Weird game. The Eagles came out flat on offense. That group didn’t wake up until Nick Foles replaced Mike Vick. The defense looked great at times, but the penalties and 3rd down snafus were maddening. Had this been a real game, I’d have been breaking stuff near me. As it was, I was going crazy even in a PS game. Just can’t give the offense free 1st downs and 15 yards on many of them.
Once the team did settle down, the Eagles played good football. That is complicated by the fact that the Patriots sat so many key players. The Eagles weren’t facing top competition. At the same time, the Pats had some good players on the field so it isn’t fair to dismiss what the Eagles did as worthless because it was strictly against fringe players. That’s not true either. There were some talented guys out there.
Basically the Eagles showed that they do have big time talent, but also have some issues to work through. A lot of people are all over Juan Castillo for the failure to stop screen passes. I think he was focused on practicing blitz looks. The Eagles blitzed several times on 3rd/long. You can accuse Juan of a lot of things based on last year, but being overly-reliant on the blitz isn’t one of them. If this was a real game, he’d have backed off the blitz and focused on the screens.
Bill Belichick went for 2 after taking a 6-0 lead. Why? A penalty moved the ball to the 1. Kicking a PAT accomplishes nothing. Going for 2 gave him a chance to practice goal line offense. The preseason is a time for experimentation.
The defense showed a lot of progress. Tackling was good. There weren’t communication issues and blown coverages all over the place. Replacing Jarrett with Nate Allen did the starting D a world of good, as I had hoped. Allen isn’t some superstar, but he is at least an effective starter. Last week the Eagles basically played 10 on 11.
3rd downs remain an issue, even when you take screens out of the picture. The Nickel defense must get better. There isn’t one area or person to blame. The group just has to tighten the screws.
Eagles finished the game with 16 total penalties for 131 yards. That is completely unacceptable. Andy Reid has got to be going crazy over this crap. I think the penalties played a big part his sideline argument with Cullen Jenkins. Preseason football is expected to be a bit sloppy, but 16 penalties is bad football. That must change.
* The Vick hit – Evan Mathis said that he was confused by a line call. He thought Jason Kelce was going to help him. Mathis then didn’t get right onto the DT at the snap. The guy got off the ball quickly and was by Mathis before he could do anything. That flushed Vick. The DE on our right side was being blocked by Brent Celek. Todd Herremans was there, but had the inside angle taken away. Celek rode the DE deep, wide. He had no idea Vick had slid to that side. Boom, big hit.
* 5 of 14 on 3rd downs.
* 3 of 5 in the Red Zone.
VICK – Only played a few snaps before he got hurt and left the game. 1 of 3 for 5 yds. One incompletion was a sloppy pass on 3rd down. The other came on the play where he got hurt. Vick had pressure on him, but did have Shady off to the left side. He could have thrown the ball his way and there would have been no grounding call. This issue is becoming too polaristic. “Vick will never learn!” vs “He had no time. What do you want him to do?” It is more nuanced. Vick was put into a very tough position by blocking errors. All QBs have this happen. Most focus on getting rid of the ball because they lack the talent to do anything else. Vick has been a playmaker his whole life. He is struggling with turning off that instinct. He must do it. He needs to embrace the incompletion. No one wants him to go into panic mode and dump the ball on every play. Vick must simply understand that the risk reward of taking big hits and making big plays no longer is needed. This isn’t Va Tech or the 2003 Falcons. This Eagles offense is loaded with playmakers. Don’t be afraid to throw the ball away and move on to the next play. There will be critical games when taking chances is needed. They aren’t played in August. Or September. And usually not in October either.
FOLES – Great game. Literally.
1- Showed physical ability. Threw the ball well. Has an above average arm. Strong. Took a couple of big hits and bounced right up. Ran for 24 yards on a scramble late in the half.
2- Showed QB ability. Throws were accurate. Put good pace on the ball. When touch was needed, it was there. When the pass needed zip, it was there. Passes were catchable. Nick put the ball up high most of the time and allowed his guys to reach in front of them. That led to RAC yards. Receivers didn’t have to adjust to the throws. And he didn’t kill any worms. Put the ball low once for DeSean, but that was to keep him from getting hit. Read his progressions. Found the open guy. Kept plays alive with his feet when needed. Handled pressure well. Moved when he had to, but never panicked. Good mechanics. Good footwork.
3- Played like a veteran. Ran the huddle like it was his. Timeouts weren’t wasted due to confusion. Made good field decisions. Got out of bounds on his run. Threw to Shady near sideline so he could get out of bounds. Thought ahead of the situation rather than reacting to the moment. Understood the big picture and what his job was.
This all sounds great (and it is), but must be kept in context. Foles wasn’t doing things we’ve never seen a QB do. He just looked like a veteran player despite it being only his second game. That shows that he’s more advanced than previous QBs and is a quick learner. It does not mean that Nick will be a star QB. He does lead the NFL in passer rating. That’ just crazy. In the game, he was 18-28-217 with 2 TDs, 1 INT.
The INT was a mistake. Nick made a poor read and a poor throw. Looked like NE was in Cover 2. Nick tried to hit Maclin way down the field. Play could have been made, but a great throw was needed. Aaron Rodgers might make that throw, but not Nick Foles. Deep Safety picked it off. Pass lacked zip and was thrown too far inside. Needed to be near sideline. Getting behind the CB and away from the FS wasn’t easy. Only a laser would have succeeded.
EDWARDS – Played in the late 3rd, 4th. 6-11-59. Not nearly as impressive as last week. Did okay, but just didn’t look like anything special.
SHADY – Solid showing. Numbers weren’t great, but was elusive and made something of nothing a couple of times. Just getting warmed up for the regular season. Solid job as a pass blocker. Ran for a short TD.
LEWIS – Limited snaps in the 3rd Qtr. 3 carries for 9 yds. Had one impressive run. DE got to him on draw play in backfield. Lewis was able to spin out of the tackle and get some yds. Showed good balance, strength.
B BROWN – Super impressive. 9-51. Long run of 27. Had 3 different plays where he showed his special skills. Long run was a quick hitter up the middle. Used burst, vision, moves to get upfield and almost break that run all the way. Ran draw to the left and showed excellent speed as he got wide of defenders. What impressed me most is that he kept his shoulders square to the LOS. Knows he’s a big back and that he must run N-S, not E-W. The minute he starts going sideways, his size becomes negated. Caught a pass to the left side and used burst to get wide and up the field. 2-16 as pass catcher. Didn’t get to see him block much. Really blown away by how gifted a runner he is. Huge potential. Running numbers would have been better, but he was tackled for a loss a few times. Defenders got to him in the backfield and there was nothing Brown could do. 2 of his carries netted 44 yards. The other 7…7. Would love to see him behind the starting OL and going against starting defenders.
POLK – Good showing. Great effort. Ran his butt off. Didn’t have good blocking, but still converted a 3rd/short run up the middle. Had a good run near the GL. Finished 4-11. Was able to push the pile forward on the short yardage run. Good strength, great effort. Just kept moving his legs. Problem is that he’s just not dynamic or special in any way.
HAVILI – Very good game. Havili made his move last night. He had a good lead block on Shady’s TD run. Didn’t kill the LB, but had to move to get to the right spot and then drew a stalemate. That worked. Havili had a good run up the gut to set up the score. He had a good hit on punt coverage. Had a good block (almost 2) on Boykin’s long KOR. Havili had an impressive chip block on pass play. Knocked DT to the ground. Had another chip blocker where he got the DE good. Finally, someone stepped up and showed that he deserved the job. He’s no lock, but that performance was very impressive and gives him a great chance to be the FB.
IGWENAGU – Had one impressive block on run play. Hit DE in the side and knocked him off the ball. Looked like more of a TE on that, but had lined up at FB. Didn’t play much.
CELEK – Solid. Blocked more than I expected. Caught 1 pass for 13 yds. Helped set up TD. Had a screen pass come to him in the 2nd Qtr. LB hit him just after the ball got there and it came loose. Initially ruled a fumble, then changed to an incompletion.
HARBOR – Very good game. Big part of the gameplan. I think the coaches wanted to test him in a variety of ways. Led the team with 6 catches and 2 TDs. Both scores were short. One was a drag pattern. Caught the pass and stepped in for a TD. Ran the pattern at full speed and was able to get enough separation in a short space that Foles could get him the ball. First TD was real impressive. Flood route to the right side that I hate. Harbor came open at the back of the endzone. Moved quickly to stay open, but slowed enough to he could make the grab. Foles got him the ball at the last possible second and Clay made a smooth grab. Both TDs were smooth catches. Good sign. No thinking. No hesitation. Catching the ball was second nature.
Showed good athletic ability on a short pass where he got some RAC yards. Penalty wiped that out. The other 4 catches were simple plays, but again…Harbor looked smooth on them. Blocking was pretty good. Sent a message to the coaches. You need to find a way to play me.
BRACKETT – Didn’t seem to get much time. Was in on some 2 TE sets in the 2nd half. Was used as a pulling blocker on a play. Hit DE in the side, but the guy was unaffected. I just don’t know that Brett has the strength/technique to be a functional blocker at this point. Didn’t have any passes thrown to him.
FORD – Played in the 4th. Dropped a short pass. Okay as a blocker.
MACLIN – Quiet game. 1-15. Had a couple of passes that he and Foles couldn’t connect on. Both were downfield throws. Mac’s first PS game since August 2010.
D JACKSON – Very good game. I had some questions about what to expect from him. DJax played like the guy from 2008, 2009. Small, but tough. Very competitive. Caught a RZ pass in traffic. Caught a 3rd down pass on a crossing route and turned that into a 1st down. Caught a short pass in traffic. Went up to aggressively catch a downfield pass from Foles. Tackled DB after INT at the end of the half. Looked nothing like the zombie of 2011. I’m actually excited to see what he can do this year after seeing this in a PS game.
AVANT – Foles hit him for a big gain down the seam. Lined up in backfield on GL play and went in motion. Drew up coverage, leaving Harbor open behind him for score. Bit of a pick play, but sold it reasonably well.
MCNUTT – No passes came his way. Blocked well.
D JOHNSON – Took a step back. Fumbled punt in the 1st half. Didn’t panic, though, and was able to recover it. Dropped a 3rd down pass that would have moved the chains. Easy play. Had some room to run. Followed that by making a good catch down the right sideline. Had one other PR, but gained just a yard. Had a pass thrown his way later on. Damaris dove for the ball, but couldn’t make the grab. Didn’t get a good replay, but didn’t seem like a catchable pass to me.
HALL – Typical solid game. 3-26. One catch was impressive grab where Chad had to extend for the ball. Good job as a blocker. Tough guy.
DUNLAP – Good game. Looked solid in pass pro. As Reid said the other day, bends well for a big man. Used his hands. Got knocked off balance a couple of times, but was able to reset. Got called for a false start. Got some help during the game, but was on his own most of the time. Big difference with King is he looks lost on the 2nd level. He gets upfield and plays too upright. Starts reaching and ends up off balance or on the ground. That won’t help on screens, draws.
MATHIS – Up and down game. Had the early mistake on the Vick hit. Struggled a couple of times in pass pro. On Foles deep ball to DeSean, Nick took a big hit. I’m not sure if that was Evan’s fault. Initially he blocked a defender to his inside. A DL did a kind of delayed rush thing. Evan was free when the guy came upfield. Evan just didn’t see him in time. The guy ran right at Foles and hit him hard. Not sure who that’s on. Just never looks good when a blocker is alone and a DL from his area is plowing into the QB. Had some good moments as well. Got out wide after quick pass to Shady and helped give him a cutback lane. Had plenty of pass plays where he anchored well and kept the DT under control. Got out wide on quick pass to Shady and wisely didn’t block anyone. Shady was cutting back and Evan likely would have gotten a blocking in the back penalty. Good awareness. Picked up a blitzer on Foles scramble late in the half. Evan rode him wide, giving Nick room to run.
KELCE – Started very poorly. Tried to pull on early play. Brandon Spikes knocked the crap out of him. That is one bad dude. Kelce got moved back in pass pro a couple of times. Got upfield on a run play and drove his defender over to the sideline. Looked great, but Jason kept blocking out of bounds and drew a flag. Seemed to be taking out his frustrations on the guy. Dumb. Tried to cut block someone and that was ineffective. Finally got things going and he and Mathis worked well together in pass pro.
WATKINS – The gameplan called for King Dunlap to block to his inside a few times on pass plays. Danny would then do a short pull and take on the edge rusher. I’m not a huge fan of this tactic. Very mixed results. Danny had a couple of good blocks. Jake Bequette gave him fits on a couple. Up and down beyond that. There are times when he anchors and does a really good job. There are other plays where athletic moves get the best of him and he’s then holding on for dear life. I do like the fact that he won’t give up when beaten. Smart. Do what you can to protect the QB/RB.
HERREMANS – Up and down. #99 gave him fits on a few plays. Beat Todd inside at least once. Beat him off the edge. Used his hands well. Todd won most of the night, but didn’t control him as much as I expected. Todd made a good initial block on the screen pass to Celek. He shoved the DL to the inside. Todd then was mirroring the LB, but let the guy get wide and then the LB was able to hit Brent. I don’t know Todd’s exact assignment on that play, but it looked as though he would have made a big difference by sliding out a couple of steps wider and staying in front of the LB. Did run his butt off after the INT. Todd was going to do everything in his power to keep the DB from scoring.
D BELL – Very odd. Had a good showing in the 3rd Qtr. Wasn’t great, but did his job and showed progress from last week. Seemed to check out mentally for the 4th Qtr. Had 2 penalties. Had one play where he didn’t know the snap count and was late off the ball. Had some good moments in the 4th, but just too many mistakes. I have no idea what happened. Was encouraging to see him get better early on, but finished on a down note. Weird.
VANDERVELDE – Played LG only. Looked solid. Good in pass pro. At C last week, he was awkward. Seems very natural at LG. Plays hard and with confidence.
VALLOS – Backup C. I was happy to see him get the chance. Wasn’t great, but just looks the part. Has the athleticism that Mudd wants in a C. Seemed a bit nervous at first, but settled down. Solid showing. I hope he plays a lot in the next 2 weeks. Think he’s our best shot at backup C. Needs the reps so we can see what kind of progress he makes.
REYNOLDS – Played RG. Solid game, but hasn’t stood out. Hasn’t earned a roster spot.
KELLY – Backup RT. Up and down game. Got beat to the inside a couple of times. Has to work on that. Did have some plays where you could see his potential. Had to reach block a DT on run play. This means the OT slides to his inside and must move quick enough to cut off the defender that’s inside of him. Must also be strong enough to not get run over. Kelly did this and sealed a DT, allowing a RB to get free up the middle for a nice gain. Had another play where he went upfield on a draw. Looked very natural at getting up to the 2nd level. Wasn’t able to get the LB on the play, but the movement skills will make Mudd happy. Can’t coach those. Players have ’em or they don’t. Lots of potential. Just need reps, coaching. Has some pass pro moments when he looks very good. Others…he looks like a rookie.
* NE was 7 of 17 on 3rd downs.
* 1 of 2 in the Red Zone.
COLE – Still in PS mode. Had a few good plays, but nothing special.
LANDRI – Wasn’t credited with a TFL, but blew up a run play in the backfield. Got pressure on a pass play by splitting a double team. Good as usual.
JENKINS – Played DE and DT. Questionable effort early seemed to be the cause of a shouting match between CuJo and Reid. Picked up the pace after that. Still in PS mode.
TAPP – Had 2 dumb penalties. Hit Patriot from behind as the guy was shoving an Eagles while climbing off the pile. Didn’t deserve a flag, but got one. Can’t make mistakes like that. Later hit a QB late and drew another flag. Darryl gave NE 30 free yards. Recovered fumble after Hunt’s sack. Good effort, as always.
GRAHAM – Good game. Called for offside on one play. Got pressure a few times. Once was a blitz where he was more up the middle. Just missed a sack on that play. Used a good rip move a couple of times. Got some pressure on the pass play where Thornton got his sack. Graham helped to get the QB to move up in the pocket. DEs/DTs helping each other. Set the edge nicely on a run play. Might be our 2nd strongest DE to Cole. Physical player. There is value in that with speedsters like Babin and Hunt in the mix. Graham doesn’t have their explosion, but he can handle blockers better than them. Good bull rush. Doesn’t need to stay clean to get pressure.
DIXON – Still not impressing me. I need one of 2 things. Give me penetration and pressure. Or, be stout and dominant vs the run. I just don’t see either. Dixon tries hard. He just lacks burst off the ball. Looks lost in the Washburn system.
COX – Showing real growth. Used his hands well in this game. Fletch is starting to understand how Wash wants him to play. Got good penetration on a pass play, but then stupidly hit the QB late and wiped out an INT. Can’t have mistakes like that. Made a good stop vs the run. Shed his block and just grabbed the RB as he tried to get through the LOS.
HUNT – Outstanding game. Credited with 4 tackles. Had sack, FF. Used a great burst and stayed low to get under/by the RT and knock the ball from the QB. Got pressure on other plays. There was one when he fired into the OT and then went by him. Showed good strength. Disruptive player. Used his speed to make plays in the run game. Hustled all over the field. One weakness is his lack of bulk. Might be 255, but has a light build. Got chip blocked and went flying. Struggled on run play when blocker cleanly got on him. You just have to accept those moments. Looked like he lined up at DT for one pass play in the 2nd half. Nickel set.
THORNTON – Another really good showing. Credited with 4 tackles. Had a sack and TFL. Split a double team on the sack and then just engulfed the QB, who had to move up due to edge pressure. Good quickness off the ball. Still showing very improved strength and technique from last year. The TFL came on run play when Ced shed the blocker and just grabbed the RB. Impressive stuff.
OGBU – Played in the 2nd half. Had a couple of good moments. Needs to get off blocks better. Did hit the QB on a pass play and really plant him.
TROTTER – Quiet game.
X BROWN – Played LDE late. Good effort, but I’m not sure he has the burst to even be a practice squad candidate. Knows how to rush and goes hard. Just don’t see the burst.
CURRY – Played RDE in the 2nd half. I think we need to cut him since he didn’t dominate. Joking, of course. Vinny was in on 5 tackles. Got some pressure off the edge. Didn’t make big plays like last week, but there is no question that he is very talented and is only a 3rd stringer because of the great depth ahead of him.
KENDRICKS – Great game. Credited with 6 tackles, 1 TFL. Showed great speed. Tackled well. Active game. Read early screen pass well and was able to make the stop for short gain. He had to fight through an OL to make the tackle. Best part is that Kendricks read the play and then crossed the face of the blocker to get wide. He was either going to make the stop or force the RB to the middle, where the pursuit was. Did this exact same thing later, but the RB dropped the ball. That was going to be a TFL. Blew up a run play to his side by attacking the FB on an isolation play. RB had nowhere to go. Beautiful to see. Blitzed a few times. Created a sack for someone else with good pressure off the edge. Did a solid job vs inside runs. Occasionally was out of position on plays, but generally was where he needed to be. Good in coverage, most of the night. Gave up a TD to a Pats backup TE. Poor technique. Kendricks sat flat and let the TE come to him, then push off and get free. Mike Caldwell will work on this. Kendricks will learn to chuck the TE and disrupt the route, not take the blow. There was a pass completion behind him in the 2nd half. We were in Cover 2. Looked like he might not have gotten proper depth, leaving the intermediate zone too open.
RYANS – Good game. Does a good job of shedding blocks with his hands. Aggressively engages blockers and is able to get free. Credited with 5 tackles. Good job on inside runs. Got to the right spot and either made the play or helped to clog running lanes. Active game in coverage. Helped break up short pass to his guy. Tackled a WR after short gain on drag route. Not making highlight plays, but we don’t need them from Ryans. Just being a solid MLB and good leader is what we need. Shows excellent awareness. So different from Chaney in that regard.
ROLLE – Okay game. Didn’t play a ton since NE had us in the Nickel a lot. Credited with 1 tackle. Helped stuff isolation run play by taking on the FB in the hole. Looked okay in coverage. Still gets excited at times and will over-pursue.
JORDAN – Good game. Played as #2 SAM and in the #2 Nickel. Good in coverage. Good vs run. Blitzed off the edge and batted a pass back at the QB. Wasn’t officially credited with a tackle, but was around the ball several times. Chaney’s injury has allowed Jordan to play his way into the #4 LB spot. Looks good.
CLAYTON – Typical. Invisible vs the run. Had one big hit, when receiver on short route dropped a pass Clayton came over and hit him from behind. Much better player in space and on the run.
RAU – #2 MLB with Casey out. We didn’t play with backup LBs very much. Lots of Nickel. Didn’t really get a feel for him. Good effort, but no idea about his football skills.
SIMMONS – Just played a little. Didn’t stand out.
MOTEN – See above. Credited with a couple of tackles.
ALLEN – Good game. Just what the doctor ordered. Led the team with 7 tackles. Played deep and in the box. Helped break up deep pass. Came up quickly vs run on play near the GL. Flew up and stuffed RB for minimal gain. Tackled well.
COLEMAN – Quiet game, which is fine by me. 4 tackles. Did his job.
JARRETT – Good game. Seriously. Played deep Safety in 3rd/4th Qtrs. Almost picked off a pass that Brandon Hughes broke up along the sideline. JairJar was in the right spot to be able to almost make the play. Read it well and took a good angle to the receiver. Came up aggressively vs the run on one play. Got in a good shot to stop a run play. Covered well on some short routes in the flat. Looked comfortable and confident. JaiJar isn’t suddenly some great player, but he showed a lot of heart in putting the Steelers debacle aside and bouncing back in a big way.
NELSON – Good and bad. Played well. In the box a lot and was quick to get in the scrum in run support. Not afraid in the least when it comes to getting in traffic and playing the run. Only credited with 1 tackle, but was in on several group stops. The bad news is that he suffered a high ankle sprain and that will all but kill his chances to make the team. That injury can take 6 to 8 weeks to heal from.
THOMAS – Didn’t play much, but had one impressive play. Lined up in the box and fired off the edge, stuffing a RB for a loss. Got help from a DT on that. I like what I’m seeing from him. Hope the Eagles play him a lot in the final 2 games.
NNAMDI – Good game. Had 3 tackles, including TFL on screen pass. Went around blocker and blew up WR for short loss. Aggressive, physical in the game. Tackled well. Actually made one stop in the box vs a run play. Did get called for holding penalty when he got tangled up with a WR on pass play.
DRC – Didn’t play too much before hurting his shoulder. Broke up one pass. Picked off another, but penalty on DL wiped it out. Looked very good. Got burned on crossing route by Branch. DRC played off and the smaller, quicker guys give him fits.
HANSON – Gave up one completion to slot guy that I recall. Made the tackle. Played a decent amount, but didn’t stand out, good or bad.
BOYKIN – Played some with the 1’s. Good showing. Didn’t see passes come his way, but he looks more comfortable, polished each week.
MARSH – Took over for DRC. Good game. Broke up 2 passes. Showed that he could press or play off. Was also able to play bump ‘n run or to just press, then turn and run with receivers. Got burned for completion on 3rd/long.
HUGHES – Gave up one completion, but had tight coverage on that play. Broke up pass down the sideline. Credited with 1 tackle. Hasn’t stood out, but has played pretty well.
C. HARRIS – Gamebook says he played. I didn’t see him.
LINDLEY – Played some late in the game.
HENRY – Only averaged 36 yds per punt, but both were downed inside the 20.
MCBRIAR – Averaged 49.8 per punt. Had 1 touchback and 1 downed inside the 20. Long punt was 56 yards. Coaches love his leg. Can he stay healthy?
HENERY – 2 of 3 on FGs. Only miss was from 55. Sloppy execution by team led to poor kick. Got a penalty on Mike Gibson for him being late on the field.
* Boykin helped create a fumble. PR had the ball hit him and before he could get control, Boykin hit him. Ball hit the ground and the Eagles recovered. Boykin was a gunner on punts and looked good. Was actually blocked in the back on that play, but got no flag.
* Boykin was good on KORs as well. Went 30, 25. Made good decisions.
* Damaris Johnson dropped a punt, but recovered it. Didn’t have any luck with returns.
* Phillip Hunt did some good things on STs.
* Havili blocked well on KORs. Also made tackle on punt. Really good hit.
* Bryce Brown got in on a tackle on KOR. That could help his case to not just make the team, but actually play on Sundays.
* Mardy Gilyard got a couple of PR reps. Long was 4. Doesn’t sound like much, but was the longest of the game for either team.