Chip Kelly gets his first fake win in the NFL. I’m sure he’ll be celebrating tonight with champagne and Chips Ahoy!
Winning is fun, but largely irrelevant in the preseason. The key is style. How did the team play? The Eagles got better from the opener, but still have a long way to go. The offense had 2 turnovers (I’m not counting Vick’s desperation throw late in the half). There were missed assignments from blockers that led to sloppy plays. The defense had some coverage issues, unless WR David Gettis has turned into Jerry Rice. The tackling was improved and the defense got some pressure on Cam Newton.
The up-tempo offense is going to be fun to watch. The Eagles have blockers, skill players and apparently good QBs. Kelly mixes the run and pass and does a good job of keeping the defense off balance. The Eagles ran 69 plays for 401 yards. You may wonder how I can praise the offense so much on a night when they only scored 14 points, but the starters scored the TDs. It was the backups that were shutout.
Both QBs played well. Nick Foles had the one awful INT in the Red Zone. He admitted after the game that he was trying to throw the ball away and just didn’t put enough on it. I’d rather hear that than to find out he was trying to make something happen. I prefer bad passes to dumb decisions. Foles was efficient for the most part and ran for a TD. He did bobble 2 snaps. He admitted that he was taking his eyes off the ball to look at the defense.
Mike Vick had another great game. He threw the ball well and finally started running. My one concern with him is that Vick took a couple of shots when he was running and he got up slowly after the second one. He failed to slide on the one run, choosing instead to dive. That will drive Chip Kelly nuts. The other run he was trying to score so contact was inevitable.
I’ll write more about the QBs this weekend, but Vick should be the leader right now.
LeSean McCoy was great. Man, it is easy to forget just how good he can be. His cuts in the open field were simply dynamic. Chris Polk played much better than last week. The Eagles have 3 good looking RBs.
Zach Ertz was impressive as a pass catcher. He was 2-36. Damaris Johnson took a couple of big hits and showed that small guys can still be tough guys. Riley Cooper was good as a receiver and blocker. Quiet day for Shepard and Momah. Derek Carrier finally showed some of his potential, making a terrific catch and run (that was wiped out by a penalty).
The starting OL was terrific, although Lane Johnson did give up a sack. He had poor technique on the play and didn’t get his hands cleanly on the rusher. For much of the game, the Eagles seemed to control the LOS. Allen Barbre has really impressed at LT. I don’t think you want him as your full-time starter, but the guy has more than held his own in 2 preseason games. He’s already outplayed Demetress Bell.
D-line got better tonight. Fletcher Cox played better. Cedric Thornton had a good game. The backups were good, again. This is looking like one of the strongest areas on the team. Vinny Curry played well as a DE and DT. Bennie Logan really caught my eye. I didn’t see Antonio Dixon until late in the game and he didn’t impress.
I was hoping for more from Trent Cole. He was better than last week, but he’s just not doing much. Brandon Graham had a really nice TFL. Chris McCoy looked to have a solid game.
The ILBs played a lot better. Mychal Kendricks really stood out. He shot gaps and blew up plays and pressured the QB. Jake Knott and Emmanuel Acho impressed again.
The secondary was up and down. I liked Bradley Fletcher and Patrick Chung. Fletcher has to lead the NFL in tightly contested catches allowed. Poor guy is all over WRs, but the ball still gets in there. Chung was active and aggressive. As a reader said, it seems awfully weird to see #23 running to the ball and aggressively wanting to make tackles. DRC didn’t do a lot of that over the last 2 years. Cary Williams got picked on a lot, but was also covering Steve Smith a lot. Nate Allen had a quiet game from what I could tell. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Brandon Boykin had a chance for 2 INTs, but wasn’t able to make either one. Earl Wolff blew up a run play by hitting the FB and then the RB.
STs was mostly outstanding. Alex Henery missed a 44-yd FG, but it is hard to judge him with a backup LS. There were a couple of punts where Carolina got pressure. I’m assuming slow snaps were part of the problem. The long KOR for the Panthers was just 13 yds. The Eagles had an 18-yd PR and a 41-yd KOR. Damaris Johnson and Brandon Boykin were very inconsistent as rookies, but look to have improved greatly.
One thing we have to keep in mind is that the Panthers broke Training Camp 2 days ago and then hit the road to play the Eagles. Very often teams will play poorly after breaking camp. The Eagles did this for years. While the Eagles played well and looked impressive at times, we don’t want to make too much of this. Tonight’s game was just another step in the process of building a winning team.
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