Opponent Overview: Philadelphia Eagles

This week's opponent overview will be a little different as I had the chance to talk to Justin Henry, who is the Publisher over at WarNest.com. These are a few key points all Panthers fans should know ahead of their Monday Night match-up with Philadelphia.

How much does the offense change with Mark Sanchez under center for the injured Nick Foles?
At this stage, believe it or not, I'd argue there'll be more consistency. Foles has been playing hurt since that Redskins game where Chris Baker cheap-shotted him, and he's been afraid to take sacks ever since. Foles would rather throw a duck off of his back foot than get plowed by a defender; that explains the uptick in interceptions this season (it also explains why his QB slides looked so awkward in recent games). Sunday's injury was just a punctuation of the existing shoulder pain, and giving him time to rest will be to his benefit. As for Sanchez, he showed Sunday that he can make spectacular plays while mostly serving as a game-manager, kind of like Alex Smith. This offense just needs someone to do the little things while Foles heals, and Sanchez, even back in preseason, showed great command of it. It's the best offense he's had since his 2010 Jets team, and this Eagles group is way better than that. I'm confident he can keep the vehicle moving at a great pace.
How big of a loss is DeMeco Ryans to the Eagles defense? Who do you see stepping up in his place?
Ryans was a great motivational voice that led by example, particularly against the run. Some of his skills have diminished, like pass coverage notably, but as a motivator, he's going to be hard to replace. You'll see Casey Matthews, Clay's disappointment of a little brother, step in, although this season's shown his best work in the stead of the injured Mychal Kendricks. Kendricks will take on most of the responsibility. I also see the Eagles playing more nickel packages, getting out of the 3-4 comfort zone, so the likes of Brandon Boykin and Nolan Carroll (highly underrated corner) will be pressed in also. As for a verbal leader. safety Malcolm Jenkins could take on the audio helmet, but if Kendricks gets it, it's a lot of faith in a talented young player, faith that he may have earned in Chip Kelly's eyes.
Last year the Eagles did a good job of limiting turnovers but right now they lead the league with 20. What has changed from 2013 to 2014?
A lot of that is Foles making ill-advised throws instead of taking the sack or just throwing the ball away. I sense it's going to cut down with Sanchez in there, which is a sentence I never thought I'd be saying. There's some odd fumbles in there, some bad days against the 49ers (Riley Cooper and Zach Ertz each lost one there), while rookie receiver Josh Huff is making some careless mistakes. Having a quarterback of sounder mind (at this time) in there will cut back.
How has Jeremy Maclin looked so far this year? Does he look fully recovered from his injury in 2013?
Well, considering he's on pace to set team records in receptions, yards, and touchdown receptions, I'd say yes! A local writer, Rube Frank, noted that the only NFL players in history that Maclin's current pace wouldn't surpass are Randy Moss' 2003 and Calvin Johnson's 2011 seasons. I shudder to think how the offense would have looked had Maclin been healthy in 2013, with he and DeSean Jackson carving gashes up the sidelines together. Still, Maclin's played tremendously, and it more than makes up for the loss of a purported locker room cancer in Jackson.
When the Eagles look at the Panthers' defense, who is the one player they have to worry about?
I think it has to be Luke Kuechly. The only Texans defender that gave the Eagles fits was J.J. Watt, but he'd been neutralized by midway through the third quarter (Watt had to take plays off to catch his breath because of the Philly pace). Kuechly's disruptive and a hard-working grinder that will try to do everything, given the range of the Eagles offense. I say 'worry about' in the sense of trying to keep him in check the most. In truth, once the offense solves Kuechly, as well as Thomas Davis, the Eagles will probably have things sewn up.

Be sure to check out WarNest.com for all your Eagles' news leading up to the game.

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