Eagles RB Henry Josey (34) makes the diving touchdown against Patriots S Duron Harmon (30) in the second half during the preseason game at Gillette Stadium. Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Eagles: Observations From Preseason

Preseason games – don’t try to read between the lines

We are halfway through preseason and the Philadelphia Eagles have played their first two games, losing both. There’s no reason to worry, though; preseason games have nothing to do with how an NFL team will perform during the regular season and this is much more than a simple cliché. Especially when we talk about the Eagles, it looks like the preseason games are used much more for personnel evaluation than playbook evaluation. In other words, head coach Chip Kelly wants to see who is worth a spot on the roster more than he wants to see if a certain play gives his team any advantage. What we as fans try to see in these games is totally different from what the coaches have in mind.

Mark Sanchez on the rise

Some players have made things easier for themselves and the perfect example for that category is Mark Sanchez. The veteran quarterback was signed to serve as a backup to Nick Foles and while he is not going to claim the starting job, he has performed very well in both games of the Eagles. He has been the most consistent quarterback of the Eagles and looked very well in command of the offense – an offense that’s completely new to him.

Eagles thin at wide receiver?

Riley Cooper was a pleasant surprise in 2013, but we still haven’t seen him play a single snap in the preseason games. Jeremy Maclin was also kept out of the game against the New England Patriots. Jordan Matthews, despite the buzz he has created in practice sessions, has failed to impress against competition. Suddenly, the Eagles look thin at the position.

No confidence in Alex Henery

Alex Henery has been better this year in practice than the previous one, but he failed to connect on a 47-yard attempt against the Patriots. Beating Carey Spear, an undrafted rookie kicker to keep your job is good, but this alone doesn’t make you a good, reliable kicker. Henery is not consistent in kicking the ball out of bounds in kickoffs and has found difficult to consistently score from 50 yards deep or longer.

Defense “lookin’ good”

This has little to do with how the defensive players have performed in the two preseason games. There have been a lot of “ups and downs”, but there is good reason for optimism. Defensive coordinator Bill Davis and his scheme are not new this year and the majority of starters were with the Birds last year, too. Additionally, this unit has finally enough options. In 2013, a lot of backup players were with the team because they were familiar with the philosophy of the new coaching regime or because there was no clear upgrade available. This time, there are a lot of good players around, especially in the secondary. It’s hard to tell if this will translate to a better team, too, but it is better to know that Nolan Carroll and not Roc Carmichael is next in line if one of the starting cornerbacks gets injured.

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