Rust. Whether it’s a car, a steel door, or your favorite athlete, when you hear that something or someone that you love or use every day is affected by rust, the first question is usually the same. “How do I fix this? What do I need to do to get rid of this rust?”
For metal objects, it’s easy. Sand off as much rust off as you can, then treat the affected area, and then paint it if you desire. For elite NFL players, the formula isn’t very difficult either. Get some game speed reps in the preseason. Many teams, including the Eagles, have decided that they no longer care if their team is ready for the first game of the regular season because they are scared of injuries.
I realize that injuries can happen at any moment in the NFL, and that’s why half the league decided to not play their stars in preseason. What is the cost though? Most injuries are spontaneous, and not very common, so playing in the preseason would give you a very slim chance of injury. However, if you don’t get your game speed reps in the preseason, there is a very high chance the rust will be on full display when it counts in the regular season.
Hopefully the Eagles saw that their week 1 opponent is one of the worst in the entire league, and while no NFL team should be overlooked, they realize that they don’t have to be rust free to beat them. The Eagles should be able to manhandle the Redskins, rust or no rust.
We’ll see what happens in future seasons. How the Eagles play on Sunday will probably have an effect on what they do in preseasons in the next few years.
Either way, real football is back! If you aren’t excited, watch this. If you still aren’t excited after seeing this, you may want to check your pulse.
What to watch for:
#1 DeSean Jackson: What can I say that hasn’t been said about DeSean returning? This will be one of the biggest storylines on Sunday. DeSean has a knack for making huge plays whenever the spotlight is on him. (Think every time he played the Eagles while he was on an opposing team or a little punt return back a few years ago against the Giants) Look for him to score on a huge deep ball from Carson early in the game, if not the first play.
#2 Carson Wentz: Can Carson return to his 2017 form? He has had the entire offseason to get healthy. The Eagles gave him an enormous contract extension, a top ranked offensive line, a great coaching staff, and have surrounded him with one of the best and most complete set of skill position players in the entire league. This is his fourth year in the league, if he can’t not just win but dominate with everything that other players only dream about, it’s time to start asking some hard questions. There are no more excuses. He should absolutely dominate this year. Look for a main part of the broadcast to be focused on Carson.
#3 Eagles’ Running Back Committee: It will be very interesting to see how the Eagles use their four running backs (Sanders, Howard, Sproles, and Clement). They each are very good at what they do, but it’s going to be difficult to get any of them many touches. Look for Sanders and Howard to take the lead though, with Sproles getting some action in the passing game and possibly returning kicks on special teams.
Keys to victory:
#1 Play Clean Football: With the starters playing less and less in the preseason, the first games have been increasingly sloppy over the past few years. While writing this, I am watching the Bears and Packers game, and the Bears are facing a 3rd and 40. You don’t get to a 3rd and 40 by playing clean football. The Bears were also favored to win the game by 3 and then lost while only scoring a total of 3 points. One of the only ways the Redskins can win is by the Eagles burying themselves in penalties.
#2 Carson Needs to Make Quick Decisions: I realize that Carson was hurt for almost the entire year when he was playing last year, but his decision making was sub-par to say the least. He was so slow in making decisions and as a result got hit way more often than other years. The main reason that the offense suddenly took off once Nick was at the helm is because Nick is elite at this. This is the main area of Foles’ game that Carson needs to emulate. He needs to make quick decisions and get the ball out to one of our plethora of play-makers.
#3 Pressure Case Keenum: The last time that Case Keenum played in the Linc was the NFC Championship Game in 2017. Let’s bring that memory to the forefront of his mind on Sunday. If the defense pressures Keenum into bad decisions the Eagles should win by double digits.
Though the first quarter/half may be a bit rusty for the starters, the Eagles should easily be victorious. Expect a big game from DeSean in his return to Philly against his former team.