After last week’s preseason opener did more than cause a few surprises, it’s time to once again make some bold predictions ahead of the Eagles second preseason game, this time against the Pittsburgh Steelers. In week one of preseason, I hit 2/5 on bold predictions, let’s see if we can do better this week.
Consistency for Sleeves:
Yes, Sam Bradford did complete over 70% of his passes last week..but that’s because he only threw once..something that’s not expected to happen again tonight. Bradford is going to see a lot more of the football after playing in what was essentially a redzone drill last week and after his strongest Training camp yet, without having to worry about his knee..Bradford is mentally and physically prepared.
The Steelers Defense allowed 284 passing yards last week and more worryingly, Dan Orlovsky to complete 16/25 throws. With Bradford seeing more than just a few Offensive drives, I’m predicting Bradford to pick apart the Steelers Defense in an Offense in which he has full control and is able to keep the Defense guessing with a mix of short-mid passing routes.
Bold prediction: Bradford to throw for over 80 yards, complete 70% of his passes and complete one passing touchdown.
Next man up:
With Jordan Matthews sidelined and DGB not playing in tonight’s game, it could prove to be the last chance for the “bubble” Eagles receivers to leave their mark on the Offense and prove themselves worthy of a starting role. Nelson Agholor was a player who particularly struggled in week one, although like the Eagles win over the Jets last season..he was finding ways to get open, the ball just wasn’t coming his way.
With the addition of Dorial Green-Beckham to the roster, Agholor will be looking to make a statement and ensure that his role in the Offense doesn’t shrink. Against a Steelers Defense that allowed six receivers to have over 30 receiving yards against the Lions, the crisp route running of Agholor could be really exploited here..but is he consistent enough to make an impact?
Bold prediction: Nelson Agholor to receive for 65 yards and 1TD.
Eric Rowe emerges:
Jalen Mills underwhelmed in his preseason debut for the Eagles, but he won’t have a chance to make up for it due to an injury keeping him sidelined. A perfect opportunity has arisen for Eric Rowe to assert his dominance over Mills who has had the best of him throughout camp and as a result currently sits higher on the depth chart. Rowe’s coverage against the Bucs however was one of the few highlights of the Eagles Defense.
With the Steelers missing just about every big name from their Offense, Rowe will have a slightly easier job on what could be an extensive amount of snaps. Rowe was impressive last week, but didn’t register a single tackle, pass deflection or interception. This week however, with a chip on his shoulder and the coaches watching, I can see the inverse happening.
Bold prediction: Eric Rowe to rack up 3 tackles, 1 pass deflection and 1 interception.
Back with a sack:
Marcus Smith actually had a relatively impressive Training camp, until a concussion meant that he was sidelined through the team’s opening preseason game. This allowed journeyman Steven Means to step in and make a big impact. A big sack topped off the night for Means..but now Smith is back and with his roster spot in danger..needs a big night.
He may only have 7 tackles and 1.5 career sacks to his name, but Marcus Smith is finally in a system that suits his skill set. Can he pick up the momentum left behind at Training camp to assert his dominance over a rotational role, one that may not seem all that important..but is going to be critical in the depths of the 2016 regular season.
The pressure is on for Marcus Smith and he has to come out of the gate swinging. He attacked the last few practices with a ruthless mentality and if he can do exactly that tonight, we may all be reminded why Smith was taken in the first round back in 2014 and finally see a flash of what he’s capable of.
Bold prediction: Marcus Smith to get two sacks and three tackles
Many of you will know just how long I’ve been backing a Trey Burton breakout and more specifically, his move to wide receiver. From all-22’s to podcasts, the Burton hype train has been running for quite some time now and is almost at destination breakout.
While he may not have completely moved, the Eagles TE has definitely proven to be one of the most reliable pair of hands during Camp. Strangely, Burton didn’t catch a single pass against the Bucs, although he was used very smartly in the 3-TE set that enabled Ryan Mathews to rush for a touchdown.
With Bradford and Daniel seeing more snaps tonight in the absence of Wentz however, I can see Pederson giving his starters more time to go hand in hand. If that is the case, Trey Burton may finally be able to show the world exactly why he is such a powerful weapon on the Offense.
I predicted something similar last week, but after minimal receiving usage, I think Doug Pederson will look for more ways to implement the Eagles Tight End in a bid to keep Ertz and Celek fresh.
Bold prediction: Trey Burton to receive for 50 yards and 1TD
Bonus prediction: The TD pass will come out of the slot.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports