With the Eagles about to close out their preseason slate against the Jets tonight at Lincoln Financial Field, now is a good time to look at five major points facing the Eagles as they prepare for their season opener in Cleveland in just 10 days.
1. At the completion of this year’s draft I was as high on the Eagles as about anyone in the country, but in the afterglow of what appears to be one of the team’s best drafts over the last decade, I’m now getting a little gun shy. The Eagles will undoubtedly be in the mix this season, but there are some major concerns to address. When Nate Allen enters the season as the “sure thing” at safety, then you have to wonder just how shaky the rest of the unit will be. Second-year strong safety Jaiquawn Jarrett was expected to make the jump, but has been inconsistent at best thus far. The team also brought in veteran O.J. Atogwe for depth, but he’s struggled to remain on the field as he’s battled various nagging injuries. Beyond the safety position, the interior of the offensive line has struggled a bit, which has been a surprise. That unit gelled late last season, so that they’re struggling now is a bit of a concern.
2. The good news is that Michael Vick should enter the season at full-strength. That’s always a team’s primary goal in training camp and as they prepare for regular season. The bad news, of course, is that he exited both preseason games in which he played very quickly. Vick’s health is the primary concern heading into this season and he did nothing in August to quiet those concerns. I don’t think it’s realistic to expect Vick to last all 16 regular season games, but as long as he doesn’t miss an extended period of time the Eagles are talented enough offensively to keep things afloat.
3. Andy Reid has never missed the playoffs two seasons in a row. With the combination of veteran and rookie talent on this roster, I’d be shocked if they don’t make the postseason. Vegas loves the Eagles and many consider them to be the division favorites–even after a trainwreck of a season in 2011. Am I planning a Super Bowl parade? No. But I do think they’ll be one of the top two teams in the division which should be good for a playoff berth. From there–we’ll see how things go.
4. For the most part, the major position battles have been decided. I’d like to see guys like Derek Landri and Daryl Tapp have solid showings because there’s a good chance they may not make the roster, so I’d be looking for them to increase their trade value. A quality performance from Jaiquawn Jarrett would be comforting as well. Other than that, I don’t think Reid has much concern with this one tonight, so the primary goal should be getting out healthy and ready to go for Cleveland in ten days.
5. I think defensive end Vinny Curry is an ultra-talented pass rusher who has just been a little erratic early on. Extended snaps tonight should help him. With the Jets’ struggles at tackle, Curry could have a nice game. I’d really like to see Nick Foles play a solid first quarter and wrap up a terffic preseason. I also expect Trent Edwards, who will take the bulk of the snaps tonight, to lock down the third-string quarterback job tonight.