With the final preseason game now upon us, NFL teams are expected to wind things down and play their starters sparingly, if at all. The Eagles are not expected to play their starters and many backup players will look to get some reps. While the game may seem less than interesting to most, there are still many things that can be observed and deciphered from the preseason game.
Here are five things to watch out for in the Eagles Jets preseason finale…
Vince Young has thus far had a very up and down preseason. At times, he has looked spectacular, being the mobile and strong armed backup quarterback that the Eagles need. Other times he has looked confused, lost within the system, and very much like the washed-up bust of a first rounder that the league seems to think he is.
Young will likely play for the first half against the Jets and will now have a final opportunity to prove to fans and coaches that he can be an effective player once again in the NFL. There is virtually no chance of Young taking the starting job away from Vick. Still, Young is out to prove to everyone that he can be a starter again and that is why Andy Reid picked him up: To use him as trade bait.
He will have his chance to shine against the Jets tonight.
Mike Kafka, while not quite the playmaking talent of Vick or Young, has had an overall solid preseason. Especially against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Kafka appeared to be the lone bright spot on the offense.
Young is not likely to be the long-term backup on the team, or the potential heir to the starting quarterback position when the Michael Vick era draws to a close. Reid took him as a developmental quarterback, similar to Kevin Kolb. And as the coaching staff appears to be big on Kafka, he will have a final chance to impress tonight against the Jets.
Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg has lauded Kafka as one of the smartest players he has ever coached. We will have another chance to see if Kafka can live up to such grand expectations.
While off to a slow start initially, the recent game against the Cleveland Browns has made Ronnie Brown appear as the best backup running back in the NFL.
Brown is quick, agile, and able to muscle for extra yardage. He is also a good receiver. Brown is in no danger of losing his job, but he will have a good chance to show fans just how deadly he can be in the Eagles offense. He will likely be the starter against the Jets and he will be a very interesting piece to watch in this preseason finale.
It’s a bit of a shame that Jamal Jackson’s stint with the Eagles may finally be ending in such an anti-climactic way: Being beat out by a sixth-round rookie and then cut. Despite Jackson being the anchor at center for years, as well as the last remaining player from the 2004 Eagles Super Bowl team, his time in Philly will soon be over.
I believe that the Eagles should retain Jackson, regardless of his play. A player of his experience will be invaluable, especially if Kelce is relied upon and struggles. That decision, however, is not mine to make, but Andy Reid’s. Kelce will likely be getting the nod for the majority of the game against the Jets. Let us see if he can convince the Eagles coaching staff that he still has something left in the tank to contribute.
It is almost always Andy Reid’s philosophy to avoid playing any starters in the preseason finale. As a very cautious and methodical coach, Reid is reluctant to put his best players in a position to be injured before seeing any meaningful minutes. Yet, this year may be an exception. With many rookies starting on the roster, such as right guard Danny Watkins, center Jason Kelce, and middle linebacker Casey Matthews, there are many players who could potentially use the extra minutes.
The lockout cut into much of the practice time, so the more time to gel the better. What better way for this Eagles team to gel then baptism through fire? Playing in a game could be invaluable for this young team.
And who knows, maybe Reid will see value in starting some new additions in order to allow them to familiarize themselves with the system, such as Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. The lockout and the lack of overall chemistry on the team has made for a very intriguing season and it will remain to be seen if Reid decides to continue to follow his age-old formula, or to switch things up in light of the circumstances.