The Eagles should get a better test tonight (or maybe just a little preseason quiz) when their starters play a full half and face the Bengals, who should be better than the Jaguars team that came to Philadelphia last week.
I wrote a full story on the upcoming game in today’s Inquirer, but for those into the brevity/bullet point thing, here are five issues we’ll be watching for in preseason week two.
(And yes, I know Les did a similar post on this already; just different schedules for our blogs. We both did the same thing before last week’s game, as well.)
1. The secondary: Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens might not be their old selves, but they should still be a better challenge for the Eagles’ retooled defensive backfield than were the no-name Jags receivers. In particular we’ll be watching how Ellis Hobbs fares against the bigger pass catchers and how rookie Nate Allen plays. He has looked good in practices, but had little to do against the Jaguars. Also, it would be good for the Eagles if the back ups manage to not give up three long touchdown passes.
2. The basics from the offensive line and Kolb. The line and Kolb both looked good against the Jaguars, but it was almost always against a simple four-man pass rush. This being the preseason, the Bengals probably won’t be that much more aggressive. But we can at least see if the new quarterback and makeshift line can cover the basics. With little pressure expected, does Kolb cut down on the throws into coverage? Does he again avoid bad turnovers? Does the line handle a pass rush as bland as tofu? Is Mike McGlynn still solid? Does the young team, in general, have the ability to correct mistakes and build from one week to the next? If the answers to any of these is “no,” we might be looking at trouble.
3. The red zone. We’ve all written about this, and Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg have said it’s an area where they want to see improvement. “Not enough points,” Mornhinweg said of his team’s first half performance last week. Kevin Kolb moved his team smartly in two-and-a-half drives. Can he get them in end zone?
4. Hank Baskett/Chad Hall/Kelley Washington. They all play receiver. They all play special teams. There are at most two roster spots, and maybe just one, for the three of them. Who has a showing that gets them closer to a place on the team? Does Hall get some running back looks due to Mike Bell’s injuries? Or does Martell Mallett get in against the second team some? Does either Baskett or Washington make a big play?
5. Kick off coverage. This is another area Andy Reid singled out. The second team unit gave up some big run backs. Can’t have that in the field position battle.
Two side notes: I’ll be chatting here at 1 p.m. Friday, so fire away with the questions.
Also, credit to The Reddgie for commenting in an earlier post that the defense’s better-than-expected training camp is like “finding an onion ring in your Burger King fries.” I like the way you think.