The official start of the Rams regular season is less than 12 hours away, and the excitement for the Week 1 matchup with “The Dream Team” is reaching epic proportions. To give everyone a closer look at what the Eagles will bring to the table, I had a chat with Bob Wankel from the Eagles Fansided blog Inside the Iggles. We will be doing this chat with the opposing team’s writer on a weekly basis, so I hope you all enjoy it. Here’s what Bob had to say about five questions posed to him by yours truly. My questions will be in blue, and Bob’s answers will follow.
1. How is this team dealing with “The Dream Team” label and do you think the added pressure will affect them on the field this week?
When Vince Young termed the Eagles a “Dream Team” upon first signing with Philadelphia, I don’t think he had any idea what impact those words would have. ESPN and national media really took the story and ran with it. Personally, I think the whole thing is a bit overblown. The Eagles aren’t a dream team, and I don’t think they act as if they do. Once the whistle blows things of that nature tend to go out the window. Michael Vick isn’t going to overcompensate for something that was said by a backup quarterback, and I doubt the Rams will benefit from it.
2. Discuss the Eagles offensive line. I know they are relatively inexperienced, so how are the team and the fans feeling about the individual players? Are you concerned about the group as a whole going against one of the better pass-rushing teams from last season in the Rams?
I think the biggest concern this team has, by far, is the offensive line. Sliding Todd Herreman’s out to right tackle should help provide some stability in that spot, but the recent benching of Danny Watkins for a guy that signed here only a week ago is a concern. Throw in an inexperienced rookie center in a dome game with a tough defensive line and, well, things could get dicey. So there’s a fair amount of concern there.
3. Where are DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin at as far as readiness for the season. They both missed a ton of the preseason, so are they ready to go at full speed physically and mentally?
I think there’s probably more concern regarding Maclin than Jackson at this point. Jackson should be at full speed this week and very, very motivated as he looks to cash in on a new contract. Maclin, on the other hand, missed a substantial amount of time with a mystery illness. He’s practiced all week and it appears he’ll be ready to play, but his snaps may be limited.
4. Is there any concern about having rookies at both the punter and kicker positions? How have the two looked in the preseason?
I think anytime you depend upon rookies on special teams there has to be a bit of concern. Alex Henery has a tremendous leg and has shown flashes of being a terrific kicker in this league, but he reportedly had an up and down camp despite making 4 of 5 field goals during the preseason. It may take him a bit of time to find that consistency. As for Chas Henry, he’s also been a bit inconsistent, but I think the Eagles feel comfortable with him at this point.
5. Talk about Mike Vick’s development as a quarterback. Is he capable of winning a game from the pocket, or will he need to get in space and use his legs to be truly effective on Sunday?
Mike Vick isn’t the same player he was in Atlanta. That’s been said numerous times. While he has improved as a pocket passer, I expect the Eagles to get Vick out in space given the Rams’ ability to rush the passer. If he can get some room to work with, I expect him to exploit a mediocre Rams’ secondary down the field for some big plays.