While the Philadelphia Eagles have a lot to be excited about heading into the regular season, there are a few concerns that have popped up throughout the preseason.
As we digest the final cuts as the Birds move to the 53-man roster in advance of next Sunday’s opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars, here are my top three concerns following the four preseason games.
1) Wide receiver depth: When wide receiver Jeremy Maclin looked like he blew out his knee against the Pittsburgh Steelers, we all did the math. An injured Maclin makes Riley Cooper the No. 1 receiver, followed by rookie Jordan Matthews. And then? Brad Smith? Jeff Maehl?
Until we get to see what injured rookie Josh Huff can contribute, the Eagles seem very thin at a crucial position. Yes, head coach Chip Kelly is a genius and, yes, these are all NFL players, but defenses are tough and defensive players are tougher. You have to be able to get open and make tough catches, and there are reasons guys like Smith, Benn and Maehl are competing for jobs in Philadelphia instead of making big dollars elsewhere.
2) Marcus Smith: As I noted in the Quick Six Observations following Thursday’s game against the New York Jets, the rookie linebacker has failed to make any kind of an impression during the preseason. That’s not good.
It’s one thing if you look bad, and obviously a great thing if you look good, but Smith has been, well, pretty much invisible. He somehow registered eight tackles. Think about that. Can you remember any of them?
We know the Eagles’ top draft pick is a project player, but the criticism of his first-round selection (many called it a reach) seem more justified by the day. Time will tell on Smith, but the early returns are not good.
3) Starters: Did the starters look good against the Chicago Bears? No. Did the starters look good against the New England Patriots? Not really. And the starters didn’t even play against the New York Jets, for obvious reasons.
Yes, both the starting offense and defense look fantastic against the Pittsburgh Steelers in their third preseason game. For a half. Two quarters. They were dominant. For a half. Two quarters.
In 16 preseason quarters, the Philadelphia Eagles who we’ll be counting on every Sunday (and Monday and a Thursday and a Saturday, too) looked like the Philadelphia Eagles we want to see for two of them. I’m not great at math, but that’s not a strong percentage.
I admit this third concern could be a stretch, but it’s worthwhile to note. The Eagles catch a break by opening against the lowly Jaguars, but one week later face Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts. They’ll need to be firing on all cylinders and it’s yet to be seen if they’ve recaptured that magic.
Tags: Philadelphia Eagles