The battle for the Keystone State is complete. The heroic Eagles defeated the evil Steelers. Men, women, children, puppies and baby unicorns can now all rest easy and go about living their lives. There is no reason to worry, for at least the next 360 or so days.
That final score is deceptive. If not for a tough holding call on a WR, the game would have been 38-7 at one point. The Eagles dominated the game. Part of that is on them for playing well, but we can’t ignore the fact that the Steelers were dreadful. I mean truly awful. It was shocking to see them play so poorly, August or not.
* Is it me or does there seem to be more outside running this summer? The Eagles have used a toss play several times with McCoy.
* One read-option play worked very well in the late 2nd Qtr. Polamalu and OLB both focused on Foles. Sproles took the handoff and went up the field for 14 easy yards.
* The offense moved at a rapid pace. There was a good flow and the starters played their best football of the preseason.
FOLES - Up and down early on. Failed to connect with Matthews on opening drive. Looked like a poor throw. Made a good throw to Coop over the middle on 3rd/long, but the ball was dropped. Had some pressure, but stayed focused downfield and handled the situation very well. Handled pressure well on another play. Got hit by 2 guys, but made a good throw to Maclin on a skinny post. Incomplete, but good throw in tight coverage. Tried to hit Celek on corner route, but the throw was a bit off. Was a tough one because Celek was close to the sideline. Sold fake well, then hit Shady with screen pass that went for 27-yd TD. Made a very good throw to Coop in the end zone in the late 1st. OPI was called, but still impressive to see Coop and Foles almost connect on that play. Hit Ertz for gain of 12 on 3rd/8 to open the 2nd Qtr. Just missed hitting Sproles for a TD late in the half. The ball was too far out in front by a foot or so. A bit more air and that’s a score. 19-29-179. TD. INT. Looked his best of the preseason. Still isn’t in midseason form, but I thought he handled pressure better than the last 2 weeks and he seemed to play faster as well.
SANCHEZ - Another strong showing. 7-9-85. Led 2 TD drives, both against PIT starters in the 3rd Qtr. Had one goofy moment in the early 3rd. Team was in the RZ. Sanchez dropped back. Couldn’t find anyone open. While trying to move around, tripped himself and gave the Steelers a sack. PIT was called for holding on the play so it wiped out the sack. Also helps to explain why no one was open. Threw the ball well. Made good decisions. Wasn’t just feeding Ertz and Matthews. Hit Damaris Johnson for a couple of nice plays. Has that same look that AJ Feeley did later in his career. Might be a backup, but carries himself with the confidence and presence of a starter.
BARKLEY - Didn’t play much. I think Kelly was saving Matt for the preseason finale, when he’ll play most of the game. Barkley went 4-4-37. Didn’t make any impressive throws. Had a TD pass wiped out by penalty. Also had a near interception wiped out by penalty. Tried to hit WR on an out route and the ball took too long to get there. CB undercut it and made the pick. That is the one throw Barkley will really struggle to make in the NFL. Can’t drive the ball.
KINNE - WRs and RBs must hate when he comes in. There will be lots of running plays and Kinne will keep the ball half the time. Hasn’t shown any real progress from last year. Disappointing. I was hoping Kinne would look more like an NFL QB.
SHADY - Looked good. 4-24 on the ground. Caught a screen pass and took it 27 yds for a score. Left the game with a thumb injury, but should be okay.
SPROLES – Played a decent amount. 6-33 on the ground. 1-4 in the air. Dropped 3rd down pass in the 1st Qtr. Wasn’t clear he’d have gotten the 1st anyway. Ran hard between the tackles. Also showed good shake ‘n bake on one inside run. Ran for short TD in the early 2nd. Didn’t score at first, but fought his way into the end zone. Got his feet tangled with OL on screen pass. Sproles fell down and the pass was picked off. Had a chance for a TD pass from Foles, but the ball was just a bit too far out front.
POLK - DNP.
TUCKER - Came into the game in the late 1st Qtr. Played well. Looked quick, but wasn’t in a hurry. Gave his blocks a chance to develop, but also made sure to get upfield as fast as possible. Always falling forward. Got the ball on 3rd/1. Didn’t have much room, but ran where he was supposed to go and ended up with 7 yds. Ran hard and didn’t stop on contact. Kept his legs going. Picked up blitzing ILB on 1st down pass play in the late 1st. Gave Foles a clean pocket. Had a good run outside to the left to open the 3rd Qtr. Got 12 yds. Came against starting D. Showed speed in getting outside, but then turned upfield quickly and ran behind his pads. Broke first tackle, then drove the next guy back a couple of yards. Good combo of power and speed. Good blitz pickup of DB in the early 3rd. Set his feet and delivered a strong blow, knocking the guy back and to the side. Next play was a run to the right for 15 yds. Great blocking on that. Had a chance to catch a pass in the early 3rd Qtr, but dropped it. 10-46 on the ground with 2 TDs. No catches.
BARNER - Good showing. 7-32 on the ground. Had an impressive run to the outside in the early 4th Qtr. Followed good blocks by pulling OL and then turned upfield. Showed some burst on that play. Also showed his strength. Got through 2 arm tackles before the 3rd defender got him down. Speed is good, but I’m impressed with his strength. Took several shots to the legs and had defenders slide off him. That’s unusual for a back that is his size.
JOSEY - Came into the game in the early 3rd. First play was a run up the middle for 6 yds. Had a 70-yd TD run wiped out by penalty. Caught a short pass in the 4th. Looked smooth in running the route and making the grab. Finished 4-48 as a runner, 1-8 as a receiver. Has legit speed and is a talented runner. Really stands out when you see him on the move. No idea about his pass blocking.
CELEK - Had another couple of big catches. First was catch and run for 23 yds. Celek’s helmet was knocked off. Looked questionable, but Celek had run for several yds so he had become a runner, not receiver. Diff rules for hits due to that. Whiffed on block of OLB. Guy stuff Sproles on inside run. Good block of OLB on 3rd/1 run that got a 1st down. Caught 18-yd pass from Foles in the late 1st. Took another big hit. Looked like Mitchell kept his feet on the ground upon contact, which would make that a clean hit. Helmet came off, but the hit was in the shoulder. Had solid block of DB on Sproles TD run.
ERTZ - Tried to pass block OLB on 1st Qtr drive. Got driven back and Foles was hit. Had good block of Polamalu on Tucker’s first run of the game. Sustained the block and got movement. Still needs a lot of work on blocking. Needs to use his size. 2-24 as a pass catcher.
CASEY - Good block of OLB gave Tucker room to get in for TD in the early 3rd. Didn’t have any catches.
IGWENAGU - Solid job as a blocker.
ANNEN - Looks raw.
BURTON - Had a good showing. Went low to catch a pass from Sanchez for 12 yds. On the next play, went up and caught a ball down the seam for a gain of 25. Both plays showed good hands and athleticism. They showed body control and the ability to adjust to the ball. Those were NFL catches. Blocking is a whole other story. Needs a ton of work. Positional blocker now who tries to stay between his target and the ball. Doesn’t know how to engage defenders and sustain blocks. Blocks more like a WR than a TE. Must get bigger and stronger. I don’t think effort or toughness is an issue.
MACLIN – Good showing. 6-43. Didn’t have any highlight catches or huge plays, but caught the ball well and impressed me because he looked comfortable working the middle of the field. Go back to 2012 and Maclin avoided the middle of the field on a regular basis. Looks like a different player now. Wasn’t hesitant about contact. Took some big hits and handled them well. Solid game as a blocker. Effective block on CB on Shady run to his side for 15 yds on the opening drive. On the next drive there was a play that went to the other side, but then Shady cut back to Mac’s side. Mac got a key block and gave Shady room to get 13 yds. Failed to catch pass in mid-1st on what looked like skinny post. Couldn’t tell if this was a drop or if the DB broke it up. Had good downfield block on Shady’s screen pass for TD. At the end, got blown up by Troy Polamalu. Troy tried to go through Mac and a Steeler DB to hit Shady. Dumb. Shady was already at the GL. I thought it should have been a flag for unnecessary roughness on Troy. Had an interesting RZ play. Came in motion and went behind Foles, then circled back toward the LOS. Foles threw him the ball as he got wide. Mac stretched for the TD. Ruled short. I think if Chip challenged the call would have been reversed and it would have been a TD. I’m sure Chip was more interested in getting extra GL reps so he didn’t challenge. There was a Sproles run in the late 2nd where Mac watched and the DB across from him made the eventual tackle. Not sure Mac could have made a block on the play, but just standing and watching won’t go over well with Chip. At least try.
Went down with injury at 10:00 of the 2nd Qtr. Very scary moment. Non-contact. Tried to run a route and his leg planted awkwardly. Was in pain, but eventually walked off on his own. Turned out to be okay.
B SMITH- DNP
COOPER - First game of the year. Caught pass on the opening drive. Short pass to the outside. Coop then turned upfield and got the 1st down. Bad drop on 3rd/15. Ran a good route and was open for the 1st down. Extended for the ball and got his hands on it, but could not secure the ball. Caught pass on inside route on 3rd/3. Moved the chains. Had DB all over him so it was a tough catch. PI was called on Taylor, but Coop made the grab anyway. Called for OPI on throw in the end zone. Limited contact, but did push off. Almost made a terrific catch on the play. Dropped an easy TD in the early 2nd. Too open/too easy? Luckily team scored right after that. Caught screen late in the half and got upfield for 7 yds. It was good to see Coop back.
MOMAH - No catches or targets. Looked okay as a blocker.
MATTHEWS - Starting slot receiver. Had pass come his way on opening drive. Ball fell incomplete. Not sure if it was a poorly thrown corner route or a poorly run deep out. Lined up in the backfield a few times. Sometimes was a decoy and other times was a legit target. Showed good RAC skills when he caught a screen and took it upfield for a gain of 14. Moved through traffic on the play. Showed speed and vision, and then didn’t go down easily. Good block on screen to Coop late in the half. Stuck with his DB and kept him out of the play. Caught pass out of backfield late in the half. Got him the ball in space on 3rd/10. DB made a great tackle or Matthews might have gotten the 1st down.
HUFF - DNP
PRATT - 2 catches for 20 yards.
D JOHNSON – 2-29. Caught pass in early 3rd. Made DB miss and got a couple of extra yds. The next pass came his way on a shallow cross, but the ball was too low and incomplete. Caught a pass that set up a TD in the 3rd Qtr. Looked good. Might be making a late run at a roster spot.
MAEHL - 4-19. Caught some screens. Failed to do much after the catch. Hasn’t stood out this summer.
CUNNINGHAM- Caught a quick screen in the 4th and took it up the field for a gain of 16. Called for OPI when blocking too early on WR screen. Made impressive TD catch in the end zone. Had to reach over DB to make it and then get his feet in. Play was wiped out by penalty, but still impressive.
PETERS - Best game of the preseason. Hit Heyward from the side on run play and almost drove him 4 yds up the field. Had a terrific block of ILB on run play where Sproles went for 14 yards.
MATHIS – Failed to sustain a good block on Heyward and he was able to move over and stuff Shady on an inside run. Got driven back in pass pro by Heyward. Knocked back into Foles. He and Kelce doubled Heyward on run to the left and drove him several yds off the ball. Gave Tucker room to run.Generally a good game. I think Heyward’s strength caught him off guard early on.
KELCE - Pulled on run play and got just enough of ILB to get Shady out wide. Did a good job of picking up a stunt on 3rd down play in the mid-1st. Made diving cut block of LB on screen pass that Shady took all the way for TD.
HERREMANS - Got driven back, almost to Foles, on a pass play. DE seemed to catch him off guard. Terrific block of DB helped pave way for Shady’s screen pass for TD.
BARBRE - Gave up pressure on initial 3rd down. The rusher got by him enough to pressure Foles, but there wasn’t a big hit or anything like that. Poor pass block on 2nd drive led to Foles getting hit as he threw. Pass fell incomplete. Close to getting the ball just knocked loose. Spin move beat him to the inside and Foled got hit on passing play. Had the key block on Sproles short TD run. Pushed the DL in and off the ball. Got better at pass pro as the game progressed, but is still having the same issue as the rest of the summer. Keeps his hands in by his body. Doesn’t engage the rusher and control him. I’m very surprised he’s not fixed this by now or shown progress.
GARDNER - Backup LT. Terrific down block of Heyward helped pave way for Tucker’s 3rd Qtr TD run. Got beaten off the edge in the late 3rd, but the ball was already gone before the OLB got there. Good block of DB out wide on screen to WR.
TOBIN - Backup LG. Anchored well in pass pro. Strong seal block of DE on Josey run up the middle. Gave him a clear running lane. Pulled left and had a good block on the move on Josey’s long TD that didn’t count. Drive blocking still needs some work. Technically sound player who has absolutely earned a spot.
VANDERVELDE - DNP
MOLK - Backup C. Good job of pulling on outside plays. Got driven back in pass pro in early 3rd. NT just overwhelmed him. Good block of ILB on Josey’s run up the middle in the early 3rd. Pulled to the wide left and had a good seal block on long run by Barner. Better athlete than I anticipated.
KELLY - Backup RG. Great seal block of ILB gave Tucker lots of room in early 3rd. Got 15 yds on that play. Got driven back into Sanchez on the next play. Was too high and too passive. Let DL attack him and drive him back. Much anchor better and use his long arms to engage the rusher. Still has some plays where he doesn’t move his feet and tries to move his upper body. Not good. Looked good when blocking on the move. That forced him to move his feet. Has moments when he is impressive. Other times he looks like a rookie. Might be ideal for practice squad.
JOHNSON - Backup RT. Good showing. Looked athletic as pass blocker. Hasn’t dominated the way I expected.
GRAF - LT. Failed to block rusher to his insde, guy sacked Kinne. PIT showed blitz look and Graf seemed confused on who was coming and who he needed to block.
BAMIRO - Played LG. Hands to the face penalty. Sloppy
BARTON - Played RG.
HAWKINS – RT. Solid showing.
* The defense was more aggressive in terms of blitzing and that paid off. The blitzes were effective, but the overall pass rush looked better to me as well.
* I don’t know if the tackling was sloppy or Steelers runners were just harder to bring down than some players expected.
* Another game where the backup ILBs failed to stand out, good or bad. No one looks bad. No one makes plays. I like Goode the most, but I really hoped there would be some separation with the others.
* Safety depth isn’t impressive after Wolff.
COX - Real impressive play in the early 2nd Qtr. Threw the RT to the ground and got into the backfield, flushing Ben. Showed big time strength on that play.
LOGAN - Started the game at NT. Left after 3 plays. Came back on the next series. Wasn’t sure if he was hurt or just being rotated. Seems like they just rotated him a lot. Less rusty this week, but still hasn’t done anything to stand out.
THORNTON - LDE. Great effort on a couple of plays.
CURRY - Used bull rush to move back the starting RG on 3rd/7 and get limited pressure on Ben. Got a sack in the early 3rd Qtr when Graham flew off the edge and forced Benn to step up, right where Curry was. Not as disruptive as the previous 2 weeks.
BAIR - Got good pressure on Big Ben on opening series. Drove the LG back into him. Got moved off the ball by double team of C and LG. Still, got off that block and helped stop the RB. Drove the LG back to Ben on pass play to open the 2nd Qtr. Batted down pass while rushing off the left side in the late 2nd Qtr. Blew up 3rd Qtr run where Graham got a TFL.
ALLEN - Came into the game at NT on the 4th play. Went wide on play-action pass and ruined bootleg action. Forced Ben to throw the ball quicker than expected. Got off block and tackled RB on play in the late 1st Qtr. Another impressive showing. Love the way he uses his hands when trying to get off blocks or when rushing the passer.
SQUARE - Broke up a pass early on. Dropped into passing lane and got a hand on the ball. Shed the RG and tackled the RB headed to that side. Best game so far.
HART - Failed to stand out. You can see he’s comfortable with the 3-4 and 2-gapping. Adjusting to the speed of the game and the strength of blockers. Good effort player.
KRUGER - At his best when attacking. Looks like 2 different players when going upfield vs 2-gapping. Chased down screen pass from the backside and made the tackle. There is no question about his athleticism or effort. Just doesn’t look comfortable engaging blockers and trying to read plays in the base defense. (Obviously that’s why he got cut)
MAYS - Didn’t play much. Had one good pass rush. Intriguing player due to frame. Flashes ability.
VILLANUEVA - Hustled to chase down a play and make the tackle from behind. Got by the LG and hit the QB on a pass play. Great to see him have some success. Natural athlete, but not a natural DL.
COLE - Best game of the summer. Showed good burst off the ball in the early 2nd. Got by the LT and got his hands on Ben. Let go to avoid a penalty since the ball had just been thrown. Lined up out wide on WR in the early 2nd. Knocked him to the ground at the snap, then the ball came that way. Was right at the LOS so no flag. Got pressure on a handful of plays. Hit Big Ben on INT play after Kendricks had moved Ben off his spot.
BARWIN - Quiet game. Credited with a couple of tackles.
GRAHAM - More of the same. Looked good as a pass rusher. Looked lost as a LB. Ugh. Beat the LT for a strip sack late in the 1st half. Power move, great finish. Got TFL in the early 3rd. PIT tried to run a draw and Graham had looped to the inside. Lined up in the slot in the 3rd Qtr. PIT ran a screen to his side. Graham took off running to the outside. Brown cut back in and Graham overran the play. You could see just how straight-line he is on that play. Struggles to change directions and play in space. Tried to jam a TE at the LOS on 3rd Qtr pass play and looked awkward.
SMITH- Didn’t play til the 2nd half. Tripped up RB for TFL on play that came his way. Set the edge well on run that came his way a few plays later. Helped make the tackle. Had to cover WR Brown on route in the 3rd Qtr. Stayed pretty close, but did give up the catch. Pushed Brown down after the grab and didn’t allow RAC yds.
LONG - Played a lot of ILB. Helped tackle a WR after catch and run in the early 3rd. Stuffed an inside run that came at him. Moved left at the snap, then moved back to original spot. Got low and took on RB. Made strong form tackle. Blitzed up the middle and forced Big Ben to move. Unfortunately he did move and then threw a TD. Looked good on blitzes where he was ILB and looped around the outside. I was surprised by how comfortable he looked on the inside. Not lost at all.
BRAMAN - Very limited snaps. Missed tackle of RB on pass where he almost scored a TD.
KENDRICKS - Very good game. Blitzed up the middle twice. Once hit Ben and forced quick throw. The other time he got pressure, which led to a dumb throw that was picked off. Made a good tackle of WR after quick screen to open the 2nd Qtr. Guy had room to run, but MK flew up and made a wrap-up tackle. Tried a shoulder tackle on WR Brown on the next play and Brown was able to get off that and add RAC yds. Flew off the edge in the early 2nd Qtr and got a solid shot on Ben. Looked very close to being offside, but no flag. Stuffed Blount on screen pass over the middle.
RYANS - Got a big hit on a RB who was downfield as a receiver. Didn’t look dirty, but the hit was flagged for contact to the head. Had tackle on inside run. Ready for the season.
GOODE – Played throughout the game. On the field in the 1st Qtr. Also in the 4th. Weird. Only had 1 tackle. Seemed to do a better job of engaging blockers.
MATTHEWS - Didn’t make a tackle. Also didn’t see any obvious mistakes. So frustrating. Was hoping he would stand out more, good or bad.
ACHO - Got in on a couple of tackles. Looks more active and athletic than Matthews, but still hasn’t stood out.
KNOTT - DNP
KADU - Read a screen perfectly. Got to the right spot and missed the tackle. Played ILB and OLB.
ALLEN - Lowered his head and took on L. Blount on run up the middle. Helped make the tackle. A few teammates joined him. Still, does Nate from 2012 or even 2013 make that stop? I have my doubts. Blitzed off the edge, went to the inside of the blocking back and got some pressure on Ben.
JENKINS - Called for penalty in the early 2nd Qtr when he knocked the ball out of someone’s hands after the play. Dumb move by Jenkins. Had man coverage on Brown on pass play in the early 2nd Qtr. Reached out and almost picked off pass. Did knock it down.
WOLFF – Showed good range on a downfield pass play.
MARAGOS - Beaten for TD by TE Heath Miller. Was right there, but unable to get a hand on the ball. You can really see his limitations as a DB. Lacks top athleticism. Lacks great instincts as well. Needs things to be in front of him so he can attack. Limited range as a centerfielder. Physical player who will hit.
REYNOLDS - Stood out in the opener, but since then hasn’t flashed. Solid. Was in on 2 tackles. Comes up aggressively to hit. Good tackler. Just don’t know if he’s shown enough to make the team.
MORGAN - Played mostly CB. Looked much better there than at S. Broke up pass down sideline in the early 4th. Would have been beaten if the QB made a better throw. Deep speed?
LOWE - Played some CB as well. Slow.
JOHNSON – Credited with 1 tackle. Looked slow in coverage. Hasn’t stood out on the field this summer.
FLETCHER - Called for illegal contact on deep ball in the 1st Qtr. Legit call. Has a bad habit of extending his arm while running with the receiver. This has to stop. Very definition of illegal contact. Helped to break up a pass over the middle in the mid-2nd. WR should have caught it, but Fletch kept trying to knock the ball out and the WR dropped it. Called for IC on the play. Good call. The WR did initiate some contact, but Fletch extended as well. Just can’t do that right now. Tackled RB on screen pass when it looked like the guy might have a chance. Wrap-up tackle.
CARROLL - Almost broke up 3rd down pass to TE. Very good coverage on the play. Made a diving INT in the early 2nd Qtr on bad throw by Big Ben. Really tough catch. I thought he had a strong game overall. Covered well.
WILLIAMS - DNP
BOYKIN - DNP
WATKINS - Played some in the slot on the opening drive. Blitzed off the edge in the early 2nd and got a good shot on Big Ben. Ball was already out. Has shown potential, but definitely needs time to develop as a CB.
CARMICHAEL - Has really bounced back from poor game in the preseason opener. Hasn’t looked great, but has been solid. Plays in the slot and outside. Gave up quick slant to Brown on 3rd down in early 2nd Qtr. Worse, wasn’t able to make the tackle. Was credited with one stop in the game.
JONES - 2 of 3 punts were inside the 20.
HENERY - Looked like he got better depth on his kickoffs. Unfortunately, missed an easy FG. Ugh.
KOR – Damaris Johnson had a 28 yd KOR.
PR – None.
– MISC –
* Henry Josey was the lead blocker on the opening KOR. So-so block, but away from return.
* Acho made a diving tackle on KOR in the early 2nd Qtr.
* Benn almost made diving stop of KOR late in the 1st half.
* Eagles gave up long KOR at the end of the 3rd Qtr. Looked like Roc Carmichael was the player most at fault.