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August 31, 2015

Breakfast with the Birds: Eagles continue to draw rave reviews

Another week, another dominant performance by the Philadelphia Eagles. At this point, we all probably wish we could fast forward to September 14th in Atlanta, when the games finally start to count. The preseason Super Bowl parade will definitely go down Broad Street.

Skeptics will say opposing defensive coordinators aren’t game planning for the Eagles’ up-tempo attack, that they’re not showing any of their cards in the preseason. While the Eagles won’t carry over any of their three wins into the regular season, the first team will head into the opener playing at a high level. Sam Bradford carved the Green Bay Packers starting defense apart.

Just last week, Jimmy wrote about "the C word." Over at the Inquirer, Bob Brookover echoed his sentiments:

Are there concerns? Sure. It would be reassuring to see Cody Parkey kicking in the preseason finale Thursday against the New York Jets, and opening-night appearances in Atlanta by Ertz and linebacker Kiko Alonso would be a welcome sight, too.

Season-destroying land mines lie beneath the surface every week inside every NFL stadium. Last year, the Eagles' hopes for a place in the postseason were demolished when DeMeco Ryans and Nick Foles were lost for the season in Houston.

As mentioned before, you need some luck to win it all. First, however, you have to be good enough, and right now it appears as if the Eagles are.

As is KC Joyner over at ESPN Insider:

Kelly has operated something of a limited system the past couple years because the players he had weren't quite a perfect fit for his system. That isn't the case with Bradford, as everything he brings to this offense is exactly what Kelly wants from a quarterback.

If this turns out as well as the numbers say it should, it could mean a significant improvement for a team that is coming off of a double-digit win season. That could lead to home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and a potential Super Bowl berth for the Eagles.

Nobody is going to make the Eagles the favorites to make it out of the NFC based on a few preseason games, but most people are putting them squarely in the conversation now. Only time will tell if the Birds can live up to increased expectations.

Weekend recap

1. Ten Awards: Sam Bradford is playing so well that he’s even earning a pass for his sleeves, Cody Parkey and Lane Johnson’s uncertain health status, and eight other observations from a strong team showing in Cheesehead country.

2. Bradford’s night, GIF style: He had all day to throw, but the anticipation and ball placement on some of Bradford’s passes were very impressive. For example, the touchdown toss to Sproles on the wheel route was a thing of beauty.

3. Barkley vs. Tebow, Round 3: The “battle” for the Eagles third-string quarterback job is taking a pretty sad turn.

4. Eagles trim roster: There weren’t any surprises with first cuts, but as we’ve seen throughout the preseason, Chip Kelly is going to make some difficult decisions in order to get down to 53.

What they’re saying

What we learned: Bradford, Taylor have strong games:

Speaking of that third-string QB competition, Gregg Rosenthal is leaning toward Matt Barkley after another lackluster Tebow performance:

Barring a Matt Barkley trade, the Tim Tebow experiment could be ending soon. He failed to convert two tries at a two-point conversion, and fumbled a snap in limited work.

Sam Bradford perfect; Bills QB battle rages on: 10 preseason takeaways: John Breech, CBS Sports

More Bradford praise from Breech, but I can’t imagine this gets too old for any of our readers:

Bradford didn't play in Philadelphia's first preseason game against the Colts and he only threw five passes in the Eagles' second preseason game against the Ravens. That left a lot of people wondering: Is Bradford going to work in Kelly's system?

If Saturday's game against the Packers is any indication, the answer is yes. A resounding yes. A "you might want to take Bradford in the first round of your fantasy draft and pick the Eagles to win the Super Bowl" yes.

Am I overreacting? Maybe. But probably not.

Roster Update – Down to 76: Tommy Lawlor, Iggles Blitz

Lawlor offers his thoughts on the recent cuts and speculates ahead to next week. He would like to see the Eagles get rid of both Barkley and Tebow:

Graf is the player who surprised me the most. He played well in the 2014 preseason and spent most of the year on the practice squad. He was actually on the roster for a couple of weeks. He struggled as a pass blocker, but stood out as a run blocker. This year he never really stood out at all. Kinne is a cult hero to Eagles fans, but just lacks NFL ability.

There is one more move to come. I think the hesitation is due to Cody Parkey’s situation. If he can’t kick on Thursday night, Kip Smith needs to stay on the roster.

Ranking top 10 offensive lines in the NFL: Mike Renner, Pro Football Focus

The Eagles have question marks at both guard positions on the line, but the other three spots are pretty, pretty good. On the strength of their center and tackles, PFF ranks the Birds’ O-Line sixth overall in the NFL:

When you lose both your guards in one offseason, your line is expected to take a step backwards. As such, the Eagles drop four spots from our 2014 end-of-year rankings. At tackle and center, though, there isn’t a more loaded team in the league. Jason Peters and Lane Johnson were named the starters at tackle on PFF’s All-Pro team a year ago, and Jason Kelce was our first-team All-Pro center back in 2013. The question marks begin and end at guard ,though. Losing Evan Mathis, our three-time highest-graded guard, is a big blow, and he’ll be replaced at left guard by Allen Barbre. Barbre is a former tackle who has played just 127 snaps in the NFL since 2009. The right guard position figures to be the weak spot on the line, and is still up for grabs between Andrew Gardner, John Moffitt, and Matt Tobin.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann