Dec 9, 2012; Tampa FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman (right) reacts after meeting with Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles (left) after their game at Raymond James Stadium. Eagles won 23-21. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Enemy On The Ship: Answers About The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Opponents In 2013, Philadelphia Eagles Edition

Welcome to another installment of Enemy on the Ship, a series of articles where I am graciously given the time and effort of a writer or blogger for the teams the  Tampa Bay Buccaneers will face in 2013, and they share their thoughts on the team they cover, and how they’ll do against the Bucs in 2013.

We jump ahead in the schedule and get some answers about the Philadelphia Eagles from Sean O’Donnell, who is the editor of Inside the Iggles. You can check out the website here, and you can follow Sean on Twitter and hear his ramblings about the Eagles, Bengals, and NFL in general by clicking here.


Leo Howell – The Eagles obviously look a lot different on the sidelines with a new coach in place for 2013, but tell us a bit about how the players on the field will be different this year. What are the biggest changes, both good and bad, from the team the Bucs saw last year?

Sean O’Donnell – The biggest change that the Bucs will notice this year is a much more effective offensive line. The Bucs were able to sack Nick Foles six times, along with accumulating eight hits and 19 hurries on the rookie quarterback. With key starters returning this season and the addition of Jane Johnson in the first round of the draft, the offensive line should be more reliable for whomever is under center in 2013.

On the down side for the Eagles, the team as a whole is learning a completely different system under Chip Kelly. This is nowhere near the West Coast offense that Andy Reid ran during his tenure in Philadelphia. There will be some growing pains as the team gets adjusted to this new system — it is too early to tell exactly how well they have been adjusting thus far.

LH – There has been plenty of chatter this offseason about the “Chip Kelly” offense and how it will look in the NFL. While I don’t believe anyone truly knows what exactly the offense will look like, how do you believe the principles and ideas Kelly bases his offense on will work in the NFL?

SO – There is plenty of speculation out there regarding the “Chip Kelly offense” used in Oregon. Some pundits think he will bring a very similar style to Philadelphia, where others think it will be completely different. Chances are, he will use certain ingredients of his Oregon offense, combined with elements of the vision of offensive coordinator Pat Shurmer. Conventional wisdom says that it will be a very running back and tight end-heavy system.

Jun 4, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick (7) passes the ball as quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor looks on during minicamp at the NovaCare Complex. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

LH – There is already plenty of drama surrounding the QB situation in Philly. Give us your take on who starts the season under center, and also who you believe will take the snaps when the Bucs and Eagles face off week 6.

SO – Most pundits are of agreement that the smart move here is to start Michael Vick in Week 1. However, if you were to compare Vick’s and Foles’ stat lines from 2012, you would come away with extremely similar numbers. There is one big difference. Foles is more careful with the football, and has a vastly higher awareness in the pocket. Kelly said that he can mold his offense around any type of quarterback. If this is the case, look for Foles to get the nod and retain the starting job throughout the duration of the season.

LH – Give us some thoughts about the Eagles’ defense. The identity of the defense was in flux last season, with coaching and personnel changes over the course of the year. How good will this unit be in 2013?

SO – The defense will certainly be much better — and completely different — than the atrocity that was the wide-9 we saw last season. The Eagles are now switching to a 3-4 scheme under Bill Davis, their new defensive coordinator. They have the necessary personnel to make the new-look front seven work for this team. The move to a 3-4 will be able to showcase the athleticism of the linebackers on the roster, and could help revitalize the pass rush of players like Trent Cole. Expect more pressure added to opposing quarterbacks this season, as well as an increased focus on stopping the run.

LH – How do you think the Eagles will do against the Buccaneers in 2013? Will it be a repeat of 2012? Or do you think the Eagles will have a tougher time hanging with the Bucs?

SO – The 2012 matchup between these two teams was a great game to watch — the outcome could have gone either way. This year, you will not see Foles throw the ball 51 times — a career high. It will be more ground oriented and will feature running backs LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown on the offensive side of the ball.

Tampa Bay should be a much improved team this year as well. Josh Freeman should be able to provide more a most explosive aerial attack with second-year head coach Greg Schiano. Also, with Doug Martin gaining a year of experience, we could end up seeing a good old-fashioned shootout.

However, at this time, the Bucs look like more of a solid team on paper, and are less of a mystery. They would get the nod at this point.

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