Our cadence of life returns to this happy place from now until February. One week at a time. A normal heartbeat leading into the frenetic state of mind prior to kickoff. Lofty goals for a team that went 10-6 last season and won the NFC East and then parlayed that momentum into an action-filled offseason.
So here we are, with the work week for the Eagles already underway and the countdown to kickoff in progress. Jacksonville is a rising team that is going to play in the mold of its head coach: Fiery, physical and hungry. There is a lot to discuss ...
- It is
Cody Parkey's job at placekicker, as resounding as that may seem to you. The preseason is over. Parkey, a rookie from Auburn who won the placekicking job with three field goals -- including successful kicks of 53 and 54 yards -- and strong kickoffs in Thursday night's preseason finale against the Jets is the man who must deliver when the games count in the standings. It's a startling turn of events at the position, let's be honest. Parkey has big-game experience from his college days at Auburn, so he understands kicking in pressure moments. What he'll need to learn as quickly as possible is the tricky nature of the wind conditions at Lincoln Financial Field. It is not an easy place in which to kick. The wind changes constantly. How Parkey spends this week learning the wind at the stadium is important.
- Interested to see how the Eagles use running back
Darren Sprolesin this one against a 4-3 defense with some veteran linebackers. Can the Eagles scheme to get Sproles isolated on outside linebackers Geno Hayes and LaRoy Reynolds? Can those two stick with Sproles or LeSean McCoyout of the backfield? Seemed like the Eagles had a lot of success using wheel routes out of the backfield in the preseason games.
- Critical matchup for the Eagles is offensive tackle
Allen Barbreagainst Red Bryant, whom the Jaguars signed in the offseason as an unrestricted free agent. It wouldn't surprise me to see the Jags move Bryant, perhaps, to the other side, to give Chris Clemons a chance to pass rush against Barbre, rather than work against Jason Peters. Bryant is a 323-pounder not known to rush the quarterback all that much, while Clemons has made a career out of doing so. Both played with Seattle last season and Bradley wants to get that scheme fully integrated into the Jacksonville mindset.
- Chad Henne gets the start at quarterback for Jacksonville. He'll be without starting right tackle Austin Pasztor, who is out with a broken hand. Rookie Marqise Lee is the leading candidate in the passing game, although the Eagles will be tested by tight end Marcedes Lewis, who is an outstanding player. Clay Harbor, a former Eagle, is the No. 2 tight end on the Jacksonville depth chart.
- The Eagles have four tight ends on the roster, but it doesn't mean that all four will dress on Sunday. If the team thinks that rookie
Trey Burtoncan contribute on special teams, then he is likely to be up. Certainly, there is an incredible amount of versatility with this group. Remember last year when we wondered if the Eagles would use three tight ends in certain sets? It didn't happen much, but if Chip Kelly and Pat Shurmur want to give some interesting personnel groups this year, the weapons are there.
- Keep in mind the "hidden yardage" statistic for the Eagles' special teams this year. The preseason was encouraging, very much so, as the Eagles smothered kickoff and punt returners.
Chris Maragos, Bryan Braman, Brad Smith, Brandon Boykin, Chris Polk... all outstanding in covering kicks. It's a complete group, one that has a chance to be among the league's best. As for the return game, we are going to see Sproles in action and see if he can add some juice to an area that didn't have much the last couple of seasons.
- Will the Jaguars try to blitz
Nick Folesand the offense on Sunday? Well, if the Eagles do the job up front against a four-man pass rush, Jacksonville will have no choice. I just don't see teams laying back against this offense. I see teams trying to rush Foles into making poor decisions. He was deadly against the blitz in 2013.
- Around the NFC East in Week 1 ... tough game for the Giants at Detroit on Monday night. Can the Giants' offense come around to outscore Detroit? Dallas hosts San Francisco, and a Cowboys win would be huge for that team against a 49ers squad that has a defense decimated by injury and NFL suspension. And Washington plays on the road at Houston, a game that is as much a toss up if I've ever seen one.