The Philadelphia Eagles are headed to Foxboro to have joint practice with the New England Patriots, this could not have come at a better time. After somewhat of a disappointing week 1 preseason game, the Eagles will face off against one of the premiere teams in the NFL. For the 2nd year in a row, Eagles Head Coach Chip Kelly decides to join Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick in team practices before the two teams face each other in week 2 of the preseason. Here are a 3 things to watch during these joint practices:
1: Can Eagles Quarterback Nick Foles shake off his week 1 rust?
By now most people accept Nick Foles‘ impressive first season, but most are also waiting to see what he does in his 2nd year as the Quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles. During week 1, Foles did not do himself any favors. While I think that it was just one game, early preseason and that he will bounce back, Foles did have a rough and unimpressive first start.
The joint practices against the Patriots is just what Nick Foles needs to get back into mid-season form. The Patriots added some key play makers on Defense and have really went all in to become one of the NFL’s best Defenses. Foles will face off against arguably one of the best Cornerback duos in Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. The New England secondary should push Foles and the rest of the Eagles offense to step up and get back to the high powered Offense Eagles fans know and love.
2: How will the Eagles Defense look against Tom Brady and the Patriots Offense?
It is no secret that Tom Brady has been one of the NFL’s best Quarterbacks since he took over as the Patriots signal caller. It is also no secret that Eagles Cornerback Cary Williams is not a fan of the Patriots organization. The Eagles Defense started to really improve last season and during the week 1 preseason game they looked even better. The joint practice gives the Eagles Defense a chance to practice against one of the best Offenses in the NFL.
I have always subscribed to the idea that practicing against the best will help your team be the best. This practice gives the Eagles the chance to really step up. The Eagles have adopted the “bigger/physical is better” mentality for their Cornerbacks. The new NFL rules make it harder for players (Outside Cornerbacks specifically) to be physical with Offensive players. I expect Cary Williams will have some trouble with game Officials and Coaches this week.
3: How will the Eagles Rookies respond after their first preseason game?
Eagles Rookie Wide Receiver Jordan Matthews has been nothing but spectacular during his first NFL Training Camp, but he had a rough first preseason game as an NFL Rookie. The sure-handed Matthews dropped multiple passes in his NFL debut and while I think it was nothing more than a Rookie being somewhat overwhelmed in his debut, it was still surprising to see. Matthews should see some of the NFL better defenders this week and I believe it will help him erase last week and really start to become the Wide Receiver that Eagles fans clamor over.
A few other Rookies will be interesting to watch. Will Josh Huff continue his rise as a Wide Receiver/Kick Returner? I believe he will. Huff is very underrated and plays in Chip Kelly’s system very well. Will Marcus Smith have a chance to play Defense while Brady is leading the Patriots Offense? How will he respond, that is a big test for a Rookie and I personally hope he gets the chance. It will be great to see if his game elevates when in bigger situations. Will Rookie Defensive Linemen Beau Allen and Taylor Hart continue to improve after their impressive first preseason game with some added Quarterback pressure this week? I really like these two players and this week is another chance to shine.
This joint practice will be a great test for the Philadelphia Eagles and I believe it is just what they need to bring the team back together and reiterate why this team is headed in the right direction.