John Kelm: What held the offense back in the opener?
Chris Steuber: I think a lot of the offensive struggles were a collective effort, but the play of the offensive line made the Eagles offense stagnate. It seemed as if McNabb was on the run the entire game. The running game was good, but it could have been more efficient. Again, I go back to the play of the offensive line. They really struggled against a talented Green Bay front four. I expect the Eagles O-Line to regroup this week and have a much improved outing on Monday night.
JK: What other injury concerns do the Eagles have for Monday night?
CS: Besides Sheppard there really isn’t another player who’s seriously injured. The status of L.J. Smith is intriguing. He’s been bothered by a groin injury that stems from offseason sports hernia surgery. Smith played last week against the Packers, but his production was insignificant.
JK: Do they plan to have Westbrook carry the ball more this season? Do you expect him to have a big game Monday?
CS: If the Eagles continue to do what they did against the Packers, Westbrook will see the ball a lot more than he did in the past. He carried the ball 20 times against Green Bay. I’m sure Westbrook was happy with seeing that many touches in the run game, and for the Eagles offense to be successful, they’ll have to continue to show Westbrook the love in the run game. I expect Westbrook to have a breakout game since I believe the offensive line will be much improved on Monday night.
JK: Why did Andy Reid go with two inexperienced punt returners and how happy were guys to see Reno Mahe?
CS: That’s the question everyone in Philadelphia wants answered. I don’t understand it myself. How can you go into a season without a plan for your special teams? I still don’t know why the Eagles cut Jeremy Bloom. I know he injured his toe in the first preseason game against the Ravens and that he didn’t show a lot of speed after that injury. But when he was in the game, all he did was catch every punt and kickoff. Not to mention, he showed great hands on offense playing at receiver. I know there was some concern about him being too fragile, but after watching Greg Lewis and J.R. Reed I don’t see how they were better options than Bloom. I know Mahe is happy to be back with the Eagles. I think the team wants to see stability on special teams and not lose another game because a player can’t make the proper decisions in key situations.
JK: What must the Eagles do to win Monday night -- and are there one or two players who must have better days?
CS: The Eagles have to show drastic improvement on special teams. At this point, it’s still a major concern, because I don’t see how a rusty Reno Mahe makes much of a difference. Sure he was a solid catcher in the past, but not seeing any action since last season, it may take Mahe a while to get back into the swing of things. I’d like to see Reggie Brown get off the line better and be more physical against the opposition. Brown didn’t get his first reception against the Packers until the fourth quarter, so getting off to a quick start against the Redskins is huge for his confidence.
A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber is the Editor in Chief of WarNest.com and an NFL Analyst for Scout.com. Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999. If you have any questions for Chris, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.