The crowd has been anticipating the return of Eagles football for quite some time. It’s year two of the Chip Kelly era, and expectations are simple; be better than last season.
Favored by double digits; the Eagles welcome the Jacksonville Jaguars, coached by Gus Bradley who many believed would be the replacement to Andy Reid prior to the signing of Chip Kelly.
Jaguars side of the football
The Jaguars are a defensive minded football; a reflection of their head coach coming from the Seattle Seahawks organization. Johnathan Cyprien is a second year, up and coming safety that has been assigned similar duties that Earl Thomas overlooks in Seattle. He can stuff the run and covers extremely well in space, and will absolutely light you up with his hard hitting tackling. Former Penn State standout Paul Posluszny will man the middle of a defense that will test Foles with non-traditional formations and delayed blitzes.
Veteran Chad Henne leads the way at quarterback and his surrounding cast is suspect. Toby Gerhart will finally get his chance to start after being trapped behind future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson in Minnesota. He is a bruising style of runner who is not going to stretch the field, he is coming right at you, and defenders must not tackle high, aim for the legs. Former Michigan quarterback turned “offensive weapon” Denard Robinson is the change of pace back, as his role continues to be defined at the NFL level. Rookie Marqise Lee will line up opposite of Cecil Shorts III, with aging veteran Lewis at tight-end. The offensive line is average to go along with a modest offensive grouping; this should be exposed by an Eagles defense looking to make its mark early and often.
Eagles side of the football
We are about to see how Darren Sproles fits into the offense. Exactly the extent of the role Jordan Matthews plays; is it merely as a slot receiver or is that simply what he is being listed as?
The Eagles will feature a heavy dose of McCoy, and continue feeding both Celek and Ertz the football. Maclin is going to be moved all over the line of scrimmage, and Cooper looks to provide that safety valve for Foles.
Will the offensive line suffer with the absence of suspended offensive tackle Lane Johnson? The line looked good against the Steelers, and I feel comfortable with their status going into week one of the regular season. I’m looking for Foles to continue with his development as a starting quarterback, improving with his judgment to get rid of the football instead of taking unnecessary sacks.
The offense should have little trouble moving up and down the field, and with some bigger bodies to throw to, an improved red-zone touchdown efficiency.
The defense will have every opportunity to shine, to make the big hit, intercept a pass and collect a quarterback sack. This should be a team in which they dominate and not look “decent” against.
If the Eagles wish to earn the respect of being a “good” defense, they must make a statement against average offenses.
Score Prediction- Eagles 27 Jaguars 17
I like the Eagles to come out strong this game, and win by double digits. I believe they will rack up a ton of yards, but will settle for a few field goals instead of blowing the game wide open.
The Jaguars will score a late touchdown to make the final score look a bit closer then how the game played out.
Overall a solid win to start the 2014 season, and the preparation can start for a Monday night showdown in Indianapolis.