The 5 o’clock club aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.
I was able to connect with Brandon Gowton of Bleeding Green Nation this week to swap information about the Philadelphia Football Team and Redskins. You can check out my answers to his questions at BGN; you’ll find his answers to my five questions below:
1 - So, Howie Roseman was emasculated in the Chip Kelly regime, then suddenly he returned to power with the hiring of Doug Pederson. Howie’s had a busy offseason, with multiple trades & roster moves. How are Philly fans feeling about the front office right now?
Funny you ask. I just ran a Howie Roseman approval poll on Bleeding Green Nation. The Eagles’ EVP of football operations earned an 84% approval rating with nearly 2000 votes cast.
I think most Eagles fans feel fairly confident in the front office right now. They put a solid offseason together. The primary focus was to upgrade Carson Wentz’s weapons and they did that by signing Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. Philadelphia also addressed their dire weakness at cornerback by trading for a long-term piece in Ronald Darby.
That’s not to say everything is sunshine and rainbows. The Eagles still have some flaws. The running back position is a big question mark entering the 2017 season.
Ultimately, though, the front office will be defined by the development of Wentz. If he fails, they’re doomed. The good news for the Eagles is that he had a strong offseason so there’s reason for optimism with the second-year passer. As long as he’s good, the front office will earn approval.
2 - In the season-opener against Washington, what part of the Philadelphia Football Club’s game should Redskin fans be most worried about?
I’d argue Redskins fans shouldn’t be worried at all. They haven’t beaten Washington since 2014. There’s just no way the Eagles can win. ;)
Ha, but seriously, normally I’d say the Eagles’ defensive line is the position group to be most concerned about. I wouldn’t say that this week, though, because Washington has a good offensive line. I expect that to be a good battle.
The thing I’m most interested to see if how Josh Norman matches up against Alshon Jeffery. Earlier this offseason, Pro Football Focus pointed out that Jeffery figures to be a big mismatch for the Washington cornerback. Jeffery’s best routes are the ones Norman struggles with the most. Jeffery had five receptions for 92 yards against Washington last year.
Wentz figures to target Jeffery early and often. The 6-3, 218 pound pass catcher is Philadelphia’s new No. 1 wide receiver.
3 - Can you tell us about two under-the-radar guys we should watch for on Sunday (one offense, one defense)?
On offense, Nelson Agholor is the under-the-radar guy to watch. It’s weird billing a former first round pick in this category, but as you’re aware Agholor has been pretty awful for his first two seasons in the NFL. There’s been some hope Agholor can turn things around, even if just a little bit, since he’s had a good offseason. Agholor was kind of quite in the preseason games, though, so who knows. We’ll see if he can step up in Week 1. He’s the team’s new starting slot receiver with Jordan Matthews gone.
As for the defensive side of the ball, keep an eye on Tim Jernigan. The Eagles’ new starting defensive tackle is better at pushing the pocket than Bennie Logan was. The combination of him and Fletcher Cox should be able to generate pressure up the middle at times.
4 - Can we expect the same kind of flashy special teams play and defensive scoring this season that has characterized the Philadelphia team in recent years?
I don’t see why not. The Eagles still employs special teams coordinator Dave Fipp. Darren Sproles is still a threat to take it to house on punt returns. The defense has a number of playmakers on it, and the presence of Darby gives them another. He’s an aggressive corner who isn’t afraid to jump a route and make a play.
I do think the Eagles won’t have to rely on these units as much because the offense should be improved to some extent.
5 - If I want to start one Philly RB on my fantasy team this week, who should it be?
Great question. I have no idea.
Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said the Eagles are going to rotate their running backs from week-to-week based on the game plan.
I expect a running-back-by-committe approach yet again this season. I think LeGarrette Blount will get a lot of the carries early on. If he’s effective, the Eagles will keep feeding the big man. If not, they’ll try to get Darren Sproles and second-year rusher Wendell Smallwood more involved. Both of those latter two backs are also options for the Eagles in the passing game.
Blount might have the highest fantasy value since the Eagles will likely use him in the red zone. Sproles could draw more consideration in a PPR format.
What’s your prediction for Sunday?
This poll is closed
Redskins win by more than 10 points
‘Skins win -- 3-9 points
Skins win by less than 3
The game ends in a tie