NFL history will change tonight when Chip Kelly unveils the Eagles newest weapon…the Wishbone offense. Kelly has been secretly working on this for weeks. His goal is to have Nick Foles rush for 1,000 yards this year.
Okay, so nothing that dramatic is likely to happen tonight, but it is good to have football back, even if the starters will play very little. We do have to keep a few things in mind. The first preseason game can be a bit of an anomaly. Last year Fletcher Cox looked awful in the game. He went on to have a good season. Clay Harbor had a good game, but didn’t even make the team. Bryce Brown looked very good. He was up and down during the year.
This is the first game of the year. Some guys are going to be rusty because of that. Others will be sloppy because they are still learning the scheme/playbook and just aren’t comfortable. That was Cox last year.
Don’t make too much of this game, good or bad. It is the least meaningful of the preseason games.
Here are some quick thoughts on players.
QB – I want to see how Mark Sanchez and Matt Barkley look. Sanchez is a veteran and Barkley is in Year 2 of this offense. They should play well, assuming they get solid protection.
RB – We get to see Darren Sproles in action. Starters will only play 10 to 15 snaps and my guess is that will apply to Sproles as well. I’ll be happy with seeing 1 or 2 touches by him. Matthew Tucker will get a lot of work. He could have a big night. Henry Josey is the backup I’m interested in watching.
WR – Jordan Matthews.
TE – We know Celek and Ertz. James Casey will probably get a lot of snaps. Rookie Trey Burton is the guy I want to watch. He’s only about 230 pounds. I want to see how he blocks. It would be great if we could see a couple of passes go to Blake Annen. He’s been up and down in camp with catching the ball.
OL – I’ll be focused on LT Andrew Gardner and LG Matt Tobin on the backups. We need one of those guys to step up and show they can play. It would be great if both played reasonably well. Kevin Graf is the LT on the #3 team. I’m curious to see how he does. And I’m excited to see C David Molk with the 3rd team. I loved him coming out of Michigan. Can he play?
DL – Everyone is excited to see Beau Allen and Taylor Hart. They have played well this summer. I’m also curious about DE Brandon Bair and NT Damion Square. Bair is a #2 DE on the depth chart, but we haven’t heard a word about him this summer. Has he quietly played well or is he just there because he’s ahead of rookies? And Square should be bigger/stronger this summer. I want to see if he’s able to play with better power. Joe Kruger has not impressed anyone this summer, but I still want to see what he does in a game setting.
OLB – Marcus Smith time. Can’t wait to see him in action. The big thing I”m looking for is athletic ability. Does he look as quick and agile in the NFL as he did in college? I also want to see if Brandon Graham looks better this year. He’s now been a LB for 15 or so months. I’m hoping for progress. Travis Long is another guy I’m curious about. I’m hoping he is quicker than he was last summer.
ILB – Who will be on the #2 unit beside Najee Goode? I’m guessing Emmanuel Acho, but the coaches still like Jake Knott. They might not play him with the backups since he has the 4-game suspension coming up. Jason Phillips makes his Eagles debut tonight.
S – How will the 10 to 15 snaps rule apply to Nate Allen and Earl Wolff? Will they split reps in the 1st half? Neither guy has established himself as the starter so I hope they both play. We need to what kind of progress both players have made. I don’t know what to expect from rookie Ed Reynolds.
CB – With Nolan Carroll out, there is less excitement about the backup CBs. It will be interesting to see if Curtis Marsh has truly gotten better. We do get to see the NFL debut of Jaylen Watkins, which should be interesting.
STs – Alex Henery will be as scrutinized as any Eagles player. He needs a strong performance to keep fans and the media off his back. I’m excited about seeing Chris Maragos and Bryan Braman in action. There is no live STs play in camp. Tonight will be the first chance for these guys to go hit and really show what they can do. It will be interesting to see how returns kicks and punts and how they do. Sproles might lead for both jobs, but there is room for someone to step up.
The biggest key to the game is staying healthy. Do that and the Eagles will be winners, regardless of what the scoreboard says.
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In case you don’t know a player or number, Chip Kelly will tell you that depth charts can be an invaluable resource. Here is the one that he painstakingly did to get Eagles fans as well-informed as possible. Chip believes that football coaches shouldn’t be measured by wins and losses, but rather by the quality of the depth charts they put together.