Thursday’s Starting Five: The NFL Preseason Edition

It’s time to strap it on again folks – the NFL’s preseason schedule kicks off this evening. Games of note are a rematch of last season’s Super Bowl as the Cardinals and Steelers meet, the Ravens and the Redskins meet in their Battle of the Beltway and the Eagles host the Patriots. I’ll be watching the Eagles closely tonight.

What are you expecting to see from your team?

The Eagles 2009 training camp has been like none other in recent memory (well maybe 2005). For the first time in over a decade camp opened up in Lehigh without Brian Dawkins and William (Tra) Thomas and Jon Runyan. Three weeks ago the team suffered a major blow when longtime defensive coordinator Jim Johnson lost his battle with cancer.  Then of course there’s the injury bug which has come down heavy – the Birds have lost starting middle linebacker Stewart Bradley and promising rookie Cornelius Ingram for the season with knee injuries. The new-look offensive line has suffered injuries to tackle Shawn Andrews and guard Todd Herremans. On the defensive line, end Trent Cole is nicked up. The most watched player is running back Brian Westbrook as he recovers from ankle surgery. It is projected that BWest will be ready for the season opener.

Here are some of the things that I will be looking for in tonight’s game.

  1. How will defensive coordinator Sean McDermott script the defensive scheme, and will he make the needed adjustments? The word on McDermott is that he is not as aggressive as Johnson in calling blitzes and I’m fine with that, the Eagles are an above average cover team. I am curious to see what adjustments are made if they struggle early.
  2. We won’t get to see the new offensive line probably at all this preseason, can Winston Justice finally step in? I say Winston Justice because of the Shawn Andrews situation. Yes his back is bothering him but I believe he’s still struggling emotionally with depression. If this is the case there’s no way that the Eagles can count on Andrews and will need to move on without him.
  3. Who will emerge as the new vocal/emotional leader of the Eagles in the absence of Brian Dawkins? No matter who came or went in the Eagles lockerroom it was always understood that Brian Dawkins was the unquestioned leader of the Eagles. Who, if anyone will take the mantle that Dawkins has held so long.
  4. Will Reggie Brown fight to get back into Andy Reid’s good graces, and if he does will he be traded? For the Eagles offense to be as productive as it was last season without Reggie Brown speaks volumes. Can they use him? I believe that they can, he’s more proven than Hank Baskett and with rookie Jeremy Maclin in the fold, the final receiver slot may come down to those two.
  5. How will rookie running back LeShon McCoy look with the first team offense? Deemed the heir apparent to Brian Westbrook rookie back LeShon McCoy has gotten the bulk of first team snaps and we should look to see plenty of him as the preseason goes on. Tonight is the first big test as he goes against one of the more complex defenses in the league.
  6. Who’s the primary signalcaller for the defense? Now that Stewart Bradley is done for the season who will be the primary signal caller for the defense. Joe Mays and Omar Gaither may platoon in the middle. My money’s on safety Quintin Mikell.
  7. Will Donovan McNabb utilize his full array of “weapons”? Donovan McNabb asked for more weapons in the Eagles offense and it looks on paper like the Eagles are stacked. I’m curious to see if some serious mismatches develop tonight.
  8. How will effective will Leonard Weaver be in the offense? For the first time in the Andy Reid area there is a legitimate fullback in the fold. Weaver is a dual threat, who can also pass block – making life a little easier for Donovan McNabb.
  9. What can DeSean Jackson do for an encore? With Jeremy Maclin taking over special teams duties, it only means more time to focus on becoming an elite receiver. With a healthy Kevin Curtis this season, expect more one on one coverage on Jackson, allowing us to see his talent on full display.
  10. Can the Eagles secondary remain solid? Will Sheldon Brown become a distraction as the season goes on? More importantly will Reid play Brown or deactivate him as he did a healthy Lito Sheppard late last season.

35 Responses to “Thursday’s Starting Five: The NFL Preseason Edition”

  1. Temple3 says:

    I haven’t thought about the pre-season too deeply. I know the Steelers don’t have nearly this many issues or points of interest. The roster is largely set; the team is healthy; and the roles are really well-defined.

    Mike Tomlin says he wants to see if the team can play hard and fast. I agree. That’s really all I’d be concerned about.

    If they play hard and fast, everything else will fall into place.

  2. thebrotherreport says:

    One plus for you guys is a healthy Parker and Mendenhall.

  3. GrandNubian says:

    I co-sign w/ T3 regarding my Steelers. I don’t have any major concerns. However, I will say that I am curious as to what the tandem of Parker & Mendenhall will look like this season w/o any injuries. I’m also curious to know if Bruce Arians will continue to NOT utilize the FB in his offense.

    Finally, will LeBeau play Timmons on the outside and move Woodley inside or will he leave Woodley on the outside and play Timmons on the inside?

    The reason I ask is because Timmons’ weight (235) is a concern playing the middle in the 3-4 but Woodley’s weight (265) puts one’s mind at ease.

    What do you think T3?

  4. Temple3 says:

    GN:

    I hadn’t thought about switching Woodley and Timmons. It could be done. Woodley played DE at Michigan. The challenge for him wouldn’t be dealing with interior linemen, it would be navigating the traffic BEHIND him when he has to play coverages in the middle of the field. I think he’s made an excellent transition to OLB (in The Gildon Spot). The team may prefer to leave him where he is.

    I haven’t seen Timmons really play since college. I think they probably like his ability to play with leverage — even at his weight; and the dimension that his speed adds to the middle of the defense. He can run with players like Dallas Clark and Antonio Gates. He can run with running backs and even wide outs for a short time. Having him in the middle means Woodley and Harrison can still stay on the field as pass rushers without the overall scheme losing much in the middle. Keeping him in the middle makes it easier to disguise their looks. If Woodley lines up over a tight end on 3rd and 8 or 9, the offense doesn’t know if he’s covering or coming. They won’t know until after the snap — and given his speed, that’s often too late.

    I’ve heard some good things about Mike Wallace. They say he’s really doing good work as a receiver and on special teams.

    I believe this team is going to be much better than last year. As I said awhile back, they may not win the Super Bowl again, but I think they’ll definitely be better.
    —————————–
    Funny thing about TBR’s write up on the Eagles is that Philadelphia should be in the driver’s seat for the Super Bowl in the NFC.

    I think they really only have 2 concerns: 1) Andy Reid’s willingness to run the ball in the post-season; and 2) the durability of that slew of scrawny receivers. That’s really all they need to worry about.

    If Reid won’t run, they’ll lose. If Curtis, Maclin, Jackson, Avant and Brown (in some combo) can’t stay healthy, they’ll lose. Otherwise, they’ll win.

  5. HarveyDent says:

    Mike Vick is an EAGLE!!!!

    I’ll take it

  6. GrandNubian says:

    Just heard that Vick is gonna sign with the Eagles.

    Ummmm, I don’t understand that one.

    Mizz….what’s up?

  7. HarveyDent says:

    I think it’s an all-or-nothing move by the Eagles. It’s going to take some exotic game-planning but I could definitely see this but I don’t want any divaTUDE from either him or McNabb. Play together, get that money, and let’s win this damn thing.

    I’m getting m tickets tonight for the Eagles-Falcons in December.

  8. thebrotherreport says:

    Either Kevin Kolb is that bad or this is going to be a starting point for Vick. I’ll take it

  9. HarveyDent says:

    Kevin Kolb is that bad and there won’t be any tears seeing him leave town.

  10. thebrotherreport says:

    Looks like a two year deal.

  11. thebrotherreport says:

    Chris Mortensen asked Andy Reid about Vick yesterday and while Reid backed Vick he never gave you anything to go on.

  12. GrandNubian says:

    Yeah, that game is here (ATL) so i’ll definitely at the very least be tailgating down at the dome that day. It’s going down!!!

  13. thebrotherreport says:

    Can’t wait for that one.

  14. thebrotherreport says:

    Vick + Jackson + Westbrook = Wildcat Offense

  15. thebrotherreport says:

    Thank Kevin Kolb for blowing his chance in Baltimore last season.

  16. HarveyDent says:

    @GN-you know it’s going to be a riot in and out of the Dome that Sunday afternoon because dem dere ‘necks are going to come out of the woodwork and you know the Vick and Eagles fans are going to back down.

    There’s going to be a heavy polic prescence that day and I’ll be right there in a green #7 and a black #5 holding a stuffed rottweiler in effigy. Just to be obnoxious about it.

  17. HarveyDent says:

    CORRECTION–The Vick and Eagles fans ARE NOT going to back down

  18. GrandNubian says:

    Yep, i’m feelin’ ya on all points 2Face.

  19. Eric Daniels says:

    The Philadephia Eagles WTF…. I KNOW MIZZO AND HARVEY MUST BE DOING THE STANKY LEG, I THOUGHT IT WAS GOING TO BE THE PANTHERS. I think it’s a great choice, Vick will learn from one of the best QBS of all time and Andy Reid will have another weapon in his arsenal.

  20. thebrotherreport says:

    Call Philly the home of the second chance – Ray Emery (Flyers) Pedro Martinez (Phillies) Michael Vick (Eagles)

  21. Eric Daniels says:

    You got to give Tony Dungy some love on this one, he was right about Vick being signed and they are advising him very well.

  22. HarveyDent says:

    @ED–no Stanky Leg, I’m going all the way back to the moonwalk (RIP MJ) because this is nothing but boldness right here. I like the move and I’ll let Reid and Morningwhieg figure out how to fit him into the offense and the difference between Reid’s WCO and Mora-Knapp’s WCO is that Reid’s is more flexible and tailored to the the abilities of his players…running game excepted of course.

  23. Eric Daniels says:

    I tend to stay away from NFL Preseason until the third game then I could get a read at how the Bucs are going to do this year. I am always thinking you are getting conned out of your money in Preseason and usually would watch the CFL until September when the season starts for real. Well Harvey, the moonwalk (or the glide as Jefferey Daniels calls it) is one of those for the ages. The EAGLES have no excuses, they should be the favorites to win the Super Bowl in 2009 with all their weapons, D-MAC it’s time to get that ring.

  24. GrandNubian says:

    LOL@ the Stanky Leg!!!!

  25. thebrotherreport says:

    Eric Daniels: No Stanky Leg, I’m floatin like I’m in one of Spike Lee’s movies.

  26. thebrotherreport says:

    Notice A.J. Feeley started the 3rd qtr. Kevin Kolb is somewhere packin his stuff.

    They could’ve called me.

  27. thebrotherreport says:

    2 Year deal w/option. First season $1.2 million, 2nd year $5.2. million

  28. Origin says:

    Peace out Kolb…………….chuck up the duece busta!!!!

    Eric I wasn’t doing the stanky legg but I was doing the chicken noodel soup with my daughter…….LOL!!!

    Hey the eagles still have excuses……….all their TEs are hurt and their OL is banged up. Vick or no Vick. Without a healty OL and a TE the eagles aren’t going anywhere.

    So hopefully the OL and TEs can get healthy and soon.

    Oh and did I say goodbye Kolb……….LOL!!!!

  29. Temple3 says:

    The last team with 2 QB’s this talented on the same roster at the same time? 49ers: Montana and Young? Philly has to get to the Super Bowl — no excuses.

  30. Origin says:

    True Temple I said the same thing about the QBs.

    But if that line isn’t healty they aren’t even getting to the playoffs.

  31. Inkognegro says:

    I am a little late to the party, but i believe Timmons put 10-15 on for this year, which would put him around where Foote and Farrior played at. I wouldnt dream of switching Woodley and Timmons…Woodly is STILL learning and Timmons JUST adjusted to his move inside.

    Ill say THIS much…never been this glad to see a punter come back from injury in all my life.

    and ladies and gentlemen…Mike Wallace.

  32. GrandNubian says:

    @Ink

    They still have him listed as 234lbs on their website. I think Foote played at 240 and Farrior is like 243.

    However, I must agree with you and T3. I think you leave them where they are but do more abstract blitzes with their positions on the field.

    Limus Sweed looked damn good last night. He had 2 great catches, which will instill confidence that he can be great in this league. That catch he made in traffic was similar to the one David Tyree caught on the Pats in the SuperBowl.

    Ziggy Hood got a sack last night and he was really bringing pressure up the middle. I think he’s going to be a solid DE. Mike Wallace is fast as hell. I am pleased so far with our STs.

    I echo Ink’s sentiments regarding Daniel Sepulveda. I was glad to see him out there doing his thing last night.

  33. GrandNubian says:

    I’m watching the replay of the Eagles/Patriots…..

    I noticed that Greg Lloyd is on the Eagles’ sideline. I’m assuming that he is one of the LBs coaches. Another reason for me to root for the Eagles to come out of the NFC this year.

    FYI…..Greg Lloyd is alum of my school (Fort Valley State University) AND he played for my Steelers.

  34. Temple3 says:

    Inkog:

    That punter is the REAL DEAL. He was blasting the ball. The poor punting was such a factor last season. It cost us the Giants game, the Colts game and made games with Baltimore closer than they needed to be. There were too many drives where teams started with excellent field position. This year, teams are going to have work that much harder to score. Sepulveda makes the defense that much better.

    Sweed looked great. I still think he is subject to lapses in concentration because he plays like he has something to prove. He is the type of guy to do what DeSean Jackson did last year — beat his defender, run 50 yards, get to the goal line and spike the ball before scoring. I’d like to see him play with more focus and concentrate on playing through the whistle rather than playing to the celebration. I don’t really need him to tell me when the team has a first down. That’s what those big ass bright orange markers are for. Plaxico was like that. If he wasn’t, he probably still be in Pittsburgh and we might have 3 or 4 rings instead of 2.

    Dixon was very good. He was really accurate on his passes. He throws the ball with a lot of zip, but its a catchable ball. I don’t think he’s ready for primetime, but I’m very comfortable with Charlie Batch running the offense if the #1 goes down.

    The Philly-Patriot game was blocked out here. I’m glad to know that Greg Lloyd is working somewhere in the league. The more I see and hear, the more I really think Philly is the team to beat in the NFC.

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