Yesterday I told you what I liked from the Eagles' performance in their first preseason game.
Today we go with the bad news, of which there is plenty.
Before you roast me for being too negative, I understand that it was only one preseason game. But here are the issues I saw from the loss to the Patriots:
The offensive line - This one should really come as no surprise. The only "true" starters who played Thursday were Jamaal Jackson and Jason Peters. Let's start with Peters, the big-money free-agent acquisition to fill the left tackle position previously occupied by Tra Thomas. Some have ripped him for giving up two sacks. The first one was undoubtedly on him. On a third down, Tully Banta-Cain beat Peters and got to Donovan McNabb. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said the problem there was the snap count.
“We were off the ball," he said. "We use a lot of snap counts, that’s one of things I was talking about playing well together. That snap count, we’ve got to be able to use that as a weapon and if you’re not using it as a weapon, then it becomes a deterrent for yourself and that’s what happened.”
If you watch the replay, you see exactly what Mornhinweg is talking about. Peters kind of just stands there when the ball is snapped. By the time he is ready to block, Banta-Cain is already around him. The good news is he didn't just get beat straight up. The bad news is these are the things that happen when guys are injured and the offensive line doesn't play together at all.
On the second sack, which the announcers blamed on Peters, it looked like a clear miscommunication issue. Peters was in the area, but it was actually the player Nick Cole was blocking who got to McNabb. Again, a lack of continuity.
As for the other linemen, I didn't think Winston Justice played particularly well. He was driven back a couple times, and there was one play where he got back in his stance and had no one to block. He literally didn't touch anyone as Brent Celek got driven towards the backfield. Justice was also whistled for a holding penalty.
It's obvious that the offensive line needs to play together, but there's a pretty good chance that's not going to happen during the preseason. By the way, Julius Peppers awaits in Week 1.
The pass rush -- Or more accurately, the lack of a pass rush. The Eagles' first-team defense registered zero sacks and got very little pressure against Tom Brady and company. Granted, Trent Cole was not playing, but the other guys still need to do better. When the reserve defensive tackles -- Dan Klecko and Willie Williams -- came in to start the third quarter, the Patriots had more success running the ball. Matt Wilhelm was also in at middle linebacker during that time.
Special teams -- Yikes, where to begin here? A muffed punt by Jeremy Maclin. Two missed field goals by David Akers, one of which was blocked. A punt return for a TD by the Pats. Penalties galore. It was not a very good start for Ted Dashier and company. In all fairness, a lot of guys were given a chance on special teams during the game, and many of them probably won't even make the team. Dashier seemed like he had the respect and attention of his players at Lehigh so I'm not going to go overboard with criticism here. But something to keep an eye out for Thursday night against the Colts.
** Asante Samuel was pounding his chest to the crowd while the refs were throwing a flag, calling him for a 50-yard pass interference penalty. I generally like Samuel's enthusiasm, but that's the type of thing during the regular season that will get the fans on your bad side.
** No pressure on Brady's first touchdown pass. Looks like Akeem Jordan was lined up one-on-one with tight end Chris Baker. Sean McDermott went over the play with Jordan as soon as he walked to the sidelines.
** "There's the duck," said the play-by-play guy to promote Aflac. The line ironically came right after one of McNabb's worst throws of the night, a low ball aimed at DeSean Jackson.
** If Brian Westbrook is healthy, and with what LeSean McCoy has shown, I can't imagine Lorenzo Booker ever getting on the field if he makes the team. To be fair, Booker had a nice catch down the near sideline for 25 yards, but I just don't see him stacking up with the other two guys in any aspect.
** Poor protection for A.J. Feeley on multiple plays towards the end of the second quarter.