More Sports:

August 10, 2021

Will first preseason game answer any of our questions about the 2021 Eagles?

Eagles NFL
Eagles_defense_Eric_Wilson_Eagles_Camp_Frese.jpg Kate Frese/for PhillyVoice

Eric Wilson (50) and his Philadelphia Eagles teammates warm up at training camp.

The Eagles practiced — in front of the media at least — for the last time before they'll suit up against the Steelers for their first preseason game in two years later this week.

It was an OK practice, as you can read from Jimmy Kempski's recap of the action Tuesday, but after three weeks of training camp there are still a ton of unanswered questions about this football team.

And we aren't even talking about how good they may or may not be — or even whether Jalen Hurts will be good as the starting quarterback. We mean, what the heck will the offense and defense even look like?

With a new coaching staff and new regime, no one really knows what to expect Thursday night. And no one really knows how much Thursday will help inform Eagles fans on what they'll be seeing from their team when the season opens in just about a month from now in Atlanta.

Here's a few things we do (or know that we won't) know in Preseason Game 1.

QB rotation

Head coach Nick Sirianni told media members that Jalen Hurts will start at QB with the starters, and that Joe Flacco and Nick Mullens will follow.

Sirianni wouldn't commit to a number of series or quarters for the starters.

Who else is gonna play?

We don't really know. There was a depth chart released Tuesday that gives us some sense of who'll be playing with the starters, as does the reps we have seen the players receive in practices, but that doesn't really mean, for instance, that Zach Ertz will be the starting tight end, or that Jordan Mailata will be the starting left tackle.

Luckily, there is a lot of time left for those decisions to be made before the games actually matter. The preseason is often used just as much for fact-finding as for preparing.

"What I do know is we have the joint practices too," Sirianni said, referencing the Patriots who'll be in town next week. "To me count like pre-season games as well, you know, against the Patriots and Jets. So, we have a lot of time to still think about that. I have a plan in place, but I just don't want to disappoint you if I don't follow through with what I'm saying."

With three instead of four games this preseason, it'll be interesting to see if the second or the third game is the one that sees the starters play the most.

How will play-calling work?

Doug Peterson assumed play-calling duties during his entire time in Philly. Who will take over under the new coaching regime?

"I am," Sirianni said. "I will be the play-caller, and then Shane [Steichen] will be the one talking to the quarterback. So I'll say a number to Shane and Shane will say the number to Jalen [Hurts] if it's a wristband play, or I'll say the number to Shane and he'll read it to Jalen."

Sirianni went on to say he has a little experience calling the shots, as he was allowed to do a little play-calling during preseason games with his previous two NFL assistant coaching stints.

What's their scheme going to be?

A new coaching staff means a completely new scheme will be implemented on both sides of the ball. Will they run a lot of screens? Will they be run-heavy to compliment Hurts' strengths? Will they use 12-personnel a lot like they did under Pederson? We have no idea. And Thursday probably won't tell us much, as Sirianni won't want to show his hand to other NFL defenses.

What we do know, is that Hurts will assume his fourth different offense in the last four seasons, after jumping around a bit in college as well.

"A lot of changes all the time," he said Tuesday, "It is something that isn't easy. It's something you have to overcome and find comfort in. I think everyone around here knows I have been able to adapt to a bunch of different situations." 

The players are excited

The first time players will hit, at full speed, will be Thursday. They are ready to go, particularly after last season contained zero preseason contests due to COVID issues.

"I missed it a little bit because it gets you going. It gives you that competitive edge," Darius Slay said. "That feel for the game... this year is a lot different. I am looking forward to getting a couple series, a couple reps. I'll be needing it."

Follow Evan on Twitter: @evan_macy

Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports