Aug 27, 2010, 4:43 PM EDT
Here we are: the final meaningful preseason game. Ordinarily we don't associate much or any significance at all to exhibition games, but in the case of these Eagles, tonight's contest isn't entirely lacking consequence. The regular season is little more than two weeks away, and we're still waiting for the offense to finish a drive.
The good news is the Chiefs just happen to be the club Kevin Kolb cut up in his lone victory last season, a 34-14 drubbing that was never in question. Kolb was 24 of 34 for 327 yards and two touchdowns, and added another score on the ground, while DeSean Jackson and Brent Celek each eclipsed 100 yards and reached the end zone. There aren't a ton of changes on Kansas City's defense between this year and last—or the Eagles' offense for that matter—so it would be a fine night for an encore, don't you think?
The offensive line remains in flux, but Todd Herremans will see his first action tonight, solidifying the left side. His backup, Max Jean-Gilles, may not be out of the lineup entirely however. He's been splitting snaps with the thoroughly unimpressive Stacy Andrews at right guard, and it will be interesting to see whether that continues on gameday. Mike McGlynn will get his third start at center, although Jamaal Jackson is still targeting a return on opening day.
All of which is very relevant for LeSean McCoy, who also had an excellent day against the Chiefs. Shady rung up 84 yards and six points on 20 carries in one of the most impressive outings of his rookie campaign. There wasn't much room to run in Cincinnati last week and he struggled, so it's especially important the O-line assert themselves and make a better showing against a weaker defensive front.
While the Chiefs are more of the same on defense, their offense stands to make some leaps over one year ago. For one, the Birds' front seven will be tested by another brutal power rushing attack. Saying Jamaal Charles came on strong down the stretch last season would qualify for understatement of the preseason. Charles racked up 100 yards in each of the final four games, including a 259-yard performance in Week 17. He can also test the linebackers' range as a receiver out of the backfield, and is a threat to go the distance every time he touches the ball.
I'm not a big proponent of Matt Cassel, formerly Tom Brady's understudy in New England. It seemed at the time anybody could toss passes to Randy Moss and Wes Welker, and the multi-million dollar reward from the Chiefs seemed hasty and unreasonable. That said, if the running game puts him in manageable down and distances, he and big wideouts Dwayne Bowe and Chris Chambers can pick on secondaries. If the Eagles shut down the rushing attack though, they'll gain the advantage.
As noted, Brandon Graham is making his first start tonight. He'll be matched up on right tackle Ryan O'Callaghan, who Football Outsiders marked for seven sacks in 12 games last season.
The Chiefs are in a position to improve upon their dismal four-win season, so the Eagles can't make the mistake of taking them lightly, even if it is only a preseason game. The offense hasn't exactly played poorly, but Kolb needs to capitalize on his familiarity with tonight's opponent, get the rock across the goal line, and give everybody some much needed confidence as we approach September 12.
Photo by Chris McGrath / Getty Images
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