Justin Boylan

Week 1 Eagles at Panthers 9-14-09

The rough times are behind us (for the time being). The preseason is a distant memory and the first game of the regular season is fresh in our minds. The Eagles are more confusing than a 14-sided Rubik's Cube. I had absolutely no idea what to expect heading into Sunday's game in Carolina. How will the defense play? Will the offense establish any kind of rhythm? Is Jake Delhomme terrible? Well, I knew the answer to the last one.

The first quarter left most fans, I'm sure, a little uneasy. The Panthers took the opening drive 70 yards, capped off by DeAngelo Williams's touchdown. The Birds punt and Carolina's offense is back on the field. Two plays later, Delhomme finds Sheldon Brown and it's his first interception of the game (potential drinking game, get the NFL package so you can watch any game and watch Carolina. Drink every time Delhomme turns the ball over and every time he just stands there either looking at the ground, staring at the sideline, or folding his arms in a disappointed fashion. Talk about a drinker's paradise). However, the Eagles only mustarded up a field goal following the turnover, 7-3 Carolina after one.

In the first quarter the Eagles defense was getting picked apart because they couldn't get off the field. They spent the rest of the game doing the exact opposite, dominating. The first play of the second quarter, Delhomme is sacked by Trent Cole, the ball pops out and Victor Abiamiri ends up with it in the end zone for the touchdown (drink. Oh, oh, oh he looked at the ground in disgust, drink again!). The Panthers next possession had pluses and negatives. On the plus side they didn't turn the ball over, but they did have to punt to DeSean Jackson and 85 yards later it's 17-7 Eagles thanks to the defense and special teams.

More defense, more Sheldon Brown. A third down for the Panthers and Delhomme throws his second interception of the first half (drink. You know the rules, no excuses). So finally the offense gets a little end zone experience, McNabb finds Brent Celek for the score, then Westbrook joins the fun and the Eagles are up 31-10 at the half.

Third quarter and Delhomme picks up where he left off, while Akeem Jordan just picks him off. His third interception, he threw four in this game before being benched (still drinking?). Let's stay on Carolina and Delhomme for a second. Last season, the Panthers are in the playoffs and Jake Delhomme has a horrific game, well maybe horrific is a little strong, he threw six interceptions (no, horrific is about right). My question to you is how does Carolina sell Delhomme as their quarterback going into the season? It isn't 2003 anymore, are the fans in Carolina behind him? And now, after a season opener like that, what do they do? What can they do? The last two times he has played football he has thrown 10 interceptions. Pretend that last sentence was about McNabb, fans would burn the city down. So does John Fox keep throwing him behind center, or is that the way to get his job intercepted? I'm glad I'm not a Panthers fan.

Yet, as an Eagles fan there's always something to worry about, and this time it came in the third quarter as McNabb was scrambling his way to a touchdown run. Turns out he fractured his rib and the timeline is uncertain, I'm not banking on him playing next week.

Eagles win 38-10.

The Eagles defense passed Test #1 (almost a pretest). They knew what the Panthers wanted to do and what they didn't want to do. They wanted to run the ball effectively with Williams and Jonathan Stewart, but the Eagles held them to a combined 72 yards. The Eagles forced Delhomme to drop back and beat them. He couldn't. The reason I say it was a pretest is because next week the Eagles get to play the New Orleans Saints with their fantasy football friendly quarterback Drew Brees (the Saints scored 45 points in their opener, Brees had six touchdowns).

The defense is going to have to play a similar game to make up for the new problem on offense. Kevin Kolb came in against the Panthers, and couldn't get much going. He completed seven of eleven passes for 23 yards. As a team the Eagles rushed for 185 yards in Carolina, a mark they reached just twice last season. More of that please against the Saints, to take some of the heat off Kolb.

This is Kolb's third season, and every time he enters a game we hear the same thing. He needs the reps, and he's coming around. As more and more time passes who knows if he is the quarterback Reid drafted thinking that he will come around. Good thing they play these games so we can get some answers.



Justin Boylan



Copyright 2008. Jules Pilla

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