Semi-Coherent Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Jets Preview – Tim Tebow vs. Matt Barkley: The Final Battle!


We’re not supposed to get excited over preseason games. Many people have pointed out that in 2008, the Detroit Lions went 4-0 in the preseason, and then proceeded to lose all 16 games in the regular season. (That might actually be a reason to be excited about preseason. Success in the NFL is fleeting, so maybe you should enjoy wins no matter when they come.)

I don’t care. The Eagles looked downright awesome last week. Yes, Aaron Rodgers was out, but the last time I checked, he doesn’t play on defense. That was the Packers starting defense out there, and by all reports, they were actually giving full effort. It didn’t matter. Sam Bradford and the Eagles offense – missing Zach Ertz and Josh Huff – moved the ball at will against the Packers, and scored three touchdowns on three drives. It’s tough to do better than that, although converting some of those extra points/two-point conversions would be nice.

Sadly, we will have to wait another week and a half before we get to see the starting offense again. This week’s game is the last preseason game, which means that none of the projected starters (and even some of the key backups) will take the field.

The schedule says the Eagles are playing the New York Jets. But that’s not the real battle that will take place on Thursday night. The real battle will be between the two candidates fighting to serve as the Eagles’ third-string quarterback.

Token Discussion of the Jets

Even though the team that takes the field will bear little resemblance to the team that plays during the regular season, I suppose I should still talk about the Jets a little.

I have no idea who the Jets’ starting quarterback is. I know that Geno Smith was probably going to be the starter before getting punched in the jaw, but I don’t know who his replacement is.

Aug 21, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback

Ryan Fitzpatrick

(14) attempts to pass against the Atlanta Falcons during first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Oh, it’s Ryan Fitzpatrick. So much for the Jets’ season.

Nothing against Fitzpatrick. He has been a decent enough backup quarterback, because as I’ve said many times: Most backup quarterbacks have major weaknesses preventing them from being starters. But Ryan Fitzpatrick shouldn’t be a guy you hold out of a preseason game out of fear of injury. He’s the guy you should be playing to avoid injury to the starter.

I suppose that a team quarterbacked by Fitzpatrick could make the playoffs if he is surrounded by a good enough supporting cast. So do the Jets have a good enough supporting cast?

They have a solid offensive line, anchored by Pro Bowlers Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson. It isn’t clear if Ferguson is actually that good, or if people keep voting him into the Pro Bowl because they remember his name. (How could you forget it?)

They also have some talent at wide receiver, as both Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker have played well in recent years. There will probably be at least a slight downturn in Decker’s numbers now that his quarterback in Fitzpatrick, and not Peyton Manning, and the receiving corps was hurt by the injury to tight end Jace Amaro. Still, a decent quarterback should be able to succeed with that group.

On defense, Darrelle Revis might not be able to lock down receivers the way he once did, but he’s still one of the better corners in the league. Temple product Muhammad Wilkerson is a force on the defensive line, and Sheldon Richardson (assuming he returns to form after serving a four-game drug suspension) is also an imposing presence.

So there is talent on the Jets’ roster. Will it be enough to overcome Fitzpatrick’s mediocrity and get the Jets into the playoffs?

I should mention that none of those guys I talked about are expected to play in this game. So I’ll move on and talk about some guys who probably will suit up.

Discussion of the Jets Backup Quarterbacks

With Fitzpatrick’s elevation to the starting position, the Jets needed someone to fill the backup spot. Who better to turn to than career backup Matt Flynn?

Aug 21, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback

Matt Flynn

(5) during warm up before game against the Atlanta Falcons at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Flynn started his career as a backup quarterback for the Green Bay Packers. After years of serving as an understudy to Aaron Rodgers, in 2012 he signed with Seattle to presumably be their starter. Unfortunately for Flynn, the Seahawks drafted Russell Wilson that year, so he never ended up starting a single game. Since then, he’s bounced around the league.

Flynn hasn’t gotten much work this preseason; a hamstring injury has kept him from practicing, so the team is hoping to give him an extended look in this game.

After Flynn exits, he will likely be replaced by rookie Bryce Petty. Petty – a former star at Baylor – was the team’s 5th round pick in the 2015 draft. It isn’t clear if he’s going to succeed in the NFL, but he’s already proven to be a failure at choosing pizza places.

That’s kind of ridiculous. If you’re going to go with a national pizza chain, it’s Papa John’s or GTFO.

Key Eagles Storyline

Don’t get hurt? Isn’t that usually the storyline for these preseason games?

If you want something else to keep an eye on, we might actually see Kiko Alonso this week. Despite being projected as a starter, Alonso said he expects to play a little this week, just to work off some of the rust.

Perhaps he just wants to prove that he is a real person, and not just a theoretical concept. (Apologies for misspelling his name):

The Week in Tebow

There are a few roster spots yet to be decided, but in the hearts and minds of Eagles fans, there’s only one battle that matters: Tim Tebow vs. Matt Barkley for the third quarterback spot.

Jun 17, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback

Tim Tebow

(11) throws the ball in front of quarterback

Matt Barkley

(2) during minicamp at The NovaCare Complex. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, for the second straight game, neither man made a strong case for himself. Tebow came in after the first two touchdowns to attempt a two-point conversion. On the first attempt, he tried to run it in and got stuffed. On the second, he threw an ugly pass that was almost picked off.

Barkley didn’t look all that much better. The offense – which looked so good in the first half – failed to move with Barkley under center. Since Tebow has the edge in athleticism and intangibles, Barkley really needs to show that he is the superior passer.

Barkley is expected to start the game and will probably play the first half. After that, it will be Tebow time.

Will either man definitively prove that they deserve the roster spot? Or will they both continue to struggle, leading to fans demanding that the team sign Robert Griffin III instead?

Mocking the East

Part of the fun of being a football fan is taking pleasure in the misfortune of your favorite team’s rivals. Each week, I’ll find a reason to make fun of one of the other teams in the NFC East. (Note: Although I’m sure I could feature the Redskins every week, I’ll try to spread around the mockery a bit.)

Aug 29, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback

Kirk Cousins

(8) drops back to pass during the first quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Redskins front office – or at least everyone besides the owner – have apparently decided that Kirk Cousins is the best option for the team at quarterback. I can’t really blame them from moving away from Robert Griffin III, because RG3 has proven to be a walking disaster.

However, its amusing the way the always rational Redskins fans are thrilled about this news. Cousins has had some strong games over the past few seasons, but he’s also mixed in a fair share of stinkers. Recall that he was benched in favor of Colt McCoy last season, and the decision appeared to be quite justified.

That hasn’t stopped fans from declaring Cousins as a potential “top ten” quarterback. Cousins might not be a top ten quarterback in the NFC East. (Hey, if Redskins fans want to use hyperbole, so can I!)

Usually, the Redskins don’t turn into a complete disaster until the second or third week of the season. They’re getting an early jump on things this year.

Super Bowl Year Song of the Week

The Eagles have not made many appearances in the Super Bowl (Two, to be exact). I’m hopeful that this season will mark their third appearance in the “big game,” so each week I’m going to take a song from one of the franchise’s Super Bowl seasons (1980 and 2004) that somehow relates to this week’s game.

Should’ve Never Let You Go – Neil Sadaka, 1980

After this game, the Eagles will have to make final cuts to get down to their Opening Day roster. With all the talent on hand, it seems like at least a couple of good players won’t make the cut. Will any of them end up making the Eagles think they shouldn’t have let them go?


Tebow isn’t going to let the Eagles’ perfect preseason record slip away. He’s going to wow everyone and show exactly what the hype is all about.

Eagles 30-17

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