There is no use in me writing too much about the game from an overall perspective. It was the preseason opener and you don’t want to make too much of anything that happened, good or bad.
It was obvious the Pats are a talented, veteran team. I know they’re missing Gronk and Hernandez, but Tom Brady more than makes up for that. We saw with the Colts in 2009 that a HOF level QB can win with lesser weapons. I think spending time with the Patriots served as a good lesson. It helped our guys to see what the Eagles need to be.
The Eagles could have opened with some lesser team and won the game. That might have been more fun to watch, but it wouldn’t have helped the Eagles understand the big picture – where they are and where they need to get. This team spent the last couple of years telling everyone how great they were. I hope the guys now have a better sense of how far away they are from truly getting to that point.
Talent isn’t enough. You must practice at a high level. This has to happen on a daily basis, just not from time to time. You must then take it up a notch from there in games. You aren’t as good as your highlights. You’re as good as what you show on a daily basis.
Kelly showed some glimpses of what he wants to do. You saw different formations. You saw some option. QBs threw on the move. There were WR screens. And on and on.
Tempo shifted. Things always moved briskly, but they really went fast a few times. Kelly said he wanted to try to do different things. He wanted to see how different tempos worked. Game conditions always make a difference.
The team threw more than they ran. I think this was partially due to trailing so much, but also Kelly wanted to see the QBs and receivers, as well as pass protection.
I’m not going to get into a lengthy QB discussion here. You can read all my notes. I’ll put up a separate post with my updated QB thoughts.
VICK - Excellent start. First pass was a strike to Avant over the middle for 22 yds. Vick had a clean pocket and he sat still and read his progressions. He found the open guy and got him the ball. Vick put the ball into a somewhat tight window. Good throw. Accurate. Proper velocity. Threw a beautiful TD to DJax. Vick saw DeSean going against a CB with no S over on that side of the field. Vick sat in the pocket and then fired a strike, which hit Jackson in stride for the TD. Had another impressive play on the next series. Faked a hand-off and rolled to his right. That is not something Vick does very well. Had at least 2 options. Wisely chose to throw the ball to a wide open Riley Cooper. Got 19 yds on the play. Threw for Avant on 2nd/11, but the ball was low and incomplete. Vick got the ball out quickly and he kept the ball down. Checked the ball down to Celek on 3rd/11. Got some pressure from the RDE and moved out wide, then got rid of the ball.
FOLES - Good game. Didn’t start so well. Got strip-sacked on his first pass play. Barbre and Herremans both missed blocks. Foles couldn’t escape the pressure and had the ball knocked out just as he was trying to throw it away. Next pass went to Celek in the flat. Didn’t get much velocity on the ball. Celek caught it, then dropped it. Ugly play. Good job on next play. 3rd/5. Looked left (Avant maybe) and had nothing. Came back to the right and threw around a rusher to get the ball to Brown in the flat. He was able to grab it and get upfield for the 1st down. Faked hand-off as RB went to the right. Foles rolled left and found Avant wide open for an easy 1st down. Very next snap was play-action. Hit Brown as he was wide open after the fake. Brown the raced wide and got up the field for 10 yds. Read a Pats blitz and then decided to take off and run. Got 11 yds. On Twitter I referred to him as Nick Kaepernick. Missed Cooper with pass over the middle. DB was about to get there anyway. Best throw of the night came on 3rd down to Avant. Hit Jason in the flat. Ball was accurate and had good velocity. Allowed Avant to turn upfield and get the 1st down.
BARKLEY - Up and down showing. Came in at about 5:40 of the 2nd Qtr. First play is a deep ball to Shepard. Good read. Only a so-so throw, though. Shepard wasn’t able to make the grab. Threw the ball behind Ertz on 3rd down and the defender was able to strip it away. Ran the read-option, kept the ball and got 8 yds. First completion came to Shepard on short crossing route. Hit Damaris in the left flat with a short pass to move the chains. That came against a blitz where Matt had some pressure to deal with. Executed a play-action pass to Ertz well. Had a defender in his face, but made a good throw. Play only gained a yard, but that’s because it was defended well. Showed the ability to escape pressure in the pocket. Ertz let a LB get into the backfield quickly. Matt got out of the guy’s grasp and then stepped up and threw the ball downfield and out of bounds. Didn’t panic. Tried to hit Jones on a wheel route. Jones stayed to the inside of the DB. Usually guys running the wheel route get as wide as possible. Barkley threw to the sideline, but Jones was inside of that. My guess is that Jones cut the route off and turned upfield quicker than Barkley expected. Just a guess. Had an interesting throw to Ertz late in the half. Fired the ball from the far hash to outside the numbers on the other side of the field. That’s a long way. The ball got there and was caught, but it was a bit of a duck. Had a chance to hit Shepard for a big gain down the sideline. Defenders were close so it needed a great throw. Made a pretty good one, but wasn’t good enough. Gotta hit those plays when you have the chance.
2nd half. Had Casey open on a corner route to start the half. The pass was off-target by about a yard and incomplete. Gotta make that throw. Did have some pressure in his face. On the next pass, Kopa’s LB got into the backfield and Barkley had no one open so he ran. Got less than a yard, but avoided the sack. Made a good throw to Casey in the right flat. Accurate. Tight spiral. That moved the chains. Rolled to his right on a play-action pass and fired a ball over the middle. Impressive throw. Bad decision. Shepard was in the middle of a couple of Pats and the ball was deflected. I can only guess Matt didn’t see one of the defenders. Highlight of the game had to be Matt’s 3rd/20 pass to Harbor down the middle for a gain of 22. Excellent throw. Stood tall in the pocket and found the right guy. Tried to hit Momah up high, but DB broke up the play. I like the fact that Barkley put the ball high so Momah could use his size. Made one horrible decision. Blitzer came free off the left side. Barkley saw him and tried to get the ball out to the right. Should have thrown it away, but forced it to Momah. Almost picked off. Happened on 3rd down so easy to see why Matt wanted to give someone a chance to make a play, but better to punt there than force it. Made a good, quick throw to Salas over the middle. WCO 101. Matt hit Harbor over the deep middle for 20 yards to end the 3rd Qtr. Another good throw. Wasn’t his first read. Matt looked right, then came back to the middle and found Harbor. Smart. Good vision. Patient, but not slow. Next play was a short pass where Matt rolled to his left and was able to hit Nick Miller for 8 yds. Looked good throwing on the move. Opened the 4th Qtr with a TD to Salas. Hit him on a WR screen and Salas did the rest. Barkley got the ball out quickly and threw a perfect spiral right to him. That let Salas make an easy catch and then focus on running.
DIXON - I was disappointed. 7-13-41 as a passer. Had sloppy protection and no real weapons to work with, but his passing wasn’t good. Simple as that. Dixon has been in the league for a few years and he’s talented. He looked good on the run (4-19), but didn’t do a good job with the passing attack.
KINNE - Didn’t play until late in the game. Went 2-2-60. Hit Nick Miller on one throw and then hit Salas for 35 yards that got the team down near the GL. Left me wanting to see more. Honestly, I’d sit Dixon this week and give Kinne the whole 4th Qtr to show what he can do. Might not be good, but would be nice to know for sure.
B BROWN - Very good showing. 5-22-1 as a runner. Just as important, 2-19 as a receiver. I think Polk starting might have gotten Brown’s attention. Came into the game with Foles in the late 1st Qtr. First run came from spread set with only 5 defenders in the box. Got upfield for 6 yds. Caught pass from Foles on 3rd down. Got it near the sideline, but was able to turn upfield and get the 1st down. Caught pass on the next play. Was a play fake where Brown came through the LOS and then turned back. Easy pass. Got the ball and flew out wide. Was able to then get up the field for a gain of 10. Showed his speed on that. Went out for pass on play where blitzer forced Foles to run. Not sure if Brown should have stayed in to block. The Pats didn’t show all-out blitz before the snap. Did a good job of trusting the play. Was willing to run straight up the field or to go wide. Ran for 8-yd TD right up the middle. Eagles were in spread set and there were only 5 defenders clearly in the box. Running vs that look should be easy. Brown hit the hole hard and took a couple of shots, but got into the endzone easily for a TD.
POLK - Got the start. Ran upfield for a few yards. Ran wide a couple of plays later for 4 yds. Made a terrific block of Jerrod Mayo on Vick’s long TD pass. The LB blitzed up the middle and Polk stepped up and engaged him aggressively. That kept Vick clean and gave him time to get the ball downfield. Finished 4-7 on the ground. Polk didn’t have much room to work with, but also didn’t look like the guy we’ve heard about all summer.
F JONES - Not good. At his best, Felix was an explosive runner that was also a gifted receiver. He’s now slow and has erratic hands. Sloppy pass blocker on an early blitz. Had a pass go through his hands late in the half. Jones was willing to run hard between the tackles. Failed to read a blitz on a pass play. Went out for pass and the blitzer almost forced an INT. Veteran should know better. Dropped a pass late in the game.
TUCKER - Came into the game in the late 3rd Qtr. Showed more burst and speed than Jones. Caught 2-pt conversion pass. Easy route. Wide open. Hard part was hanging onto the ball after taking a big hit, but Matt did that. 10-33 on the ground, 1-7 as a receiver (and the 2-pt play). Showed enough speed to get wide on the outside zone running plays that Kelly likes to use. Jones had no chance on them.
CELEK - Lined up in the backfield to start. Used like an H-back on that play. Moved around. Caught short pass in the flat on 3rd/11 and fought his way upfield to gain 6 yds on the play. Caught a pass from Foles and then had it stripped from him. Was very close to a 1st down, but then lost yards. Ugh. Best blocking TE in the game. Used as blocker for run and pass plays.
ERTZ - Very mixed. Like him as a receiver, hate his blocking. Lined up in the right slot to start the game. Missed block of DB, but it didn’t affect the play. Same spot on the next play. Missed block of LB, who crashed in hard and blew up the run play. Must work on his blocking in space. Not a question of effort, but Zach must understand angles. He’s got to get to the point between the DB and the ball. Must get stronger and be more physical as an in-line blocker. Almost made a good catch on 3rd down in the mid-2nd. Went up for the ball and got it. Had to reach back as well and that allowed the defender to get a hand in there and knock the ball loose. Lined up in the backfield and acted as a lead blocker for Jones. Helped put a LB on the ground. Caught play-action pass for a gain of 1. Pats DB read the play well and was there right after Zach made the grab. Had a terrible pass block in the late 2nd Qtr. Let LB get free to the inside and pressure Barkley into incompletion. Zach must block inside-out. Made a tough catch between 2 defenders late in the half. Got popped right as the ball got there, but held on.
CASEY - Didn’t see as much of him as I expected. Not sure if I was just missing him as I focused on the ball. Open on a corner route to start the 2nd half, but the throw was off target. Good in-line block on run play. Caught a short pass in the right flat and then got up the field for about 5 yds to move the chains.
HARBOR - Good game. Highlight was 22-yd catch on 3rd/20. Went down the middle. Barkley made a good throw. Clay caught it and got upfield far enough to move the chains. Good in-line run block on play to his side. Sloppy pass block, but didn’t end up affecting play. Caught short pass in the flat and managed to get upfield enough to move the chains on 3rd down. Ran a terrific route over the deep middle at the end of the 3rd Qtr. Gave Barkley a good target and they connected for 20 yards. Took some shots after the catch, but held on.
IGWENAGU - Got on the field in the 4th. Offered no help on Salas’ TD. Emil was supposed to block and didn’t get anyone. Caught 1 pass. Didn’t stand out as a blocker.
SHAW - Played late. Caught 1 pass for 7 yds. Looked good on that. Need to go back and see if I missed him blocking.
CARRIER - Played late. 1 catch for 1 yd. Another player I need to go back and look for.
D JACKSON - Great TD catch. Used his speed to get by the CB. Tracked the ball well and then extended for it. Made a smooth, clean catch for the score and held on as he went to the ground in the endzone. Didn’t just fly up the field. Started outside and then came back to the inside. Then turned on the jets. Subtle, but important. That gave DJax inside leverage and removed the sideline from the equation.
AVANT - Caught first pass of the year, a 3rd down throw from Vick. Avant was in the slot to the right and went up the field. Extended fully for the ball and then went down in traffic for a gain of 22. Caught short throw from Foles on play-action pass and turned that into a gain of 12. Made a good 3rd down catch from Foles to move the chains on another TD drive. Got the ball in the flat and turned upfield for the 1st down.
COOPER - Went 1-19 in the game. Caught pass on a crossing route. Vick hit him over the middle. Made one tackler miss and got 19 yds on the play. Got open on another crossing route, but Foles was slow and off-target as he tried to get the ball to him.
D JOHNSON - Didn’t post great numbers, but looked good. Caught short pass from Barkley in the flat and turned up the field to get 5 additional yds. That was his only catch of the game. Liked what I saw from Damaris in terms of running routes and getting open.
SHEPARD - Excellent effort to try and catch a pass from Barkley down the sideline. Adjusted to the ball and made a great try, but couldn’t get hold of the ball. Caught it on the bounce and then tried to sell that to the officials. Only caught one pass. Ran crossing route and Barkley hit him over the middle for a gain of 4. Tried a WR screen to him, but the DB read it well and broke up the play. Got open down the sideline late in the half. Got behind the CB. Shepard slowed down and that gave Barkley a better chance to get the ball in there. Shepard went up for the ball, but couldn’t make the grab. I like the fact Shepard saw the ball and adjusted to it. WRs must have good vision, to spot the ball and know where defenders are. They also need good body control so that they can adjust to the ball, defenders and/or the sideline. The stats don’t show much, but Shepard showed NFL skills.
MOMAH - Had a pass come his way in the mid-3rd Qtr. Ball was up high so he extended for it. That exposed his upper body and DB hit that to break up the play. Hopped right up from the hit.
SALAS - Good game. 3-54. First noticed him in the late 3rd Qtr. Caught pass on short route over the middle. Got to his spot quickly, “sat down”, caught the ball and took the hit. Opened the 4th Qtr with a WR screen for a TD. Caught the pass, made 2 guys miss, and then got up the field for the score. Good RAC skills. Salas is comfortable playing in traffic. Crucial for guys who need to work the middle of the field. Made a great catch at the end of the game. Went up and snagged a pass from Kinne with one hand. Really impressive. His feet got tangled up on the way down or he might have scored. Instead, was at the 2-yd line. Gain of 35 on that play.
N MILLER - Caught pass for 8 yds at the end of the 3rd Qtr. Lined up in the slot and ran an out. Good hands catch. Caught a short pass and then caught another pass late in the game. Got that from Kinne along the sideline and turned it into a gain of 25. I must admit that I didn’t think much of Miller when the Eagles signed him, but he’s shown that he has some NFL ability.
MURPHY - Had one catch and one drop.
PETERS - DNP.
BARBRE - Started at LT. Looked more natural as run blocker than pass blocker. Did a solid job on initial 3rd down, but still gave more ground than you would like. Must engage defenders and control them. Doesn’t have great feet, but used his hands well at times. Got beaten on 3rd/11 by RDE using a spin move on him to the inside. Made a poor block attempt on the pass play where Foles had the ball knocked out of his hand. Never got his hands cleanly on the DE.
MATHIS - LG. I didn’t pay a lot of attention to Mathis. Looked like his usual self, a very good LG.
KELCE - C. Good showing. Didn’t get to see him do anything in space that showed off his athleticism. Just solid blocking. Best block came on inside zone in the 2nd Qtr. Got upfield and locked onto LB. Drove him 5 yds back from that point. Impressive. Part of an excellent double team with Mathis to clear a major hole for Brown on his TD.
HERREMANS - RG. Sloppy game. Pulled to the left on a power play. The ILB attacked upfield and caught Todd off-guard. Wasn’t expecting him. Todd missed the block and that resulted in a TFL. Got cleanly beat by DT on pass play. Vick got rid of the ball quickly or he’d have gotten lit up. Todd got beaten in the late 1st Qtr on a pass play. Tommie Kelly used a quick inside move and went right by him. Was all over Foles and helped to create the fumble. Looked good aside from the mistakes, but you hate to see a veteran like Todd make them. Had a good block on Brown’s TD run.
JOHNSON - RT. Excellent down block to seal the DT to start the game. Put LB on the ground on the 2nd play. Strong, physical block. Had a solid block on 3rd down, but let the rusher get to the inside and get a small shot on Vick. Lane needs to clean that up. Keep the QB clean. Lane showed big time potential, but he does need to work on a few things. Sustain blocks until the play is over. You don’t want guys coming free late and getting shots on the QB, even if not big hits. Very encouraging start.
TOBIN - #2 LT. Anchored well in pass pro. Will get up the field as a run blocker. He and Ertz put a LB on the ground. Has a nasty streak. Got a good shot on a DT when he down-blocked on a pass play. Doesn’t have LT feet. Will battle, though. Uses his hands well. I really liked what I saw. Tobin has some physical limits, but he is strong, tough and has some talent. I wonder if he could move to C in the future.
TENNANT - #2 LG. Okay showing. Anchored well in pass pro. Tried to get out wide to make a block on WR screen and couldn’t get there in time. Pulled on power play and had okay block on LB. Did that in the 3rd Qtr as well. Just doesn’t deliver much of a blow to the LB. Pass pro was mostly solid, but he got sloppy late. Gave up a 4th Qtr sack and missed on another pass block.
VANDERVELDE - #2 C. Snaps were inconsistent. They were accurate, but his velocity was erratic. Got driven back into Barkley on pass play. Tried his best to anchor, but got moved back. Showed good awareness on plays where he had no defender to block. Would help out to the left and right. Not a watcher. Stayed active. Got driven back into Barkley’s face on first play of the 2nd half. Couldn’t anchor. Got driven back by DT on run play. Called for holding on that. Had success as pass blocker when he got off the ball and was going forward.
WATKINS - #2 RG. Nothing flashy, but solid. Used his hands well in pass pro. Anchored well. Whiffed on LB on run play in the early 3rd Qtr. Got to 2nd level and the LB side-stepped him. Pulled to his left on a power play and didn’t make a clean block of the LB. Called for holding. Good block of LB on the 2nd level on next run. Managed to get a DT to the ground and then pinned him down on pass play. Looked like big brother picking on his younger sibling. Good block of LB on inside run in the late 3rd Qtr. Stuck with his defender on the Salas TD and that kept the guy from getting a clean shot at Salas. Did make a diving attempt. Played better as the game moved along. Don’t know if he was shaking off the rust or what.
KELLY - DNP
KOPA - #2 RT. Doesn’t have good feet. Big guy that looks the part, but struggles in pass pro. Can’t move his feet well enough to stay with the rusher. Uses his hands well. Does his best to lock on and control the defender. Got beaten a few times.
REYNOLDS – Took over at C in the late 3rd. Handled NT on run play. Next play was pass. Got the NT to the ground. Snaps were too slow. Need to be more crisp. Got movement on NT on inside run. I really liked what I saw. Reynolds didn’t get moved back in pass pro. He did get some push on run plays. Snaps were on target, but need to be faster. I think he’s better than Vandervelde at C and should be the backup. There was one play where Reynolds and Watkins got confused on who had a DL and they both let him go at the same time. He got a shot on the QB.
PURCELL - Finally got to see Nic in action. Up and down showing. You have to understand his last game was in 2011 at the junior college level. Considering that, he did really well. I liked his attitude. Aggressive. Liked mixing it up on run plays. Doesn’t have the feet to really be a LT. Pass blocking needs a lot of work, but the effort is there.
BAMIRO - Another project. Big dude. That size is legit. Needs a lot of work. Went upfield on a couple of run plays and didn’t get within 5 yds of a defender. Dude, go find someone and block him. I’d rather you block the wrong guy than no one. Pass blocking needs lots of work. Got beaten to the inside on a pass play. That’s a major no-no. I was disappointed that Bamiro didn’t have any impressive drive blocks, but it was his first NFL game.
MENKIN - Disappointing. Gave up a sack late when he just whiffed. Looks small. Didn’t stand out as a run blocker. With Houston, he jumped out at you because of how aggressive he was and how hard he played. I didn’t see that at all.
As bad as things looked early on, there is hope. The Patriots came out and overloaded one side. The solution to that is to slide the defense that way and bring over extra help. That didn’t happen. The Pats were able to dominate the point of attack and get their RB up the field. Very simple adjustments can fix this. I don’t know if Bill Davis didn’t want the players making adjustments last night or if the players just did a poor job of it. There was very little pre-snap motion by the defense. They were very vanilla. I could see Davis doing this just so players could get used to the basic scheme in their first real live action.
Once the first play started, things went from bad to worse. Fletcher Cox got manhandled. DeMeco Ryans got out of his gap. Nate Allen missed a tackle. Any of these elements could have made up for the poor alignment and limited the success of the play. Instead it was like a chain reaction of mistakes. “Anything you can do, I can do worse.”
The starters appeared to be in the 3-4 or 4-2-5 Nickel for all their snaps. I think there was some 4-3 Under with the backups (very little though). They definitely played a little 3-3-5 Nickel.
Next week’s game will be critical for really getting a feel for the defense and the players. Coaches now have tape to evaluate. They can fix scheme and player issues. They’ll see which players learn well and which don’t. Next week we’ll get a better idea of which players are slow to adjust to the new defense and which guys simply lack the skills for it.
It seems like Davis maybe wanted to run as much 3-4 as possible, hoping to see just how far away the Eagles are. In order to be the kind of 3-4 team that he and Chip Kelly talk about, you need a NT that eats blocks and LBs that make plays. Sopoaga was okay at NT, but I don’t think NE felt he required double teams. And the only starting LB who played well was Connor Barwin. I really hope we play a 1-gap system or do use the 4-3 Under. Those systems fit our personnel better than the traditional 2-gap 3-4.
We do need Antonio Dixon to get his butt on the field. The backup NTs were very up and down.
It really hurts not to have one difference maker in the secondary. We have players who can be good, but it sure would help if we had one guy who was a Pro Bowl type that offenses had to account for. I was encouraged by Patrick Chung. He’s no star, but can be a good Safety. It was hard to judge the CBs with Brady throwing. Covered guys were open.
The biggest disappointment for me was that Fletcher Cox and DeMeco Ryans, two players I was counting on to be good, both had uneven or flat out bad games. I think Cox can be a Pro Bowl player. He’s just got to get comfortable in the new defense. Ryans seemed a bit too fired up. He made sloppy mistakes, which is not the norm for him. I’m hoping this was just an aberration and the duo will be back to their normal form in the next game.
A note about the sloppy tackling…don’t fall into the trap of thinking this is due to Chip Kelly and the new practice style. Andy Reid did a ton of tackling last summer and the preseason opener was filled with poor run defense and sloppy tackling.
COX - Started at RDE. Not a good showing. Took on double-team on first snap. Got into LT and the TE hit Fletch from the side. Fletch went to the ground and that left a big hole in the defense. Fletch has to know that TE might down block. Must be prepared for that. Got moved off the ball by double-team on 3rd/1. Must anchor better. Almost got a sack on pass play to open the 2nd series. Ced drove Brady his way. Played DT in some Nickel looks. Didn’t get much push up the middle.
SOPOAGA - The coaches did something interesting with him. They had Sope lining up half a yard or so off the ball. That is like the old Flex Defense that Tom Landry ran. Sope got single-blocked mostly. Won those battles, but not in such a decisive way that it affected the outcome of plays. Really clogged the inside on the 3rd play. Got free of his blocker and got in on the stuff of the RB.
THORNTON - Most runs went away from him early on. Had 1st/GL run come at him and got driven off the ball several yards. Got good push on pass play to open the 2nd series and drove Brady back toward Cox. Lined up at RDT in Nickel and got some push up the middle.
CURRY - Very good game. Played with the #2 D. Lined up at LDT in the Nickel and exploded into the backfield in the early 2nd Qtr. Blew up a screen pass and forced an incompletion. Lined up as 3-tech on run play and got penetration. Struggled at DT when the Pats ran at him. Didn’t anchor well. Exploded off the ball and pressured the QB into an incompletion n 3rd down pass in the mid-2nd Qtr. That was from LDT. Used a hard rip move to get free to the inside of the RG. Lined up at LDE and used hard inside move to flush Tebow to LB. Tebow tried to stop and Curry sacked him. Chased down a screen pass to end the 1st half. Great hustle.
GEATHERS - Played LDE in #2 D. Moved to RDT in Nickel. Pad level is an issue, as you might guess with a 6-8 guy. Got some inside push on pass play, but looked awkward. Body got out over his feet, negating some of his power. Also played some NT. Got some penetration on a pass play. Lined up at DT in the Nickel and got some pressure. Unfortunately that came on a screen pass and him getting upfield didn’t hurt the play at all. Did get the QB’s attention.
LOGAN - Played some LDE with the #2 D. Got pressure on some pass plays. Good motor. Chased down a screen pass from behind and made the stop. NT to start the 2nd half. Shed block on opening play and stuffed RB. Had 1/2 sack in the early 3rd. Got free up the field and got to Tebow as McCoy was trying to bring him down. Showed good potential. Moved well.
SQUARE - Played some RDE with the #2 D. Also played some DT and NT. Odd player. Didn’t get much push or show anything special in terms of quickness, but was able to get off blocks and be somewhat disruptive. Helped get a good hit on QB when blitzer came free up the middle and Square had looped wide. Got in on sack of QB late in the half. Again got free by looping wide. Didn’t show physical gifts, but knows how to play. Smart, polished player. Up and down as NT. Can’t anchor. Effective when he’s shooting gaps or on the move. You can see why coaches like him, but definitely has limitations.
REMINGTON - Came in at RDE in the mid-3rd. Tebow ran lots of read-option when Kruger came in. Remington went hard after the RB each time. Not sure if this is what the coaches wanted or just his instincts. Also played some NT.
KING - Played some LDE in the early 3rd. Got sealed to the inside and Blount ran wide on that play. Moved to NT late in the game. Showed some promise. Played with good leverage and uses his arms to get into the C and control him. Problem is that he struggled to anchor vs double teams.
KRUGER - Came into the game in the late 3rd at RDE. Helped blow up one of Tebow’s option plays on his first snap. Read the play and forced Tebow to move back to the middle, which led to a TFL. Also played some LDE. Disrupted a 4th Qtr option play with penetration. Had a chance for TFL, but couldn’t make a clean stop. Needs time to develop.
D WALKER - Played LDE in the late 3rd. Tried an inside angle to pursue Tebow, which is a bad idea, and let him roll outside with no pressure and lots of time to throw. Can’t lose contain like that.
COLE - ROLB. Was moving a bit on early run plays. Sometimes out wide, other times tighter to the formation as the Pats experimented with 2 TE bunch sets. Trent played the run from the outside, but NE ran inside of him. You could tell he’s still getting used to the new spot and all that entails. Lined up at RDE in the GL defense. NE ran at him and was able to get a clean seal and run toward his area. TD. I don’t think Trent was supposed to make that play, but getting sealed like that didn’t help. Dropped into coverage vs slot receiver to open the 2nd series. Did okay initially, but then got lost. Pressure forced throwaway. Tried to jump into the passing lane and swat away a WR screen, but couldn’t get to the ball. Lot of learning left to do.
BARWIN - Starting SAM. Good game. Did a great job on the 3rd play. Took on the block of the TE and read the run play. Saw the ball go inside. Shed his block and helped Sopoaga make the stuff at the LOS. Did a good job vs 1st/GL run that came to his side. Kept contain initially, then got off the block and tackled the RB. Played DE in some Nickel sets. Got some pressure when rushing as OLB. Not enough to move Brady off his spot, though.
GRAHAM - Backup LOLB. Did an excellent job of crashing down the LOS on inside run play. Didn’t make the stop, but helped clog the middle. Beat block of the TE to get good pressure on Mallet in late 1st Qtr. Showed good burst off the edge vs the pass. Did a good job of rushing the passer, overall. Read a bootleg and stayed wide to force the QB to dump the ball off. Looped to the inside on a stunt and knocked the crap out of Mallet. Did an awful job on Blount’s long run. Was unblocked on the backside and had one job – keep contain. As he got closer to the scrum, took a bad angle and gave up contain. That allowed Blount to go backside. Graham turned and chased, but somehow lost sight of Blount and it was almost comical when Graham ran by him as Blount headed up the field. Ugh. Drove the RT back into Tebow’s face on pass play late in the half. Played in a Joker role in 3-3-5 look late in the half and was downfield in coverage. Played well aside from his one huge mistake. And that mistake can’t be blamed on the 3-4. Just bad D by Graham.
HUNT - Backup ROLB. Also played RDE in some Nickel looks. Fast off the edge. Hustled out wide on WR screen and forced a fumble, but the Pats got it back. Dropped into coverage from RDE on a zone blitz and got out to the WR. Was there to make the tackle, but the guy dropped the ball. Bit on run fake to the inside in the early 3rd and the RB went wide, where Hunt had been. That got the Pats down to the 1. Beat the block of the TE in the late 3rd and flushed Tebow out wide.
McCOY - Good game. Played some RDE in the Nickel. Got good push on a 3rd down pass in the mid-2nd Qtr. Got pressure on a few plays as pass rusher from RDE. Looked quicker, more athletic than I expected. Shared sack with Logan on 3rd Qtr play. Was unblocked (sucker play), but McCoy showed pretty good discipline and was there to get to Tebow. Did a solid job in pursuit. Had a sack late in the game. I was impressed by McCoy. He’s got legit potential.
E BROWN - LOLB in the 2nd half. Chased down RB after 15-yd gain on screen. Chased down Blount after 10-yd run. Pursued well on a regular basis. Failed to stand out beyond that.
LONG - Played LOLB starting in the late 3rd. Never really caught my eye. Looked natural in coverage.
KENDRICKS - Not an ideal start. Hit Blount square on early 3rd/1 run, but could not make the stop. This is something Kendricks must work on. Gave up a TD to RB Shane Vereen when he was split out wide. Kendricks had good inside-out position and got his hand up, but the pass was literally perfect. Kendricks did everything he could on that play. Was up and down in terms of taking on blockers.
RYANS - Bad game for the veteran. I think he was too fired up. The main culprit on the first long run. Got out of his gap to chase and the RB cut back to a wide-open gap. Over eager to make the first tackle of the year, most likely. Not a good start. Looked to be out of position a couple of times. Finally made a good tackle on slot receiver on the 2nd series.
CHANEY - Made one good tackle of TE after catch over the middle. Got the same TE down a few plays later. Missed tackle on rookie TE in the early 2nd Qtr and gave up an additional 15 yards. Sloppy. Read a screen pass and tried to get through blockers to the RB, but couldn’t get hold of him. Didn’t look like a veteran with solid athletic ability. Looked like a fringe guy.
MATTHEWS - Pretty good game. Played with #2 D. Helped stuff inside run when Pats were backed up at the 1. Had solid coverage of RB in the flat on 3rd down pass. Ball was dropped, but Casey was there. Would have been a good test to see if he could make a clean tackle out in space. Stuffed inside run in early 2nd Qtr. Had happy feet on the play, but stayed in position until he saw the RB and then attacked him. Had a chance for a TFL in the mid-2nd Qtr, but was caught flat-footed. The RB got around him. Casey did make the tackle, but after giving up 5 yds. That wasn’t a game to get overly excited about, but showed some signs of life. Needs to build on it this week.
ACHO - #3 ILBs. Good game. First play was the long run by Blount. Acho was playside and got upfield. He took on a blocker in the backfield and forced Blount to reverse his direction. Acho then pursued, but missed with a diving tackle attempt. Blitzed the A-gap late in the 1st half and got a big hit on QB Ryan Mallet. That was the hit that knocked him out of the game. Had good coverage of RB in the flat. Tebow pass was off the mark. Limited RB to short gain in the early 3rd Qtr. Play was to other side. Acho slid left and stuffed it. Shed block of TE and tackled Tebow on designed QB run. Gave up about 4 yds. Stuffed RB at the LOS when the guy tried to use a spin move. Totally bit on a read-option play and left his gap to chase the RB. Tebow ran through there for a good gain. Acho blitzed a lot. I assume this was by design.
KNOTT - #3 ILBs. Strong debut. Showed good hustle on Blount’s long run. Got to him at the GL, but couldn’t make the tackle to keep him out of the endzone. Deflected a pass late in the 1st half. Tried to cover TE up the seam late in the half. TE had a step on him, but Tebow made a poor throw. Blitzed late in the half and got in on sack of Tebow. Curry was mainly responsible, but Knott helped. Shot a gap to try and get Blount in the backfield in the early 3rd. Missed him. Tackled RB on inside run in the mid-3rd, but wasn’t clean stop. Got in on TFL in the late 3rd. Moved around a blocker and got into the backfield to help Wolff stuff a RB. Love the result. Not so keen on Jake going around blockers. Bad habit from college. Got TFL in the late 3rd. Kruger blew up the play and Jake was there to put Tebow down for a short loss. Blitzed up the middle on the next play and hit Tebow as he threw. Pass fell incomplete. Opened the 4th Qtr by shooting a gap and tackling the RB for a short gain. Read a screen pass late in the game and got on the RB so the QB had to throw the ball away.
ALLEN - Started. Missed tackle on first play that turned good gain into a 62-yd run. Dove at the runner, but could not hold on. Bad attempt. Wasn’t a lack of effort, but was very sloppy. Did better on the next play and got in on the tackle. Helped to make the stop on 1st/GL run play. Fought blocker to hold his ground. Stayed on the field with the #2 D. That’s not a reward, but it is an interesting move. Were the coaches wanting to see more of him? Are the coaches just that down on the other players? There was mis-communication on a pass play and it looked like Allen should have stuck with a receiver, who got wide open. Could have been someone else’s fault. Just a guess on my part. Nate had him initially and then released him, but the other S was already occupied. Came up and delivered a solid hit on Edelman. Got flagged initially, but they picked it up. Must play better.
CHUNG - Good game. Was versatile, aggressive and active. Came up quickly in run support on the 3rd play of the game. Helped stuff RB at the LOS. Tackled slot receiver after short catch. Came up quickly after throw to WR on the outside. Helped make that stop. Came up quickly vs WR screen and helped to disrupt that play. Played in the slot in the 2nd Qtr. Did a solid job. I didn’t get a feel for his deep cover skills, but liked his tackling and showed potential as a slot cover guy.
PHILLIPS - Played in the #2 D. Lined up over slot receiver on pass play. Kept the guy in front of him, but ball went elsewhere. Helped blow up a play at the LOS by getting into the mix quickly. Would be so huge if he could stay healthy and start. Saw him chase Blount on a long run. Didn’t make up ground like I expected. Did I underrate Blount’s speed or is Phillips that slow? I’d love to see Phillips start over Nate Allen so we can get a better feel for him.
WOLFF - Solid debut. Played in the 3rd Qtr. Came up quickly vs the run on opening play. Welcome to the NFL moment came when he tried to tackle Tebow on 3rd down run. Tebow ran right through that. Earl hasn’t faced many 245-lb QBs who run hard. Showed good hustle from the backside as he chased down Blount and tackled him just short of the GL. Came down into the box on 3rd Qtr run play and got a TFL. Was unblocked, but stayed under control and hit the RB square. Read a pass play well and tried to get into the passing lane to play the ball. The pass was too errant. Future starter. Maybe sooner rather than later.
COLEMAN - Played in the late 2nd Qtr. Had good press coverage vs TE. Tackled Tebow after run on 3rd down. Failed to keep contain on a run to his side when he was up near the LOS in the early 3rd. WR made a good block on him. Coleman didn’t aggressively engage the blocker initially. Kurt was trying to read the play. I think the coaches will stress to him to take on that blocker and play the correct spot. If the play goes away, then worry about pursuit. Did a good job of coming up quickly vs Tebow on play where he got flushed. Wasn’t able to hit him or sack him before Tebow got the pass off. There is a lot to like about Kurt, but his physical limitations can’t be ignored.
SIMS - Got into the game in the 4th Qtr.
ANDERSON – Didn’t play until the 4th Qtr. Came out and played like his hair was on fire. Flew around the field. Has some physical limitations, but you can never question his toughness or his energy.
FLETCHER - Did a great job of chasing down RB from behind to prevent a TD on the long play to start the game. Came in and made the tackle on the 2nd run play. Good effort. Wrap-up tackler. Had outstanding coverage on 3rd/4 and still got beaten for 5 yd gain. Pressed and was all over the WR. Brady made a perfect throw. Ugh. Had good coverage on Dobson on downfield throw, but Brady made another terrific throw to move the chains. Solid start.
WILLIAMS - DNP
HUGHES - Surprised as the other starting CB. Gave up a short completion on a crossing route. Gave up completion/1st D to #17 in early 2nd Qtr. Coverage was solid. Made the tackle. Tackled the TE on the play where Chaney missed him. Didn’t stand out, good or bad.
BOYKIN - Played slot with the 1′s. Moved outside with the 2′s. Had outstanding coverage on a throw into the endzone. Got in the receiver’s hip pocket and rode him wide. That gave the QB very little room to work with. Legally hindered the WR getting down the field and the pass was about a yard out in front. On the next snap he had pretty good coverage from the slot against a crossing route.
MARSH - Played in the 3rd Qtr. Helped create a sack. NE ran a bootleg play and Tebow wanted to hit a TE on the backside. Guy was wide open, but moving toward Marsh, who could have jumped the pass or leveled the TE. Tebow held the ball and got sacked. Gave up completion to his side in the late 3rd. Broke up a 4th Qtr pass. Had solid coverage down the right sideline. Terrible throw by Tebow. Marsh had a chance for INT, but couldn’t hold on. Didn’t play well, but wasn’t as bad as I initially thought.
POYER - Quiet game.
WHITLEY - Had tight downfield coverage along the left sideline on play where Tebow had lots of time. Ball was incomplete. I was hoping to see more of him.
JONES - Had a punt downed at the 1. Hit inside the 5 and went dead. 48-yd punt, his only kick of the game.
WING - Highlight of the night was him selling to the officials that he’d been hit enough on a punt to warrant a flag. That 5 yds gave the Eagles a 1st down. Averaged 39.5 yds on 4 punts. Had a long of 50. Needs better than that to really push Jones.
HENERY - 2 touchbacks. Didn’t get to attempt a FG due to bad snap.
- MISC -
KOR – Damaris returned the opening KO. Caught the ball on the fly and got 19 yards. Boykin got the 2nd KO. He caught it in the endzone and ran it out. Looked natural, athletic and aggressive. Basically the opposite of what we saw last year with him as KOR.
PR – Damaris had a 62-yd PR late in the half. Showed good vision and elusiveness on the play. You can see his lack of long speed. A faster player might have gotten a TD. The Pats Punter was able to get the angle on Damaris and force him out. Nick Miller was 2-19 as a PR.
* Graham got good inside pressure on the Punter in late 1st Qtr, but wisely didn’t hit the guy.
* Casey Matthews had a couple of good blocks on KORs.
* Bryce Brown had a good block on Boykin’s long KOR.
* Boykin hustled downfield on punt in the 1st Qtr and kept it from going in the endzone. Colt Anderson was there to down it at the 1. Close to being a touchback, but ruled at the 1.
* The Pats missed 2 FGs.
* Kurt Coleman made good tackle from the side on 2nd Qtr KO. Casey and Graham were there to help with the stop.
* Jon Dorenbos suffered a concussion in the mid-2nd. He was replaced by Celek. Brent did a solid job on punts, but had an errant snap on a FG attempt.
* Chaney had a tackle in punt coverage.