Tonight is finally the night! Our first taste of Philadelphia Eagles football begins in the team’s first preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
With much of the focus lately being on Andy Reid for the Eagles and the un-signed star Mike Wallace of Pittsburgh, how will these teams do tonight in the Pennsylvania matchup? Here are the 5 things to look for.
1. Andy Reid’s Composure
Everybody knows what happened. Andy Reid just returned to practice yesterday for the first time since his son Garrett’s death, and whether he shows it or not, you know deep down he’s hurting. But will he let it get in the way? Granted this game is only preseason, you won’t be watching two teams giving it their 110% every play. However, that doesn’t mean both teams should just play tag either. Keep an eye on Reid, the play calls, his sideline presence, and how he generally acts being back on the field. I know this seems kind of dumb, but trust me, you never want something to happen to your coach where his mind isn’t on the team 24/7…especially in a year like this one.
2. Quarterback 2, 3 and 4
Since the Eagles have four quarterbacks on the roster, the Eagles better play all four tonight to get them on the field for some reps. Everyone knows that Mike Vick will only play maybe a series or two, giving backup Mike Kafka most of the first half. After halftime, the playing time will be split between Nick Foles and Trent Edwards. Now having four quarterbacks on the team is a waste of cap room and just a pointless roster space…(cough Trent). So tonight, seeing all four quarterbacks play will be good for the Eagles in their decision to narrow down the depth chart. Mainly, this one is all about Trent Edwards. Keep an eye out for how well he does on the field, and I’m not promising it’ll be pretty. In camp, he does not play with the first or second team offenses, simply because he is a backup’s backup’s backup. This will be his first time taking snaps in full gear against a team in quite some time. Watch his pocket presence, his playbook knowledge and how well he generally throws the ball. I wouldn’t expect to see him until mid-to-late fourth quarter, so there is no excuse for him not to throw at least a touchdown against Pittsburgh’s practice squad guys.
3. How the new defense holds up
New year, new players, new defense. With the additions of Mychal Kendricks and Demeco Ryans to the linebacker squad, one thing to keep an eye on will be how they manage to stop the running game. Last year, the defense started off the first 10 games atrociously. However, that wasn’t all their fault. The team’s offseason workouts and training camps were halted by the lockout and they didn’t fully have the chance to build that much needed team chemistry. Now, one year later, the team has played together under defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, they know what they needed to improve on and they know what’s expected of them. First off, see who gets the start at defensive tackle; either Fletcher Cox or Antonio Dixon. Secondly, look for Nnamdi Asomugha. He’s been playing all over the field in training camp and too see where he ends up will interesting. Also watch for a matchup between WILL linebackers Brian Rolle and Jamar Chaney. It is said both are competing for the starting role in camp, with Rolle the only retuning starter on that group from last season. Lastly, see how the team plays together as a whole, obviously. Can these new linebackers join forces and stun the strong Pittsburgh offense? Let’s hope.
4. DeSean Jackson
The man is paid people, now let’s see if he’s worth the $50 million. Last year, DeSean had a year that failed to make an impact on offense. With a new contract and a new attitude, will he finally be the man he was in 2009 and 2010? Jackson will be on the field with the first-team offense until probably mid-way through the first quarter. He won’t get too many chances to shine, but if he does, we can all rejoice. I honestly don’t care if the Eagles starters only play one possession, I want to see a long ball to DJax like I’ve seen many times in the past.
This Eagle’s team if filled with young players. It’ll be nice to see all of the rookies get their playing time and how they use the rare moment. For most, this is where the team will decide if they make the team or not. Much like Kurt Coleman in 2010. Coleman was a rookie safety who didn’t really make an impact until he scored two touchdowns on defense against the Jets. There are a lot of players on the team still, and only 53 can remain. I won’t go through them all but I’ll give a list of the guys that really should show the team what they are made of tonight. They are Marvin McNutt, Damaris Johnson, Chad Hall, Chase Ford, Brandon Boykin, Cliff Harris and Vinny Curry.
These are the 5 things to look for tonight when the Philadelphia Eagles take on the Pittsburgh Steelers. Remember people, this is the year. It all starts tonight!