With the release of the pre-season schedule, despite the non-resolution of the work stoppage between the team owners and the players, it appears that the Philadelphia Eagles will have their work cut out for them, even in the initial few games. Although these aren’t regular season games, they will face teams with potentially threatening defenses during the upcoming season. The mediocre offensive line last season could potentially face some replacements from this upcoming draft, whether it be held with Commissioner Roger Goodell or with DeMaurice Smith of the dissolved NFLPA. Several mock drafts that I have seen the Eagles picking offensive linemen and cornerbacks within the first few rounds, and those selections would be quite reasonable in light of the Eagles many revealing deficiencies last season.
The Philadelphia Eagles first face the Pittsburgh Steelers, the loser of the Super Bowl against the reigning Super Bowl Champions Green Bay Packers. Not only will they face a stout defense that will still undoubtedly pursue Michael Vick and test the offensive line during the regular season, should there be one, they will face the physical running of Rashard Mendenhall. And Michael Vick will deal with Troy Polamalu who led third in interceptions with seven during the previous season. Unfortunately, for Eagles fans, this will be held at the Steelers home at Heinz Field.
Next, the Baltimore Ravens will come to Philadelphia at Lincoln Financial Park. Joe Flacco matured quite well last season, at least producing second-tier quarterback numbers during the regular season. The Philadelphia Eagles will face another potent and versatile running back in the name of Ray Rice. Their defense, with Ed Reed leading in interceptions last season with eight, will still be fast and physical at times.
The Cleveland Browns come afterwards for their pre-season game at Lincoln Financial Field. With Eric Mangini out and Pat Shurmur in, this will be the first view of the Browns new offense, led by young quarterback Colt McCoy and power running back Peyton Hillis.
And, finally, the Philadelphia Eagles will face the New York Jets and their stiff defense. This is the same team that defeated in the Indianapolis Colts and the New England Patriots with their elite quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Tom Brady respectively in the playoffs. This will be the Eagles final test of their offensive line before the regular season starts, if the collective bargaining agreement is finally resolved.
The Eagles will at least have the first few games to test out their offensive line and whether their defense can be anyway be considered elite during the regular season. The opponents will also gather to see if Michael Vick learned any new tricks during the off-season. However, if he hasn’t, Vick, his Eagles teammates and their fans could be in for a long season.