Sunday, February 14, 2016

Eagles-Jaguars: What we'll be watching

Nick and the Pick: Nick Foles threw just two interceptions last season. Two picks in 317 attempts. His 0.6 interception percentage was the third best in history for a single season. There is no way he’s only going to throw two picks this season, right? Right?

Eagles-Jaguars: What we'll be watching

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Eagles quarterback Nick Foles. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Eagles quarterback Nick Foles. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

Nick and the Pick: Nick Foles threw just two interceptions last season. Two picks in 317 attempts. His 0.6 interception percentage was the third best in history for a single season. There is no way he’s only going to throw two picks this season, right? Right?

The New Kicker: You don’t have Alex Henery to kick around anymore (pun intended). Henery, a former fourth-round pick, was released, and Cody Parkey was retained after hitting 53- and 54-yard field goal attempts in the final preseason game. Can he be the long-distance kicker of your dreams that Henery wasn’t? Can he consistently put his kickoffs through the end zone? Will he still be the Eagles’ kicker when we turn our clocks back? We’ll see. But he definitely will be the kicker in Week 1.

The New Guy At Right Tackle: While right tackle Lane Johnson is down in Dallas killing time during his four-game PED suspension, Allen Barbre will take his place in the starting lineup. He has just seven career starts. He’s not nearly as athletic as former college quarterback and tight end Johnson. Can he keep speedy edge-rushers away from Nick Foles and get out on the perimeter and block for LeSean McCoy? Can he keep up with the rest of this athletic line? We’re about to find out.

The Pass Rush: The Eagles had just 37 sacks last season and finished 31st in the league in sacks per pass play. That’s not nearly good enough. They need to make quarterbacks afraid, very afraid. It doesn’t look like they’re going to get much help early on from first-round rookie Marcus Smith. So they need returnees like Trent Cole and Connor Barwin and Vinny Curry and Brandon Graham and Mychal Kendricks to turn up the heat.

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The Third Down Dilemma: The Eagles couldn’t get off the field on third down last season. They finished 24th in third-down efficiency, 29th on third downs of five yards or more. Sometimes it was penalties, sometimes it was the pass rush, sometimes it was breakdowns in coverage. Whatever, they’ve got do to better, particularly this week against the Jags’ young, inexperienced offense. – Paul Domowitch

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