Not Pretty, But Lots to Like

Posted: August 11th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 56 Comments »

The Eagles won their preseason opener 17-9. The result is irrelevant, with the key being how the team played. There were some positives, but also plenty of negatives. You can tell the Eagles are a long way from being a finished product. At the same time, you can see some real potential.

Let’s start with Carson Wentz. There was an electric atmosphere when he came in the game, not just with the fans. Wentz’s teammates were anxious to see what he could do and his presence woke up a sleeping offense. He wasn’t able to cure all the blocking and receiving issues, but Wentz’s sheer talent made a difference on a handful of plays. You very quickly could see the difference in him and someone like Chase Daniel. Or recent draftees like Nick Foles, Mike Kafka and Kevin Kolb. You could see why Wentz was the #2 overall pick. He has big time talent and makes those around him better.

A lot of people will be ripping Daniel for how he played. That’s understandable, but you can’t blame him for much of that. With Jason Peters out, backup LT Matt Tobin moved up to the starting unit. That put #3 LT Andrew Gardner on the field early. And Tampa had their starting defense in the game. So there was the starting RDE going against the Eagles third string LT. I don’t have to tell you how that went.

There were other failures up front. It also hurt that receivers weren’t getting open and Daniel wasn’t exactly Mr. Calm and Confident on the field. The problems seemed to make each other worse. Until Wentz came in and brought energy and excitement with him.

Wentz showed a strong arm. He was athletic, moving around in and outside the pocket. He didn’t panic under pressure. I made the joke on Twitter that Wentz tonight took more shots than Rocky did in all the movies. Wentz is tough as nails. He made one huge mistake, throwing a Red Zone INT. You can do a lot of things, but that’s not one of them. Under pressure, he was off target and put too much air under a pass. Simply can’t do that.

I thought the defense played well all game long. There were breakdowns here and there, but the group had 4 takeaways, constantly pressured Bucs QBs and held Tampa to just 9 points. As expected, the DL was the best group on the field. Fletcher Cox had his first strip-sack of the year. I was excited by how well the backup DL played. Guys like Beau Allen and Taylor Hart, who many felt were pure 3-4 players, showed up and played well.

One of the big questions all spring/summer has been about what will happen with backup Safeties. Chris Maragos, Ed Reynolds and Jaylen Watkins all played well tonight. Rookie Blake Countess had some good moments as well. Reynolds was more physical than in the past. He tackled well and aggressively went after runners and receivers. We know he has ball skills. The question with Reynolds has always been whether he can hit/tackle consistently. As for Watkins, he showed up in coverage, which we knew he could do. His versatility and man coverage skills are reasons the coaches want him on the team. Watkins did not tackle well early on. That prompted this.

So on the next play…

I take full credit. Watkins won’t be mistaken for Wes Hopkins anytime soon, but he doesn’t have to be a punishing hitter. Watkins just has to show the coaches he can be trusted to tackle on a consistent basis. Reynolds had 7 tackles, 5 solo. Watkins had 4 solo tackles and a PBU. Both players helped their cause to make the team. One of them could be active on gameday. This battle will continue for another several weeks.

Some guys who disappointed:

Jalen Mills
Eric Rowe
Halapoulivaati Vaitai
Stefen Wisniewski
All the top WRs
Andrew Gardner
Isaac Seumalo

One game is just one game, but these players need to bounce back in a big way next week.

DE Steven Means lived up to the hype, which was nice. He was disruptive and had a sack. And rookie Paul Turner did his part. He led the Eagles with 6 catches and 34 yards, which should tell you how bad the passing game was.

All in all, this was a good night for the Eagles. Doug Pederson did a solid job. His defense was outstanding. And the team’s highly touted (and costly) rookie QB looks like the real deal. The present looks a bit murky, but the future looks very bright.


Lots more to come on this game as I get a chance to study the tape.


56 Comments on “Not Pretty, But Lots to Like”

  1. 1 Not Pretty, But Lots to Like - said at 11:50 PM on August 11th, 2016:

    […] Tommy Lawlor The Eagles won their preseason opener 17-9. The result is irrelevant, with the key being how the […]

  2. 2 A_T_G said at 11:55 PM on August 11th, 2016:

    Team leading 6 catches and 34 yards. Yuck.

  3. 3 A_T_G said at 11:57 PM on August 11th, 2016:

    Unfortunately for Media Mike, the certainly did not seem to be any evaluations of potential punt returners going on. When Barner is back there for all 37 punts, it looks like he is going to be on the team.

  4. 4 Media Mike said at 6:59 AM on August 12th, 2016:

    No, he’s not. Sproles doesn’t need to field many/any punts in pre-season and Smallwood is going to be on the 53. Marshall is better than Barner as well.

  5. 5 A_T_G said at 12:47 AM on August 12th, 2016:

    Correct me if I am wrong, but at 9:17 the game was in progress. That makes this concerning:

  6. 6 BlindChow said at 2:07 AM on August 12th, 2016:

    I’m pretty sure it’s okay for Giants’ receivers to tweet during Eagles games.

  7. 7 Media Mike said at 7:20 AM on August 12th, 2016:

    I disagree; all players on the Giants should have both hands broken and be unable to operate speech to text because of a well timed Taken-style throat chop.

  8. 8 Bacon & Iggles said at 3:41 AM on August 12th, 2016:

    Myke Tavarres twitter account is @MykeT14. Just FYI, bro.

  9. 9 Media Mike said at 7:19 AM on August 12th, 2016:

    Maybe one day when he grows up it can be @ MikeT14

  10. 10 A_T_G said at 8:28 AM on August 12th, 2016:


  11. 11 Bacon & Iggles said at 10:29 AM on August 12th, 2016:

    No worries! Not a day goes by where I don’t have at least one major “Doh” moment. lol

  12. 12 A_T_G said at 12:51 AM on August 12th, 2016:

    Hey, so feel free to comment everyone else…

    I thought this might be of interest.

  13. 13 ColoradoEaglesFan said at 5:53 AM on August 12th, 2016:

    Thanks, I was looking for something exactly like your post.

  14. 14 Media Mike said at 7:01 AM on August 12th, 2016:

    Wow; that’s really nice to see. I’m out of the viewing area for the week, so I missed the game.

  15. 15 P_P_K said at 9:49 AM on August 12th, 2016:

    Couple years from now, we’ll look back on this and think, “Wow, our Hall of Fame qb came a long way.” To suggest otherwise would be a bummer.

  16. 16 Barbarajtanksley3 said at 2:08 AM on August 15th, 2016:

    <<fb. ★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★::::::!il747r:….,……..

  17. 17 ProbablyDrunk said at 1:00 AM on August 12th, 2016:

    Good game overall. Wish we saw more of Trey Burton though. Our WRs are so bad, there’s no real reason he can’t be the #3, 4 option behind Matthews, Ertz, and hopefully Randle/Agholor

  18. 18 Cafone said at 1:16 AM on August 12th, 2016:

    This team could really use a DeSean Jackson type of guy.

  19. 19 Bert's Bells said at 7:47 AM on August 12th, 2016:

    Even a Freddie Mitchell type guy.

  20. 20 Ark87 said at 7:54 AM on August 12th, 2016:

    I took the ability to catch the ball for granted until the Chip Kelly era. Jackson, Maclin, Avant, Celek, didn’t drop many balls

  21. 21 CVN65 said at 9:56 AM on August 12th, 2016:

    Avant was like Greg Jenkins- caught every turd and duck thrown his way. Dude could block like a champ, too. He laid the final block on DeSean’s punt return against the Gnats and it was a beauty. Hated when Chip discarded him.

  22. 22 Jernst said at 2:17 PM on August 12th, 2016:

    Honestly. How much better would you feel about this offense if it still had Jackson on one side blowing the top off defenses for $8-9M a year. I know it’s overdone, but I’m still furious at Chip Kelly for cutting him.

  23. 23 Insomniac said at 1:19 AM on August 12th, 2016:

    Mills is too grabby and doesn’t have the deep speed to cover most WRs in the league. I would rather see him as a safety and move Watkins back to CB. This would let us keep 4 safeties (Jenkins, Mcleod, Maragos, and Mills).

    I don’t know what’s wrong with Rowe but he needs to get it together. If some scrubs on the Bucs can keep our bum WRs in check then he should be able to too

    Defense will be the better side of football on this team this year from what we’ve seen so far. CBs might be our biggest weakness on paper.

    WRs still suck and I don’t think it’ll get better anytime soon. Josh Huff still screws up every other play he makes. Randle does a boneheaded play by batting a fumble out of bounds when it was clearly going out of bounds.

    The few times I noticed the right side later in the game was when Vaitai screwed up and Greene stonewalling some guys. Don’t know if Dillon Gordon played since I stopped watching 2 minutes into the 4th quarter. Don’t think I need to say that our OL depth is still very bad.

    Barner looked good when he had the ball in his hands. Burton still needs more snaps.

  24. 24 Cafone said at 1:23 AM on August 12th, 2016:

    Josh Huff is comical at this point.

  25. 25 ColoradoEaglesFan said at 5:51 AM on August 12th, 2016:

    I like you quick analysis touching on performances by several Eagles. Thanks.

  26. 26 D3FB said at 7:02 AM on August 12th, 2016:

    Gordon was LT the whole 2nd half, he came on with Vaitai, Greene, and Barret Jones.

  27. 27 Media Mike said at 7:04 AM on August 12th, 2016:

    Would a good career arc for him be;
    2016 – Psquad
    2017 – 4th tackle, if active plays as eligible lineman on short yardage plays
    2018 – cemented backup spot on roster, active all year?

  28. 28 D3FB said at 7:12 AM on August 12th, 2016:

    Yea, there’s some workable skills there. You can just really tell he’s a ways off. I’d say in 2017 maybe you use him as a Jumbo TE on the goalline to get him on the field a bit, so we’re on the same page there. Lot of work for the young man though. Vaitai also falls into a similar category. He’s a bit more refined but like Gordon probably isn’t ready this year. He had a couple of decent run blocks but certainly seemed a bit overwhelmed.

    There was a noticable dropoff from Tobin and Kelly to those two. Gardner needs to be shot into the center of the sun. That was fucking embarrassing for a 30 year old with as many games as he has played in.

    The thing to watch especially with young tackles is when it clicks they’ll almost appear to be on a linear track. This comes from understanding angles and having consistent uniform footwork.

  29. 29 Rellihcs said at 7:55 AM on August 12th, 2016:

    Great stuff – any insight on Wiz? I thought he was disappointing….

  30. 30 D3FB said at 8:08 AM on August 12th, 2016:

    I thought he was ok. Surrounded by lesser talent and pressing a bit, which I think hurt him. I was more focused on Seumalo but my general takeaway is that he is kind of what we thought he is: a solid if unspectacular but certainly starting caliber NFL OL. I think he was justtrying to go rip peoples heads off instead of just playing his game. The hardest spot for an OL to go from is OL 6 to starting, especially if you’re not someone the coaching staff is looking for an excuse to plug in. It’s really hard to stand out especially for interior OL, it’s a position largely about combined results and consistency and both are harder to achieve when working with the second unit.

  31. 31 Safety1st said at 8:39 AM on August 12th, 2016:

    Always appreciate the insight. What are your thoughts on Seumalo and Greene? Did Destiny get any run?

  32. 32 D3FB said at 9:07 AM on August 12th, 2016:

    Seumalo was up and down. I thought he did pretty well in pass pro, besides the one play where he randomly turned around and ran to the right side of the line allowing a sack (I’ve seen the design before so I’m not sure if it was a blown call or brain fart or he was just trying to find someone to hit). Run game was much the same, some good, followed by some meh. He deserves to be running with the 2’s but isn’t close to starting right now.

    Didn’t focus on Greene at all.

    Destiny had a TFL right at the end of the 3rd quarter which was the first time I noticed him in but I had to leave right after that play so didn’t get to watch him.

  33. 33 Forthebirds said at 10:58 AM on August 12th, 2016:

    Great posts. Tommy and 24/7 have knowledge posters unlike the guys who post to the beat writers. I appreciate the insights. Nice to read posts that teach you something. Not trying to blow smoke up anyone’s a**, Always start my day with 24/7 and iggles blitz.

  34. 34 ColoradoEaglesFan said at 5:58 AM on August 12th, 2016:

    Let’s face it people, Barner makes this team. He has been putting in the work in the weight room, and it looks like it will pay dividends.

  35. 35 Media Mike said at 7:03 AM on August 12th, 2016:

    F him. He’s the 5th RB once Smallwood is back. We’re playing football, not training for Mr. Olympia. His Barner fingered drops and fumbles have no place on this roster and never should have last yea to begin with.

  36. 36 Rellihcs said at 7:53 AM on August 12th, 2016:

    Matthews, Sproles, Smallwood, _____, Barner?

    You to Marshall or Ced O above him? Really that zealous/delusional?

  37. 37 ColoradoEaglesFan said at 6:02 AM on August 12th, 2016:

    Tommy, you are kinda funny. Great stuff like always. Thanks, and I can’t wait for the more in-depth analysis!

  38. 38 Media Mike said at 6:56 AM on August 12th, 2016:

    Where is fumbling, bumbling, stumbling, Josh Huff on the disappoint list? That dude is an embarrassment?

  39. 39 Bacon & Iggles said at 1:52 PM on August 12th, 2016:

    I wasn’t able to see the game, sadly. Would you mind summing up Huff’s latest buffoonery for me? If it’s not too painful, that is. lol

  40. 40 Jernst said at 2:12 PM on August 12th, 2016:

    Ran a crossing patter, got open, caught the ball, turned up field and looked like he was going to possibly showcase that open field running ability and then the trailing CB dove and lightly slapped his arm which caused him to fumble the ball.

  41. 41 Bacon & Iggles said at 5:23 PM on August 12th, 2016:

    Ugh. Thanks for the breakdown tho. Much appreciated.

  42. 42 Media Mike said at 6:58 AM on August 12th, 2016:

    Ideally the safety group is Jenkins, McLeod, Maragos, Reynolds, and Watkins. The drop off in talent from Jenkins and McLeod to Margos/Reynolds/Watkins is pretty steep, but hopefully they can be functional if called on to play.

  43. 43 D3FB said at 7:14 AM on August 12th, 2016:

    Few general thoughts:

    1. Reich and Doug are going to earn their money this year because they are going to have to scheme some guys open, ALOT.

    2. I was really impressed with Walker.

    3. I’ll have to watch more next week but the Safeties were making alot of tackles in the box. Not sure if they were creeping or aligned there, or just flying downhill alot (which concerns me with PA).

  44. 44 Media Mike said at 7:15 AM on August 12th, 2016:

    on point #1; if these a-holes on the o-line decide to not suck as much as they did last year, we should hopefully get enough time for those schemes to get guys open to work.

  45. 45 Rellihcs said at 7:51 AM on August 12th, 2016:

    It seemed to me like there were many plays with more than 9 in the box. Maybe it was specific targeted “practice this package” stuff, but it struck me as a lot of stacking the line.

  46. 46 Fufina said at 8:17 AM on August 12th, 2016:

    Little worried by how big a role Doug is taking in the offense – I think he has the ability to be a decent head coach, will relate to players, is coming from a good tree and knows how a team needs to be organised and run to produce an effective unit.

    What he has never shown in the NFL as a coach (and this might all be down to Andy) is a creative passing game with his WR’s. He uses TE’s and RB’s creatively and actually has a good feel for the run game – but watching Chiefs games they did nothing creative or different with their routes and concepts, which concerns me with one of the most limited WR groups in the NFL. Not sure how fast that is going to change either with Emmanuel Sanders and Alshon Jeffery as the only exciting WR options in FA in 2017… and they will both get PAID.

  47. 47 D3FB said at 9:10 AM on August 12th, 2016:

    As much as play design would help if he can get the play calling sequencing down I think the outsides WR’s can be solid enough to take enough pressure off Ertz/Matthews/run game.

  48. 48 Stephen E. said at 3:43 PM on August 12th, 2016:

    Even if they scheme these guys open, they still can’t catch the ball for them.

  49. 49 Ark87 said at 7:49 AM on August 12th, 2016:

    Maybe it’s because I don’t have scout’s eyes but I didn’t see Wentz display the talent advantage we all know he has over those guys. Didn’t really put any passes on the money except for a few slants. I’m still on the band wagon, but last night was not impressive at all. I don’t blame him though. The offensive line was horrible, as were the receivers. Still doesn’t do any good to nervously shovel coal into the hype machine. Still more games ahead for him to do that for us.

  50. 50 Fufina said at 8:11 AM on August 12th, 2016:

    His ability to move, step up in the pocket and keep his balance and throw to an open WR is a special skill that few QB’s have – and makes those like Luck/Rogers go from being good to being unstoppable at times.

    Felt his read and feel for the game was good, he was blitzed several times and found his hot read, and rarely threw in the wrong place – which was a huge positive considering he is transitioning from 1-AA to NFL defenses and is a hugely positive sign initially. He also has plenty of arm talent to get the ball to where it needs to be with power and a nice compact motion.

    The problems he had in game were when he was inaccurate, and when he is inaccurate he throws high which is dangerous and will lead to turn overs. It will need to get better, but technical refinements and mechanic refinements can take years to produce results so this is a flaw we are going to have to track and see how it progresses.

  51. 51 Ark87 said at 8:22 AM on August 12th, 2016:

    Beyond the few throws he sailed (one for an int), most of his throws his receivers should have caught, but the placement was off all night, on 2 3rd downs that cost him the drive, one he threw the ball behind a crosser, who had an easy first down, instead he had to turn around and bobble, the other was after a nice scramble, threw at an open (Turner I think) man who was behind the sticks, but the pass drew him up and he had to toe-tap out of bounds.

  52. 52 Fufina said at 8:29 AM on August 12th, 2016:

    placement issues are very hard to judge and assign blame in preseason playing with 3rd string UDFA receivers. Lots of routes not being correctly run, or as crisply as you would like makes having really good accuracy hard.

    One thing i did think of in game is Wentz throws a very ‘flat’ ball – really does not put much arch on a pass at all unless he is throwing a bomb deep – which means when he is throwing intermediate routes and has to get the ball over an underneath zone defender the WR’s will be catching the ball high.

    If i was Howie i would be planning to complement Wentz with big WR’s who like to go up and catch the ball, similarly to how they have tried to build the WR group for Newton with the Panthers.

  53. 53 Ark87 said at 8:38 AM on August 12th, 2016:

    I agree, just saying he dindn’t really show the talent he was drafted for, mostly because he was not able to. Not saying it isn’t there. People just need to calm down, stop digging for tiny nuggets of gold. Give it time and I’m sure it will come out.

    Agreed on the WR choice. Carson seems like the type to let a big WR go up and get it, and give him a chance even when he is “covered”.

  54. 54 JimC_23 said at 8:07 AM on August 12th, 2016:

    I like the analysis of Wentz, he certainly has things to work on, but he showed good promise. The toughness was very obvious and very impressive. What I was happiest to see was how well he kept his eyes downfield despite the pressure – very mature. Best example was during his first drive on his throw to Ertz which Ertz dropped. Blitzing defender came unblocked from Wentz’ front side, I’m sure Wentz could see him coming the whole way but calmly stood tall, kept his eyes downfield, found Ertz wide open, and hit him with a pass that should have been caught – all moments before being drilled by the blitzer. Kid’s got some stones. I’d absolutely advocate sitting him a year so that he can learn though. He needs to be honing his skills, not preparing for opponents. Don’t care how bad Bradford and Daniels play.

    Barner looked good, but not great. He got a ton of opportunities in the game and never really failed, but never did much to impress either. He was…usable, which isn’t awful, but assuredly isn’t the goal.

    I would certainly add Dennis Kelly to the disappointment list. Unlike Tobin, I’m fairly sure Kelly entered the game after the Bucs 1st team subbed out, or if not he played a considerable amount of time against the Bucs’ backups – and he looked awful in pass protection.

    The receiving core should be ashamed. Randle looked dumb, made no impact, and gave pathetic effort on the 9-route Wentz targeted him on. (The pass was out of bounds but Randle jogged the entire route anyway). Agholor also played badly and gave poor effort, especially on a block (or lack thereof) during a screen play. Just doesn’t look like he wants to play. Huff seemed to at least put in effort, but still did not play well and showed how mistake prone he is. At this point I’d stick Paul Turner at #2 on the depth chart behind Jordan Matthews. Not because I think he’s #2 wideout worthy, but because none of the other receivers who should be at #2 showed any effort or promise. He outplayed them, and they need a wakeup call.

    I agree with those in the comments who have suggested Jaylen Watkins move back to corner. I’m fairly certain he actually had 2 pass breakups, not 1. Played well.

    CB C.J. Smith also played quite well, not just the interception but also earlier in the game he had a nice pass breakup on a tough to defend slant route which caused Gause’s interception.

    Leodis McKelvin seemingly got a lot of heat for that touchdown he allowed, but I’m not sure it was all that bad of a play. He was around the ball, made a good reaction, but just missed on undercutting the receiver by a slight bit. He was incredibly close to making an excellent play which would have had all of us talking about how great he is.

    LB Joe Walker had a strong game also. Made an excellent 4th down run stop in the backfield after perfectly shooting the a-gap. Seems to be a good tackler with a nose for the ball. Wonder if he can cover?

    I was unimpressed with the Eagles’ linebacking play early on. Lots of poorly challenged screen plays. I didn’t see all that much of Bradham, but what I did see wasn’t very impressive.

  55. 55 meteorologist said at 8:34 AM on August 12th, 2016:

    Nice analysis

  56. 56 Jernst said at 2:07 PM on August 12th, 2016:

    Nice post, Jim! You should post more often. I liked how you described Barner. That’s exactly how I’ve felt about him since day one. You won’t lose any games because he’s your 3rd or 4th RB, but you also won’t win any either because of him if he’s forced to start. Never fully understood all the hype he received.

    Other than that, this game really seemed to highlight what, I think, we already knew. WRs on this team are atrocious, the Oline depth is really bad, Chase Daniel is too short and doesn’t have the necessary physical skills to ever be a starting QB, CB is a major question mark and the Dline is the strength of the team.