Patriots - Eagles Preseason Week 1 Preview
Patriots - Eagles Preview
The Patriots have had three long days of work with the Eagles. Friday night’s game will be an extension of that and – while it’s important to see how players perform when the lights go on – Bill Belichick and his staff gathered a ton of information about their team this week already. The game is gravy.
When The Patriots Have The Ball
Expect a cameo from Tom Brady. He played two series in the 2012 preseason opener against New Orleans. The chemistry with this offense is different given the new faces and that argues for more reps. But the number and quality of starter reps the Patriots took in practices could result in the front-line guys getting a light load. Looking at offensive groupings, the projected starters at wide receiver look like Danny Amendola and Aaron Dobson with either Daniel Fells or Zach Sudfeld at tight end (or both) and Stevan Ridley being the lone back. Three wideouts would bring in Josh Boyce, it seems, and Sudfeld would be the tight end with Shane Vereen coming in at running back. Watch the right guard spot. Will Svitek has been forced into duty there because Dan Connolly, Marcus Cannon and Tyronne Greene have all been forced to the sidelines. Further down the roster, Julian Edelman’s going to have to make a move to catch some attention. He’s been overshadowed at wideout. The competition between LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden will get some play and this will be a night for the backup quarterbacks, Ryan Mallett and Tim Tebow. My opinion? If Tebow doesn’t tuck it and run at least three times, I’ll be stunned. He doesn’t have a lot of confidence on where to go with the ball. Mallett, I expect, will look very good.
When The Eagles Have The Ball
One thing I noticed about the Eagles offense this week is that it’s a hot mess. With Chip Kelly still debating who his starter is, neither quarterback is getting the necessary reps to lock in with his offense. Making it even harder is Michael Vick and Nick Foles are so different, there’s no continuity. The Patriots can’t worry about that, obviously, they are just taking their reps. Watch Tommy Kelly on the defensive line. He’s been a house. Also, Dane Fletcher was in a good spot on the defense last season as a sub linebacker. Check to see if he is still in that mix or if Brandon Spikes – who said he wants to be a three-down backer – stays on the field longer. The safety mix should have Adrian Wilson starting next to Devin McCourty then Steve Gregory and Tavon Wilson. Alfonzo Dennard has been dealing with an injury so Kyle Arrington could be opposite Aqib Talib. And Talib may be matching up all over the field with DeSean Jackson when both are in there so that’s worth paying attention to.
The Kicking Game
Zoltan Mesko is the incumbent punter and a strategically excellent one. The nature of the Patriots offense puts him in short-field situations often so he doesn’t put up huge gross punting numbers. Still, 2012 wasn’t a great year for him and rookie Ryan Allen, who has a booming leg, is in camp. There’s a reason to watch fourth down. Amendola and Edelman have been the main punt return guys. Leon Washington’s been a huge upgrade on kickoff returns.
Game Within The Game
The final result of a play isn’t always as important in the preseason as the fact it was carried out correctly. There won’t be a lot of adjustments made at the line offensively or defensively. Both teams have specific players, packages and matchups they want to evaluate and the game will be called as such.
Patriots Gotta Stop . . .
Tom Brady from getting hurt when he’s in there. Or Danny Amendola, for that matter. Or Talib. Or Mayo. Wilfork. Chandler Jones. Solder. Mankins. …
Eagles Gotta Stop
Looking so discombobulated on offense.
Don't Be Surprised If . . .
The sterling performance we’ve seen from the young wideouts and tight ends in practices levels off a little in a real-game setting. The intensity is going to ramp up and nerves will emerge.
That Sums It Up Patriots Style
“We’ve seen (our players) against some of our matchups. We’ll see them against some matchups against the Eagles. We’ll seem them in some game situations. We’ll see them in matchups against Tampa and Detroit. That's all part of it. It’s a mosaic. There are a lot of components of it, and let’s try to evaluate them all and do the best we can and make the best decisions that we can for our team.” – Bill Belichick on player evaluations
That Sums It Up Eagles Style
“You're going to get your snaps and you're going to make plays. So if at the end of the day you say I didn't get a chance to get into rhythm and the other guy did, then you're in there, you go. If you're worried about what else is going on around you, then that's going to be what you blame. We have a big sign on our locker room: ‘We're mentally and physically tough, we work hard and don't make excuses.’ I don't anticipate that from those guys. They've been fantastic since I've been here, so that's not an issue.” – Chip Kelly on quarterbacks needing rhythm
The Winner Is . . .
C’mon, first preseason game? OK. Patriots 27, Eagles 13.