Through two preseason games, the Philadelphia Eagles’ projected starting offense has not seen the field together. Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin played briefly in the first game against the Chicago Bears, while wide receiver Riley Cooper has not seen preseason game action at all. On the rushing side, All Pro running back LeSean McCoy has carried the load, with questions on the depth behind him as running backs Chris Polk and Matthew Tucker both sat out as well. Running back Darren Sproles, while listed as a back officially, does most of his damage catching passes out of the backfield. The bottom line here is that this Eagles’ offense needs actual game time to gel before the season starts. Thursday night’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers gives them the opportunity.
Aside from the inactives, the Eagles offense must consistently dominate the line of scrimmage. We’ve seen glimpses of this so far, but consistency will give quarterback Nick Foles the time to go through his progressions and find open receivers. The expectation here is that rookie wide receivers Joshua Huff and Jordan Matthews fill out the wideout corp alongside Maclin and Cooper. But again, consistency in game situations can’t simply be replaced by more time on the practice field. It’s no secret that the preseason offense is pretty vanilla, and given head coach Chip Kelly’s innovative ways, one would expect any flashy stuff to sit until the games really matter. This is supposed to be a time for new players to prove their worth, and get some game tape for either the Birds or other potential landing spots. Still, the first-team reps are invaluable.
Looking around the league, some teams have marched right into the preseason and dominated from the start. But just because a team comes out of the preseason with a winning record (or even a perfect record), aside from the possible momentum carrying into the regular season, means nothing to the season standings. On September 4, the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers open the season with the first game that counts. The Eagles get their shot at a meaningful win that following Sunday, September 7 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Until then, it’s time to get the first-team offense together on the field for some real game action.