Semi-Coherent Eagles Preview: Preseason Week 2 vs.Carolina Panthers


Nick Foles will get the start at quarterback. Image Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

So wasn’t that first week of preseason exciting?

Honestly, for a preseason game, let alone the first preseason game, last week was pretty darned eventful.  There were touchdowns!  There were turnovers!  There were some big plays made by guys who are trying to make the team!

And the best part is: There are three more preseason games left to play!  (Give me a break; I’m trying to approach these preseason games with optimism)

It should be noted that in the first version of this post, I had the Eagles’ opponent as the Baltimore Ravens.  That should be some indication of just how meaningful these preseason games are.

Tonight’s game should feature more of the starters than we saw in the first game.  Chip Kelly said he plans for them to play well into the second quarter.  At quarterback, Nick Foles is scheduled to get the start, but he and Michael Vick will continue to rotate.

What Did We Learn?

While the preseason games may not  affect the final standings, that doesn’t mean that we can’t learn something from them.  Here’s a few pieces of useful knowledge that I took away from last week’s game:

  1. DeSean Jackson is fast – I guess we already knew that.  Jackson seems to be determined to have a good season, and based on what we’ve seen so far, the offense might try throwing a few deep passes his way regardless of how deep the safeties are playing.
  2. The offense might have some success – Sure, it was one game against a defense that was using basic schemes, but based on the way the offense moved under both Vick and Foles, there was reason to believe that the team might be able to score some points this season.
  3. The defense might not – The Eagles’ defense was weak in 2013, and there were concerns that it might be even worse this season.  Watching them get gouged for a 62 yard run on the first play of the game didn’t exactly set those fears to rest.

What’s the Deal with the Panthers?

Heading into the 2012 season, most pundits had the Panthers pegged as an “up-and-coming” team.  The main reason for this was the presence of young quarterback Cam Newton.

Is Cam Newton enough to make the Panthers a “team on the rise?” Image Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Is it just me, or do pundits LOVE declaring any team with a young, potential star quarterback as an “up-and-coming” team?  While I appreciate the importance of the quarterback position, there are other factors at play.  A team could have lousy 35-year-old players at every other position.  But if they’ve got a young, hotshot quarterback, you can guarantee that someone will declare them to be a “team on the rise.”

As it turned out, the Panthers weren’t all that good in 2012, although thanks to a season-ending four game winning streak, they did manage to improve their record by one game to 7-9.  As any Eagles fan could tell you, a season-ending four game winning streak does not necessarily mean that the team will be successful the following season.

If you were looking for another reason to tune into the game, the Panthers will be wearing a black jersey/black pants uniform combination that was voted the greatest ever.

Yes, these are the types of things that are important in preseason games.

Featured Opposing Player

DeAngelo Williams is still the Panthers’ top running back. Image Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Believe it or not, DeAngelo Williams will still be the top running back for the Panthers.  If you’ve ever played fantasy football, you’re probably familiar with Williams.  At some point during the season, he’ll become available, and you’ll think, “Oh look, a starting running back!  I need to pick him up!”

Williams rewarded his unfortunate owners by not recording a 100+ yard game through the first 16 weeks of the season.  In week 17 – after most fantasy leagues have completed – he ran for an inexplicable 210 yards.

Of course, that’s just fantasy football.  We should be more concerned with how well he helps the Carolina Panthers win in real life.  Perhaps it has been beneficial to the Panthers to have him share the running back duties with backup Jonathan Stewart.  Considering that the Panthers haven’t had a winning record in the past three seasons, it can’t be working out all that well.

Stewart is currently injured, which theoretically will allow Williams to carry more of the load.  Except now, the Panthers coaches are talking about how much they love rookie back Kenjon Barker.  In other words, don’t count on a big year from Williams.

Key Eagles Storyline Heading Into the Game

I talked about how the Eagles’ defense looked less than impressive.  Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who thought that.  (I’d actually be shocked if I was the only one who thought that.  I mean, the defense looked BAD on Friday)   Cornerback Cary Williams thought that the Eagles needed to get a little tougher on defense.

Williams later apologized, and said that he wasn’t implying that the Eagles were soft, but rather that they needed to establish a tougher identity.  (Which seems like a nicer way of saying the same exact thing.)

Eagles fans don’t know what to think about Williams now.  He turned everyone against him when he missed offseason practices for a variety of reasons (Picking out sconces!) but now, he’s trying to bring a tougher attitude to the team and invoking the name of Brian Dawkins.

Ultimately, it will come down to how Williams plays in a game.  If he shuts down opposing receivers and tackles well (Yes, Eagles fans, cornerbacks are theoretically capable of tackling well) then the fans will love him.  Otherwise, he’ll just be another Ernie Sims – a player who talked big, and hit hard in practice, but was largely invisible once the games began.

The Week in Andy

The Scene: After Andy Reid was hired, the Chiefs set about finding a general manager to pair with him.  Chiefs CEO Clark Hunt enters Reid’s office to discuss the candidates.

Hunt: Hey, Andy!  Would you like to hear about the GM candidates we’ve picked out?

Reid: Sure.

Hunt: Well, you actually know this first guy.  You worked together in Green Bay and –

Reid: He’s the one!

Hunt: What?

Reid: The Green Bay guy.  He’s the one you should hire.

Hunt: So you’ve done some research on the candidates too?

Andy Reid never forget people he worked with. Image Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Reid: No.  But you said we worked together in Green Bay.  I won a Super Bowl in Green Bay.

Hunt: We know.  You’ve showed us your ring hundreds of times.

Reid: So this guy is obviously a winner.

Hunt: Do you even know his name?

Reid: No, but you said he –

Hunt: His name is John Dorsey.  Do you remember him?

Reid: Let me check.  (Stands up and walks to a cabinet behind his desk.  He opens the cabinet, searches inside, and pulls out a binder.  He sits back down, turns a few pages and begins to read.)  John Dorsey.  Yeah, I remember him.  Good guy.  He liked The Police.

Hunt: The band?

Reid: (Looks back down at the binder) I don’t know.  It doesn’t specify.

Hunt: Well, he’s certainly a good candidate, but we’ve got some others in mind too.

Reid: Nope.  Dorkey’s your man.

Hunt: You mean, Dorsey?

Reid: It says here that I used to call him “Dorkey.”  That’s pretty funny, huh?

Hunt: Um, yeah.  Thanks for your input, Andy.  We’ll keep you posted.

Reid: Any time.

Hunt:  (Walks away)

Reid: (In an oddly high voice) Roxxxxannne!  You don’t have to put on the red light.

Inane Dave Spadaro Tweet of the Week

Honestly, I wonder why someone would even ask Spadaro this question on Twitter.  What kind of answer would you expect to get?

Tweet that Sums up this Past Week

At least Davis seems to be approaching things realistically.

Final Take

The preseason isn’t about wins and losses, it’s more about how a team looks.  Let’s hope that the Eagles continue to look strong on offense and can show some improvement on defense.