Philadelphia Eagles vs New England Patriots: What to Watch For


Tonight the Philadelphia Eagles travel to New England to take on the Patriots in both team’s second preseason game of the year. There can be a wide range of time the starters play in the second preseason game, but based on  the circumstances of the Philadelphia Eagles remaining  preseason schedule, they could treat this like a third game and play their starters into the second half. The Eagles have another game on the 24th at Cleveland. Meaning after they finish this game and head back home they will have Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday before they have to fly out to Cleveland. Their last preseason game is then next Thursday in Philadelphia. In a span of 10 days the Eagles will travel a lot and play three games. There can be some information learned about the Patriots from this game as well.

Here’s what I’ll be watching for.

Philadelphia Eagles

The 3rd and fourth Safety position

The safety position was one of the few positions heading into camp where there was a real battle for starting reps. Kurt Coleman was competing with Jarrett for the starting strong safety spot, but Coleman has outplayed him so much that now it’s not even a lock that Jarrett makes the team, but only if a player like Philip Thomas can push Jarrett off the roster and O.J. Atogwe continues to be a reliable veteran presence.

The Punter position

Chas Henry did not have the greatest season last year, and while the Eagles know he’s talented they brought in Matt Mcbriar to push him. Can Mcbriar actually win the starting punter job, he does have a huge leg.

Who is this Damaris Johnson?

The Eagles training camp sensation is UDFA from Tulsa Damaris Johnson. Johnson was an extremely productive receiver and return man for Tulsa, who impressed in his first preseason game with a 70 yard touchdown. Johnson is undersized, but that does not bother the Eagles.

The Backup quarterback

Nick Foles has been all the rage, and we liked him prior to the draft, but can he really over take Mike Kafka as the number two QB. The Eagles back-up quarterback position is one that is important to watch because of Vick’s proclivity to injury. I think Reid still likes Kafka and I don’t think Foles will overtake him anytime soon.

I’m also watching to see how the linebacker position looks after all the turmoil last year. The offensive line, particularly Demetress Bell is of importance. Bell played very well for Buffalo at times, but he wasn’t always able to stay healthy. The running back position was something I was watching earlier, but Dion Lewis has locked up the number two running back position. Byrce Brown and Chris Polk are very interesting depth. Really, I think we know what the Eagles are. They are talented and we’re all just waiting to see if the team gels better than it did in 2011 and plays up to their potential.

For the Patriots

Chandler Jones

Jones was a Mike Mayock favorite heading into the draft and he showed why in the first preseason game as he was harassing the quarterback. It’ll be fun to watch him against the Eagles offensive line and particularly at trying to sack Michael Vick. Chandler Jones (well the Patriots as a whole) and his (their) ability to generate a significant pass rush this year could be the difference between playoff team and Superbowl contenders.

How will the RB depth chart look?

The Patriots drafted talented Stevan Ridley (a pick I did not love) and Shane Vereen last year (a pick I did love) to be their future at running back. Right now it appears Ridley is ahead of Vereen as is Danny Woodhead. Ridley needs to continue to hold onto the football and Vereen needs to start making big plays if they want to see the field regularly.

Tavon Wilson

The pick of Wilson earned my award for “biggest reach in the draft”. I’m watching to see what the Patriots see in this guy. I haven’t been following Patriots camp that closely, but I believe he’s been knicked up. It’ll be interesting to see if he gets on the field today and what he brings to the table.

Ryan Mallett vs Brian Hoyer

Ryan Mallett is still listed behind Hoyer on the depth chart. The Patriots will likely carry three quarterbacks so Mallett is not in real jeopardy of being cut, but he needs to pass Hoyer on the depth chart at some point if he’s going to be the future of the franchise and justify all the praise he received in the pre-draft process.

Good showing from the replacement refs

This is important. Nothing is more tiresome than all of the replacement referees talk. I just want to see them do a serviceable job to keep PFT and others quiet about the issue for one moment.

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