Monday, August 31, 2015

Initial thoughts on Eagles-Patriots

Disclaimer: I'll re-watch this game, and revisit these initial thoughts and observations. I may wind up disagreeing with what I thought I saw the first time around. But for now, here's what I think I saw...

Initial thoughts on Eagles-Patriots

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Eagles quarterback Matt Barkley. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Eagles quarterback Matt Barkley. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

Disclaimer: I'll re-watch this game, and revisit these initial thoughts and observations. I may wind up disagreeing with what I thought I saw the first time around. But for now, here's what I think I saw...

• Michael Vick’s debut under Chip Kelly was a great one, obviously. Vick had two great throws. The first was a strike to Jason Avant down the seam, the second a bomb to DeSean Jackson for a score. The night went about as well as Vick could have hoped for.

• DeSean Jackson has caught a bomb pretty much every day in camp, by the way. I have a feeling he is in for a huge season.

• Nick Foles played well too. His first drive ended when he was the victim of a protection breakdown. He was hit while trying to throw, and fumbled. On his second try, he led a nice drive, capped off by a Bryce Brown TD run. Foles is a lot more athletic than he is given credit for. He did a nice job getting away from a Pats pass rusher.

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• Matt Barkley struggled early. Two lowlights. The first was when he threw across his body while rolling right. The ball was tipped and could have been picked. The other was a pass that he threw right to a Pats defender along the sideline, that was dropped. Barkley did have one really nice throw to Clay Harbor.

• On that throw to Harbor, which was a 20 yard gain, the Eagles immediately got into a hurry up. It took them just 15.2 seconds from the end of that play until that were set and ready to go on the next play. That is impressive work from the 3rd string with a rookie QB in the first preseason game under a new head coach.

• Greg Salas has had a great training camp, and that continued into the first preseason game. Salas had two highlight reel plays. The one-handed catch was a thing of beauty, but his elusive run after the catch on his TD was just as impressive. He proved that it’s no fun trying to toss Salas.

• 18 receivers caught passes for the Eagles. It’s the preseason and a lot of guys get playing time, but that is still a crazy number.

• On the long LaGarrette Blount run, Brandon Graham looked lost. I’ll have to go back and get a second look at that, but on first viewing it looked ugly. It was also interesting to see Graham on kick coverage. What does Billy Davis think of Graham is he's on the kick coverage team in the preseason?

• The Patriots first drive was gross, from the perspective of the Eagles’ defense.

• Chris McCoy has stood out in coverage from the OLB position throughout camp. Tonight he stood out in a different way. McCoy had 1.5 sacks, 2 QB hits, and a tackle for loss. McCoy injured his knee, but he said he’s fine, and doesn’t expect to be out long.

• Felix Jones stinks.

• Great game for Vinny Curry. He lived in the backfield tonight.

• Donnie Jones pinned the Pats at the 1 on one of his punts. His short field punting is excellent. I can say with 99.999999% confidence that the Eagles will do a far better job of short field punting than they did last year. From a previous column:

The Eagles were brutal when they punted near FG range. On their 12 closest punts within FG range, which were all at least at the Eagles' 48 yard line or closer, the opponent's average starting field position was the 17.8 yard line. Four of those punts went for touchbacks, three of them were actually outside the 20, and only one measly punt pinned their opponent inside the 10 (it was at the 9). That's absolutely awful.

• ILB Emmanual Acho seemed like he was everywhere tonight . I’ll get a better look at him the second time around. Same for Jake Knott.

• Brent Celek has had a flat out bad camp. A lot of drops. Tonight he caught a pass and proceeded to immediately fumble it.

• The Eagles didn’t waste any timeouts. That just doesn’t feel right.

• The Eagles defense gave up 248 yards on the ground on 31 carries. 8.0 yards per carry. Oof.

• Zach Ertz caught a pass and went to the ground on his own. Zach is 6’5, 250 pounds. Run somebody over, Zach.

• Damaris Johnson had a long punt return. He is so quick and elusive in small spaces, but you can see his limited “long speed” when a punter is able to track him down.

• Mychal Kendricks had very good coverage on Shane Vereen on a TD throw from Tom Brady. I’ll have more on that tomorrow.

• I'll also have more on the offensive and defensive lines this week. It's hard to evaluate line play from a hundred yards away in the press box.

• And as always, a reminder not to make too much of a preseason game: The Eagles went 4-0 in the preseason last year.

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