, a sack, two tackles for loss and a quarterback hurry.

It didn't count. But it was the kind of performance the Eagles have been waiting for since they made Smith the 26th pick in the 2014 draft.

Smith played just 68 snaps as a rookie, getting more than seven snaps in only four games. Last year, he played five or fewer snaps in nine of 16 games.

But new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has given Smith every opportunity to shine, and he liked what he saw in Pittsburgh.

"The thing I'm most proud about with Marcus is that he's done a good job in the run game," Schwartz said.

"He's a very skilled athlete. He's fast and he's smooth. I think he was a quarterback when he first went to Louisville. I mean, that stuff shows. Where he's really making good improvement is setting the edge of our defense [and] attacking tackles.

"He did that against a physical group from Pittsburgh. That was a great sign."

Smith was asked about his run defense being an underrated part of his game, and he disagreed with the assessment.

"For myself, it's not an underrated part,  but everybody else thinks that it's underrated because they see me as just a pass rusher," he said.

"But I also know that I can play the run and stop the run and rush the passer at the same time, and when you have both those tools then it allows the coaches to be able to put you in the game more."

When the preseason began, it was just kind of a foregone conclusion that Smith's time in Philly had run out.

Now, he's battling not only for a roster spot, presumably with Means, but also for playing time behind defensive ends Vinny Curry, Connor Barwin and Brandon Graham.

Smith insists he's not worried about where he fits in on a roster that's loaded on the defensive line.

"I don't think about those things because if you think about things you can't control you tend to not do the things that you're supposed to do," he said.

"So I just worry about what I can control and just get better and play well."

Smith is on three special teams units — kickoff, punt and kickoff return — which gives him a few more opportunities to show he belongs.

More than anything, for the first time since he got to the NFL, he's brimming with confidence.

That, more than anything else, was missing the last two seasons.

"I feel really comfortable just because the scheme and the type of defense that we're playing, it allows me to just be a defensive end and go make plays," he said.

"My confidence level is really high. I feel that when I'm out on the field I can't be stopped."

Russell Wilson still affecting Eagles' decision-making

Russell Wilson still affecting Eagles' decision-making

By now, most Eagles fans have probably heard stories that the team coveted Russell Wilson in the 2012 NFL draft but waited too long and wound up watching helplessly as he went to the Seahawks. Doug Pederson was just an offensive quality control coordinator with the Birds back then, but even he realizes how losing out on a franchise quarterback altered the course of history.

“If we’d have drafted Russell Wilson in 2012, we’d still be here as coaches,” Pederson said with a smile.

That's what Pederson told Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com, and there might be a bit of truth to it. Despite concerns over his stature, it turns out Wilson was an outstanding NFL signal-caller from the jump. And while he was surrounded by a dominant defense and ground attack, he likely would've been a winner just about anywhere.

Actually, Wilson may not have been good enough to save Andy Reid's head coaching job in Philadelphia or his staff — after 14 years, it was time, and an offensive line depleted by injuries was the real reason behind a 4-12 final season. Regardless, Pederson learned something from waiting too long on Wilson in the draft, and based on the Eagles' aggressive move for Carson Wentz this year, the organization did too.

Simply enough, if you like a quarterback, Pederson says, “Take him. Take him. Take the best available one. If you’re not planning for the quarterback position, you’re probably not going to win many games.”

...

“There’s a lesson there. Seattle, they felt like we did with Russell Wilson,” Pederson said. “We got Nick Foles right after that, and I love Nick Foles and think he’s gonna be a good quarterback in this league and do well for Kansas City. But if you’re not planning for that position ...”

For as much criticism or questioning as the Eagles have faced for their plan at quarterback this year, "take him" certainly was not the issue. In addition to all of players and draft collateral they gave up for Wentz, they also invested large sums of money into current starter Sam Bradford and long-term backup Chase Daniel.

If you think Pederson and executive vice president of personnel Howie Roseman's experience of missing out on Wilson didn't play a role in those moves, the head coach made it quite clear to the contrary. While Eagles fans would prefer the known quantity and proven Super Bowl champion under center, you can't say this regime hasn't done everything in its power to erase that mistake.