Patriots game info: get to know the Philadelphia Eagles
After a pair of joint practices in Philadelphia, the New England Patriots are set to face the Eagles for the club’s second preseason game on Thursday. Before the two teams kick off at 7:30 p.m. EST, we sat down with our friend Brandon Lee Gowton from Bleeding Green Nation to get a preview of the game.
Q: How long will the Eagles starters last in Thursday’s game?
A: Last week the Eagles offensive starters got two practices while the defense only saw one streak. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw an equally conservative approach this week. Especially after the starters have already clashed a lot in joint training at training camp.
Q: Which players have stood out so far throughout training camp and preseason?
A: Quez Watkins was one of the biggest stars in the camp. The 2020 sixth-round pick really caught everyone’s attention last week with a 79-yard touchdown. He actually recorded the fastest speed (according to NFL Next Gen stats) in the league since games last week on that game. Watkins could have had a 98-yard touchdown if a deep throw from Jalen Hurts was not off target. Even beyond those two plays, Watkins has been formidable in training. He won in various ways: route routing, contested captures, speed of descent. So don’t be surprised if the number 16 gives the Pats trouble on Thursday night.
In defense, watch out for Josh Sweat. With Derek Barnett absent, the No94 could play a bit more than he originally would. And he could very well show up with a bag in these limited shots. Sweat was a constant terror throughout the camp. Just live in the backyard.
Q: Does Jalen Hurts seem like the short and long term answer to the Eagles quarterback?
A: Hurts is the Eagles’ short term answer. The team haven’t officially handed him that tag, but it’s clear he’s the guy when he takes all of the first-team reps. Joe Flacco doesn’t play with him. And while the Eagles have suddenly traded a trade for Deshaun Watson, which doesn’t seem likely in the near future, he’s subject to suspension anyway. So, yeah, Hurts is the guy right now.
Whether Hurts is the long-term answer remains to be seen. Hurts showed some potential in the home stretch in 2020, but bad outweighed good. Hurts has mostly had its ups and downs in training camp, although he is currently having his best part of the summer. Can he build on that and carry over his success to the regular season?
I wouldn’t rule it out. He is definitely a mobile threat. And while there have been issues with his repetitive accuracy and arm strength, he’s quite capable of throwing with a nice touch. He was particularly good on the deep throws.
But Hurts has a relatively high bar to cross so the Eagles don’t replace him. The feeling here is that if he leaves any doubt that he’s the franchise’s quarterback, the Eagles will look to use their three potential first-round picks to trade for a star quarterback (Watson? Russell Wilson? Aaron Rodgers !? Anyone else?) Or swap for their new guy in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Ideally, Hurts will be either really good (preferable!) Or really bad this year. This will give the team a clear decision to keep him or move on. The most likely outcome, however, is probably somewhere in between. And naturally, there will be a big debate about what the Eagles should do with the Hurts next offseason.
Q: Were there any noticeable schematic differences throughout training camp and preseason under new head coach Nick Sirianni?
A: I can’t say I specifically noticed a bunch of new offensive lines. We still see a good chunk of Staff 12 with Zach Ertz still not traded yet (much to Bill Belichick’s chagrin). For what it’s worth, Sirianni has talked about not wanting to give too much because he feels like he has a competitive edge with people who don’t know what he has planned.
But defensively? This is an other story. The Eagles use a lot of different looks on this side of the ball. Jonathan Gannon talked about wanting to be multiple and these are not empty words. While the Eagles ran a traditional 4-3 under Jim Schwartz, Gannon has the Eagles on odd fronts.
Q: Will the Eagles be better or worse than last season? How will they be fair in the NFC and within their division?
A: It’s hard to be too much worse than 4-11-1. It is possible, for sure. But I don’t think that’s the likely scenario for this group. The vibrations seem to be good right now. Young players show potential. The coaching staff could very well turn out to be an upgrade.
I still don’t think the Eagles are super bowl suitors by all means. Originally, I had chosen 8-9 as the record prediction for them when the 2021 NFL schedule came out. But that sounded optimistic to me. Now I feel like it’s more accessible than I thought before.
Finishing below .500 obviously won’t be enough for them to qualify for the playoffs. That is to say, unless the division is as appalling as it was last year, which I don’t think it will be. I see the football team and the Cowboys finish in the top two places. I would say the Eagles are third, just above the New York Football Giants.
Q: Predicting Thursday’s score?
A: If last week was any indication, the Eagles’ third defense is really bad. The Patriots could have their way with this unit. Plus, the Eagles kicker is injured, so I don’t even know if he’ll play. Let’s just say the Eagles quickly take the lead, but the backups crack again for a New England victory, 23-14.