It’s more than just a party now because of season-indicating trends and omens to observe in the first half…and because rookie and free agent jobs are on the line in the second half. Moreover, Bill Belichick has just made it interesting by allegedly pulling some of his big-name starters (like Tom Brady) out of the game. This is yet another bold example of Belichick’s devilish gamesmanship.
The game starts at 8:00 PM EST and is being broadcast live on ESPN-TV.
But we can still have fun as our Livefyre commentators bring you the action live…
View from the Gillette Stadium pressbox earlier this afternoon…
As I mentioned, I’ll be watching and listening for any improved rhythm or tempo in Marty Mornhinweg’s first-half game plan. Sorry that my reference to Andy and Marty as Laurel & Hardy kinda bombed… I actually consider Laurel & Hardy one of the finest “playmaking teams” in the history of showbiz…and terrific experts in their chosen craft. Andy and Marty can be all that, too… Separate the characters Laurel & Hardy played from the calculated plays they called and made to create their movies, and maybe you get my drift…or not.
Here’s what Dan Graziano of ESPN.com is keying on tonight:
“Most closely: Michael Vick‘s performance. Eagles coach Andy Reid has said he plans to play his starters longer tonight than he does in next week’s preseason game against the Browns, since the Eagles open in Cleveland 16 days later and he doesn’t want to give the Browns any more help than he has to. That means this will likely be the longest look we get at the Eagles’ starters this preseason. And that means a chance for Vick to show us the fruits of all of the hard offseason work he and the Eagles say he’s been doing. The Eagles’ party line is that this is the first real offseason Vick has had as the starting quarterback since 2006 in Atlanta, and as a result he’s worked harder and better on refining his game. Vick says he’s watched more film than ever before in his career, and that he’s determined to fix the mistakes that led to all of his turnover problems early in 2011. What Eagles fans should want to see from Vick is improved decision-making — not just with regard to his personal safety, but also in terms of knowing when to give up on a play for the sake of valuing the ball. I’m interested to see whether the offseason classroom work has made him a more proficient reader of the field and the defense, and how it works with him and center Jason Kelce in terms of changing the protection calls at the line. Vick is under the most pressure of any player in the NFL to perform this year, and while it doesn’t matter what he does until Sept. 9 in Cleveland, it’d be encouraging for Eagles fans if they could come out of tonight’s game convinced something about their quarterback looks different.”
“On the other side of the ball: Tackling, especially at the second level. I’m willing to believe that the defensive line will be the strength of the team once everyone’s healthy, and I’m eager to watch Brandon Graham again after last week. But the Eagles’ preseason opener featured some communication and tackling issues in the linebacker corps and in the secondary that were reminiscent of last season. And while I fervently believe that on-field preseason performance is a poor predictor of regular-season results, it can make fans (and, I assume, coaches) uneasy when a preseason problem reflects a prior-season problem you believed your team had solved. The same way a sharp Vick performance could help Eagles fans’ optimism for the season, a sharp performance by the linebackers and the cornerbacks could help everyone feel better about the defense.”
Okay… time for the Livefyre audience to take this thing over… Raise a glass of something!!
and what does that Belichick guy have up his sleeve tonight?