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Things To Watch In Game 3

Posted Aug 23, 2013

Game 3 is when the starters play the longest, when those on the bubble pray for one last chance to impress the coaches prior to a roster trim to 75, and when we get a taste of just how ready a team is for the season …

Oh, we probably form opinions too strongly one way or another based on this game. After all, Chip Kelly isn’t going to use everything in his playbook against Jacksonville. He isn’t going to give Washington much of a peek at all at any intentions he has for the September 9 regular-season opener.

But the Eagles are going to look for some specifics on Saturday night. Here is, from this perspective, what to look for against the Jaguars …

The Offensive Line: All Together

Left tackle Jason Peters makes his preseason debut and Todd Herremans said he expects to shrug off some knee inflammation to start at right guard, so all five starters figure to be in place. It’s exciting to think of what this group can accomplish once it gets some familiarity and some timing. So this is, from that sense, a crucial game for the offensive line.

Will the Jaguars push the envelope and rush the quarterback with a variety of blitzes and different looks? We shall see and, honestly, it would benefit the Eagles to see some nuances at the line of scrimmage. They’re going to have to handle those pressure packages when the regular season begins. Why not start now?

Peters hasn’t played in an NFL game since the end of the 2011 season. He’s put a lot of work into reaching this moment. Peters is worth some isolation looks in this game.

Michael Vick Is The Starting QB And He Is All In

OK, so the quarterback competition is over and Michael Vick is the winner. He earned it with a great spring and summer and then two excellent preseason games. What is the next step for Vick? He has to keep improving and he has to stay glued to the playbook and the scheme.

Vick is expected to play at least one half in Jacksonville so he will have an opportunity to get into a rhythm and command the offense and find some timing with his offensive line. There is going to be some heat and humidity to deal with, so the challenge is a good one for Vick’s fitness level.

Nick Foles will play in the second half and Matt Barkley has a chance to get some time, depending on the game situation.

Running Back Rotation: Top 3 Ready To Go

The Eagles agreed to trade Felix Jones to Pittsburgh on Friday, acquiring outside linebacker Adrian Robinson from the Steelers (both players must pass physicals for the trade to become official). Jones wasn’t going to make this 53-man roster with the way LeSean McCoy, Bryce Brown and Chris Polk are playing, so the Eagles picked up a piece in Robinson who maybe comes in and opens some eyes in a short period of time.

This is a great situation for the team. McCoy starts and looks to build on last week’s outstanding performance against Carolina. Polk’s development in the offseason is making for tremendous competition with Bryce Brown, and the thinking here is that the Eagles have options, options, options.

How much do the Eagles plan to rotate their backs in the regular season? Will all three get touches? What are all of the creative ways Vick can get the ball to McCoy in space?

All three backs could get worked into the first half if the offense moves the ball throughout and that would be fun to see.

In any event, the Eagles have three quality running backs who can bring it with power, speed, moves and the ability to factor in the passing game. Pass blocking is essential here, too, and all three work at it.

Defense Looks To Take Another Step Forward

Good job last week by Bill Davis’ crew, and the defense looks to follow up with another strong performance. The Jaguars turn to Chad Henne at quarterback. He’s a veteran. He’s a pro, and he will look to lead a balanced attack.

What to watch: Everyone playing on the same page, everyone playing with confidence in the scheme, the defense playing physical football. With a side of the ball that has had so many changes, you must view with a collective perspective.

Nate Allen and Patrick Chung want to continue their progress from last week and corners Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams have another week of practice and a game together. The front seven has some really good competition throughout.

The truth is, we’re watching everything. That includes special teams, which have played so well in two games. The return game has been explosive and the coverage teams have been outstanding.

It’s Game 3, and it doesn’t count in the standings. But it means something, quite a bit on a lot of fronts, and it is right here in front of us with the most extensive look at the Eagles in a game situation waiting.

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