With the Colts facing the Philadelphia Eagles in this Sunday's preseason opener, Stampede Blue's Josh Wilson talked with Bleeding Green Nation's Brandon Lee Gowton about the Eagles, this Sunday's game, and their 2015 outlook. The questions are in bold and then Brandon's responses follow.
1. There's been a lot of change with the Eagles since we last saw them, and perhaps the most notable move they made was to get rid of LeSean McCoy in favor of DeMarco Murray. How do Eagles fans feel about the running back position, and should we expect similar results from Murray as what we saw from him last year?
LeSean McCoy was great and a fan favorite, at least before he made some of the comments since leaving, but the majority think getting Kiko Alonso for him was a pretty good deal. As for DeMarco Murray, it's a little weird since he from the Cowboys, but I think most are looking forward to seeing him in the lineup. His jersey is already a top seller. Murray fits the profile of the physical, one-cut running back Chip Kelly supposedly covets.
Murray definitely won't come close to the type of production he had in 2014. The Eagles are going to run the ball a lot, but they won't need to rely on him as much as Dallas did. Philadelphia is going to rotate former first round pick Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles into the mix. While the volume numbers might not be the same, the hope is his efficiency can still be good.
2. Another change has been at the quarterback position. How is Sam Bradford looking so far, and what should we expect from him this season?
Sam Bradford's been very sharp in practice. He's a big upgrade on Nick Foles from a talent perspective, at least. Now the real test is to see how he handles pressure and getting hit. If he stays healthy, I don't doubt he can put up some big numbers in Chip Kelly's offense. Just look at what Kelly has done with lesser talents like Foles, Michael Vick, and Mark Sanchez. But the problem is it's just so hard to count on Bradford's health.
3. Looking at the defense, the Eagles had a lot of struggles at the cornerback position last year and in defending the passing game. Should we expect that area to be improved this year?The Eagles invested a lot in the cornerback position this offseason. The team signed Byron Maxwell to be an answer at one of the starting positions. The former Seahawks corner has looked great this summer.
Veteran Nolan Carroll and second round rookie Eric Rowe are competing for the other starting spot. It's hard to imagine either player will be worse than what the Eagles had last year. The coaching staff has raved about Carroll's offseason, for what it's worth, and Rowe has shown some promise.
The nickel cornerback spot is more of a question than it was in the past, however. The team traded away Brandon Boykin to the Steelers. It looked like standout rookie JaCorey Shepherd was going to replace him but he recently suffered a season-ending injury. The Eagles aren't out of options at that position, but they don't have a proven option right now.
4) Since it's preseason, how much should we expect to see the Eagles starters/notable players on Sunday?
I wouldn't expect them to play too much. Probably like 10-15 snaps at most. One series or two.
Some of the starters might not appear at all. Sam Bradford hasn't been limited in practice but it's unclear if the team wants to expose him to full game action [Editor's note: Bradford has since been ruled out of Sunday's game]. DeMarco Murray hasn't been fully practicing. Kiko Alonso is still recovering from a concussion. Zach Ertz has been banged up. Mychal Kendricks and DeMeco Ryans have been sitting out as well. Don't expect to see many starters in even when the "first team" is up.
5. Who are some of the backup players that we should be watching out for in this weekend's preseason game?
OK, besides him, two undrafted free agents who have shown up in camp include cornerback Denzel Rice and running back Raheem Mostert. Rice has a knack for making plays on the ball. Mostert, meanwhile, has pretty good speed. They might flash.
Thanks again to Brandon for taking the time to answer these questions, and be sure to check out Bleeding Green Nation for complete coverage of the game from the Eagles' side of things.