Tale Of The Tape: Jacksonville Jaguars At Philadelphia Eagles
- QuarterbackGus Bradley knows that his quarterback of the future is anxious to get started, but the head coach does not want to throw rookie Blake Bortles into the fire just yet. Instead, he is letting Chad Henne handle the starting assignment and he will likely hold on to the quarterback position for the first month of the season. Henne completed more than 60 percent of his passes last year, but he tends to make key errors.The Eagles know that Nick Foles is not likely to repeat last year’s 27-2 TD-interception ratio, but they believe that he will build off last year’s success and continue to develop into a first-rate NFL quarterback. Foles is an accurate passer who excels at reading the defense and finding the soft spot. He has the size – 6-5 and 243 pounds – to see over the top of the defense and shake off pass rushers.
- OffenseThe Jaguars are going to try to take the pressure off of Henne by giving him a credible running game. That does not look probable at this point because starting running back Toby Gerhart lacks speed and the kind of moves that cause tacklers to miss. Wide receiver Cecil Shorts knows how to get open and has dependable hands, while rookie Marqise Lee is a potential big-play threat.The Eagles decided they didn’t need to have a divisive DeSean Jackson on their roster, and while the decision may be understandable from a team-unity standpoint, it could come back to bite them. LeSean McCoy may be the most valuable running back in the league and the addition of Darren Sproles gives Philadelphia a superb 1-2 punch. Riley Cooper will catch anything he can reach.
- DefenseIf the Jaguars have any chance of building a respectable team this year, it will be the result of hard, physical play by the defense. Chris Clemons and Red Bryant left the Super Bowl champion Seahawks and signed with the Jags, and they will upgrade the defensive line. Middle linebacker Paul Posluszny is one of the most dependable tacklers in the league.The Eagles did not make anywhere near the amount of progress with their defense that they did with their offense last year. This unit needs to be a lot more physical and tougher against the run if the Eagles are going to continue to climb the ladder. Outside linebacker Trent Cole had 8.0 sacks last year and is a legitimate threat. Inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans is a solid tackler.
- Special TeamsThe Jaguars used a third-round draft pick on Bryan Anger in 2012, and the move has paid off because the team punts so much. Anger has excellent leg strength and is adept placing the ball inside the 20. Josh Scobee (groin) made 23-of-25 FG attempts last year, and should be ready to go in the opener.The decision to jettison Jackson not only takes away a big receiving threat, it also hurts them in the return game. Punter Donnie Jones has average leg strength and is a middle of the pack punter, but he gets his kicks away fairly quickly.
The Jaguars are a feisty and hard-working team under Bradley, and they could cause some problems for the Eagles. However, Philadelphia is not going to let Jacksonville come in and steal a win in the opener. The Eagles will take charge of this game in the second half and win the game. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports