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

Want to play corner for Jim Schwartz? Must worry about more than deep ball

Want to play corner for Jim Schwartz? Must worry about more than deep ball

The Eagles might not have any top-flight cornerbacks, but they certainly have a lot of guys with some talent.

Many of them are young, and all of them are battling for just several roster spots.

That hodgepodge of talent has made the corner position one of the more intriguing spots at this year's training camp. We're not sure how it'll all shake out, who will be the starters, who will be the depth players.

But one thing's for certain: Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz wants all of them to be aggressive.

"It's going to be fun to watch the corners compete," Schwartz said after practice Tuesday. "We have some guys that can cover. We have some guys that have a great opportunity here. If they'll get up and they'll challenge receivers, like I said before, if you can cover — you can't cover many people if you don't want to challenge guys. That's God's honest truth. I could play the deep ball. I'd get my ass 50 yards deep and you couldn't get one over the top of me, but I couldn't cover anything else.

"There's a fine line in there. And the fine line is you obviously have to play the deep ball in this league, but if that's the only thing you're worried about, you're not going to cover anything else."

Schwartz said he's happy with the blend of veteran and young players on the roster, before rattling off five names: Nolan Carroll, Leodis McKelvin, Ron Brooks, JaCorey Shepherd and rookie Jalen Mills.

The one notable omission from that list of names is second-year player Eric Rowe, who finished last year as a starter, but has been somewhat of a forgotten man this spring and summer. On Monday, head coach Doug Pederson mentioned some "hiccups" Rowe encountered learning the new defensive scheme (see story).

Even with Rowe buried on the depth chart for now, there are still plenty of talented, young corners fighting for jobs.

Carroll, on the other hand, isn't young. He's 29 and a returning starter from last year. Schwartz praised Carroll's smarts and said he's been a resource for younger players. But Carroll is also coming off of a fibula fracture and subsequent surgery. That's why he's one of the select vets that reported to camp early.

"This is important for him now," Schwartz said. "It's a good opportunity for him to come back before the full club gets here, just to sort of test it out and see how he's feeling. You don't want to judge too much. He might need a day here or there. It helps that he's a veteran player."

It seems Carroll, on a one-year deal, has a decent shot of being a starter opposite McKelvin. During the spring, Brooks worked outside in the base package and moved inside to the slot. At times, the rookie Mills also played in the slot.

Schwartz said corners in the slot need a different set of skills than the ones outside. They need to have the "courage" to take on big-bodied running backs and the occasional pulling guard. They also need to cover differently.

"It's very rare that you're getting the same routes," he said. "You're not getting the same routes from the slot as you are from the outside. So there's a different skill set. Some guys can play both, some guys can't. So it's our job to determine over the next six weeks where all the guys fit in that."

Tonight's lineup: Ryan Howard starts; Ichiro in CF, 4 hits away from 3,000

Tonight's lineup: Ryan Howard starts; Ichiro in CF, 4 hits away from 3,000

Ryan Howard is in the Phillies' lineup Tuesday night, batting fourth against Marlins right-hander Tom Koehler. 

It's the second start in three games for Howard, who has actually been productive lately when he's gotten a chance to start. He went 2 for 3 on Saturday and had a homer in three of his previous five starts. Over that span he's gone 6 for 21 with three home runs and five RBIs as the Phillies' starting first baseman.

One of those homers was against Koehler last week at Citizens Bank Park, a two-run shot.

Howard's struggles this season have been well-documented and he's still hitting just .165, but he and Tommy Joseph have produced from a power standpoint. The only team in the majors that has more home runs from its first basemen than the Phillies (24) is the Cubs (26).

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Odubel Herrera, CF
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
4. Ryan Howard, 1B
5. Cameron Rupp, C
6. Cody Asche, LF
7. Freddy Galvis, SS
8. Peter Bourjos, RF
9. Jerad Eickhoff, P

And for the Marlins:

1. Ichiro, CF (four hits away from 3,000)
2. Martin Prado, 3B
3. Christian Yelich, LF
4. Giancarlo Stanton, RF
5. Chris Johnson, 1B
6. Adeiny Hechavarria, SS
7. Jeff Mathis, C
8. Miguel Rojas, 2B
9. Tom Koehler, P

Adjusting to new home, Ben Simmons plays role model at Sixers Camp

Adjusting to new home, Ben Simmons plays role model at Sixers Camp

Wayne, Pa. -- Three steps. 

That’s all it takes before Ben Simmons is recognized walking through the streets of Philadelphia. 

This year’s No. 1 pick has been in the spotlight long before the Sixers drafted him in June, and now he's experiencing what it's like to be known as an NBA player in his new city. 

“I’ve been enjoying walking around South Street, getting some Ishkabibble's,” Simmons said Tuesday after a special appearance at the Sixers' Camp at Valley Forge Military Academy. 

At 6-foot-10, Simmons towers above most on the court, let alone on the sidewalk. Fans have been eager to welcome him to Philadelphia for a new chapter of the organization after three years of struggle. 

“Positive things,” Simmons said of the comments he receives. “I think a lot of people are excited, so I’ve been looking forward to it.”

Simmons understands the impact a professional athlete can have on young fans, and was excited to be at camp Tuesday.

Growing up in Australia, he never had the opportunity to hear from NBA players when he attended basketball camps. Now that he's in that position, the 20-year-old was glad to provide that memory to the 240 campers. 

“That would mean a lot if I was able to experience that,” Simmons said. 

Simmons demonstrated skill drills, such as passing fundamentals, interacted in a Q+A session and signed autographs for each camper. He also took individual photos for those who traveled internationally, including from Nigeria, Italy and Greece. 

“I’m just like them, but older,” Simmons said. “I’m just trying to be a good role model to them.”

Simmons plans to spend most of the offseason in Philadelphia as he gets settled into the city. He still has to move into his new home, but at least he knows where to get a cheesesteak in the meantime.