The Philadelphia Inquirer Blog - Eagles
Jeff McLane, Inquirer Staff Writer
Here are a few quick observations off the Eagles-Jaguars game that may have been lost in all the Vick hoopla:
-- Having Trent Cole back makes a huge difference. The end was a disruptive force in the first quarter -- his lone 15 minutes of play. He could have had two sacks -- Eugene Monroe was called for holding after Cole burned him on the outside and Jacksonville quarterback David Garrard barely dumped an incomplete pass off before the Eagles' end dropped him.
-- Joe Mays is, unfortunately, going to be a work in progress. Early in the game he over-pursued on a screen pass and later on the Jags exploited the linebacker's over-aggressiveness with another screen. If you want a middle linebacker to stuff the run or straight out blitz, Mays is your man. But he has some learning to do when it comes to dropping into coverage. Mays did tip a Garrard pass in the first half.
-- Asante Samuel has arrived just in time for the season. The cornerback had an interception, nearly decapitated a wide receiver and gave the Eagles D some sass last night. Ellis Hobbs, filing in for the injured Sheldon Brown, also came out with a litte fire. He was downright awful last week against the Colts -- as was Samuel. But Hobbs, if anything, secured a spot on the team. He also had a nice kick return for 26 yards.
-- Quintin Demps has a tough job in replacing the beloved Brian Dawkins, so you don't want to pile on. But the safety has been underwhelming, to say the least. He was completely flummoxed on the Maurice Jones-Drew 45-yard screen that led to a TD. Demps had no solo tackles and just one assist. He's pretty much got the starting job by default -- Sean Jones has been just OK -- but it's not a position without worry with the regular season two weeks away.
-- Moise Fokou has been steadily earning more playing time this preseason and with Omar Gaither recovering from a knee sprain, the rookie could sneak onto the first team in the nickel. He led the team with six tackles last night and, despite his relative youth, could be the contingency plan if Mays doesn't work out.
-- I think Jason Babin made this team. Makes you wonder what Chris Clemons and Bryan Smith are thinking.
-- Jason Avant will be Donovan McNabb's second favorite wide receiving target during the regular season. DeSean Jackson will get the most looks, but Avant's crisp routes and reliable hands will give McNabb a better option that Kevin Curtis.
-- Shady McCoy had his second straight subpar night. He's a rookie and there's going to be a learning curve. He sometimes tries to do too much and when he's faced with a tackler always seems to want to kick it outside. He'll be fine, though, as a complement to a healthy Brian Westbrook.
-- Speaking of running backs, I think Lorenzo Booker has finally found his way out of town. He had no carries last night while Eldra Buckley took three. I'm not sure if Buckley finds a roster spot. He hasn't been consistent catching the ball out of the backfield. But he's ahead of Booker at this point. Kyle Eckel's fumble last night may have doomed his chances of making the team.
-- I heard that a certain former Eagle -- rhymes with Few Fouglas -- was critical of Jeremy Maclin's play last night. I actually thought Maclin looked good and made strides over his previous two games. There's no way he has the impact Jackson brought to the wide receiving corp last year, but he'll have his moments as he becomes familiar with the offense.
-- Curtis had only one catch for 14 yards. That gives the veteran wideout just two catches in the preseason. The Eagles say he's fine, but you have to wonder if he's completely recovered from that off-season sports hernia surgery.
-- Kevin Kolb's night got off to a bad start with the safety, but he rebounded and threw perhaps the best pass of the game when he zipped a throw to Reggie Brown for a 9-yard TD. Kolb, in my estimation, had a rotten camp and that may have had something to do with the Vick acquisition. But he was better last night -- not great or even good -- and he'll have a sizeable portion of next week's game to solidify his backup spot.
UPDATE: Elder statesman Bob Brookover took exception with my assumption that Clemons or Smith could be the odd defensive ends out. He suggests that the Eagles could carry seven ends (Cole, Victor Abiamiri, Darren Howard, Juqua Parker, Babin, Clemons and Smith) because Howard and Abiamiri can also play some tackle. [Plug alert] Brookie, by the way, will predict the 53-man roster in Sunday's paper.