The Eagles showed their share of positives and negatives on Saturday night.
The good news was that the Eagles had a lot of nice individual showings. Guys like Michael Vick, Mychal Kendricks, and Connor Barwin turned in good performances.
However, as a team, the Eagles were shown up by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Offensively, the first team was inconsistent. They had some nice moments, and went on four scoring drives in the first half, but stalled on three of those possessions, settling for field goals instead of touchdowns. The Eagles turned the ball over three times, providing the Jaguars will valuable opportunity and momentum. Jacksonville scored 10 points off of the Philadelphia turnovers.
The defense performed poorly, allowing 17 points in the first half to a Jacksonville offense that possesses mediocre talent.
The unit began the game by allowing a 12-play, 90-yard drive that ended with a touchdown. The defense offered little resistance, as the Jaguars marched down the field. The drive ended with a Chad Henne touchdown pass to Justin Blackmon on a play where Patrick Chung and Bradley Fletcher failed to communicate and didn’t pick him up.
Later in the first-half, the defense was gashed by running back Jordan Todman for a 63-yard touchdown. Its very alarming that the Jaguars, with the lack of depth and talent on their first-team offense, pushed around this Eagles defense.
For the most part, I thought Michael Vick played another good game.
Vick finished the game 15/23 for 184 yards with a touchdown and an interception, and also ran for 53-yards on seven carries. I thought Vick was the team’s best offensive player in this game. Almost all of his passes were precise and on target. He delivered some great quick strikes to DeSean Jackson, Jason Avant, and Riley Cooper, including a 9-yard touchdown pass to Cooper.
Vick did a great job eluding the pass rush and extending drives. There were several instances where Vick was able to find running lanes, and turn a third-and-long into a first down with a sprint. The former Pro Bowlers legs look fresher than they’ve been in recent years.
Vick’s only blemish came on a turnover in the second quarter. The veteran made a terrible decision, throwing a ball off of his back foot that went up for grabs and turned into an easy interception for Jacksonville. Throwing a ball off of your back foot or across your body is an act of desperation that almost never ends well for the offense. These are the kind of reckless turnovers that Vick has produced throughout his career. It certainly doesn’t overshadow all the good that he did tonight, but its worth noting nonetheless.
Mychal Kendricks was sensational tonight. The second-year man was all over the field tonight, and enjoyed his most active night of the preseason. Kendricks began his night by stuffing Maurice Jones-Drew for no gain on the first play the Jaguars ran. The linebacker picked up a sack on Henne in the second on a third-down blitz to end a drive. Later in the half, Kendricks batted down a pass from Henne on third and 1, nearly coming away with an interception.
If the Eagles turn Kendricks loose, he has a chance to be one of their most impactful defensive players.
Individual Concerns On Defense
There are three players in particular on defense that I’m particularly concerned about.
Bradley Fletcher, Nate Allen, and Trent Cole.
Fletcher was picked on for the third consecutive game. On the first Jacksonville possession, Chad Henne targeted him several times. The former St. Louis Ram missed a tackle on a bubble screen, and then gave up a 21-yard reception to Justin Blackmon on the next play. Fletcher was then caught up in a miscommunication with safety Patrick Chung that resulted in the first Jacksonville touchdown. The young cornerback has had a rough preseason, and his bright moments have been few and far between.
It’s pretty clear that the Eagles aren’t confident in Nate Allen. The team rotated him with rookie Earl Wolff throughout the first half, and neither safety was able to make a positive impression. Allen has been given every opportunity to prove that he should be a starting safety, and he’s done nothing to show that he deserves it.
Trent Cole can still help out as a pass rusher, but he was really struggling in coverage tonight. Receivers were getting away from Cole easily, as the linebacker whiffed on several attempts to jam his man at the line of scrimmage. Cole is the team’s best option right now, as the team just doesn’t have any legitimate challenge for him. Brandon Graham hasn’t made any kind of push for the job, and lone of the other linebackers on the roster have come close to sniffing the starting lineup.
- Nick Foles didn’t get in the game until the end of the third-quarter, but he helped engineer a 99-yard drive that ended with a touchdown. Foles went 10/11 for 112 yards. Most of his passes were short and intermediate routes.
- The offensive line was pretty disappointing tonight. The Jacksonville defensive line gave them fits throughout the night. They struggled to create running lanes, and allowed the pass rush to get to Michael Vick throughout the night.
- Lane Johnson missed a block on the second play of the team’s drive drive, which created a sack putting the Eagles in a second and long situation. Johnson did do a nice job later in the quarter, helping to spring LeSean McCoy for a 15-yard gain.
- Evan Mathis called for a holding call that negated a reception from Brent Celek that would have given the Eagles a first down.
- There was also a bad snap by Jason Kelce in the second, nearly created another turn over, and probably cost the team a chance for seven points.
- The struggles weren’t just limited to the first-team offensive line. Allen Barbre was called for a holding penalty in the fourth quarter that negated a first-down.
- Heck of a catch by Jason Avant. Avant made a one-handed grab on a tipped pass in the second quarter and turned the play into a first-down.
- How can the coaching staff trust Bryce Brown? Brown had a 28-yard run in the third quarter, but didn’t protect the football and had it knocked out by a Jacksonville defender. The ball flew into the back of the endzone, resulting in the team’s third turnover of the night. Forget about Brown’s electric runs that he made during the game, he’s going to kill this team.
- While Brown disappointed, Chris Polk turned in a nice performance. Polk picked up 28 total yards and scored the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth.
- Russell Shepard had a 29-yard reception on a bubble screen from Nick Foles in the fourth.
- Great concentration by Connor Barwin on a turnover in the second quarter. Barwin tipped a pass, and managed to make a difficult play to come down with the ball for an interception, the first takeway of the preseason for the team.
- Clifton Geathers had a strong pass rush in the second, pushing Luke Joeckel towards Henne.
- Colt Anderson did not look good at all with the second-team defense. Anderson missed tackles and was blown away by blockers.
- Why can’t Vinny Curry get a chance to run with the first team? Curry didn’t see significant action until the second half, and once he got his chance he was once again very active.
- Kenny Phillips was a no-show once again. I don’t know how the Eagles can justify giving him a roster spot at this point.
- Damaris Johnson has had a fine preseason, but the second-year man made a critical mistake, fumbling a punt return away in the second quarter. The Eagles defense had just forced the Jags into a three-and-out.
- Johnson did have plenty of explosive returns in the game as well, including a 60-yard kick return.
Despite some impressive individual performances, I saw a number of flashes from the 2012 Eagles in tonight’s game.
Over the last couple of years, the Eagles have been a team that has been explosive at times, but killed themselves with careless turnovers and terrible defense. Tonight we saw the Eagles make a lot of backbreaking mistakes that allowed a team with lesser talent to get the best of them. Turnovers kill, and the three that the Eagles had gave the Jaguars’ starters the advantage they needed to outplay the Eagles’ first string tonight.
Denny Basens in the editor of GCobb.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.