The way things are going, the Eagles are going to have a tough time winning that preseason Lombardi Trophy. They’re 0-2 in the preseason, and for the first time in over 40 years, they’ve lost both of their first two preseason games by at least 17 points.
All of which means precisely nothing.
If we haven’t learned yet, we’ll never learn. Preseason scores mean nothing. Preseason records mean nothing. Getting a team ready for the regular season is all that matters.
This is a time to count down the days until the Eagles begin defense of their NFL championship. Not a time to panic. Or even be concerned.
If Bill Belichick wants to play Tom Brady for a full half and blitz and stunt more than most teams in a preseason game? Let him have his fun. Doesn’t change what happened Feb. 4 in Minneapolis.
This is a very talented, very deep Eagles team, and there’s no reason to think they’re not primed for another deep run.
Yeah, the offense looks out of sync. But Doug Pederson isn’t game planning for anybody right now. There’s no reason to. Two years ago, when Pederson was a rookie coach trying to establish a culture, he thought his team needed to learn how to win, and the Eagles went 4-0 in the preseason. That summer, that’s what that group needed.
Now? The explosive offense that roared to the Super Bowl title is under wraps and stays that way until Sept. 6.
And no Jason Peters, no Darren Sproles, no Nelson Agholor, no Carson Wentz doesn’t help.
Of that group, Wentz is the only one who might not be ready by opening day. And I still think he’s going to play against the Falcons.
But even if he doesn’t, I never worry about Nick Foles and how bad he looks in the preseason because as we learned last winter, when it’s go time, he’s ready. Foles has this weird ability to look really, really bad until he has to look good. And then he plays lights out.
Alshon Jeffery is a concern, but he’ll be back eventually. And if the price of his absence now is his performance down the stretch and in the playoffs, nobody would say it wasn’t worth it.
With Jeffery rehabbing, we’ve seen Shelton Gibson blossom (see story). I love what I’ve seen from Gibson, and his growth from a guy who was lost last year into the confident playmaker we’ve seen the last couple weeks is remarkable. He's going to help this team.
This is a deep, talented group of wideouts, and if the Eagles have to line up a couple weeks with Agholor, Mike Wallace, Gibson and say Kamar Aiken and Mack Hollins alongside Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert and a couple exceptional pass-catching backs? They’ll be fine.
And while we’ve focused on a disappointing battle for the fourth running back spot, Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement and Sproles are all healthy and ready to go. That’s a heck of a running back room.
OK, let’s take a look at where the first-team defense is halfway through the preseason.
They allowed two yards in two drives against a collection of Steelers starters and backups. Good start.
And Thursday night they played three series against Brady and Co. They were on the field 21 plays against Brady and other than the three personal fouls, which is something they need to learn from, they really just allowed two bad plays — a James White run that went for 22 yards (that Jordan Hicks probably should have stuffed at the line of scrimmage) and a short Brady pass to White that was nicely blocked and went for 18 yards.
And one touchdown that came when Brady got a favorable matchup in the end zone between a seventh-year veteran wide receiver and a rookie slot corner, Avonte Maddox.
Maddox allowing a TD to Tom Brady isn’t cause for concern. It’s tremendous experience for a 22-year-old playing in his second NFL preseason game against the greatest of all time.
The Eagles didn’t care about this game. Sure seemed like the Patriots did.
Brady threw more passes than he’s thrown in any preseason game sine 2006 and more than he’s ever thrown in a second preseason game. In 19 seasons.
Pederson has nothing to prove in August. Not anymore.
So for the Eagles, these games are to get long looks at the young guys, to experiment with players in various positions and groupings, to get veterans work when they need it, and to prepare for the regular season.
Things can look pretty ugly in preseason football when you’re not trying to win.
For the Eagles, it’s all about being ready on Sept. 6.
And they will be ready. No matter what we're seeing now.