The New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles had joint practices on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week and a walk-through today, but tomorrow brings the arrival of the Patriots’ second preseason game, and their first at Gillette Stadium. The Eagles have not been playing well thus far, with players like Cary Williams calling out the Patriots as “cheaters,” offering a little more enthusiasm on the eve of this preseason competition.
All signs currently point to Tom Brady getting some playing time during tomorrow’s game, likely the start, which begs the question — will we see more appearances from other starting players, namely Darrelle Revis? The newly-signed CB didn’t play at all in the Patriots’ first preseason game, but it is likely that if Brady starts the game, we should expect to see many other starters hit the gridiron.
The Eagles finished 10-6 last season and were the top team in the NFL in rushing yards. Since then, their offense has looked solid, even improved, but the defense is still the Achilles’ heal of this NFC East power. The 2014 NFL Draft was the perfect opportunity to revamp here, but the Eagles’ only standout prospect was Jaylen Watkins at cornerback, who may not be enough to hold off the Patriots’ offense.
New England displayed a poor outing in their first preseason game — a wretched 23-6 loss against the Washington Redskins — but nearly all of their key players sat this one out, or in the least played just a few snaps. I expect to see a lineup more consistent with the regular season on Friday to start the game, giving fans and football enthusiasts a better idea of what this team will actually look like come Sept. 7.
Brady should see the start here, but hopefully we will see more of Jimmy Garoppolo — who played above my expectations last week — than Ryan Mallett. Typically, the second game of preseason features the regular season starters for at least the first quarter. While the Patriots were far below standards last week, they should provide fans with a better show come 7:30 p.m. tomorrow evening.
Both the Patriots and Eagles are likely playoff contenders, so a head-to-head matchup will be good practice for the competitiveness the regular season offers. The Patriots and Redskins played a very slow, uneventful game last Thursday, so fans should be able to look forward to a fast-pace, gritty game tomorrow evening.