The NFL recently released the 2015 four-game preseason schedule. While most fans may not pay all that much attention to these exhibition matches, they could be extremely important this year for an Eagles' team that will have to gel quickly on both sides of the ball given all the new faces that have been added through blockbuster trades, free-agent signings and the upcoming college draft. The one constant under third-year head coach Chip Kelly is change.
The Birds will open-up play in Week 1 at home against Indianapolis, which is favored by many to win the AFC this season. This could be a good early test for a rebuilt defensive secondary against one of the best passing teams in the league. Most draft experts still expect Kelly to use the 20th overall pick in this year's NFL Draft on either a cornerback or safety and, if that is the case, the spotlight will shine heavy on whomever that player may be.
Week 2 brings Baltimore to Lincoln Financial Field in what has become a fairly annual preseason matchup between these two inter-conference teams. This game should present a solid test for Sam Bradford; assuming he will still be the Eagles' starting quarterback come this August. I never bought into the conspiracy theory that Kelly traded for Bradford only to use him as a trading pawn to move up the board to get a shot at former Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota in the draft. In light of an injury-plagued career, people tend to forget that Bradford was the first overall pick of the 2010 draft.
The Eagles will head on the road to face Green Bay for that all-important third preseason game, which is often used as one final dress rehearsal before the start of the regular season. Given the fact that the Packers are one of the top two favorites to win the NFC in 2015, this game should provide an excellent gauge of how well all of Kelly's new acquisitions actually fit together to form what every Eagles' fan is hoping will be a championship-caliber team.
The final exhibition game pits the Birds on the road against the New York Jets, in what has become another annual preseason tradition. This will be Kelly's final chance to evaluate the players that will fill those last few roster spots. There could be some key battles still raging in the defensive secondary or with the Birds' suddenly crowded receiving corps on offense. The truth of the matter is that this final game is for the type of fans that have nothing better to do on a late-summer Thursday or Friday night.