By: David Levin (@davidlevin71)
I grew up in south Florida and Jacksonville, but I am originally from Philadelphia.
This year, Chip Kelly from Oregon brings his spread offense to the NFL and is allowing Mike Vick to have the keys to the car. Nick Foles is in reserve should Vick falter and the legs of LeSean McCoy are alive and well and ready to run to daylight. On defense, the Eagles are converting to a 3-4 defense and many players like Connor Barwin and Fletcher Cox do not have a defined role with the team. Since the third preseason game of the year is usually a dress rehearsal, Saturday's game should tell both the Jags and Eagles much.
Here are four things the Jaguars must concentrate on if they want a win Saturday night.
A solid pass rush
The Jaguars may have found their quarterback last week, but they forgot about their pass rush. The pressure that was partially existent in the game against the Dolphins was all but lost against the Jets.
The need for a serious pass rusher besides Jason Babin and maybe Jeremy Mincey is still a key part of the puzzle that has not been solved yet. Against a suspect Eagles offensive line, the Jaguars should be able to put pressure on the quarterback, no matter who it is. And if someone like a Mincey or even a Pannel Egboh can chase down a fleet-footed Michael Vick, you will hear the crowd erupt so loudly it could be heard all the way in Palm Coast.
Blackmon and Shorts to the rescue
This is the first time both Shorts and Blackmon will be on the field at the same time this preseason. It is also the first time both will be playing with Chad Henne since the team’s final game last year.
Henne seemed to have a better connection with the two youngsters than Blaine Gabbert did last season. Since Blackmon can only play in two more games before he is sidelined for the first four of the real season, it is important that both receivers show they can spread the field and score touchdowns like they have in practice.
While he is going to be the backup in Jacksonville, I have always thought Chad Henne could be a solid starter with this franchise.
Making Gabbert the starter was the right decision, but now with a hand injury, Henne gets to finish the preseason behind center. Is that more like pouring salt in a fresh wound? Henne is going to be a trooper, say the right thing, and will show he can work the field well with the Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts and hopefully other receivers like Ace Sanders and Mike Brown.
I think Henne at some point will be playing under center again for this team. If he has a connection with his receivers in the preseason, it will help him during the real season.
Ace Sanders has shown flashes of speed and the ability to make a solid catch in traffic. Denard Robinson has been impressive as a runner in this offense. Dwayne Gratz has shown he can cover veteran receivers down the field and even snare an interception along the way.
Yes, the Jaguars rookies have played well in the preseason. If they can keep it up in the final two games, it will put everyone in the league on notice that this is a youthful team of talent and speed, two areas of this game you cannot teach.
If Johnathan Cyprien can come back from his hamstring issues, this could be one of those games where the Jags secondary could take over.