Semi-coherent Philadelphia Eagles vs. Jacksonville Jaguars preview


After many horrible, horrible weeks that did not feature any real football, this weekend we will finally get what we all crave: Actual NFL games. For the first time since January, the Eagles will be back in action when they host the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Eagles in week one: A brief history

In recent years, the Eagles have been relatively successful on the first week of the season. They’ve won their past three openers, and seven of their last ten.

Considering that two of those seasons ended up as huge disappointments, it seems likely that their success has mostly been due to their scheduled opponents. Here are the teams they’ve faced in week one over the past three years (with final record in parentheses):

Fired! Image Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

2013 – Washington Redskins (3-13) – The Redskins were coming off an NFC East title. They followed that up with a meltdown of a season that resulted in the firing of head coach Mike Shanahan.

2012 – Cleveland Browns (5-11) – Heading into the game, most people suspected the Browns would suck that year. Most people were correct, and coach (and current Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur) was fired after the season.

2011 – St. Louis Rams (2-14) – Many people predicted the Rams to be a dark horse contender that season. Those people were not correct. Completing the trifecta, after the season, Rams coach Steve Spagnuola was fired.

If you’re paying attention, this is not a particularly good omen for Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley.

The last time they met

Kevin Kolb has not had much success in the league. Image Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

When the Eagles played the Jaguars in week two of the 2010 season, the team was undergoing a bit of a change. Starting quarterback Kevin Kolb had suffered a concussion the week before, and Michael Vick was filling in for him.

Vick played superbly, throwing three touchdowns and running for another. The final score was 28-3, and the performance convinced Andy Reid to name Vick the starter for the remainder of the season.

Would the team have been better off sticking with Kolb? Based on how he fared after leaving the Eagles, it’s tough to make that conclusion.

What’s the deal with the Jaguars?

The Jaguars are entering their second season under head coach Bradley. Just like the Eagles under Chip Kelly, the Jaguars were able to improve their record in 2013, although in their case the improvement was much more modest. (They went from two wins to four).

Aug 28, 2014; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterbacks Blake Bortles (5) and Chad Henne (7) talk on the sidelines during the first half during the game against the Atlanta Falcons at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Richard Dole-USA TODAY Sports

Hoping to find a franchise quarterback, the Jaguars drafted Blake Bortles with the third pick of the 2014 draft. He replaces their 2010 first round pick Blaine Gabbert.

Perhaps the reason the Jaguars have struggled is because they  keep spending early picks on guys who sound like they should be starring for the local prep school. Maybe they should try picking a guy with a “manlier” name like Tom or Nick. (Or um, Peyton?)

The Jags decided that Bortles isn’t quite ready to start, so they’ll go with Chad Henne for week one. This is Henne’s second season with the Jags, and he actually performed better than you would have expected in 2013 after taking over for the frequently injured and ineffective Gabbert. Still, it’s tough to be too threatened by an offense with Henne at the helm.

If you’re looking for other familiar names on the Jaguars offense, you will be out of luck. Longtime running back Maurice Jones-Drew has left town, and will be replaced by Toby Gerhart. The Jaguars are apparently hoping that after serving as Adrian Peterson‘s backup for four years, some of his greatness rubbed off.

Featured Jaguars player: Paul Posluszny

Many Eagles fans remember Posluszny from his college days at Penn State. However, since being drafted by the Bills in 2007, most of us kind of forgot about him. (This is what tends to happen to players drafted by the Bills)

Oct 13, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars middle linebacker Paul Posluszny (51) returns a interception for fifty nine yards and a touchdown in the second quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

After a few solid years in Buffalo, Posluszny headed to a warmer climate by signing with the Jaguars before the 2011 season. Since arriving in Jacksonville, he’s been a solid, if unspectacular player who excels at shutting down the running game.

This is key, because as we learned last season, Chip Kelly likes to run the ball. Between LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles, and (if he’s actually healthy) Chris Polk, Nick Foles should be handing the ball off quite a bit on Sunday.

Will Posluszny and the rest of the defense be able to stop the Eagles when they run? Considering the obvious limitations of their offense, if the Jaguars want any chance of victory, that answer will have to be “yes.”

Key Eagles storyline

Will the Eagles be able to generate more of a pass rush this season?

First round pick Marcus Smith doesn’t appear ready to be a contributor, so the Eagles will be depending on a past-his-prime Trent Cole, and a couple of guys who aren’t ideal fits for their system in Vinny Curry and Brandon Graham.

It seems that the Eagles may have to rely on the blitz if they want to get any pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

Quick Super Bowl prediction

Here’s how I think the 2013 season is going to play out.

In the AFC, the Broncos have loaded up for a final run behind Peyton Manning but the MVP may be due for a bit of a down year. Keep in mind that a down year for Manning would be a good year for just about anyone else, but I think he’s not going to come close to his 2013 numbers.

The Broncos signed a few big name players to bolster their defense, but as the 2011 Eagles proved, signing big name free agents is no guarantee of success.

Andy Dalton. Image Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The team that will represent the AFC in the Super Bowl? The Cincinnati Bengals. Between a strong defense and an underrated quarterback in Andy Dalton, the Bengals will surprise people this season.

In the NFC, the Seahawks will not repeat as champs. The league apparently disliked how the Seahawks played defense last year, as the stricter enforcement of defensive holding makes it appear that they’re determined to prevent a repeat.

Instead, the NFC and Super Bowl champions will be the New Orleans Saints. With the rules skewed to help offenses, I figure that one of the best offensive teams in the league should be able to take advantage.

Eagles season prediction

The NFC East looks bad. Aside from the Eagles, the division’s teams look like they could be among the absolute worst in the league.

Barring regression by Nick Foles, the Eagles should win the NFC East. Image Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps I’m being too quick to write them off. I mean, if Robert Griffin can figure out how to play well without getting hurt, the Redskins could do some damage. The Cowboys have talent on offense that might be enough to overcome a defense that looks awful. And considering that he’s already lucked his way into two Super Bowls, it would probably be foolish to rule out Eli Manning and the Giants.

Despite those possibilities, heading into the season, it seems like a safe pick to say that the Eagles win the division. Sure, Nick Foles could completely regress, and injuries are always the great equalizer. Barring either of those scenarios, the Eagles will win the East with a 10-6 record.


The Eagles are probably lucky to be facing the Jaguars early in the season. The Jags will likely improve as the season progresses, and will be a much more difficult opponent at the end of the season.

But in week one, the Eagles appear to be the superior team, and the final score will reflect that.

Eagles 27 – Jaguars 16