Week one of the NFL season is finally here. It feels like just yesterday that we were all mentally preparing for the stressful day we had ahead of us on Super Bowl Sunday. Now, 30 Sundays later, the Eagles are back on the field.
While the expectation for this season is Super Bowl or bust, the Eagles have a long climb to get back to the top of the mountain again. The Eagles journey to defend the NFC crown starts in New England.
Tom Brady Day
It is not often that one of the teams that played in the Super Bowl opens the next season on the road, but the Eagles are doing just that. This game will be extra special for Patriots fans as the team will hold a ceremony for future Hall of Fame Quarterback Tom Brady. Owner Robert Kraft said that Patriots fans never got to “say goodbye” to Brady and this will be their chance to do that, along with honoring him for his time with the team. Brady of course is regarded as the best Quarterback in NFL history and won 6 Super Bowls with the Patriots. Brady is expected to be on the field pre-game, while also receiving a ceremony at halftime.
While most of the current Patriots players did not play with Brady, this will certainly give an extra charge to Patriots fans. Week one of the NFL season always brings out near playoff-type intensity in crowds, but having Brady there could give them some extra juice.
The Eagles always love to say that it feels like they play 17 home games because of how well the fans travel, but with tickets for this game being at a minimum of $210, it is less likely for Eagles fans to make the trip. There is no doubt there will be green in the stands, but a takeover is unlikely.
Eagles’ Biggest Advantage
Many would argue that the strongest position group on the Eagles’ roster is their defensive line. The Eagles set a team record in sacks last season and added 2 first-round picks in Jalen Carter and Nolan Smith. The best player on the great Eagles defensive line is Haason Reddick. Earlier this week the Patriots placed Right Tackle Riley Reiff on Injured Reserve. Reiff was set to face off against Reddick before getting injured, and now a backup will be lined up across one of the NFL’s best pass rushers. Reddick has been battling a thumb injury that kept him out of a lot of training camp, but that will not hinder him too much in this game. Reddick has shown the ability to wreck games all by himself before, and today may be no different.
The Patriots also added Corner Back Jack Jones to IR, and DeVante Parker, Cole Strange, and Mike Onwenu are all Questionable.
If you are expecting the Eagles to start the season as a perfectly well-oiled machine, you may be expecting too much. The Eagles will debut two new coordinators in today’s game, who will both be calling their own plays. Offensive Coordinator Brian Johnson was with the Eagles last year as the Quarterbacks coach, so there may not be much of a learning curve with him. The biggest step for him will be calling the plays on offense. The Eagles coaching staff did a great job last year of creating a balanced attack. When Nick Sirianni was calling plays his first year he completely neglected the running game, causing the team to struggle to start the season. He then gave up play calls, and they started to win games and eventually made the playoffs. The Eagles have so much talent on offense that it may not matter, but it will be interesting to see how long it takes for Johnson to get into a groove.
The big learning curve will come on the defensive side of the ball. The Eagles will start 5 new players on defense, while also debuting Sean Desai’s defense. Because of their cautious pre-season approach, the full first-team defense has yet to play any game snaps together. Luckily for them, the Patriots do not have much talent on offense. Quarterback Mac Jones has struggled since coming out of Alabama, and they do not have many offensive weapons. The Patriots did sign former Cowboys Running Back Ezekiel Elliott who has had a lot of success against the Eagles in the past. Desai’s game plan will likely be to stop the run and make Jones beat them.