The Philadelphia Eagles and Jacksonville Jaguars come into the 2013 season with some telling similarities. New coaches in Chip Kelly and Gus Bradley. Top-five picks at offensive tackle, Lane Johnson and Luke Joeckel. A sense of optimism that, surely, this year will be better than last.
These teams will meet in the third preseason game, generally when the starters for each team are given the most time in what serves as the last tune-up before the regular season for the first team. It will be interesting to see, for a half or so, where each of these rebuilding teams stands.
Well, to a certain degree, as the Jaguars' starting quarterback, Blaine Gabbert, won't be available to play due to a hairline fracture in his right thumb. Still, most of the other Jags' regulars should be good to go.
Let's preview this preseason clash.
When: Saturday, August 24 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: EverBank Field, Jacksonville, Florida
Watch: ABC (Philadelphia); WTEV-TV (Jacksonville)
Streaming: Preseason Live
Spread: Eagles (-3), according to Bovada
Eagles Injuries (via CBS)
Jaguars Injuries (via CBS)
What They're Saying
Ron Jaworski, Skip Bayless, Jemele Hill and Michael Smith of ESPN recently debated what fans could expect to see from Michael Vick this season.
Eagles Player to Watch: The Tight Ends
Rookie Zach Ertz, Brent Celek, James Casey and Clay Harbor all figure to see the field plenty for the Eagles this season, with Chip Kelly keen on using his assortment of tight ends to create mismatches for defenses.
Against the Carolina Panthers, Kelly even rolled out a four-tight end set, something not often seen. And all four players bring something different to the table.
Celek is a more traditional tight end, while it appears as though Harbor will often be utilized out wide. Casey figures to play more as an H-back, while Ertz will be utilized in a number of roles and could end up being the most logical option for fantasy owners looking to take a deep flier on a tight end.
There is plenty to be excited about as Kelly installs his offense. His use of the tight end position is definitely high on that list.
Jaguars Player to Watch: Maurice Jones-Drew
This is mostly for fantasy football players, as the intrigue with Jones-Drew is how much burst will show. In ESPN standard leagues, Jones-Drew has an average draft position of 27.3, meaning he can be had late in the third round in 10-team leagues.
He was used sparingly in the last preseason game against the New York Jets, rushing three times for 10 yards and adding a 20-yard reception.
Jones-Drew isn't just important for fantasy owners, of course. With Blaine Gabbert as the starting quarterback and Justin Blackmon suspended for the first four games of the season, he will once again be the focal point of this Jacksonville season.
If he doesn't have a big year, the Jags are in trouble. As usual.
Key Matchup: Paul Posluszny vs. Eagles Run Offense
Paul Posluszny has been excellent since joining the Jags in 2011, combing for 258 tackles, three forced fumbles, four sacks and five interceptions in those two seasons.
He'll come face-to-face with the Eagles' fast-paced option offense, which will look to isolate various defenders and make quick reads to strike at the defense's weakness. That should keep Posluszny plenty busy, as on any given read, he could find himself defending a quarterback keeper, a running back hitting the hole or in coverage against a tight end or wide receiver.
Should be fun.
It's always a bit tricky trying to make predictions for preseason games, but these are the Jaguars...
...So the Eagles win, 21-17.