After a week of practicing with the Redskins, the New England Patriots will now begin to turn their focus to the Philadelphia Eagles, who they welcome in on Tuesday. The two squads will practicing together for two days, before playing on Friday night.
Last week’s sessions with Washington went well, as all reports said Tom Brady and company lit up the Skins. Of course, the Patriots didn’t do very well in the actual preseason game, but Bill Belichick elected to sit most of his starters. I am hoping for a similar scenario to unfold with Philly, although I do think the Pats’ starters will receive a bit of game-time Friday night. Here are my initial thoughts on these two squads coming together for two days of pratice:
Back on August 1st, Eagles cornerback Cary Williams made some interesting comments about the Patriots. He essentially brought up Spygate, and said the Pats are cheaters. He of course added in the obvious fact that New England hasn’t won a Super Bowl since they got caught (leaving out their two appearances, and 88 regular season wins), and also mentioned how doesn’t like these joint practices. My advice for Williams: Bring some ice, because Tom Brady and company are going to be burning you all week long. Yes, I realize how incredibly corny that was.
2. Two explosive offenses
Two of the best offensive units will be facing off with each other this week, which should definitely lead to some fireworks. However, I do think Brady’s offense has improved since last year, mainly by just getting more familiar with each, while Nick Foles and company have slipped a bit. They lost DeSean Jackson to the Redskins, and didn’t add much to compensate. I am expecting the Patriots to win this “unit battle”, although it will be fun to see Chip Kelly’s up-tempo offense in Foxboro.
3. Legion of Belichick
Another reason I am confident Tom Brady will be winning the offensive battle, is because of the defense he has backing him up. Darrelle Revis and company are going to obliterate the Eagles’ receiving corps. Riley Cooper, Jeremy Maclin, and Jordan Matthews are decent wideouts, but they aren’t in the same league as this revamped Patriots secondary. They are physical, aggressive, and extremely talented, which will result in a decisive defensive (through the air) victory. The same cannot be said for the Eagles’ defense. They were ranked dead last in passing yards given up last season, and will rank in the bottom half of the league in that category once again. Brady is going to have a field day.
Week one of the preseason featured a ridiculous amount of penalties across the NFL, and the Patriots and Eagles were no exception. The two teams were called for a combined 18 penalties, and 170 penalty yards. There will be officials present for these joint practices, which will give both sides another chance to cut down on the fouls (and for the referees to cool it a little bit). I will be focused in on cornerback Brandon Browner, who is known for his physical play, and will need to tone it down a little by the start of the regular season. He was flagged once in last week’s game for illegal contact, which should give him a warning as to what he will be able to get away with.
5. Shady McCoy
In terms of pure excitement, they don’t come any better than LeSean McCoy. His quickness and agility are unrivaled in this league, and the Patriots front seven will have their work cut out for them in attempting to contain him. The Patriots have gotten much more athletic along their defensive front, particularly with linebacker Jamie Collins, who is just an athletic freak. If New England’s front seven really wants to prove they can play as well as their defensive backfield, then this is the perfect opportunity to prove it.