Opening day of the football season brings on that feeling of a new beginning. After a season where the Eagles rallied from a slow 3-5 start to finish 10-6 and host a playoff game, it was a welcome change to the previous years of struggle that ended the Andy Reid era.
Year 2 of the Chip Kelly era begins with a home game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, a team in a very similar position to the Eagles a year ago. They have a new beginning and a lot to prove. That said, the Eagles come in as a polished football team.
We’ve been waiting since the end of the Eagles wildcard loss to the Saints for this day. It’s finally time to kick it all off. Welcome to the 2014 NFL season.
Here are the six keys to Sunday’s season opener.
Trap Game, Already? – The season opener doesn’t seem like the place to fall into a trap game. Not this early in the season. But it could very well be that way if the Eagles don’t start on the right foot.
First Impressions – It’s important for the Eagles to make a good first impression on two counts. For returning Eagles, this is the chance to prove that last season was no fluke. For the newest Eagles, it’s a chance to show why they are here and how they belong in Chip Kelly’s system.
Zach Ertz – The second-year tight end is one of my players to watch this season and I think we’ll see why very early in the season. Nick Foles favored his tight ends in preseason games with Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper limited in play. The receivers will play a factor but the tight ends will lead. Look for Ertz to be the leader at the position.
Eagles secondary vs. Chad Henne – When you think of Chad Henne, you don’t think of a major passing threat. But the Eagles made Matt Cassel look like John Elway last season. The secondary simply wasn’t good enough as a whole. This will be a key for a while this season, but here’s hoping the additions of Malcolm Jenkins and Nolan Carroll provide an instant upgrade.
Nick Foles vs. Jaguars pass defense – On paper, this looks like a huge advantage for Foles. But the Eagles need Foles to prove he is the quarterback he was last season against the doubters. He’s got the right attitude but will his performance reflect that last season wasn’t a fluke?
Eagles special teams – From new kicker Cody Parkey to the kickoff team, the Eagles need to fine-tune their game on all fronts in special teams. This is an area that was generally successful last season but came up short in the wildcard loss to the Saints. Parkey will likely get his chance to make an impact early, but his impact may be felt more on kickoffs than on field goals. The Eagles need a kicker who can do a lot more than just be successful on long field-goal attempts. They need someone with the durability and strength to kick the ball out of the endzone.
Kevin Durso is a contributor for Eagledelphia. Follow him on Twitter @KDursoPhilsNet.