Jul 26, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles (9) throws the ball as quarterback Mark Sanchez (3) watches from behind during training camp at the Novacare Complex. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Preseason Pitfalls: Philadelphia Eagles Mistakes To Avoid

Preseason Pitfalls: Philadelphia Eagles  Mistakes To Avoid

Since the 2013-2014 NFL season ended, every football fan urged the calendar to speed up to bring us back to here:  preseason football.
Yes, it’s part audition and part who cares, but it looks and smells and acts so much like a real football game that NFL fans sometimes get locked into the season frenzy of reading too much into the games themselves.   It’s tough not to do, particularly when a promising season begins at 0-2.

On the other hand, there are fans who are so discouraged by the imitation football in the preseason, that they would rather avoid the entire process and chant “look me up when the REAL season starts!”  By doing so, they miss the evolution of players who are learning the NFL, or the team they have joined.    No coach gives away the playbook in preseason, but trends begin there.

At various points of my life, I fell into one of the two categories.  I did, until I thought long and hard at the goals of preseason and discovered that, while it is not NFL football in its season form, it is still a very important part of a prospect’s NFL career.   But to appreciate the preseason, there are certain pitfalls, nfl “traps”, which we would do well to avoid.

(1)  Don’t use preseason stats convince you that a backup should start over a starter – Okay, this sounds simple enough, and yet year after year a good performance from a backup against another team’s backups invariably launches fan debate over who should and should not start on the team.  Despite the surge of some proficiency at the backup quarterback position, keep in mind that Nick Foles is the starter, and that the best Mark Sanchez can do is become a proficient backup.

(2) Don’t use the preseason scoreboard define the quality of your team.   Okay, I’m still guilty of this.  But the coaches run the team through their paces to see what doesn’t work well in preseason, and then run what DOES work in the regular season.   Eagles will practice a dime package, but don’t look for it until the season is underway.

(3)  Keep in mind that each player is auditioning for specific roles.  Special teams players, from the backups, generally trumps other play.   The reason is simple – backups will be starting on special teams when the season starts.    The coaching staff wants to field the best team possible.    Therefore, they will keep the 53 best, and place players who have promise on the practice squad.

(4)  Special teams are likely to be some of the most important aspects of a rookies duties.  Therefore, don’t underestimate a blocked punt, or a kickoff return for a touchdown.  If a player contributes on special teams to a point where you hear their name, it’s likely the coach heard the name as well.

(5) Trust the coaches.  In a preseason game, we see a limited view of plays and players.  Coaches have been working with these players for weeks, and know exactly what is happening on each play.    While a 53 man roster means that there will very likely be cuts to players you had hoped might or should make the team,  trust the coaches’ decisions on who goes and who stays.   The Eagles need the best TEAM, not a collection of the best players.

As it now stands in the NFC East, the standings look like this:

New York Giants             3-0
Washington Redskins    1-0 (playing a monday night football game)
Philadelphia Eagles        0-2
Dallas Cowboys                0-2

In 2011, the Philadelphia Eagles were 4-0 in preseason.    (final record was 4-12).   In 2004, the last appearance by the Eagles in the Super Bowl, the Eagles were 1-3 in preseason.  Perhaps the games do not mean much.

But for cornerback Curtis Marsh and wide receiver Ifeanyi Momah, the next game is brutally important to them.  After less than stellar performances against the New England Patriots, both know they need to bring their A game against the next game with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

And then, hope their names make it to the coach’s ear for a good play.

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Tags: 53-man Roster Eagles Philadelphia Eagles Preseason Special Teams

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