Good morning. Game day is one day away. The Eagles will go through their final preparations today for the season opener against the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday. Make sure to check out the special Eagles preview section available today in The Inquirer and Daily News..
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— Zach Berman
Nick Foles can play at a Super Bowl MVP level. He can also look as he did this preseason. That variance has been discussed often with Foles. There's not much of a middle ground. He has 18 career starts with a quarterback rating greater than 100 and 16 starts with a quarterback rating worse than 80, with only eight starts between. The Eagles need the good Foles on Thursday.
"I think there's plenty of games that there are middle ground that I played," Foles said when asked about the variance. "But now my middle ground is if I throw one touchdown and no interceptions, it's a bad game. And I've set that bar high. And I know that. Because I expect that out of myself. What is a middle-ground game? We're going to be analyzed as players, but I know as a player, you can be hard on yourself, but you have to learn from your mistakes, and for me, I know by the week of preparation and you have a great mindset as a player going into the game, but you really never until you get into a game because the bullets are flying, things are going on, the defense is giving you different looks. There's adversity, and that's what I love about the game is the team handles the adversity is usually the team they wins."
Foles' game against Atlanta in the playoffs was one of the starts with a quarterback rating over 100. He went 23 of 30 for 246 yards and did not turn the ball over. The Eagles can use that type of performance. They can even win on Thursday with one of those "middle ground" games. It will be hard for them to win with one of those sub-80 quarterback rating games, because those usually include too many turnovers and incompletions.
Foles said the key for him is establishing a rhythm. When he does it early, watch out. He had that rhythm in the postseason. He needs it again on Thursday.
Don't disregard the Markus Wheaton signing on Tuesday. The Eagles brought back the veteran wide receiver after Mack Hollins suffered what Doug Pederson called a "minor setback" with a groin injury. (Hollins and Alshon Jeffery are out on Tuesday.) The Eagles could have promoted a young wide receiver from practice squad (Greg Ward and Rashard Davis, for example), but they wanted Wheaton. That says something. Plus, his salary is guaranteed now that he's on the roster Week 1. Money often talks in the NFL, and the Eagles' willingness to do that signals Wheaton wasn't just signed to be a roster filler this week.
Wheaton, 27, has 22 career starts. His best season came in 2015 with Pittsburgh when he finished with 44 catches for 749 yards and five touchdowns. Although he was hurt for part of the preseason, Wheaton knows the offense after spending the offseason with the team. He could get some playing time on Thursday.
The Eagles voted on their season-long captains this week: quarterback Carson Wentz, center Jason Kelce, defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, safety Malcolm Jenkins, and linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill. There will be a sixth captain designated each game day.
The captains were voted on by their teammates in a Saturday meeting. It's the second consecutive year that the Eagles have season-long captains with the "C" on their jerseys. Wentz and Jenkins were both captains last season. Cox is a new captain on defense, Kelce is a new captain on offense, and Grugier-Hill is in his first year as the special teams captain.
Brandon Graham, Jason Peters, and Chris Maragos were captains last season.
Here's some of the content from our Eagles preview available in today's Inquirer and Daily News.
…And look for more available on Philly.com throughout the day.
Good question, Parker. I'll go with Dallas Goedert. I expect him to have a big role in Thursday's game with the Eagles playing two-tight end formations. The size of the Eagles' tight ends can help against Atlanta's speed. They also need to be a factor with the Eagles undermanned at wide receiver. He's a big target and showed strong pass-catching ability throughout the summer. Goedert finished with nine catches for 149 yards and one touchdown during the preseason.