This is it, Eagles fans: The third preseason game! This is the game that is typically considered a dress rehearsal for the season, as the starters often play into the second half. While wins and losses aren’t important, it’s generally a good sign if a team plays well in this game. If they look shaky…well, it might be a long season.
What Did We Learn Last Week?
Michael Vick could have a strong 2013 season. Vick has played nearly perfectly thus far in the preseason, and was rewarded with the starting job. While I don’t think anyone should be fooled into believing that Michael Vick is suddenly going to become a different quarterback, I do believe that using him in a new offensive system may lead to short-term success. I’m sure he’ll eventually revert to his bad habits (hopefully he does this before the team offers him another big contract), but for now, we might see some strong play out of the quarterback position.
What’s the Deal with the Jaguars?
How many of you can name the Jaguars starting quarterback without looking it up? My first guess was David Garrard, which means like most people, I haven’t paid much attention to the Jaguars the past couple of seasons. The actual starter is Blaine Gabbert. Most people don’t think that highly of Gabbert, probably because it doesn’t seem possible that a guy named Blaine could be a successful NFL quarterback. Thus far in his career, Gabbert hasn’t done much to dispel that notion.
The Jaguars might have a chip on their shoulders this week, as ESPN.com recently named their uniforms the worst in professional sports. Will they take out their anger on the Eagles? Let’s hope not.
Featured Opposing Player
The starting defensive end for the Jags is our old friend Jason Babin. Babin was the former Eagles end who apparently thought that his only job on the field was to line up wide and run at the quarterback. The running game? That was someone else’s concern. Babin only had to worry about running really hard toward the quarterback.
To his credit, he was very successful at this job in 2011, racking up 18 sacks. But in 2012, teams adjusted to the Eagles “wide nine’ defensive scheme, and Babin was rendered much less effective in 2012.
I wanted to like Babin, and he should have been a fan favorite. Much like Vince Papale, Babin was a bit of an underdog success story. He had floated around the league for a few years before finally finding the right situation where he could be successful.
For a guy who struggled to stick in the league, Babin seemed to have an awful attitude. He spent time criticizing the fans, and was reportedly a surly presence in the locker room. Once he stopped sacking the quarterback at such an impressive rate, the team didn’t hesitate to get rid of him, cutting him midway through the 2012 season.
Key Eagles Storyline Heading Into the Game
I thought that this was going to be the final showdown between Michael Vick and Nick Foles to see who was the starting quarterback. But since Chip Kelly prematurely ended that drama, the big story is now the Eagles’ secondary, and whether or not they’ll be able to stop anyone this season.
Safety play hasn’t been a strength for the Eagles in recent seasons, and it’s frightening that Nate Allen will likely be a starter again. The team has given Allen several chances over the past few seasons, and he hasn’t taken advantage. At various times over the past couple of seasons, the team has actually thought that Kurt Coleman would make a better starter than Allen. (Nothing against Coleman, as in a perfect world he’d be a fourth safety/special teams guy. But he’s clearly overmatched as a starter.)
It looks like Allen is penciled in for a starting spot once again. But that isn’t because he played especially well in training camp or the preseason. It’s just because all of his competition has looked worse.
It would certainly set Eagles’ fans minds at ease if Allen played well tomorrow.
The Week in Andy
The Scene: Andy Reid and Chiefs general manager John Dorsey are in an office discussing potential quarterbacks. There are several binders opened on the table in front of them.
Dorsey: Okay, Andy. We gotta find a quarterback! Who do we have so far?
Reid: (Consults binder) It says here that the starter is Matt Cassell.
Dorsey: Wow! He’s good, right?
Reid: Hmmm…it says here that he wasn’t that good.
Dorsey: But he used to be on the Patriots!
Reid: Yes, but according to this, he sucks. (Points to page in binder where the words “SUCKS BIG TIME” are written in red marker next to Smith’s picture)
Dorsey: Okay, so maybe we should find someone else.
Reid: What if we-
Dorsey: I already asked, and management told me we can’t bring in Brett Favre,
Dorsey: We could always see if the Eagles want to trade us Michael Vick!
Reid: No, I don’t want to get those PETA people upset with me again. Some of them still throw things at me.
Dorsey: (Reads some more names) Hmm…how about Alex Smith?
Reid: (Consults his binder) It says here that he was the #1 draft pick.
Dorsey: That’s right! A former #1 pick in the draft…and he’s available!
Reid: Let’s get him. I think I could make him into the next Brett Favre.
Dorsey: Really? You think that highly of him?
Reid: No, I have no idea who he is. But I think I can make any quarterback into the next Brett Favre.
Dorsey: Good enough for me! I’ll call the 49ers, and see what they want for him!
This game will give us our last real impression of the Eagles before the season begins. Let’s hope it’s a good one.
Tags: Alex Smith Andy Reid Blaine Gabbert Football Jacksonville Jaguars Jason Babin Kansas City Chiefs Kurt Coleman Michael Vick Mike Lacy Nate Allen NFL Nfl Preseason Nick Foles Philadelphia Eagles Preseason Semi-Coherent Eagles Preview