The Philadelphia Eagles have had months of question marks leading up to Sept. 8. But now the Eagles will finally start answering them and show whether Chip Kelly is a real NFL coach. However, the Washington Redskins have a lot to finally answer as well, or at least Mike Shanahan and Robert Griffin III do.
The Eagles-Redskins Monday night opener is the big mystery of Week 1, if not the entire NFL season. If Griffin can recover from his knee injury last postseason, and if Shanahan has a better idea of how to protect him, the NFC East and the entire NFC could swing on the results. But if Kelly’s fast paced experiments actually turn out to work, it could be a game-changer for NFL offenses, while also reviving Philadelphia as well.
Needless to say, a lot more rides on this season opener than most, even if Griffin and Kelly will have a lot more to answer over the next 16 weeks. Yet while Kelly and the Eagles are a work in progress, Griffin and the Redskins have Super Bowl hopes right now, after they stormed back to win the NFC East last year when they were healthy.
On the other hand, another injury and more controversy over Griffin's style and Shanahan’s strategies may cripple Washington for years. Philadelphia was already crippled over its failure to protect Michael Vick and Andy Reid’s failed strategies last year, which led to Reid’s firing and Kelly’s arrival -- even as Vick got one more chance anyway.
While the Redskins are easy favorites in this game, absolutely no one knows what to really expect. Can Griffin and Vick stay healthy for a full game, let alone 15 more, and can Shanahan and Kelly deliver on expectations and silence their critics?
Those questions cannot be answered with one game or even eight. Yet since the Eagles and Vick have never played a full game that counts under Kelly, and since Griffin hasn’t played a full game while healthy in about 10 months, there is nothing to really go on beforehand. No matter what happens in Washington at 6:55 p.m. est, it will be hard to say it was predictable.