Pats Preview

Posted: August 20th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 27 Comments »

Tonight is just a Week 2 preseason game, but it actually has some importance.  The Eagles are going to play the starters for the whole 1st half and into the 3rd quarter.  This is the dress rehearsal for the regular season.

The next PS game is Friday vs CLE, the Eagles opponent in the regular season opener.  With the opponent being someone the team will face in 2 weeks and there being such a short turn around from today to Friday, Andy Reid felt like tonight’s game was the wiser choice for the dress rehearsal.

This means the Eagles will do some gameplanning.  Nothing substantial, but more than last week.  The starters will play the whole 1st half.  They will come out after halftime, but how much they play will be determined by how well they do in the 1st half.  If the starters are sharp, they’ll just play a series or two and that’s it.  The goal is to let them break the seal on coming out of the locker room and playing in the 2nd half.  It isn’t a huge deal, but this is something that coaches like to do once in every preseason.

There are various reports that the Pats might sit some key players.  I’m not sure if that is true. They apparently have 3 games in the next 10 days and are trying to figure out what they want to do.  I asked a Patriots blogger about his expectations and he felt the starters would play tonight.  I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

So what are the key things/players that I’ll be keeping an eye on:

Starting Offense – We need to see yards and points.  I’m not greedy.  Give me 3 scores, with at least 1 TD.  That’s 13 points in 2 1/2 quarters.  Seems reasonable.  I have faith in Vick, Shady, DJax, Mac and the gang, but I do need to see some success to feel good about them.

LT – King Dunlap has a big opportunity.  He can move closer to winning the starting LT spot with a good showing.  The Pats are running a 4-3, meaning King will be facing off with a DE.  This helps him.  The Steelers short LBs that flew off the edge gave Demetress Bell fits last week. Dunlap is a natural pass blocker and knows the Mudd scheme.  I expect him to protect Vick.  I am curious to see his run blocking.

Bell is off the first team, but he’s not out of the picture.  I’m hoping that he’ll play much better.  Facing a 4-3 team could help him out.  That’s what he’s practiced against all summer.  It won’t be as much of an adjustment as last week.  Bell needs to bounce back in a big way.  He doesn’t need to be Jason Peters tonight, but he must play with more confidence and do a better job in pass protection.

Backup OL – I don’t really have a good feel for how the Julian Vandervelde vs Dallas Reynolds vs Mike Gibson vs Steve Vallos battle is going.  It would be great if a couple of these guys would step up and play really well.  I did like the way DJ Jones played last week.  I’m not sure if he’ll play much this week.  Hope he does.

3rd downs – Last week the offense was 1 of 11 on 3rd downs.  The Steelers were 6 of 16.  That’s not great, but several of those conversions were 3rd/long situations.  The offense must do a better job of moving the chains.  The defense must get stops, especially when they have a favorable situation.

FBs – We need the Eagles to run from the I-formation so that we can get a feel for Stanley Havili and Emil Igwenagu as lead blockers.  Right now we don’t know how good/bad the FB candidates are.  This isn’t a complex question.  Run some isolation plays and let’s see which FB does a better job of taking out LBs.  We need to know what is going on with these guys.  Can they get the job done or do we need outside help?

Nick Foles – Nick will take over the game when Mike Vick sits.  Trent Edwards won’t play at all.  Smart move.  We need Nick to get as many snaps as possible.  We need to see how Foles handles playing against backups.  The goal is to find out just how ready Foles is to play this year.  Can he be the backup QB?  The coaches love his long term potential.  Just how ready he is right now…mystery.  Last week was a good start, but you never want to make too much of the preseason opener.  This week should give us a better indication of where Foles really is.

Damaris Johnson – Nothing bad with DJ.  Just curious to see how much he plays, since the starters will be on the field so much.  Are they going to mix him in with the starters again this week?  Got that gig last week since Mac was out due to injury.

DL – Great showing vs PIT.  Excited to see what they can do this week.  I’m curious to see if Curry and Thornton can be so dominating against backups again.  Will Antonio Dixon wake up?

LBs – This could be a very good test, depending on if Gronk, Hernandez, and Welker play.  Those guys work the middle of the field better than any other trio in the NFL.  Brian Rolle is the only returning starter at LB.  DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks are new.  We need them to cover well, as a group.  Having talented, versatile guys attacking the middle of the defense would be a great way to see if the new LBs corps is going to going to work well together or what areas need to be fixed.

Run defense is also important.  Last week the guys got off to a slow start.  I’m hope that was just rust, from not being in game action for a long time.  This week it would make all of Eagles Nation feel a hell of a lot better if Ryans and Kendricks looked good from the first snap of the game.  I have confidence in them, but I sure can’t blame doubters.  They’ve seen some ugly LB play since 2008.

I’m curious to see what happens at backup MLB.  Casey Matthews is out.  Will Ryan Rau get his snaps?  Will Jamar Chaney slide to the middle and then Keenan Clayton to WLB?  Not crucial, but interesting.  Chaney is fighting for a starting job…at WLB.  Would he want to play MLB or would it be best to see him outside.  Missed the opener.

Nate Allen – I think the stench of Jai-Jar’s play in the opener somehow stuck to all the Safeties.  Nate can ease a lot of concern with a solid showing.  He doesn’t need to shine.  Just go be functional.  Make tackles.  Play the right coverages.  Don’t hit Vinny Curry when he’s trying to make a tackle.  2012 is a huge year for Nate.  It would be great to see him play well and get off to a good start.

Jaiquawn Jarrett – One of the greatest aspects to sports is the chance for redemption.  Orioles 1B Chris Davis had a nightmare game back in May, going 0 for 5 with 5 strikeouts in the first 9 innings.  He was then 0 for 3 in extra innings, including a GIDP.  However, he pitched the final 2 innings of the game and won.  Gave up 2 hits and a walk, but also struck out 2 and kept the Red Sox from scoring.  For 15 innings, Davis was a goat.  For the final 2, he was great.  I’ll never forget seeing him strike out Adrian Gonzalez with runners on.  Amazing.  The 0-8?  No one remembers.

Jai-Jar was awful in the opener.  Simple as that.  This is his chance for redemption.  He won’t play a ton, but that might be a good thing.  Jai-Jar is still a talented guy.  This isn’t a question of skill.  This is all between his ears.  He’s confused.  He’s hesitant.  He has no confidence.  Let’s hope the PIT game was rock bottom and he bounces back.  No matter what you think of him as a player, you hate to see a young man’s football dreams fall apart so quickly.

Back in January we all hoped Jai-Jar would take advantage of the offseason and be a changed man.  If he plays like he did in the opener, Jai-Jar has basically zero chance to make the team. I hope he’s able to play well.  Show us something.  Show the Eagles something.  Fight for your future.  Don’t go out in a blaze of missed tackles and blown assignments.  That’s the kind of thing that can haunt you for the rest of your life.  If you aren’t big enough, fast enough, or talented enough…okay.  That’s life.  If you fail because of mistakes and sloppy errors…I can’t imagine having to deal with that.  Big game for Jai-Jar.  I really hope he shows up ready to play.

CBs – The Steelers didn’t throw much last week.  That limited our chance to judge Boykin, Marsh, Hughes, and the guys.  The Pats like to throw the ball.  Hopefully they will test the young DBs and give us a chance to see where these guys are at.  Marsh needs some passes thrown his way.

I hope Boykin gets some snaps against Welker, if Wes plays.  I’d love to see how Boykin stacks up.  One of the reasons we drafted him is that Hanson struggled so much last November against Welker.

P – McBriar vs Chas Henry, round 2.  May the best leg win.

* * * * *

Jimmy Bama and I did a podcast previewing the game.  Good discussion about Boykin, Hanson, and the Nickel Corner spot for tonight and the future.

* * * * *

How cool is this?  Kelce and Mathis doing an ad for Flight Night.  Great ad.

_


  • http://igglesblitz.com Sam Lynch

    “However, he pitched the final 2 innings of the game and won. Gave up 2 hits and a walk, but also struck out 2 and kept the Red Sox from scoring. For 15 innings, Davis was a goat. For the final 2, he was great. I’ll never forget seeing him strike out Adrian Gonzalez with runners on. Amazing. The 0-8? No one remembers.”

    Bastard.

    • TommyLawlor

      What a glorious day…except for the fact that I actually watched an entire 17 inning game. 6 hours I’ll never get back.

    • A_T_G

      Personally, I think it was a brilliant strategy. He obviously looked at the matchup before the game a saw an opportunity. “Now, if I can just show the coaches that I hit like a pitcher…”

      • TommyLawlor

        Nicely done.

  • SteveH

    I am really curious to see how the pass rush does. The pass rush looked amazing last game but the Steelers are not a great pass protecting team. I want to see how we do against a top tier pass defending team like the Pats, because if we can’t get pressure against a team like the Pats, they will eat us alive.

    • rage114

      I am always curious but I don’t think NE’s Oline is what it used to be.

      Matt Light retired and his replacement, Nate Solder, committed two holding penaties in only two offensive drives for the Pats. He is, however, a former first round draft pick in his second year. He also gave up a sack but I don’t blame him for that. It was a coverage sack as Brady rolled to his right out of the pocket.

      On the right side, they have Marcus Cannon, a 5th round draft pick from TCU who is starting right now becuase the normal starter, Sebatian Vollmer, just came off the PUP list and is ineligible for this game.

      heir starting all pro left guard, Logan Mankins also just came off the PUP as well. It is reported that he won’t play but that isn’t set in stone.

      Starting RG, Brian Waters, has not reported and isn’t playing. In his stead will be Dan Connelly.

      In other words, the Patriots Oline has been less than stellar and did not play well against the Saints last week. Oline is probably the Patriots biggest question mark going into the season.

      • SteveH

        You might be right then, I knew Matt Light retired but I wasn’t aware of the rest of that. Its a blessing for the rest of the league if the pats OL is on a down year, the only way to really slow down Brady is pray he woke up on the wrong side of the bed (which does happen every now and then) or get regular pressure on him.

  • T_S_O_P

    I did like the Kelce Mathis flight nite promo, but soon Jason will only be determined by the name on his back. So much hair! If hair were food, he’d be a 1 man cure for world famine.

    • TommyLawlor

      Soon enough, Kelce’s beard will require a roster spot.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kanin-Faan/100000790557328 Kanin Faan

        We should name the beard: ‘marlon’.
        In honor of another favorite.

        • ICDogg

          Indeed.

  • rage114

    I want to see progress from Brian Rolle and Michael Vick.
    Last week, Rolle tried to do too much. He was obviously over amped and was a bit out of control. Will he play more in control and disciplined?
    For Vick, everyone knows is a mobile QB but being “mobile in the pocket” is not something he is used to doing and looked uncomfortable doing it last week. I appreciate him trying to stay in the pocket and being a passer first but he doesn’t look natural doing it and had very little awareness of the pocket.
    Other than that, just general progress…better oline play, better production from the WR’s, etc.

    • TommyLawlor

      Great point on Rolle. He was sloppy last week. I hope he’s better … AND … that Chaney plays well. I want Jamar to push him for his job.

  • midnitemud

    Finally, more Eagles football. I really want to see if Curry can follow up on his performance last week, and want to see DeMeco start to come out of his shell. DeMeco will bring it all together and be dominant if he stays healthy. I just want to see more from him NOW! Preseason can’t end soon enough…
    On a side note Tommy… I wanted to give you props (granted, maybe a little premature) on you scouting expertise on a player you really liked coming out of this years draft by the name of Keshawn Martin. Coming from an Eagles fan living in Houston, it is all Texans here. He was drafted in the 4th round, and has already climbed to #2 on the WR depth chart (behind of course Andre). The guy has lit it up this preseason/training camp, and climbed in front of Kevin Walter and DeVier Posey (who was drafted in the 3rd). Just wanted to give you a heads up in case you weren’t following guys you liked this year that didn’t get picked up by the Eagles (not like you have a ton of things on your plate, right? m/)

    • TommyLawlor

      I follow some Texans writers on Twitter and they all love Keshawn Martin. I felt the same way prior to the draft and now people can see why. Thanks for remembering that.

      I haven’t watched him play yet for HOU, but I will do that. I hope he is great for them. Really good college player with lots of talent.

  • rage114

    Oh, and does it feel like Cox is almost overlooked so far? He really didn’t do a lot in the first preseason game and it seems like he is getting a free pass in a way….either because the Eagles are deep at DT or because it is just assumed he will be fine because he is athletically gifted. Either way, I hope to see some marked improvement from him.

  • A_T_G

    With regards to the podcast, I would vote for doing the preview a day or two earlier, even if it means there are still some question marks about who will play. I’m not going to be able to hear it before the game.

    • TommyLawlor

      Our goal was to do get it posted on Sunday afternoon, but I was out of town (getting a final visit to my grandmother before football season starts). Blame this on me. Still send the hate mail to Jimmy, though.

  • ACViking

    T-LAW:

    Early prediction request . . . and feel free to answer in the DGR.

    What player-specific roster decision — or, more accurately, “decisions” since keeping 1 player means cutting another — do you anticipate being the most surprising in the final 53-man cutdown.

    If you had to make the call after this game.

    For example, Cliff Harris stays, J-Hanson goes — making Boykin a starter and Hughes the slot-corner backup. I really don’t want to see Harris cut loose, though it looks like D-John is tightening the noose around the punt-returner job — which make Harris less valuable. I think Harris’s upside seems higher than Hughes’s, who may have already reached his acme. But, if Boykin can handle the slot, Hanson may be done here given his lack of utility as an outside CB when compared to Hughes and Harris. Again — these are all just hypothetical arguments to give context to the nature of the question . . . which is clearly not position specific.)

  • D3FB

    But if the First Team breaks the seal this early they’ll have to go to the bathroom all night!

    • TommyLawlor

      Ha. Wondered if anyone would take that comment and go in this direction.

  • http://twitter.com/theguyotc the guy

    Tommy, you should track down that Pats blogger you talked to and force him to drink a case of PBR as punishment.

    Not because he was wrong about the Pats sitting their starters. Just for being a Pats fan.

    • TommyLawlor

      I’m confused. Why would drinking PBR be punishment? Must be a typo.

  • T_S_O_P

    None of the Pats big guy to play. A watered down test for the LBs and the nickel. I hope our DL tears them an new …

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1116101444 Erik L. Richardson

    Now that we know the Pats 1st team isn’t playing. If the Eagles struggle against their 2nd/3rd teamers that is serious trouble.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kanin-Faan/100000790557328 Kanin Faan

    brady, gronk and welker wont even play tonight. wtf is up with the asshole-patriots? every football fan around the world is disappointed by this.
    stupid.

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.chaple.18 John Chaple

    A life-size Desean Jackson bobblehead doll.
    Look how tiny!

    Nice.