The Jaguars definitely don’t seem like they will be a playoff contender this season, but in the NFL, you never know what will happen. Despite the lack of talent on the Jaguars roster, what should we look for when the Eagles take the field on Saturday?
Well first off, we must watch the defense as a whole to see if they can improve week by week. We all know that they were a disaster in the first week of the preseason against the New England Patriots, but they did step it up against the Carolina Panthers the following game.
Now the Eagles’ defense will go head-to-head against a Jaguars’ offense that do not have a ton of talent on the offensive side of the ball. The Eagles’ defense under defensive coordinator Billy Davis should be able to keep Chad Henne (since Blaine Gabbert will not be playing due to a thumb injury) confused and pressured.
Henne does not have the talent like the last two quarterbacks the Eagles faced in Tom Brady and Cam Newton, so the secondary certainly should be able to prevent big plays from happening.
One matchup I’m curious to see is the Jaguars’ right tackle and second overall pick Luke Joeckel against left outside linebacker Connor Barwin and Brandon Graham. Joeckel was thought to be the best overall prospect in the 2013 NFL Draft, but was passed over by the Kansas City Chiefs, who deiced to take Eric Fisher instead.
Joeckel will eventually be a stud in the NFL and will put up a fight against Barwin and Graham when they take the field. Joeckel’s status in Saturday’s matchup will be a game-time decision since he has been bothered by a hip flexor, but hopefully the the Eagles will get a chance to see how their guys pair up with the former Aggie.
Lastly, I’m keeping a close eye on the run defense and see how that ends up with Maurice Jones-Drew in the backfield for the Jaguars. Jones-Drew is one of the best running backs in the league and should be able to test the Eagles’ run defense early and often.
When watching the run defense, make sure you look at the defensive linemen as close as possible. We all know Fletcher Cox will be stud wherever you line him up, but guys like Isaac Sopoaga, Cedric Thornton and Bennie Logan will be the center piece of that defense. They will need to create penetration to slow down MJD and that offensive line to allow the linebackers to scrape free and make a play.
We should be able to see the Eagles defense take another step forward in this matchup against the Jaguars. The Jaguars’ talent on offense should not match up with the Eagles talent on defense, which should create confidence throughout that group. Otherwise, fans should be extremely worried about the defense moving forward into the regular season.
Sonny Bryan is a Philadelphia Eagles writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @SonnyBryan50