APPARENTLY the preseason is no longer a period for Starters to knock off rust and sharpen edges. That leaves as it’s only function, to serve as an elimination chamber for the bottom 24.6% of the roster.
Seriously, of the 53 man roster to assemble, 40 of them (75.4%) started OTA’s as locks to make the team. That means only 13 spots were EVER up in the air. Six of those now look to have been locked down by, WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, T Halapoulivaati Vaitai, G/C Stefen Wisniewski, DE’s Daeshon Hall and Shareef Miller, and LB L.J. Fort.
So over these next two weeks, this team will play two games, to decide on 7 players. Most of whom will spend much of the season not being among the 46 who actually dress.
These next two games basically seem like “Change my mind” games for players like RB’s Wendell Smallwood and Josh Adams; WR’s Marken Michel and Mack Hollins; OL Matt Pryor and Jordan Mailata; DL Josh Sweat and Treyvon Hester; LB T.J. Edwards; SS’s Andrew Sendejo, and Johnathan Cyprien. (I think we all have always known who our 6 CB’s will be.) Basically this is the week that Special Teams gets built.
Those players need a strong showing over these next two weeks, to create a numbers crunch on another part of the roster.
So let’s talk about the Four Things we need to focus on this week versus the Ravens:
1) Root for your guy: If you have a pet long-shot that you’ve been rooting for, now is your time to shine baby! Send some psychic vibes out, and if your guy gets makes the cut, you can claim credit for helping. My pet long-shot: WR Greg Ward. It would have been TE Will Tye, but with TE Richard Rodgers missing so much time, and Tye playing well, it’s unlikely that Tye needs any help.
2) Hassan Chop: The Eagles coveted DT Hassan Ridgeway for years, and so traded for him during the 2019 Draft. He suffered a concussion in our first preseason game and missed the second. He’s back at practice so, it’s likely he’ll play. The question is can he legit beat out Hester? He needs to show up here.
3) Starter Watch: Last week, a handful of starter level players (SS Malcolm Jenkins, DE’s Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry) asked Head Coach Doug Pederson if they could play at least a little. It will be interesting to see if those same players play a little this week, or if more players decide to join them.
4) Staying focused: At this point, unless you’re rooting for a guy, there are no stakes. It will be hard not to channel surf, but try not to in the first half at least. That feels weird to say, because this used to be the game where Starters played an entire half, and you got a good feel for what they were trying to hang their hat on.
If we do all these things, we’re just about guaranteed to win. Now that we’ve covered what should happen, let’s get into what likely will happen:
The Eagles are just killing time during some league mandated games. So QB Josh McCown should make his Eagles debut, despite not really knowing the playbook yet. It’d be weird to see him start the first half, but to see him start the second half seems apropos.
Beyond that, who really knows. Expect a lot of flags as players desperate to get into the “maybe” conversation, play too aggressively or carelessly due to adrenaline and emotion. Players like: DE Eli Harold, CB Orlando Scandrick, and RB Donnel Pumphrey.
Baltimore has played their Starters in both games so far, suggesting that they follow the traditional preseason model, not the new one that we’re on. Odds are that both from a talent standpoint and a polish standpoint, they will eat us alive if we spend another game serving sheep to lion.
And it could get ugly, early.
PREDICTION: EAGLES 17 – Ravens 24