We’re nearly finished with the preseason. The Eagles 2022 Schedule is down to one more preseason game.
We’ve seen things we like and things we don’t like about camp. We’ve seen the first two offensive units, in limited action, dominate defenses in preseason games. We’ve seen the second defensive unit get chewed up by the Browns.
We’ve pondered everything and feel confident in our predictions below.
THREE PREDICTIONS YOU WILL LIKE (The Optimist’s View)
1. JALEN HURTS WILL BE BETTER THAN YOU THINK
This isn’t a knee-jerk reaction based on his stunning, 6-of-6 performance against the Jets.
There have been areas of concern regarding the Eagles’ quarterback:
- Has he improved his ability to read the defense?
- Can he deliver the long ball?
- Does he scramble too quickly instead of staying in the pocket?
Training camp dispatches indicate he has improved in those areas. We’ve barely heard a discouraging word. But we won’t know until those 17 weekly examinations called the regular season.
Offensive coordinator Shane Steichen’s said Hurts’ game has improved from last summer.
“Yeah, absolutely,” Steichen said. “I mean you see it in practice. He hit a big one the other day to [wide receiver] Quez [Watkins] right down the sideline. He hit another one to [wide receiver Jalen] Reagor on that post, so it’s showing up.”
From what we see and what we hear, we think Hurts is on track for a big season.
2. JORDAN DAVIS WILL BE A PLAYER
Against the Jets, the defensive tackle occupied half of the offensive line — it seemed — and he warranted double-teams. Davis, a rookie, wasn’t as effective against the Browns and was on the field early when Cleveland moved the ball at will.
If Davis is occupying multiple offensive linemen, that leaves more opportunity for his defensive mates to control the line of scrimmage and put heat on the quarterback.
Eagles coach Nick Sirianni was asked what stood out about Davis.
“Size, strength, right?” Sirianni said. “Just a big man who is still figuring out the NFL. That’s an ongoing process.
“What you see more than anything is just the sheer size of the man and then just his strength. The guys that we went against that have that enormous size in the middle … they pose problems.”
3. TIGHT END DALLAS GOEDERT WILL STAY HEALTHY
He better. After Goedert, tight end has a major talent drop-off on the Eagle roster.
THREE PREDICTIONS YOU WON’T LIKE (The Pessimist’s View)
1. RUNNING BACK MIGHT BE A PROBLEM
Miles Sanders is hurt again. This time a hamstring. He took eight snaps against the Jets. He did not play against the Browns.
Sirianni updated Sanders’ condition without specifics. We don’t know how long the injury-plagued running back will be on the sidelines. The hope is he’ll be back for the Sept. 11 opener.
Boston Scott ran well against the Browns. Everybody wants Kenny Gainwell to be the next Brian Westbrook. That’s fine but it’s also a huge ask — and might never happen. Gainwell also ran well against the Browns.
Jason Huntley and Kennedy Brooks also played against the Browns, without impressing anyone.
The Eagles led the NFL in rushing last year. That’s mostly because Hurts gained a team-high 784 yards.
The offensive line will open up enough holes for a decent running game. But when you take a detailed look at the roster — especially with a chronically injured Sanders — running back is a weak link.
2. THERE WILL BE A POPULAR PLAYER CUT
Nearly every year, on every team, a popular veteran is cut. There are just not enough spots on the Eagles 2022 depth chart for everyone. Or, the training camp star who comes out of nowhere and makes plays.
The reasons why vary:
- Veterans get cut because there is a younger player of equal talent
- There is a younger player with similar talent and a team-friendly contract
- The team might be sending a message to other veterans
- The rookie who gets cut isn’t quite talented enough, despite how he performed in the preseason
The final cut day is Tuesday, when teams go from 80 players to 53.
- Will the Eagles cut popular (and injured) Greg Ward?
- Unpopular Jalen Reagor?
- How about Olympics track star Devon Allen, who had the dynamic, 55-yard touchdown pass against Cleveland?
- My guess: They’ll keep Reagor, who has had a strong camp, and cut/practice squad Ward and Allen.
3. IF JASON KELCE IS OUT, WILL CAM JURGENS BE READY?
Everybody loves Jurgens, the rookie center from Nebraska. He has looked good in preseason games.
The Eagles hope Kelce will be back for the Sept. 11 opener at Detroit.
What if he isn’t?
Common sense tells you there will be a drop-off from Kelce to Jurgens.
The question looms:
- How much of a drop-off?
- The answer: More than you want.
Jurgens is learning the ropes while replacing a future Hall of Famer. He calls the blocking signals for a line that protects the quarterback and opens holes for the running backs.
This isn’t a position you want to trifle with.
Plus, right guard Isaac Seumalo is learning a new position. Seumalo is talented and should be fine, but next to a rookie center, that transition might take time.