Game Preview – Preseason Opener

Posted: August 11th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 27 Comments »

Casey on the run.

Lawlor is going to be watching me closely? I hope I've got time to do my hair before the game.


We got a bunch of new toys for Christmas and tonight we finally get to play with them.  Sort of.

The starters are scheduled to play a quarter.  That could actually be less.  No matter how much or how little we see of the guys, it will be great to finally get the 2011 season started.  I know, this is just preseason.  Still, it is the beginning of the journey.

Before I get into talking about the players, let’s keep some things in mind.

* We won’t get any answers tonight.  Only hints.  If Alex Henery is 4 of 4 on FGs, are you going to completely trust him?  If he’s just 1 of 4 does that mean he’s awful?  No and no.  We’re looking to see the guys come out and shake off the rust.  The new players need to show they belong.  Like I said, we’re going to get some hints about players, but we won’t be able to draw any conclusions.

* This is the first time the team has gone completely live in terms of hitting and tackling.  There will be some rust.  Guys will miss tackles.  Guys will make mistakes.  That’s okay.  It isn’t good, but the shortened offseason means our players are behind schedule.  Holding them to a high standard isn’t fair.

* We’re always vanilla with preseason schemes.  We’ll be without our starting WRs.  Don’t count on the offense moving up and down the field with ease.

* Juan Castillo calls his first game as a Defensive Coordinator in a long, long time.  Back then I was in college and eagerly reading Eagles Digest to keep up with “breaking” news (2 to 4 weeks later).  Things have changed a bit since then.

I don’t expect Juan to present a polished product tonight.  I’m looking to see how he handles himself on the sideline.  I’m curious if there’s any hesitation or confusion as he makes calls at critical situations.  He is the leader of the defense.  He needs to run it as smoothly as possible to help make the players feel at ease.

Juan has a 2-game grace period to work out the kinks.  He needs to be pretty polished in the third preseason game to show us that he can handle the task at hand.  Once the regular season starts, there is no leeway.  We want results.  Doesn’t matter if you’re loyal, nice, or father of the year.

Now’s the time to get the situation under control.  I actually think a couple of tough moments might be good for Juan.  God forbid those things happen in a real game.  I’d rather he had dealt with mistakes already and it wouldn’t affect his confidence.

I do feel a lot better about him as DC than I did a few months back.  Juan has done a good job up at Lehigh.  Games are the hard part, but so far, so good with him running the defense.

5 Players I’m Watching the Closest

1.  MLB Casey Matthews — Offseason hype is over.  Time to see what the kid can do.  He’s had a good camp so far, but games are a step up.  That’s especially true against a physical running team.  I’m looking to see if Casey can run the defense and be stout in the middle.

2.  RT Ryan Harris — He’s the only non-rookie on the list.  Harris was a good RT in 2008.  Problem is…it is 2011.  Ryan has impressed in his handful of practices, but keeping Mike Vick’s blindside clean from hits in a live game is vastly different.  I’m optimistic, but I want to see what Harris does in our scheme.

3.  RG Danny Watkins — He’s already a step up from Nick Cole and Reggie Wells.  How do I know that?  He’s got a pulse.  Danny is getting a lot of hype from writers/media types that go to Lehigh, but he’s never started a real game at RG.  This is a big test for him.  I’m excited to see what he does.  Danny isn’t the type to shine in practice.  I expect him to come alive in a game.  Nasty, physical blocker.

4.  C Jason Kelce — We’re not sure if Jason will get snaps with the starters tonight.  I’d love to see him go up against Ngata or Mount Cody for a few plays just to see what Jason can do.  Is he big enough/strong enough for the NFL?  I hope we do run a screen pass with him in the game.  I want to see Jason fly out wide and level some unsuspecting LB or DB.

5.  Alex Henery / Chas Henry — We’ve heard about how strong their legs are.  Now we get to see them in action.  Is Alex an accurate PK?  Is Chas able to control his punts and angle them?  Hang time?  How does Chas do as the holder for Alex?  These guys need a solid performance to keep themselves on pace to start.  Any disasters and the Eagles will start calling veterans to line up workouts.  I don’t expect the guys to be consistent and polished, but I do need to see that they are workably good.

* * * * *

Ascending Players To Watch

* TE Clay Harbor — Can’t wait to see how much he’s improved since last year.  Harbor has a real high ceiling because he can block, catch, and run.  He showed glimpses of all 3 areas last year.  How much better is he now?  Will he push Brent Celek or is Harbor still a year away from that level?

* WR Riley Cooper — His role on the team is likely going to be diminished by the presence of Steve Smith, but Cooper remains our lone big WR.  I think he also can be a very good player.  He’s been sharp up at Lehigh.

* DE Daniel Te’o-Nesheim — I know fans are down on Teo, but I want to see him play in Jim Washburn’s scheme.  Wash liked Teo a lot in last year’s draft class and thinks he can develop the young man.  That’s enough to get my attention.

* DE Phillip Hunt — He’s small.  He’s quick.  He has been King Dunlap’s nightmare matchup.  That’s all great, but I need to see what he does in a game.

* DT Antonio Dixon — He looked like a star at times last year.  Now he’s allowed to be aggressive and attack.  Will that bring out the best in him?

* LB Keean Clayton — I was high on him coming into the summer, but he’s failed to impress me in the limited clips I’ve seen.  I’m hoping that I’m just not seeing enough of him.  Clayton should challenge for the WLB spot.  At the least I want him to show that’s he’s still capable of being a good backup and STer.

* S Kurt Coleman — Don’t think that Jaiquawn Jarrett has been a disappointment.  This is a case where Coleman refused to give up the job.  He’s played well.  Must have heard about Quintin Demps and Macho Harris.  Coleman is focused and has no intention of being a backup.

* * * * *


* Obviously watching the defense as a whole is going to be interesting.  I want to see the alignments and coverages and blitzes.  I want to see how the new parts come together.

* I don’t think we’ll see much of the starting defense, but all 3 LBs will be a focal point for me.

* I am looking forward to seeing Jarrett lay the wood to someone.  He’s a hitter and that’s been dialed down a lot at Lehigh.

* Is Johnnie Lee Higgins our RS?  Who challenges him?

* I trust that Cullen Jenkins is the real deal.  Anthony Hargrove is one I want to see with my own eyes.  Also look forward to seeing Cedric Thornton.

* I’ve been singing the praises of Brian Rolle since January.  Or earlier.  I am excited to watch him in action.  Rolle is small, but wait til you see how physical he is.  I’ll be disappointed if he doesn’t blow someone up on D or STs.

* The Eagles are reportedly high on MLB Brandon Peguese.  I didn’t watch much of him leading up to the draft.  I’m interested to see what he does.

* We’ve talked about the depth at CB.  Is Trevard Lindley going to challenge Joselio Hanson for a job?  Or is Brandon Hughes going to steal Lindley’s roster spot?  And just how good is Curtis Marsh right now?

* We need Austin Howard to get going.  The experiment at RT seems to be over.  Now it’s time for him to show that he’s okay as our backup LT.

* Who is going to be the #3 RB?  We need someone to step up.  Graig Cooper might be the guy to watch.

* WR Gerald Jones is a player that has impressed in the drills at Lehigh.  Interested to see him in a game situation.

As we all know there is one way tonight will be a true success…NO INJURIES.

* * * * *

Okay, I didn’t say anything about the big 3 CBs.  I’m excited for them, but I’ll be focused on other guys.  I know what the CBs can do.  I’ve seen Nnamdi shut down WRs.  I’ve never seen Casey Matthews tackle Ray Rice.

27 Comments on “Game Preview – Preseason Opener”

  1. 1 Austinfan said at 3:35 PM on August 11th, 2011:

    Don’t care about the starters for the most part, they’re known quantities.

    QB: Kafka is supposed to have improved his arm strength, if so he could be the QB of the future, and the way Vick scrambles, the future can be closer than it looks

    RB: Definitely Cooper. Also Lewis and Locke, even if headed to the PS, what do they got?

    WR: Harper was doing well before he got hurt in New Orleans, could be our PR guy. Moss was a second round pick, with DeSean like speed, unfortunately, also a DeSean like body but more fragile. Has Chad Hall been able to step up his game with a year of work, Danny Amendola would look real good right now as our PR.

    TE: Is Ingram a lost cause?

    OL: Kelce of course, but I’m interested in a few guys on the margin, Vandervelde, he’s a prototype Mudd guard, Tupou, they actually put him with the ones at RT, Howard, Mathis.

    DL: Landri started 16 games and had 43 tackles, 3 sacks and 7 stuffs, too small to start for most teams, but seemed perfect for a Washburn rotation. Thorton fell out of the draft, was that a mistake or scouts making a good call.

    LB: Is Lloyd just a big stiff or has he regained some of his pre-injury mobility?

    DB: Marsh is getting good reports, is he ahead of the curve? Hughes showed flashes against Dallas, has great speed and quickness, can he translate that to the field? Lindley seems to be falling behind, is it him or just the quality ahead of him? Page is big, but can he cover? Can Anderson actually play or is he strictly a ST tinker toy?

  2. 2 Tommy Lawlor said at 3:42 PM on August 11th, 2011:

    Cedric Thornton has NFL ability. Probably was a character concern or something like that. Guys who go to the Senior Bowl and then go un-picked usually have some hidden issue that hurt their value.

    I guess QB is so obvious that I sort of left it alone, but I probably should have mentioned Kafka. I think Vince will be messy. Kafka is the one who I’m more curious about. Can he play this year or is he still a year away?

  3. 3 Sean said at 3:46 PM on August 11th, 2011:

    Eagles Digest? LMAO

  4. 4 justrelax said at 3:51 PM on August 11th, 2011:

    The line play will be fascinating. Two completely new systems.

  5. 5 T_S_O_P said at 4:37 PM on August 11th, 2011:

    I can’t wait to wake up tomorrow to find out what went on, though ‘m sure Howie may upset my single mindedness by matching this news with another signing!!!

  6. 6 Baloophi said at 4:53 PM on August 11th, 2011:

    RE: injuries

    This feels like getting behind the wheel of a new car… don’t wanna crash!

  7. 7 Dan said at 4:53 PM on August 11th, 2011:

    Yea. Remember 2 years ago when they shocked us during the middle of the game with the Mike Vick signing? I honestly didn’t believe them when they said it during the broadcast and they only talked about it for less than a minute during the entire 3 hour game. This year’s shock has passed with Nnamdi signing.

    Does anyone know the broadcast crew for the game. I hope to God that Hugh Douglas isn’t in it. I think he has moved up. I saw him on ESPN yesterday, but I couldn’t hear anything cause I was at the gym.

  8. 8 Dan said at 4:54 PM on August 11th, 2011:

    On a related note,

    Is anyone else annoyed that Gonzo is the Philadelphia representative for NFL films?

  9. 9 Kevin (RC) said at 5:08 PM on August 11th, 2011:

    Thanks Tommy! Good read.

  10. 10 Tommy Lawlor said at 5:17 PM on August 11th, 2011:

    The new analyst is Brian Baldinger. Major step up from recent years. Charlie Casserly was okay, but just didn’t know the Eagles all that well. Baldy does. Just watch out for hyperbole.

  11. 11 Tommy Lawlor said at 5:18 PM on August 11th, 2011:

    RE: any moves?

    Doubt anything happens tonight, but you never know. Howie has been shocking me left and right. This truly is a “never say never” kind of summer.

  12. 12 Cliff said at 5:23 PM on August 11th, 2011:

    It’d be cool to see Brandon Peguese stick. He’s a local guy (for me) and it’d be nice to see a HBCU guy make it in the NFL.

  13. 13 RogerPodacter said at 5:29 PM on August 11th, 2011:

    excellent read, as always.

    i gotta say that i can’t WAIT to read your game review afterwards. I wish that there was some way that you could travel back in time and post it online the instant the game is over haha. i must have patience!

    Off Topic:
    thanks for updating the blog so frequently lately. i honestly enjoy reading your comments more than 90% of the rest of sports blogs out there…

  14. 14 Stan said at 5:30 PM on August 11th, 2011:

    On a negative note,

    Who gets burned tonight?

    Last year it was Nate Allen and Ellis Hobbs
    In 09′ I remember Demps being on the wrong side of the field during a long pass completion.

    Which player is most likely to disappoint you?

    2007: CJ Gaddis and Jeremy Bloom
    2008: Lorenzo Booker, Chris Clemons and Andy Studebaker
    2009: Jeremy Maclin and Jack Ikegwuonu
    2010: Brandon Graham and Trevard Lindley

    2011 prediction: Jason Babin and Danny Watkins.

  15. 15 CVD said at 5:33 PM on August 11th, 2011:

    Does anyone know the broadcast crew for the game. I hope to God that Hugh Douglas isn’t in it

    Knowing that baldy will be announcing makes me even more hyped. I cant take preseason sometimes just cuz of the commentators. Last year was pretty bad. Hugh Douglas seems cool and all but u get sick of hearing “there’s no doubt about that” 800 times in a night. He just seems like a player giving cliché answers. Baldy is pretty good

  16. 16 CVD said at 5:44 PM on August 11th, 2011:

    thanks for updating the blog so frequently lately. i honestly enjoy reading your comments more than 90% of the rest of sports blogs out there

    Dude I like reading the comments on Tommys page more than 90% of other sites, for real

    I check the site all day hoping tommy posted something. I used to have like 10 eagle sites saved. Since I found this site, I deleted 9 and now have 2 that I go on.

  17. 17 Tommy Lawlor said at 5:54 PM on August 11th, 2011:

    RE: Who has a rough night?

    I could see Curtis Marsh getting beat by a double move. Spadaro made a good point the other day. He noted that the CBs are facing the same receivers and same routes over and over. They start to pick up on things and that helps them to shine. Marsh is feeling pretty good right now, but I could see him biting and giving up a big play. All part of learning.

    I’m worried about Dion Lewis in pass pro. He’s just so small. I hope he makes me eat my words.

    Curious to see how Fenuki Tupou does as backup RT. He could have a wild night. King Dunlap has really struggled so far. It would be sort of ironic if he played really well in the game.

    J Jarrett is going to be so desperate to blow someone up that I could see him missing a tackle or getting beat by a receiver.

  18. 18 Tommy Lawlor said at 5:56 PM on August 11th, 2011:

    RE: Frequency of posts

    I’m going to do the best I can to keep stuff regularly going. I do a lot of writing during the season for several sites. Mix in the fact I’ve got to watch a ton of games and it will be interesting to see how all of this plays out.

    It does help that you guys are so good with the comments. Not every post of mine has to be a home run in order to spark a good discussion.

  19. 19 Dan said at 5:57 PM on August 11th, 2011:


    Baldy speaks eloquently, is understandable, and uses proper grammar. I honestly didn’t expect that from him a few years ago when he started.

    But his in game analysis is just awful. He makes so many common sense statements that it becomes unbearable.

    Anyway, who are your favorite broadcasters? Mine would have to be the SNF team with Chris Collinsworth and Al Michaels.

  20. 20 Toby said at 6:26 PM on August 11th, 2011:

    I fully expect our O-line to look horrible. It always does in the preseason, and all the new faces and change in scheme is not going to help matters. So I’m going to brace myself, and not take much from this game as far as the O-line goes.

    I think our D-line will look good on the other hand.

  21. 21 CletusVanDam said at 6:28 PM on August 11th, 2011:

    I actually never heard him do a game. Im just going off his NFL network show Playbook. He seems to know what he is talking about. But he could suck doing a game, but no chance on earth that Hugh Douglas is better. Last year was just horrible.

    I agree about Chris Collinsworth and Al Michaels, probably my favorite unless I am forgetting someone. I like Joe Buck even though everyone else hates him, I might just like his voice. I like Aikman alot. I hate Joe Theisman cant take him at all.

  22. 22 Sean said at 6:45 PM on August 11th, 2011:

    Anyone know a site where we can watch stream of the game?

  23. 23 phillybirdzfan said at 6:57 PM on August 11th, 2011:

    Sean, if that were legal I’d use a site such as . You need to have StreamTorrent, but that website has been the most reliable for me when I wasn’t in the area for Phillies and Eagles games.

  24. 24 Scott said at 7:06 PM on August 11th, 2011:

    Stream may be delayed a little bit, just keep checking.

  25. 25 Sean said at 7:16 PM on August 11th, 2011:

    Oh it’s not legal? Damn. Ok, I’m just going to sit quietly here for a few hours. Maybe re-read some of Tommy’s old columns 😉

  26. 26 Flyin' said at 7:29 PM on August 11th, 2011: has NFL Preseason Live for $19.99 in HD.

  27. 27 Scisyph said at 7:33 PM on August 11th, 2011:

    If you do want it legal, though I’ve never tried it, is offering all preseason games live for $20.