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Philadelphia Eagles Opponents preview - Preseason Week Three: Jacksonville Jaguars

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This is the next part in our series of previews of the Eagles 2009 opponents. Joining us for this feature is Dave Schwab, who writes about the Eagles at his site Eagles Lincs.

I'm especially happy to present the preview this week because I don't believe any of have spent even a moment thinking about the Jaguars. The Eagles perspective of this week has been all consuming. The debut of Michael Vick, the return of Brian Westbrook, Trent Cole/Stacy Andrews/Jason Peters all getting healthy... This is a big game for the Eagles, who aren't 100% but are healthier than they've been all preseason.

Dave's full analysis after the jump.

The Jacksonville Jaguars come to town for a 7:00 P.M. game on Thursday August 27th. This will be the Eagles’ third of four preseason games and the second one at Lincoln Financial Field. Both teams are still looking for their first win of the 2009 preseason as the Eagles have lost to New England and Indianapolis and the Jaguars have dropped games to the two other teams from Florida, Miami and Tampa Bay. While neither head coach has indicated how long they will play their starters, traditionally they tend to play the most in week three so the first half should give us a good indication of how far along both teams first team offense and defense are with opening day a little over two weeks away.

Jacksonville head coach Jack Del Rio starts his 5th year at the helm feeling a bit of heat and it is not being caused by the Florida sun. After last year’s disappointing 5-11 record many believe another losing season could very well cost him his job. There are many question marks for this team as they do not have any big time playmakers on offense and have suddenly become rather soft on defense. While they hate to come right out and admit it, this season is shaping up to be a rebuilding year for this franchise.

Offensively the Jaguars are led by 8 year veteran quarterback David Garrard. This past week against Tampa Bay, Garrard gave the Jags fans something to cheer about completing 10 of 16 passes for 216 yards and 1 TD ending up with a passer rating of 127.1. The real star of the first half was WR Troy Williamson who got the start in place of Mike Walker who was out of the lineup with an ankle injury. On his first play from scrimmage he caught a 74 yard pass for a TD. In the second quarter he caught a 61 yard pass that set up another Jacksonville touchdown. This has got to have Jaguars fans excited because  all last year the offense only had 1 pass play that went longer than 40 yards. Williamson was the Vikings 1st round pick back in 2005 but he has yet to live up to his ability so they are hoping that this is a sign of better things to come. RB Chauncey Washington also looked impressive gaining 32 yards on only 4 carries. It will take players like these to step up their game if Jacksonville is to have any chance avoiding another losing year.

In the first preseason game against Miami, the defense played well holding the Dolphins to 12 points and only 257 yards of total offense. This past week against Tampa they appeared to back to their old ways giving up 24 points and 362 total yards. In probably the low point of the game, the Jags first team defense was unable to stop a Tampa unit that was playing with 2nd and 3rd teamers.  When asked about his defense after the game, Del Rio questioned their "physicality" but vowed to go over the tapes to get a better assessment of their actual performance. This lack of consistency is what plagued them last season, contributing heavily to those 11 losses.

Overall this game should be a good opportunity for the Eagles to begin to fine tune their offense and correct some of their early miscues in the defensive backfield. While all the attention will be focused on the return of Michael Vick to the playing field, the Bird’s starters need to use this game as a final preparation for the season opener in Carolina as they will get little work in the final preseason game against the Jets.

 

Check out more of Dave's insights at Eagles Lincs.