Preseason Preview Week One: Jacksonville at Philadelphia

It almost doesn’t feel real, but the Eagles will play in their first preseason game tonight at the Linc against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The starters will get to strut their stuff for the first quarter before the backups come in and try to prove that they’re worthy of a roster spot. I’m assuming the Jaguars starters will do the same so here’s some of the matchups I’ll be looking at:

Eagles Offensive Line vs. Jaguars Defensive Line
The Eagles offensive line has to be the biggest question mark on the team right now. On the line, the Jaguars have some big boys up front, including first round draft pick Tyson Alualu. I’m not sure if he’ll be running with the first team at all, but I’d like to see how the Eagles interior line holds up no matter who’s there.

The Jaguars also added Aaron Kampman this offseason, a veteran defensive end who will look to get to Kevin Kolb early and often. Kampman will be a good early test for Jason Peters, who is going to see a lot of talented defensive ends this season.

The Eagles have a high powered offense, but it can only be as good as their line. The amount of time Kolb has to throw the ball will be something to watch.

Eagles Receivers vs. Jaguars Secondary
Passing the ball will be the Eagles bread and butter this season, so I’ll be keeping my eye on the young wide outs and the rhythm they have with Kolb.

The Eagles are extremely deep at this position and I’d like to see all the receivers get involved tonight. I’m not particularly interested in seeing the Eagles hit a homerun on a deep ball (although I’ll take it if it happens), but I’d like to see them churn out a bunch of quick hitting passes that move the chains.

Eagles Run Defense vs. Maruice Jones-Drew
In the final games of the 2009 season, the Eagles could not stop the run to save their lives. Maurice Jones-Drew is one of the best running backs in the leagues, and hopefully Ernie Sims hits him 10 times harder than he’s hit any of his teammates in practice.

Teams will try to keep the Eagles offense off the field this year, and the best way to do that is by establishing a run game. I’m hoping to see the Eagles shut down the run and force teams to drop back and throw the ball. Which brings me to my next matchup…

Eagles Defensive Ends vs. Jaguars Offensive Tackles
The Eagles focused a lot this offseason in improving their personnel at defensive end. They have a slew of new guys joining veterans Trent Cole and Juqua Parker.

Brandon Graham has looked great in practice, so I hope to see him perform the same way tonight. Graham and Cole should be able to drive quarterbacks nuts this season and they have some nice depth at the position to keep up the pressure even when these two aren’t on the field.

Nate Allen vs. Anything that comes his way
Allen is the only rookie listed as a starter as it stands right now and there is a lot of pressure on his shoulders to perform at a high level. Whether it’s stepping up and helping against the run or doing what he does best (ball hawking), I want to see this kid make some plays.

Brian Dawkins left a huge hole when he left Philadelphia and I’m ready to see Allen step in and fill the void.

What matchups will you be keeping an eye on tonight?

Maurice Jones-Drew

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