Sheil Kapadia posted his list of things to watch in the Jags game. Here are a couple of interesting points.
1. Vick, tempo and the first-team offense
Over the past several weeks, we’ve debated just how much of his offense Chip Kelly is really unveiling during the preseason. I’m of the belief that when Week 1 rolls around, and the Eagles take the field against the Redskins, they’re going to be moving at a faster pace than we’ve seen so far.
If Saturday night is treated as a dress rehearsal, we could see Michael Vick and the first-team offense really push tempo for at least one drive. Against New England, the Eagles huddled and slowed it down with Vick. Last week, they went no-huddle and moved a little quicker. Look for the progression to continue against Jacksonville with the first-team offense expected to play at least the first half.
5. James Casey in the passing game
The “move” tight end caught 111 balls in one season at Rice. One of the reasons he chose the Eagles as a free agent was because he was looking forward to more opportunities as a receiver.
But in the first two preseason games, Casey has been targeted just twice, coming up with one catch for 7 yards. We’ll see if he gets a couple more chances against Jacksonville.
* Danny Watkins: The 2011 first-round guard has had a decent camp, but he might have needed more than that, and missing last week’s game with a concussion definitely was a setback. Savvy journeyman Allen Barbre seems to have supplanted Watkins as the top offensive-line reserve, and if Dennis Kelly hadn’t undergone back surgery, Watkins might not even be second in line behind the starters.
That’s an absurd position for a recent first-rounder.
Watkins’ linemates still tout his promise, talk of ground lost during the Howard Mudd regime that Watkins is fighting to reclaim, but Danny turns 29 in November. How much does he really love this game that he stumbled into at age 22? What sacrifices is he willing to make to become the guy the Eagles thought they drafted? Has the time for Watkins to figure it out passed?
Can Nate Allen hold onto the starting safety job?
He seems to be the leader by default. Defensive coordinator Bill Davis said that Allen performed better against the Panthers than he did in the opener against the Patriots. He may not have had any major mistakes, but it wasn’t as if he was around the ball like counterpart Patrick Chung. It’s difficult to see Allen being pushed by any other safety. Kenny Phillips was brought in to be that guy, but he can’t seem to get on the field. He’s questionable for Saturday with a quadriceps injury. Rookie Earl Wolff may be ready sometime during the season, but he isn’t quite there yet. Kurt Coleman can be reliable, but he’s limited. David Sims has hardly made a dent.
The Eagles would like to see Allen come out against the Jaguars and put his stamp on the job, but he may end up being just the last man standing.
How will Nick Foles respond?
Foles will drift into the background now that Vick has been named the starter. The worst thing he could do on Saturday would be to come out and lay an egg. Foles will work mostly with the second unit, but Kelly would love to see his backup quarterback maintain the level he played at through camp and the first two games. There may not be a soul around the NFL that believes Vick will survive all 16 games without injury. Foles has had to come off the bench before. He needs to maintain a starter’s mentality. Kelly said he’d like to get rookie quarterback Matt Barkley some snaps, but “Nick needs a ton of work,” he added.
Good stuff from everyone. And here is my game preview