The dream of the Eagles going undefeated in the preseason is over, but I don’t think we should throw in the towel on the regular season quite yet.
The starters were very up and down. That’s never fun to watch, but you don’t want to make too much of this in the preseason. Remember that Michael Vick was nearly flawless last summer, but was erratic during the season. Nick Foles was sloppy tonight and there’s no debating that. If this spills over to next week, then we’ve got an issue. For now, I’m not too worried.
The overall game was quite sloppy. Penalties. Turnovers. Dropped passes. Missed tackles. Players slipping. All they hype of Training Camp disappeared in a fog of ugly football.
Still, there was plenty to be happy about. The biggest victory is that the team emerged from the game pretty healthy. No major injuries.
And there were plenty of players who did impress. Let’s start on defense. Malcolm Jenkins had a good game. He brought energy to the defense and was a physical presence. I was also impressed by Nate Allen. He had an INT. I thought he took better angles to the ball and was more aggressive as a tackler. That’s progress. I didn’t get a good feel for Earl Wolff.
The backup DL was terrific. We all expected Vinny Curry to make plays. He’s gold in the summer. Rookie NT Beau Allen lived up to his hype and then some. He was stout vs the run. He got good push on a couple of pass plays. He chased down a screen pass and made the tackle. Allen also was quick off the ball and showed some disruptive potential. The guy who came from nowhere was Brandon Bair. I had to look up and find out who #93 was. Wow. He was the backup RDE. Bair was quick off the ball on some plays. He was stout vs the run. He had a good motor and relentlessly went after the ball. I was really impressed.
Young guys Taylor Hart and Joe Kruger also had some good plays. Kruger really needed to get going so it was encouraging to see him show up in a positive way. All of a sudden the Eagles have a bunch of DL they’ll want to keep. That’s a problem, but definitely a good problem.
We do have to be careful about making too much of this.
2nd/3rd string DL talent > 2nd/3rd string OL talent. Been that way for a long time
— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) August 9, 2014
Brandon Graham was up and down. He did get pressure, but a guy with his ability should be backup blockers. His pressure on one pass led to an INT. Graham had a good block on the long KOR. But he also missed a tackle out in space. He just doesn’t look like a natural LB. That’s the area where we wanted to see growth.
Rookie Marcus Smith was somewhat the opposite. He didn’t stand out as a rusher, but was athletic and active. He looked like a LB. Smith broke up a pass with a quick reaction. He made a good tackle out in space. He did show excellent burst on one pass rush, but the blocker rode him wide of the QB. Smith is talented, but still needs plenty of work.
Among the ILBs, Najee Goode stood out. I didn’t focus on the other guys. It almost looked like Casey Matthews had a solid game, but that could be my eyes playing tricks on me.
Safety Chris Maragos had a terrific showing. I think he is going to become one of my favorite Eagles very quickly. He is physical. He does his job very well. And Maragos seems very much like a team guy. He comes across as a natural leader. Good player. Rookie Ed Reynolds caught me off guard. I’ve never found him to be a compelling player, but he had some good moments tonight. Keelan Johnson is going to really regret ever talking to that cop. Reynolds jumped over him and might stay there.
Rookie Jaylen Watkins had more bad than good, but somewhat redeemed himself by making an impressive INT. Watkins has the talent. He just made rookie mistakes. The same can’t be said for Roc Carmichael. Ouch. He led the team in solo and total tackles…because the ball kept coming his way. According to TV analyst Brian Baldinger the Bears weren’t picking on Carmichael, the ball just happened to come his way a lot. Isn’t that what picking on a DB means? The play of the backup CBs led to this tweet.
Get healthy, Nolan Carroll.
— Greg Richards (@eaglesnut) August 9, 2014
I echo that sentiment.
The offense put up points, but didn’t have a smooth game. Mark Sanchez looked solid. He threw the ball well. There was only one major mistake, when he pulled the ball on an option play and threw out wide. The offense was at the 1-yard line. You have to run inside there. The Eagles did score right after that so it wasn’t a big deal.
Matt Barkley was less impressive. I didn’t like the way he threw the ball. Too many of his passes lacked ideal velocity. He finished 7 for 16. GJ Kinne didn’t impress me either. He played the whole 4th Qtr as if there were only 10 seconds left in the game. I hope that was simply a case of him being too caught up in the moment.
Matt Tucker had a mixed game. He had a 24 yard run and a pair of TDs, but also had a bad fumble and some other plays where he wasn’t so impressive. I was hoping for a better showing. David Fluellen looked faster than I anticipated and went 6-25 on the ground. He also caught a TD pass. Nice showing. Henry Josey was disappointing. He struggled to catch the ball and when he did just didn’t do anything special.
Rookie Jordan Matthews had a couple of drops. That surprised some people, but he’s had drops issues for a few years. Matthews needs to keep working on his hands. He can get better. Matthews did make one catch on 3rd down that moved the chains. He finished with 4 catches, but only gained 14 yards. Fellow rookie Josh Huff failed to stand out as a WR, but did have a 102 yard KOR for a TD. That was terrific.
The backup OL did some good things. I thought LT Andrew Gardner was solid on runs and in pass pro. LG Matt Tobin got movement on a couple of the TD runs. I didn’t see much of Dennis Kelly or Lane Johnson.
I’ll be re-watching the game and writing more detailed reports in the next few days. I’m glad Eagles football is back. I’ll be even happier when good Eagles football is back.