Key Things to Watch for the Rest of the Philadelphia Eagles' Preseason
Now that we've all seen the Philadelphia Eagles on the field for the first time, the highly-anticipated "dream team" has a lot to do before the season opener.
All the hype surrounding the team is surely appropriate, because no other team in NFL history has made a splash in free agency like the Philadelphia Eagles have this offseason.
Looking for their first Super Bowl victory in franchise history, the Eagles have a lot of preparation still before the season kicks off. Things such as roster spots, player comfort and team roles are all things that we need to keep an eye on.
Here are the top things to look for for the rest of the Philadelphia Eagles' preseason.
Even though Young only threw the ball five times and went 3-for-5 for 45 yards, he looked rather uncomfortable.
Since Young is the first to coin the "dream team" term to the Eagles, he should've came out of the locker room on fire. In training camp, everyone said Kafka looked like he'd be the backup to Vick—everyone knew that was not going to happen.
Regardless of how "good" he looks, Young is the second-string QB and will be the backup during the season.
If Young wants to contain that spot, he will absolutely need to look like he knows the offense with confidence. Vick will most likely get hurt, and Young will have to step in and take over.
Pressure on the QB
This is a big factor. The Eagles in the past under Jim Johnson were known to have the scariest defense in the league. From numerous picks to endless blitzing, the Eagles were feared.
Since the passing of Johnson, everyone knows they have not been the same defense.
Guess what? It's 2011 and Andy Reid means business. The Eagles acquired Jason Babin and Cullen Jenkins to play along with Trent Cole—forming the scariest line in the league. These powerhouses will surely get the the quarterback more than a couple of times a game. Six sacks in the preseason is respectable.
Not only will they be racking up the sacks, but the running game will be shutdown as well.
Even though the Ravens totaled 107 yards on the ground in the first preseason game, they didn't come easily. Not to mention, most of the yards game against the second-string team.
This 4-3 defense seems to have finally got it right. Jim Washburn, the defensive line coach, has a plethora or talent to work with and will use them to pave the way to Indy.
This was the biggest issue for the Eagles last season—and it looks to be fixed.
The Philadelphia Eagles' biggest problem late last year was keeping a solid o-line healthy. With that came the obvious issue of protecting Vick. Once teams figured out that pressuring him caused more turnovers, more and more teams did this, which made him more prone to an injury.
Thankfully, the Eagles o-line looked beautiful against the Ravens.
Drafting Danny Watkins and signing Ryan Harris to protect Vick's blindside proved to work fine, because the Eagles only allowed two sacks the entire game.
Taking into consideration it was the first full-contact game since the end of last season, allowing only two sacks against the Ravens' defense is noteworthy.
Keep an eye on this front line and see if they can hold up all season long to give Vick more time in the pocket to work his magic.
Alex Henery's Consistency
Man, was it a joy to see the opening kickoff from Alex Henery go eight yards deep in the end-zone. Something is telling me that letting David Akers go wasn't such a bad idea after all.
In the preseason opener against the Baltimore Ravens, Henry went 2/2 with a long of 35 yards. We know he has the power, but will his consistency continue.
Now kicking field goals in preseason provides no pressure at all on the kicker, but knowing he can make the first two field goals of his NFL debut is a good sign. As the preseason goes on, I would like to see him in the 45-plus yard range.
All I can say is Henery looks promising. We need to continue to keep an eye out for his long-range accuracy and consistency as the season unfolds.
While this is the only spot on the team's depth chart that has a lot of uncertainty, the Eagles need to find the right group to fill out the linebacker squad.
The main thing to keep an eye out for is who will be the regular starters for the next three preseason games. Chaney, Matthews and Fokou were the starting three against the Ravens, and that seemed to work out pretty well.
Even though Matthews didn't make much of an impact like people hoped by recording zero tackles, It was the other rookie, Brian Rolle, who recorded a team-high four tackles.
With all the big names the Eagles signed in free agency, everyone thought they were going to land some big linebacker, and they didn't. Honestly, I'm glad because what is the harm in mentoring a talented young group of guys and forming them another powerhouse?
Maclin and the WR Depth
How many wide receivers will the Eagles keep? Five, six or seven?
Well even though it's not a big problem, it's something to look for. The big news lately with the Eagles is the health of Jeremy Maclin. Maclin has sat out of all activities with an unknown illness, rumored to be Mononucleosis (Mono).
As of now, there is no time frame for his return, and it is still unknown if he will even be ready for the season opener.
Breaking down the depth chart looks like this: DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, Steve Smith, Riley Cooper, Chad Hall, Johnnie Lee-Higgins, Rod Harper, Gerald Jones and Sinorice Moss.
Obviously, the Eagles can't keep all 10 of these guys.
Steve Smith, who was recently acquired from the Giants, is still hindered by his knee-injury, but hopes to be ready for the season opener.
Riley Cooper is a big man who is perfect for the red-zone issues the Eagles have and has great hands.
Chad Hall led the game with five receptions for 82 yards and is another speedy weapon.
Johnnie Lee-Higgins may have only had one catch, but his speed is perfect for the return game. As for the rest of the guys, good luck with that battle!
Those 3 Dangerous Corners
The opening drive of the Baltimore Ravens showed a truly beautiful thing for the Eagles defense.
Nnamdi Asomugha, Asante Samuel and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie all on the field at once. Many people say trading Samuel is the best option for the Eagles, since he has reached his prime and DRC is still young. Then many say keep him, since having a triple threat is perfect.
Personally, I say keep Asante.
What is the harm? He is one of the best corners in the league and proves that every Sunday. Last season, Samuel recorded seven interceptions in just 11 games. Not only is that impressive, he has recorded 36 interceptions since 2006!
Samuel is a sure playmaker, and even though he may miss a tackle or two, his skills make up for that. Keep him, have Asomugha play opposite, and let DRC come in to cover the slot or play for the injured man.