It’s week two and this game has enough magnitude to become one of the most intense games of the season. Dallas scraped to victory against the Giants in their season opener whilst a battling Eagles team sunk to the Falcons. But now the two bitter rivals face as early as the second week so it’s time to look at five players who we need to keep an eye on come Sunday.
5: Brent Celek
I’m sure a few of you raised your eyebrows when seeing Celek’s name on this list..but there’s a reason we should be watching out for the inventor of Celektricity. Last week, Zach Ertz was set to be a gameday decision yet stormed into the Georgia dome and had a solid performance. More notably though Celek had just 27 snaps in comparison to the 52 of Zach Ertz. It looks like there could be a changing of the guard in Philadelphia and with Trey Burton already proving he is more than capable, it will be interesting to see if that trend continues into week two. Brent’s role could start decreasing in this Offense, so watch out for his snap count. If Ertz is on the field as much as he was last week then it’s evident who Chip sees as his number one tight end. Celek used to link extremely well with Nick Foles however and it remains to be seen if he can strike up that kind of partnership with Bradford..keep an eye on Celek, his progress will be interesting to monitor to say the least.
4: DeMarco Murray
For so, so many reasons. Whilst Murray doesn’t see this game as any more important than the other 15 on the schedule, to the fans..they want to see an explosive outing, a metaphorical slap in the face to his former team. But as an analyst, I want to see it for a different reason. Bradford had to throw the ball 52 times against Atlanta and Murray had his lowest rushing total since week three of his rookie season..when he was a second string. Kelly simply HAS to find a way to utilise last years rushing leader if he is to defeat Dallas. The backfield has already proven to be versatile, but some punchy runs against a weakened Dallas Defense could put the nail in the coffin before the game has even begun.
3: Sam Bradford
This one goes without saying. Bradford shook off the last of his rust in the first half against Atlanta…worryingly but then went an impressive 20/22 at one stage in the second half, rallying his team back from the brink only to fall at the least hurdle. We saw all the elements of a winning Quarterback..but they weren’t present in all four quarters. Bradford HAS to heat up quicker against Dallas. If he can get going from the first snap then Dallas are in trouble, but in a game of this substance to fans..a bad performance here would not be forgotten any time soon. It’s important for Kelly to relieve the pressure on his QB and find a way to not only improve the technique of his Offensive Line but utilise the running game more to help condition the Offensive leader over four quarters. If Bradford can have a game like he did in the second half of week one or that pre-season dominance against the Packers..then the signs of a potential great in the making are there.
2: Malcolm Jenkins
Jenkins was a force to be reckoned with against the Falcons. He ended the game with three pass breakups, two almost game changing plays and one huge storm through the trenches to lay a tackle on Tevin Coleman to give the Eagles one more chance at winning the game. Jenkins almost had two interceptions which could have changed the course of the game entirely. Whilst the drops are easy to criticise, Jenkins was arguably the most effective player on Defense for the Eagles in week one. If he can refine his catching technique there is no reason why he can’t pick off a couple of Romo passes this weekend. Jenkins had a huge first outing of the year and will look to build on it against Dallas. The Eagles secondary on paper has dramatically improved and Jenkins remains a constant in the plans..for good reason. Watch out for Jenkins as he becomes a presence on every inch of the field come Sunday.
1: Byron Maxwell
This was tough but there is really only one man who will be demanding fans attention and that’s cornerback Byron Maxwell. After getting burnt out by Julio Jones, fans were quick to criticise Maxwell..whilst the corner himself laughed in an interview when told how many yards Jones received for…not a good way to win over a tough crowd. Maxwell has been dealt a blessing in the way of a Dez Bryant injury, but he still has to perform..because this could also be a curse. If the same technical woes plague Maxwell’s game on Sunday..not only is it against Dallas, but it will be against 2nd & 3rd string receivers, none of whom have a reputation or are legitimate weapons to be feared. A good performance here helps restore the faith lost after week one. A mediocre game with some similar mistakes will see the Eagles fanbase erupt..and not in a good way. The pressure is on for the former Seahawk.