On Friday night, we'll finally get to see the Eagles in action against another team. I can't wait to see the team play a game. Watching training camp highlights and following the team all spring has been a lot of fun, but nothing replaces actual game action.
Preseason games feature little to no gameplanning. Each team is more focused on their own players than what the opposing team will do. You will hear the word "vanilla" in reference to playcalling for the next four weeks. Vanilla simply means that teams are running very basic plays and schemes. Teams stay basic for a couple of reasons. First, you don't want to give away any looks to regular season opponents. Those teams can study what has happened in the past, but you don't want to help them out by showing them any new wrinkles or changes that are now being used.
The other reason teams stay basic is that it helps them with player evaluation. Teams want to see how well guys perform. The best way to do that is by running basic plays. Coaches and scouts are then able to judge players without worrying about whether the design of the play made a big difference on how the player looked. Take DeSean Jackson for example. In a regular season game, the team will be creative to make sure he gets open and the ball gets to him. In a preseason game, Jackson will have to use technique to get open. The coaches want to see if he's learned what they've been teaching him up at Lehigh. They want to see how Jackson reacts to those plays when he does get manhandled.
I'd love to see the Eagles play a great game and win, but more important will be how individual players perform. I do have some goals for the team. Last year the preseason was a real struggle. The team went 1-3 and was blown out in two of the losses. The other loss was incredibly sloppy. The one win was impressive, but it had as much to do with the Panthers playing poorly as the Eagles playing well. I can live with the team going 1-3 again if that is how things work out, but I do want to see the team play better. The offense scored a total of four touchdowns in the entire 2007 preseason. A couple of those came in the fourth quarter. That doesn't say much for the starters and the main backups. Opposing teams averaged almost 20 points per game. We might have out-gained teams in yardage in three of four games, but it didn't show on the scoreboard. Unfortunately that trend carried over to the regular season.
We need to see the starting offense score touchdowns. I'm not looking for the 1998 Vikings or 1999 Rams, but there has to be some scoring. Two touchdowns in four games isn't going to cut it. Eagles quarterbacks were sacked 15 times last preseason. That needs to be cut down. I'm not expecting to see a finished product. I just want to see signs that the guys will be ready to go when the Rams come to town on September 7th.
Here are some thoughts on individual players/position battles:
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