Thursday Six Pack: Eagles at Jets

In 11 days, the games count. In 11 days, the players on the field will be the very best this team has to offer. It will be the Eagles best 53 guys against Atlanta’s best 53 on Monday Night Football on September 14. The result will matter. The result will be one of 16 that, ultimately, determine whether this team is in a playoff run or watching on TV with the rest of us. 

Before we get there, however, we have this. We have one more preseason game. There is one more game that — while meaningless in the standings — means the world to the 22 guys trying to make the 53-man roster. With that in mind, here are six things to watch against the New York Jets tonight.

  1. The QBs – In case you hadn’t heard, Tim Tebow and Matt Barkley are competing for the Eagles third-string QB spot. The reality is this: if either of these guys starts a game this season, the Eagles are screwed. Neither of them plays on special teams so it is possible, despite winning this competition, neither one would dress on game day. Tebow may dress: adding value during two-point conversions. Barkley won’t. Even still, the town is Tebow-crazy & this is — believe it or not — a real talking point right now, which is tragic.
  2. Josh Huff – He has explosive talent. The coaches obviously liked him enough as a rookie to try and feed him the ball in big moments — see: redzone fumble at Arizona. So where’s he been this preseason? It’d be great if Huff gave the coaching staff a reason to cut Riley Cooper — despite the ridiculous guaranteed money he is owed — but he hasn’t yet. Huff needs to have an impact on this game to remind himself, the coaches, and the fans that he has the ability to bust one out.
  3. Kiko Alonso – Can you imagine if LeSean McCoy had been dealt for a draft pick instead of Alonso? This town would have lost it. With Alonso came excitement & validation of the deal.  Now, we need to actually see the kid play. He’s been banged up this preseason with tendonitis in his left knee — post-ACL repair. He needs at least a couple series to get into the mindset of an NFL inside linebacker, right? Doesn’t he? This guy seems like a borderline lunatic, so maybe not.  Either way, it will be nice to see what he brings to the front seven of a defense.
  4. Fringe DBs – There are a lot of guys who are trying to make this roster in a thin defensive backfield. E.J. Biggers, Jaylen Watkins, Randall Evans, Denzel Rice, Jerome Couplin, Ed Reynolds, Chris Prosinski: three, and possibly four, of these guys are going to be cut come Saturday. There are eight practice squad spots available but they may not necessarily be slated for these guys. Of note, two of these guys could play significant time in nickel or as a third safety once games matter. Someone please, I beg you, step up and win these jobs.
  5. Talented RBs – Kenjon Barner has likely locked himself up a spot on the 53-man roster.  He has been too damned good this preseason — both out of the backfield & in special teams — to be cut. Barner has 120 yards from scrimmage on 16 touches this preseason. Add this to his two punt return touchdowns. He’s a lock. Unless you ask Raheem Mostert, who has rushed 24 times for 88 yards. He’s also caught six balls for 101 yards. He’s returned two kickoffs, one for 67 yards. I don’t think either one of these guys makes it to the practice squad. One will make this roster and the other will get scooped up by another team, possibly, the one in Dallas.
  6. Marcus Smith – He isn’t going to play tonight. This isn’t about him so much as his place on this roster. It isn’t guaranteed. What if some combination of Brandon Graham, Connor Barwin, Vinny Curry, Kiko Alonso, Mychal Kendricks, Brad Jones had proven to be a deep and versatile enough LB corps to move forward? If that had happened, I guarantee Smith’s spot on this team would have been given to a young, talented defensive back or lineman on either side of the ball.