Eagles Wake-Up Call: What We’re Watching Tonight

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

FOXBORO, MASS. — The Eagles take on the Patriots at 7:30 tonight in their second preseason game. Below are three things we’ll be watching.

1. Nick Foles - The Birds’ signal-caller got off to a shaky start against the Bears – two interceptions and a punt in three drives. As I’ve said earlier this week, weighing one quarter of preseason football over a 10-start sample size from 2013 is silly. But at the same time, it’d be nice to see Foles bounce back.




That, of course, won't be easy, considering he's likely to be without Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper. Even if Foles doesn't light it up, Chip Kelly and the coaches want to see him make good decisions, a hallmark of his standout season a year ago.

2. The secondary - It was a good week of practice for the Eagles' defense. The secondary was embarrassed by Tom Brady a year ago during the sessions at the NovaCare Complex. It's not like the Eagles whooped up on Brady this week, but they looked like a competent, NFL defense that knew what it was doing.

That may sound like a backhanded compliment, but really it's not. Given the personnel, this is not going to be a top-5 unit in the regular season. If the offense can lead the way and the defense can show it's competent, good things are in store for the Eagles. Tonight, Billy Davis' unit needs its practice work to carry over to the game. And the Birds have to get off the field on third downs.

3. The offensive line - The first team performed poorly against Chicago, but the guys up front should be a strength of in 2014. Like with Foles, there's no reason to panic, but it'd be nice to see the offensive line bounce back.

With the second team, keep an eye on two guys: Matt Tobin and David Molk. Tobin was one of the Eagles' most impressive offensive players against Chicago, playing left guard with the second team. And with Julian Vandervelde having back surgery, Molk suddenly becomes an important player. If Jason Kelce goes down, he'll have to step in.

4. The two top picks - Marcus Smith II had some nice moments against Chicago, but that was a relatively small sample size. He'll continue to get reps with the second team behind Connor Barwin, although Davis has said he wants to see how Smith looks against first-teamers at some point.

Jordan Matthews had a shaky debut with a couple drops and very little YAC. The hype on Matthews grew all camp long. He'll look to carry over his practice performance to the game.

5. Henry Josey - We told his story back in the spring, but Josey hasn't done much to separate himself from the pack this summer.

He should get plenty of opportunities tonight. Matthew Tucker and David Fluellen are both battling injuries. LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles are veterans who are unlikely to see a lot of touches. That means Josey will carry the load for the entire second half and get to show where he is in his development.

WHAT YOU MISSED

The Eagles' defense used this week's practices as a barometer and fared better against Brady and company.

Patriots defenders are impressed with tight end Zach Ertz, who appears primed for a breakout year.

"That's where the NFL is going, but Kelly is already there." A roundup of what they're saying.

T-Mac on Ifeanyi Momah's chances of making the roster.

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

Vince Wilfork has high praise for Jason Kelce, per Jimmy Kempski of Philly.com:

"I think he's underrated," said Wilfork. "To be an undersized guy, especially to play the center position, and the strength he plays with, the technique he plays with, it says a lot about his game and his knowledge of the game. He's a tough competitor. That's one thing I noticed right away. He's getting the line set, he's making all the communication calls. You look at him on film, and he's not the biggest guy, but he plays with a big heart.

"I think he's one of the best centers in this league, and there are some good ones out there."

ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss offers some practice observations:

Who’s winning one-on-ones?: In the secondary, cornerback Logan Ryan intercepted Eagles quarterback Nick Foles on a pass intended for Brad Smith. ... Cornerback Darrelle Revis looked like he slowed up again while working against Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin. With Maclin leaving practice after he felt a "grabbing" of his hamstring, that was the big news story at practice. ... Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard had an effective jam on receiver Josh Huff, as well as a notable pass breakup. ... Patriots offensive linemen mostly had a tough time, perhaps with footing an issue. Right guard Josh Kline was steamrolled by undrafted rookie Frances Mays (Florida A&M), one of several decisive wins for the Eagles. ... At center, Ryan Wendell seemed to have more success than Dan Connolly, who was pushed back by Cedric Thornton on one rep.

COMING UP

More game action tonight, and plenty of content leading up to it.

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  • Rockedupeaglesfan

    I know this is early, but I wonder if Tobin can push Barbre for the RT fill in role during Lane’s absence. Either way it’s good to see some depth, even Dennis Kelly is back on the field. Not sure if he’s a fit a guard, but the depth and competition can only help.

    • MediaMike

      Great question! I agree with you totally on competition creating the depth.

    • dnabrice

      No way. Barbre was too solid in live regular season games last year.

      • Rockedupeaglesfan

        True, but I thought Tobin was solid last preseason. I actually thought he’d be the first OT up last season. Barbre played himself ahead last season in very limited duty, but how long of a leash does that earn him?

  • Bullwinkle

    Getting off the field on 3rd down really is the big challenge for the D. It is frustrating when they look great on 1st and 2nd down and then give up 3rd and long. They were excellent at stopping teams on 3rd down back in the Jim Johnson days. Obviously, a good pass rush makes a big difference.

    • MediaMike

      My number one criticism of this D! Any time we’re looking at 3rd and 6 or longer, I want to get ready to see the punter!

      • UKEagle99 à l’orange

        I agree, I think Donnie Jones would really help the D on 3rd and 6+ :D

  • Wilbert31

    I think I hear the Mo-Mentum train warming up…

    • MediaMike

      The Sixers tried that ad campaign one year when Doug Moe coached the team. It didn’t end well.

      • Wilbert31

        Just seeing if RC is awake. And hoping like H*ll that Maehl is not on the 53.

        • MediaMike

          Ha ha. Some of the reporters were talking up the open door for Benn to show off some progress tonight, so maybe that helps get Maehl out of here for you.

          • Wilbert31

            Benn and Maehl can carpool out of town after the Momah Show tonight!

          • https://twitter.com/richcolton RichC, brings duck to cockfigh

            Can’t wait to eat crow tonight after Mo-metron goes off.

          • Andy Six Score and Four

            I predict 13 catches for 171 yards, but it will only be the easy catches and someone at BGN will be compelled to write a hate post about him.

          • https://twitter.com/richcolton RichC, brings duck to cockfigh

            he goes off for 10+ 150+, I will literally eat a crow.

          • Andy Six Score and Four

            Gamey.

    • TNA

      After watching some tape on Momah from the Bears preseason game and practices, I think he could have a role. As a back shoulder target, he has a huge radius especially when laying out towards the sideline. And if the defender starts cheating and starts playing under, he can burn them with straight ahead speed over the top. His issue is getting going within the timing of the offense — getting off the line and getting separation with adequate breaks (sidenote: cutting is something which he says he’s relatively poor at *because* he’s so tall — yes, it’s a fact that he has a higher center of gravity, but I hate hearing him making an excuse out of it).

      Bottom line: If he can’t do those things, he’s not going to be able to contribute much.

      Also, I like how JMatt doesn’t usually wear receiver gloves during practice, but always does during games.

      • Eaglehaslanded

        Ooooh, so now, after you sent me a lengthy post about how much better Maehl would be over Momah, you go and watch tape and see the benefits that Momah has to offer as far as having a place on this team.

        • TNA

          When did I ever do that? Yesterday’s post stated: 1) CK says that Maehl makes a lot of ST tackles; 2) Maehl’s 3-cone time at the combine relative to other Eagles players; 3) Momah shouldn’t be in the lineup, redzone or no, in lieu of Maclin.

          Both yesterday’s and today’s posts point out that Momah still has a lot of work to do (duh) and shouldn’t be seen as someone who the Eagles can count on regularly this year. But the same attribute that gives us hope (height and catching radius) is the same attribute that makes it hard for him to be receiver that gets off the line and gets separation (high center of gravity).

          • Eaglehaslanded

            momah, Momah, MOmah, MOMah, MOMAh, MOMAH…. feel the Mo-mentum…yesterday your argument with me was about how Maehl was a better player for the team and that Momah basically had no place on the roster, now, according to your opening statement on this story, you say you can see where he has a role. You included some of your post from yesterday, but not all of it that deals with what my post to you was today….duh. Don’t pick and choose out of your post from yesterday what you want to write to tailor it and make it fit your argument when I catch you flip flopping. Flip Flop Flip Flop.

      • peteike

        Maybe he needs to take the gloves off then haha. I thought theyve said Momahs made improvements in his route running, I think lack of ST skills will keep him off team if anything.

  • MediaMike

    Anybody else catch some of the praise headed towards Jacksonville’s D last night? I’m sure they’re improved, but I’m not having anything less than a blowout of those fools in our house week one. I’m talking 150 w/ 1 TD for Shady and 300+ with 3 TDs and no INTs for Foles……………………………………..we need to start fast!

    • OverreacSean Jackson, #culture

      From what I saw, Jacksonville’s D is much improved. Not a cause for concern, at least not in my opinion. If the O-Line does their thing and FOles is back, 3 TDs no INTs is doable.

      Their offense however is HIGHLY improved. Depending on what Billy Davis rolls out, our secondary could get a workout from Chad Henne. No trolling. Being very serious. They won’t be able to run the ball against us, though.

      • cliff h-MOAR white goons

        center stinks. it’ll be tougher game than i thought 4 months ago, but should be a runaway by end.

        • OverreacSean Jackson, #culture

          “should be a runaway by end.” <—- Yep.

  • Glenn

    With Maclin and Cooper out, tonight is a golden opportunity to see what Matthews has. Feature him in plays. Give him every opportunity to get valuable game experience. We might need him more than anyone projected this year.

    • NickS, Combine Warrior

      I agree. I hope to see a lot of Momah, Matthews, & Huff. Smith has the 5th spot locked down, so I’d rather see what these three have.

  • NickS, Combine Warrior

    Sheil, it’s simple. We’re all watching MOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

    • Brennan Hildebrandt

      Optimus Prime is primed for a big night! Well at least I hope so……

  • G_WallyHunter

    If Foles has another shaky outing I think Sanchize should start week 1, maybe he’ll run into Kelces butt and drop the ball

    Ps is this game live on nfl network tonight? Please say yes, seems like one they’d broadcast, but then again last week they aired rams and saints..

    • EaglesFan-VA

      Yes, it is LIVE on NFL-Network – and as per NFL schedule so is the next Eagles pre-season game!!

      • G_WallyHunter

        Thank you, fantastic news, plans cancelled

    • 370HSSV 0773H

      It’s on ABC at 7:30. It might be blacked out on the NFL Network in the Philly area since it’s being broadcast locally on channel 6.

      • G_WallyHunter

        Not in Philly area not in the country why I ask ya, thanks

  • UKEagle99 à l’orange

    I’m watching for someone to keep my coffee cup topped up, 00:30 kick-off O_o

    • cliff h-MOAR white goons

      wow, that’s fandom! i’m little annoyed it’s 7-30 EST kickoff on a Friday.

      • MediaMike

        Yeah, it should be at 7!

        • cliff h-MOAR white goons

          should be Sunday at 6pm, i not doing crap then, ever

          • MediaMike

            Eh, I’m good with pre-season games being at 7 or 7:30 on a Friday. It actually gives me a better chance to assemble the entire Justice League in one place rather than a work night.

      • UKEagle99 à l’orange

        Haha, yeah, I’ll probably only watch the 1st half and then watch the rest tomorrow. Last weeks was 01:00 kickoff, I fell asleep on the sofa somewhere in the 3rd qtr, no offence Matt Barkley (pun not intended, well maybe it was :p)

  • Andy

    Great Kelce highlight reel from the Wilfork story. #62 dominating.

    • MediaMike

      I’m staying in the weeds on Kelce until I see how he blocks vs. the Jags week 1. I am 100% not trying to hear anything about how improved the Jags are at DT, etc.

    • Say No to Marc Mo From Easton

      Holy hell… 1:09 … that dude got B*%$#ed!

      • southy

        I’m a fan of the part where he moves Dontari Poe like a massive tub of jello.

    • Say No to Marc Mo From Easton

      This dude is such a baller. That is straight technique and raw power. I love this video.

    • southy

      you don’t realize how much of an art the running game is until you start watching the center for the whole play. the man is everywhere.

  • Addicted2MAmula

    I hope Momah and the Pope go off tonight

    • Rambler

      Sounds like an 80’s cop buddy show.

  • B-West

    Anybody else a little bit nervous about the RB situation? Personally, I’d wrap Shady in bubble wrap the entire preseason. I’d probably do the same thing with Sproles given how his experience and savvy. What if Josey tweaks an ankle or something early in the 3rd? We going 5 wide the rest of the way?

    • anon

      you forgetting about polk and tucker?

      N/M I thought you were talking about the whole season. frankly i don’t think shady or sproles will do much running. think focus will be on passing game.

      • NickS, Combine Warrior

        Tucker’s not playing tonight.

      • B-West

        Isn’t Polk still sidelined? And the article says Tucker is out.

      • cliff h-MOAR white goons

        think only shady, sproles and Josie are dressing, rest are kninked-up. but by 4th qu, really dont care this game. 1st PS game it’s fun, the 75-90 auto-cut guys get a shot. once is enough.

    • MediaMike

      Not really. Shady, by virtue of being the best RB in the NFL, isn ‘t able to be replaced with anybody even close to his level of play. It was nice to be able to run guys like Darnell Autry and/or Brian Mitchell for 100 yard games in the early 2000s because Duce wasn’t really that good, but you’re just not going to get a good replacement for Shady. I wish Polk was 100% healthy 100% of the time, but a combo of Sproles and Polk can certainly hold the fort down for a 2 to 4 game stretch if Shady is hurt.

      • B-West

        I meant specifically for tonight… I don’t want Shady or Sproles to take any more snaps/hits than they have to. And to me, “have to” equals 0, but I understand getting some standard preseason work in.

        If Josey gets hurt… The only active RBs available to play the late minutes tonight are Shady and Sproles

        • MediaMike

          Ha ha. Don’t even give that a 2nd thought. If they lose Josey to an injury, there are a ton of fringe roster guys who played RB in HS (I’m guessing here) who they could throw back there with Kinne and just call nonsense for a while.

          • B-West

            Haha. Like the 17th inning pitcher in a baseball game? That would be enjoyable, but seems very unlike Chip. He likes his reps and his evaluations. Hopefully Josey handles business.

          • MediaMike

            I’m sure he does like the reps / evals, but there isn’t anything to see on Sproles and McCoy. I’m sure he’d come up with something if Josey goes down.

      • aub32

        Do you really think so? I think we are in a heap of trouble if Shady has to miss that much time. Polk has had a very limited number of snaps, and most came in very fortunate circumstances. DET in the snow after Shady wore down the defense. CHI, which had one of if not the worst rushing defense, and DEN when he played against backups.

    • TNA

      Damaris Johnson was taking snaps at RB during practice. Might as well also give Casey and Huff some snaps at RB. But really, tonight is *the* audition tape for Josey and all of the backups.

      • dnabrice

        Hahaha…Damaris Johnson playing WR…hahahahahahaha.

        • southy

          Huff wouldn’t be half bad I bet.

  • Dominik

    “I think he’s one of the best centers in this league, and there are some good ones out there.”

    I love to hear that. That fat man in the middle of their D is (at least was) a great player and he didn’t had to sing praises for Kelce. He did. Such statements are important for Pro Bowl and All Pro selections and I would love for Kelce to get league wide respect.

    After all, he’s a cool guy, a great young leader and under contract long term, so no harm in it.

    • MediaMike

      I’m with all of that, but I need to see Kelce improve on his functional strength. Getting pushed around by lazy bums like Brod Bunkley in a playoff game and twice by the loser DTs on the Giants needs to stop before Kelce can be a pro bowl player.

    • B-West

      Wilfork is pretty chill… Anybody else remember Lil Troy? That song def had its day.

      http://deadspin.com/vince-wilfork-is-the-king-of-memorial-day-barbecues-1582098732

      They do an “At home with the Wilforks” commercial bit that is funny, too. I hate when you find a likeable player on a despised team…

      • MediaMike

        The only thing I despise the Patriots for is their CHOKES vs. the Giants in two Superbowls.

        • Say No to Marc Mo From Easton

          I think I hate the Patriots more for losing to the Giants than I do for beating the Eagles.

  • 370HSSV 0773H

    It’s all about the wide receivers tonight. Between Benn, Smith, Momah, and Maehl, one or two of these guys need to step up and win a roster spot and show they can fill in for our starters.

    • MediaMike

      I’d love to see two of that group really step forward with sterling efforts to make themselves the obvious 5th and 6th WRs on this team, but I’m not sure if they’ll be able to really shine vs. the Pats first team D-backs.
      Unless Revis decides to not play hard like he chose to not play hard in the live drills; thus causing the unnecessary knob-slobbing that took place with some of the fans / media with Maclin this week.

      • OverreacSean Jackson, #culture

        “unnecessary knob-slobbing that took place with some of the fans / media with Maclin this week.”

        This. Hit the nail on the head Mike.

  • TheNest

    This will be nice test for the D. I’m really hoping for a strong performance. Also I would love to see a “surprise” player turn in a hell of a show. Those are always awesome in preseason football.

  • southy

    Allen Barbre

    • https://twitter.com/richcolton RichC, brings duck to cockfigh

      eligible receiver

      • southy

        He’ll be my no 1 focus tonight. If the dude plays like King Dunlap, I will start to get traumatic flashbacks to… King Dunlap.

        • https://twitter.com/richcolton RichC, brings duck to cockfigh

          You might be disappointed. Maybe he’s a late bloomer (a lot of O-linemen are), but he looked terrible as a full time starter with Green Bay. I’m hoping he can hold down the fort for 4 weeks and go back to being our #1 guard off the bench.

          Need Mathis to have a better game too.

          • Rockedupeaglesfan

            Tobin-time!! But seriously maybe Tobin or even Kelly could push Barbre?

        • PaoliBulldog

          What, no love for Demetress Bell?

  • Kleptolia

    Maybe the Eagles defense won’t be a top 5 unit, but I’ll go on record right now saying that I believe they’ll be a top 10 unit this year. Not in total yards or yards per game, but in yards per play and turnover differential.
    I like the defensive unit the Eagles have assembled. The secondary is still not elite, but it is vastly improved. Not just because Chung is gone, but because the guys brought in are determined and play with something to prove. They are also surprisingly sound technicians.
    I’ll admit that I’m not a full-on Eagles fan. I’m just a football fan, following the Eagles because Chip Kelly is the best representation I have ever seen of what makes football interesting.
    Whatever the win/loss total is at the end of the year, it will be a fascinating thing to watch.
    I stuck to my previous prediction of 11-5. But I’m changing my playoff prediction from knocked out in semi-finals to a trip to the NFC Championship game.
    If I’m wrong, I’m wrong.

    • aub32

      Gotta love the optimism I guess. No way this is a top 10 D with the lack of pass rush. I like Fletcher, but the guy has zero ball skills. I can see him getting some pass breakups but not many INTs. It’s going to be difficult for CW to get INTs when giving up an 8 yard cushion. Foles is going to have to have a season similar to 2013 in order for this team’s TO differential to be among the best.

      • peteike

        ya Im with you, Ill buy it when I see it esp when it comes to pass rush. Its going to have to be scheme and disguises to pull it off, not seeing it out of individuals unless Curry gets in more. One thing I will say though is I think Cary is growing on me still. Hes getting better I think and at times is right on top of WRs and gotta love his toughness. I hate the cushions also but isnt that Davis? I dont know yet, I think CW may be our best guy and maybe Fletch is the guy that gets surpassed at some point. Still want to see Boykin on outside and I dont care about his size. Im not saying I dont like what he does in nickel, I def think thats a growing need in the league and has a lot of value so fine with that for now. Stoked to see Jenkins play going into reg season.

    • https://twitter.com/richcolton RichC, brings duck to cockfigh

      I’ll take it, I guess. But turnovers are often a luck stat. Total yards and points can be more telling. I would be happy with improvement from our D. I’d really like some more pass rush. The wine-glass half full part of me thinks that when Davis finally gets the team he wants (mirrored, versatile, athletic) he start dialing up exotic blitzes to generate pressure. Of course, we won’t see any of that pre season.

    • Warhound KnowsHstryWarts&All

      I’d like to see a higher rate of takeaways and an increased ability to seal the deal on 3rd and long. I think that at no time this year will they be great at stopping teams on 3rd and one, 3rd and two; but, they must do better on 3rd and seven +.

  • Rick H

    Sheil I absolutely love the article! The reason is you gave us perspective from the other team (Wilfork) plus you gave us information as if you were a writer following the Patriots (problems on their offensive line). I have looked for this kind of writing for years.