The NFL released its 2014 schedule Wednesday night. Here’s how things shape up for the Eagles, along with five thoughts.
|1 Monday, Sept. 14||@ Atlanta Falcons||ATL, 26-24|
|2 Sept. 20||Dallas Cowboys||DAL, 20-10|
|3 Sept. 27||@ New York Jets||PHI, 24-17|
|4 Oct. 4||@ Washington Redskins||WAS, 23-20|
|5 Oct. 11||New Orleans Saints||PHI, 39-17|
|6 Monday, Oct. 19||New York Giants||8:30 ESPN|
|7 Oct. 25||@ Carolina Panthers||8:30 NBC|
|9 Nov. 8||@ Dallas Cowboys||8:30 NBC|
|10 Nov. 15||Miami Dolphins||1:00 CBS|
|11 Nov. 22||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||1:00 FOX|
|12 Thursday, Nov. 26||@ Detroit Lions||12:30 FOX|
|13 Dec. 6||@ New England Patriots||4:25 FOX|
|14 Dec. 13||Buffalo Bills||1:00 CBS|
|15 Dec. 20||Arizona Cardinals||1:00 FOX|
|16 Saturday, Dec. 26||Washington Redskins||8:25 NFLN|
|17 Jan. 3||@ New York Giants||1:00 FOX|
1. Two stretches stand out to me. The first is from Week 2 through Week 4. The Eagles go on the road to face Andrew Luck and the Colts in a Monday night matchup. They then return home for what guarantees to be a much-hyped battle against DeSean Jackson, Robert Griffin III and the Redskins. And finally, they go across the country to take on one of the best squads in the league in the 49ers in Week 4.
Last year, the Eagles started 1-3, but stuck together and ended up winning seven of their last eight. They'll be tested early on again in 2014.
The other stretch is Week 8 through Week 10. Chip Kelly better have something special cooked up for that period. The Cardinals (Week 8) and Panthers (Week 10) finished second and third, respectively, in defense last year according to Football Outsiders' rankings. The Texans (Week 9), meanwhile, could be featuring the tandem of J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. All three figure to be fascinating matchups, especially if the Eagles' offense is clicking at that point in the season.
2. I know that when many of you look at the schedule, you try to figure out if the Eagles got hosed in any way. And this year, the answer is no. They only face one team coming off of a bye, and that's the Rams in Week 5. The Panthers play on Thursday night in Week 9 before facing the Eagles on Monday night in Week 10. So they'll have some extra rest. And in Week 14, the Cowboys play Thursday night before taking on the Eagles the following Sunday night.
But those seem like minor issues (you're still allowed to complain though if you want).
3. Nick Foles will get to square off against some of his fellow QBs from the 2012 draft class. He'll of course face Griffin twice, along with Luck and Russell Wilson.
It's amazing how much has already happened with that group. All four have already started playoff games for their respective squads. Foles won the starting job in his second season and put together one of the best statistical seasons in NFL history. Luck and the Colts won a playoff game last year. Griffin starts over with Jay Gruden in charge. And Wilson is a Super Bowl champ.
Foles obviously plays against the defense, not the opposing quarterbacks, but there will be some good measuring stick games for him in 2014.
4. I am not surprised that the Eagles have six nationally televised games. They have Monday nighters at the Colts (Week 2) and against the Panthers (Week 10). And they have Sunday nighters at home against the Giants (Week 6) and against the Cowboys (Week 15). The Birds travel to Dallas on Thanksgiving (Week 13) and are at Washington for a Saturday matchup in Week 16.
It's strange to label a head coach as the draw, but I think that sentiment applies here. People want to see what Kelly does with this offense. They want to see the placards on the sidelines, the tempo, etc. It doesn't hurt that the Eagles have arguably the most exciting back in the league in LeSean McCoy, but there are going to be plenty of eyeballs on Kelly in Year 2.
5. Some leftovers here... We at Birds 24/7 promise not to ask you whether you'll boo or cheer Jackson in the days leading up to that Week 3 matchup. We may, however, want to know how you plan on greeting Clifton Geathers. ... By the time you sit down for an early bite on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 27), the Eagles will have only played two division games. Four of their final five games (including the last three) are against NFC East foes. Barring an extreme set of circumstances, the Eagles are likely going to be in position to determine their fate going into that stretch. It's a good sign that they won seven of eight in the second half of the season in 2012. ... I see five games where the Eagles will almost certainly be underdogs: at Indy, at San Fran, at Arizona, at Green Bay, vs. Seattle. The division games down the stretch are all toss-ups.
WHAT YOU MISSED
McManus offers some notes on the schedule.
T-Mac takes a look at five big CB prospects to consider.
Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix had an official visit with the Eagles.
Taking a closer look at Texas A&M WR Mike Evans. Could the Birds trade up for him?
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
Zach Berman of The Inquirer pegs linebacker Najee Goode as an under-the-radar player who could help the Eagles in 2014:
The Eagles did not add Goode until after the preseason last season. Goode played 16 percent of the defensive snaps, including almost two full games during Mychal Kendricks’ absence. With Kendricks and DeMeco Ryans back, Goode does not have a spot in the Eagles’ lineup. Still, I put him on the list because the Eagles like his potential. An industrial engineering major at West Virginia, Goode quickly picked up the Eagles' defense and has nice speed for the position. The Eagles need depth at inside linebacker, and there will be spots open. I would expect Goode to remain on the team in 2014 and continue to earn the trust of the coaching staff. Ryans took 1,157 snaps last season, which is a major haul for any player at that position. If the Eagles play more of a rotation 2014, Goode can take more snaps.
Tommy Lawlor of Iggles Blitz on Kelly and the size factor:
The upcoming draft will give us another chance to see how Kelly factors size into his decisions. I don’t think he has made any bad picks or signings due to size so far. That could change. If he passes on Marqise Lee, Odell Beckham or Brandin Cooks for Kelvin Benjamin, I’ll go nuts. If Kelly passes on Jeremiah Attaochu or Marcus Smith for Trent Murphy, I’ll personally lead the attack on the NovaCare Complex. Pitchforks, pudding and PBR!!!
Get your questions to T-Mac for this week's mailbag.
Note: This version of the Wake-Up Call was published early.