Five things to watch in Eagles preseason finale

NFL: AUG 12 Preseason – Steelers at Eagles
PHILADELPHIA, PA – AUGUST 12: Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Zech McPhearson (27) looks on during the preseason game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Pittsburgh Steelers on August 12, 2021 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

The Eagles and Jets will clash later this evening in the final matchup of preseason. Roster cuts are upon us and for Philadelphia, there are plenty of players fighting for their long-term futures. Here are five things to watch during tonight’s game.

Big bodies in a big-time spot

While the Eagles wideouts have largely impressed this Summer, it’s not a blanket rule. One of the biggest surprises of the offseason has been the quiet offseason of Travis Fulgham. After leading the team in receiving yards last year and the entire league in receiving at one stage, the big-bodied wideout has been lost in the shuffle of a deck that features several young wideouts on the cusp on the breakout and as a result could well be fighting for his roster security.

Fulgham should have the inside track over J.J Arcega-Whiteside, but if the team plan on keeping six receivers at a maximum, there’s a chance that neither make the roster. That makes it absolutely crucial for both players to hit the ground running tonight and prove that they’re worth keeping around.

One more corner

The Eagles may well have bolstered the secondary, but there should be at least one more corner spot to decide. Beyond the decided CB1-4 spots, the team should really be looking to keep another boundary corner around in case of an injury. That means that Michael Jacquet, Craig James, and Kevon Seymour have one more shot to prove that they can hold their own on the outside in an emergency situation.

Seymour arguably had the best outing of the trio last week and Jacquet notably struggled in the opener. Josiah Scott could be a key name to watch after his week one INT, but is more than likely suited to a nickel role.

There’s also a questionable cloud hovering over Zech McPhearson. The 5’10 rookie was hung out to dry on the outside last week, despite playing most of his collegiate career in the slot. Will the Eagles move him back inside, or try to double down and see if they have some outside upside in the Texas Tech Product? The answer may dictate how many corners they carry into the regular season.

Do the Eagles need to find another backup QB?

To say that the performances of Nick Mullens and Joe Flacco were abysmal last week would be an understatement. We’re likely going to see two more quarters from each player tonight, with the consensus being that Jalen Hurts will sit as the probably QB1. The real question is whether or not the Eagles need to go and acquire a backup QB who can actually manage a game in the event of an emergency.

Flacco has been a starter on every team he’s played on and is clearly a fringe starter in the league, but his performances through the Summer and preseason have been less than impressive. The veteran will have to prove he’s worth the whopping $3.5M being paid to him by Howie Roseman, otherwise the team could find themselves in hot water should Hurts sustain an injury.

Teetering on the ridge

A deep DT rotation has long been the priority of the Eagles and while rookie Milton Williams offers more than enough versatility to tick the box, having a strong DT3/4 is valuable. Former UDFA T.Y McGill has upstaged Hassan Ridgeway, who was acquired by the team in a trade during the 2018 NFL Draft, this offseason, and could well be in a spot to poach a roster spot away from the man who signed a one-year contract during the offseason.

It’s been fun to watch the development of McGill, who had never really been able to stand out beforehand. Seeing if that trend continues tonight will go a long way in decide it who wins that final spot.

Will depth be an issue?

Sure, the Eagles have avoided playing their starters for the majority of the preseason, but to say that their lack of points, third-down conversions/stops, and overall tackling production has been concerning would also be a bit of an understatement. Context is key and seeing seconds against starters, and thirds against seconds is always going to cause problems…but the Eagles may find themselves in situations where they need those depth guys to go up against starters in a real game time situation.

The result doesn’t matter in preseason games, but there has to be some kind of momentum generated here by guys fighting for their roster spots. It’s a poor reflection on the team and its coaches if they’re unable to move the chains consistently, let alone be held out of the endzone all together while giving up a high number of points. Here’s to hoping there’s some progress during the finale.

Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire

More from our Sister Sites