Q&A: Eagles Predictions From McManus And Kapadia

0V3J8742Q: Will Chip Kelly be a success?

Kapadia: For the first time in awhile, we really have to define what we mean by success. The days of “Super Bowl or bust” are over – for now, that is.

Instead, this year is about building the foundation of a program that the Eagles hope will eventually bring them a Lombardi Trophy. I think Kelly will be successful in establishing that, specifically on offense.

Everyone I talked to this offseason – Kelly’s former players, his opponents, his peers – seemed to agree that he is a special offensive mind. If the preseason is any indication, the Eagles will have a lot of similarities to his Oregon squads. But Kelly’s challenge will come when defenses figure out answers. That’s when he’ll have to prove he has the “figure-it-out” quality that is crucial for success in the NFL. The ability to adjust, tweak and tinker when something’s not working.

With an offensive line that could be a top-five unit if it fulfills its potential, an outstanding group of running backs led by LeSean McCoy, an elite vertical threat in DeSean Jackson and an excellent group of tight ends, we should be able to tell pretty soon how Kelly’s offensive expertise will translate. Even if the defense is a mess, if Kelly gets the offense going and the Eagles improve on special teams, fans will be left with a positive feeling that 2013 is leading to something bigger in the coming years.

McManus: Long-term I believe the answer is yes. Insiders I have talked to have been very impressed with the infrastructure Kelly is building; how he is able to connect all phases of the operation and get them flowing in a common direction. Kelly has both sides of the brain working: He has the big-picture vision and the attention to detail required to push the plan forward on a day-to-day basis.

Is it possible his plan will not work? Certainly, especially if he doesn’t collect the talent necessary to execute it.

We need to remind ourselves that this team is very much under construction. This season could be a struggle. But ultimately I believe the Kelly Experiment will work.

Q: Who will be the team’s breakout player?

Kapadia: I’m going with Mychal Kendricks. The second-year linebacker has a versatile skill set and should make a sizable leap.

He’s the Eagles’ best cover linebacker, something that is crucial with so many offenses having athletic tight ends capable of exploiting mismatches. And Kendricks should get plenty of opportunities to rush the passer in this scheme. Look for him to make plenty of stops behind the line of scrimmage and be the biggest playmaker on this defense.

McManus: I like Sheil’s choice but to be different I’ll go Damaris Johnson. Jeremy Maclin mentioned him from the very beginning as a player whose skills are perfect for this system. We’ll trust that the veteran receiver knows what he is talking about. Johnson’s biggest contributions could come on special teams as a kick and punt returner. He needs to protect the ball better and make better decisions at times, but overall he looked pretty explosive in the return game this preseason.

Q: How many games will Michael Vick start?

Kapadia: I’ll go with 13. As we’ve pointed out before, the bulk of Vick’s previous injuries have come while he’s standing in the pocket, so I’m not as worried as most about the zone-read leading to him getting hurt.

But Vick still has that aura of invincibility where he feels like he can extend every play and escape every defender. The preseason provided no evidence that he will slide or get out of harm’s way. And even though the scheme will help, it’s difficult to predict he’ll get through the entire season healthy.

By the way, showcasing Nick Foles in a two- or three-game audition would not be the worst thing for this franchise. If he plays well, all of a sudden you have a nice little trade chip in the offseason if you choose to go that route.

McManus: Same ballpark. I’ll say 12. I am a little more concerned than you, Mr. Kapadia, about Vick running the read-option. I think opposing defenses are really going to bang around quarterbacks running the read-option this year to try and deter offensive coordinators from dialing those plays up. Not sure that bodes well for the 33-year-old Vick.

Foles will get a chance this season at some point, you would imagine. Curious to see what he does with a second audition.

Q: What is your one bold prediction on offense?

Kapadia: DeSean Jackson will have a career year. Right now, the standard is 2009. Jackson had 62 catches for 1,156 yards and nine receiving touchdowns that year.

I’m not sure if Jackson will get in the end zone more in 2013, but I think he’ll set career highs in catches and receiving yards. Kelly is no dummy. His offense will be based on getting the ball in his playmakers’ hands, and that means plenty of touches for Jackson.

Defenses will often be forced to bring a safety up, because if they don’t, Kelly will run the ball all day long. That should mean more opportunities for Jackson to do what he does best: get deep.

McManus: Todd Herremans will have a down year.

The veteran guard was dealing with some knee inflammation this preseason and didn’t look like himself against Jacksonville. Perhaps that is unfairly shaping my opinion.

I look at the foot injury he sustained against the Saints last November (dislocated bone, tendon tears, multiple fractures) and wonder if he can be 100 percent right less than a year later. What’s more, I think about this: Can we really expect  Herremans, Jason Peters and Jason Kelce — all coming off major injuries — to each snap back to full form and go through the season unscathed?

The Eagles will certainly be blessed if that’s the case.

Q: What is your bold prediction on defense? 

Kapadia: I was first going to predict that the Eagles would give up more passing touchdowns than last year, but then quickly decided that didn’t really qualify as bold.

I’m not sure this does either, but since I’m in a half-glass-full kind of mood, I’ll go with it: Fletcher Cox will make the Pro Bowl.

The Eagles are moving towards a 3-4. We’ll find out Monday night how far they’ve gotten, but I can’t see Cox being asked to two-gap all game long. He showed plenty of signs last year that he can be a dynamic playmaker. Cox’s athleticism shows up on the field – both against the run and the pass.

He’ll build on his rookie performance and earn a trip to Honolulu… or Miami… or wherever the Pro Bowl is. There is still a Pro Bowl, right?

McManus: Pain. I predict pain.

Aside from that, I’ll say that Trent Cole has a bigger 2013 than most anticipate. He had a down year last season, we understand that. He averaged 11 sacks/per season the three years before that, however, and is only 30 years old. People act like he is ancient.  Scheme fit is a concern, yes, but the guess here is Billy Davis runs a 4-3 under and uses Cole in a “Predator” role where he will line up on the weak side and be asked to rush the passer 90-plus percent of the time. He can handle that.

Q: What will the Eagles’ final record be?

Kapadia: I’m going with 7-9. As I stated above, I have faith in the offense, and that’s even if the Eagles get only average quarterback play.

The X-factor, as has become custom around these parts, is Vick. If he looks like a dynamic playmaker in Kelly’s offense, takes care of the ball and stays healthy, this could turn into a really fascinating season.

It’s tough to come up with a best-case scenario on defense. The move from a Wide-9 4-3 to a two-gap 3-4 is pretty much as dramatic as it gets in the front-seven. The names in the secondary are different, but the results could ultimately end up being the same.

There is some talent – Cox, Kendricks, Brandon Boykin, DeMeco Ryans, Connor Barwin - but it’s difficult to project guys like Trent Cole and Brandon Graham as good fits in the new scheme. If Davis successfully adjusts the scheme to his personnel, maybe he’ll surprise and turn this into a competent group. But I need to see it to believe it.

McManus: Would love to be different, but that’s how I see it as well: 7-9.

I expect the offense to be pretty good and I think the defense will have issues. This team will stay competitive but ultimately will show too many flaws.

If Sheil and I are right and Vick only plays 12 or 13 games, roughly a quarter of the season may be played without the starting quarterback. Maybe Foles performs, maybe he doesn’t. There’s too much instability at that position to project more than 7-8 wins for this team.

The first year under Kelly is really about establishing a foundation. Don’t think they’ll be ready to push for a divisional crown just yet.

Q: What’s your Super Bowl prediction?

Kapadia: I’ll go Packers-Patriots. I know they have some questions on the offensive line and on defense, but even with those issues last year, the Packers were two wins away from the Super Bowl. With an improved run game, I don’t see anyone in the NFC stopping Aaron Rodgers and their offense.

Can’t say an AFC team really stands out. The Broncos should be in the mix. I’m not ready to rule the Ravens out despite all their offseason changes. But I’ll go with the Patriots. With 11 wins or more in six of the last seasons, they’re pretty much a lock to be in the mix. The defense concerns me, but they have one of the best offensive lines in football, and Tom Brady showed no signs of slowing down when he was in town.

Final score at MetLife Stadium: Packers 34, Patriots 31.

McManus: Look at you going with a final score! I’ll tell you what, if that turns out to be the final I’ll write all your Wake-Up Calls for two weeks.

I’ll say Seahawks-Broncos.

Was I influenced by Peyton Manning‘s seven-touchdown performance in the opener? Damn right. Ridiculous the weapons that man has at his disposal right now. What is he going to do to this poor Eagles’ secondary in a few weeks? Scary. Seattle is kind of a trendy pick, I get it, but I’m a believer in Russell Wilson and I think the team is just stacked.

Should I take a stab at a final score?

107-104, ‘Hawks.

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Pulse: An Exile in Comcast Country

With less than a foot between his residence and the western end of the soon-to-be, 57-story Comcast Tower, the Reverend Clayton Ames, the persnickety 61-year-old pastor of Arch Street Presbyterian Church, is the skyscraper’s closest neighbor. So you’d imagine his complaints would include construction noise and debris, closed sidewalks and parking headaches. But all that stuff “is no big deal,” says the Ambler native, over a single-malt at Twenty21. “The real problem here, and one might, I suppose, choose to call it ironic, is that I am, ahem, ineligible for cable television.”



In 2001, shortly after moving into the church’s 150-year-old parsonage, Ames, a ravenous Phillies fan, called Comcast and requested the digital baseball package, since antenna reception in the building is impossible. But the company informed him he was out of luck. “They told me my address was not in their ‘registry,'” he snoots. “Meanwhile, there’s a cable box right out front.”

In the five baseball seasons since, Ames estimates, he’s been on the phone with the nation’s largest cable provider 40 times, and although they have offered to send out survey teams, he still doesn’t exist to Comcast — as our own call to the company’s customer service department confirmed. With Phillies spring training less than three months away, Ames is not exactly feeling Comcastic about his chances of watching anything but snow this season. “It’s more frustrating than you could ever believe,” he says.

Meet a Health Hero: Joann Fegley

>> You can vote for Joann on our Facebook page September 24-30. Mark your calendar!

Name: Joann Fegley

Occupation: Coach of the Schuylkill Dragons Women’s Dragon Boat Team

Who or what motivates you to be healthy?
My motivation to be healthy started back when I was kid. My mom would do her best on a tight budget to make healthy, well balanced meals for us and talked about the importance of eating well. As an adult, it gets harder to stay motivated. But as a coach I want to be, as my mom was for me, a good role model. My team motivates me to keep myself fit and stay healthy; I want to reinforce what I coach by doing it myself. I also just feel better overall when I take care of myself by eating well and staying active.

Describe a health or fitness related turning point in your life.
There are always little moments in life that make you think and at times prompt a change. A fitness change that was a big turning point in my life was in the fall of 2003; that’s when I met this group of amazing women who were the members of the Schuylkill Dragons. I had been struggling with a work, life and fitness balance. I had just started a new job and was focused on my new career. I had also been diagnosed a few years earlier with a chronic knee injury, and was advised to not do any type of impact training. I had no intentions of joining the Schuylkill Dragons. I had gone to a fundraiser and learned about the sport of dragon boating, but with my focus on my career, and having both physical and time limitations, I didn’t think I could add anything new to my schedule. A coworker was interested in the team and the sport, so I agreed to go with her to a team workout being held at 12th Street Gym. I showed up on time and ready to hide in the corner and support my coworker. Well, she never showed up.

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Meet a Health Hero: Marci Schankweiler

>> You can vote for Marci on our Facebook page September 24-30. Mark your calendar!

Name: Marci Schankweiler

Occupation: President and Founder of For Pete’s Sake Cancer Respite Foundation

Who or what motivates you to be healthy?
My late husband, Pete, passed away at age 30 of testicular cancer. His death taught me that life is fragile and that we should care for our bodies, our minds and our spirits because we only get one of each! When we learned that we could not fix his physical health—the cancer was too far gone—we decided that we would nurture our mental, emotional and spiritual health and take a long break from cancer. We took a 17 day respite to relax, refresh and rejuvenate for what was sure to be a long journey ahead.

Today, I am remarried to a man who reminds me to seize the day, and we have two beautiful daughters. My family inspires me to be as healthy as I can be, so that I can ensure I am setting a good example and also that I will be around for a long time. I want my girls to grow up loving themselves and appreciate the things that their body can accomplish when they take care of it.

Additionally, my work with For Pete’s Sake Cancer Respite Foundation shows me that we tend to take our health for granted. In one instant, our lives can change with a cancer diagnosis. While we have regimens to help our physical fight against cancer, our mental health is just as critical. I am motivated each day by the many families we serve at FPS to help them address the psycho-social needs caused by a cancer diagnosis.

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Meet a Health Hero: Robert Bulgarelli

>> You can vote for Dr. Bulgarelli on our Facebook page September 24-30. Mark your calendar!

Name: Robert Bulgarelli, DO

Occupation: Director of Integrative Cardiovascular Medicine at Main Line Health and Cardiologist at Riddle Hospital

Who or what motivates you to be healthy?
My family, my patients and my passion to connect science and spirituality.

Describe a health or fitness related turning point in your life.
When I learned to meditate. It was the absolute point of no return on my pursuit of a more integrative approach to my own health and for my patients.

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Meet a Health Hero: Jeffrey Brous

>> You can vote for Jeffrey on our Facebook page September 24-30. Mark your calendar!

Name: Jeffrey Brous

Occupation: Personal Trainer at Horsham Athletic Club

Who or what motivates you to be healthy?
I have two primary sources of motivation: first there is myself. I like to be my primary motivator so when I mess up or slip-up, I am the only one I can hold accountable. The second source of motivation is chef/professor Adam Sacks at Johnson & Wales University. While it’s been years since we’ve connected, his lessons continue to motivate me. In fact, the cornerstone of what he shared is the foundation of what I teach today: FLY- First Love Yourself.

Describe a health or fitness related turning point in your life.
The biggest “turning point” or “a-ha” moment, as I have told to many students, was when I came out of the closet. The emotional pressure and strain was absolutely the worst. Instead of finding healthful solutions to manage the stress, I turned to eating. And I ate until I was over 400 pounds. I came out of the closet my first year of college, and it was in those moments that I finally understood that I have control over what I do. Ever since them, I have taken control and been in control. This doesn’t mean that I have been perfect the entire time; no one person is perfect. It’s not about how you fall. It’s about how you choose to get up and move forward that counts.

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Live chat: Eagles Vs. Jets

Join Tim and Sheil for a live chat as the Eagles close out the preseason against the Jets at MetLife Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

Meet a Health Hero: Ryan Oelkers

>> You can vote for Ryan on our Facebook page September 17-23. Mark your calendar!

Name: Ryan Oelkers

Occupation: Co-founder and Senior Director of Operations for Cadence Cycling Foundation

Who or what motivates you to be healthy?
Since 2007, I’ve been fortunate enough to help over 600 kids get involved in the sport of cycling as the co-founder of the Cadence Cycling Foundation. Part of the mission of the foundation is to use cycling as a tool to help Philadelphia youth grow into healthy, happy and responsible adults. A couple of youth in the program have even lost over 100 pounds! The participants in the program continue to inspire me with their amazing hard work and dedication. Additionally, I’m the father of four kids and I want to be around a long time to see them grow up.

Describe a health or fitness related turning point in your life.
Being a professional cyclist offered me the opportunity to meet amazing people, travel the world and learn valuable life skills. Now I get to pass on these great experiences and skills to the kids in the Cadence Cycling Foundation. It’s great to be able to combine my love of cycling and help youth in the Philadelphia area.

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