It didn’t take new starting cornerback Ronald Darby long to make his presence known.
Darby came up with one of the biggest highlights from tonight’s game, pulling down an interception from Tyrod Taylor, and returning it deep into Buffalo territory. Darby also broke up a pass earlier in the quarter.
It’s clear Darby is such an upgrade over what the Eagles were previously prepared to begin the season with. He’s got speed, he seems to have decent instincts, and if he can be around the ball like he was tonight, the Eagles are going to have much stronger defense than they did a year ago.
First-Team Offense Out Of Sync
The starters on the offensive side of the ball had a bit of a rough showing.
The unit took the field for four possessions in the first quarter, and despite the defense providing a short field twice on turnovers, and three total trips into Buffalo territory, the offense finished the night with three points to show for it.
It wasn’t all bad, and the unit was playing without left tackle Jason Peters, but there are still some things for this group to work on. Carson Wentz and Alshon Jeffrey don’t appear to be quite in sync with one another yet, and could use more reps together. Jeffrey has missed a decent chunk of practice time with a shoulder injury, and was also held out of last week’s game against Green Bay. A new receiver and his quarterback need this preseason time to gel more, and I’m a little disappointed that Doug Pederson didn’t let his offense at least play into the second quarter.
In the running game, LeGarrette Blount managed just eight yards on five carries, but the team called a number of stretch plays that just aren’t suited to his running style. Blount isn’t fast enough to get around the edge before the defense catches up to him, he’s at his best when he’s able to run full-speed head up the middle. When the Eagles did call on Blount to go north-south, he was productive.
Blount’s best play, surprisingly, came on a reception that he took for 17 yards to pick up a first down. The veteran caught the pass, and then allowed his blockers to get set up to help him rumble for a big gain. Unfortunately, he fumbled away his next reception two plays later.
- Good lord, Matt McGloin is horrible. McGloin went 12-20 for just 131 yards and an interception. The former Raider never seems to get his feet set in the pocket. He’s constantly jumping around, and always seems to be throwing off of his back foot.
- Fourth-string quarterback Dane Evans was a sight for sore eyes when he took over for McGloin in the fourth. Evans has a much stronger arm, and seems to have decent awareness of what’s going on around him. He was able to lead the team on the winning drive in the final quarter.
- Corey Clement is making it very difficult for the Eagles to release him. Clement picked up 34 yards on 8 carries, and scored a touchdown. But what’s also impressive is his blocking. Clement picked up a blitz in the second quarter that allowed McGloin the time to deliver a strike to Nelson Agholor that got the team deep in Buffalo territory.
- Rough night for Donnell Pumphrey, who ran the ball three times for -3 yards. Pumphrey did have two catches out of the backfield for 20 yards, but couldn’t get anything going on the ground.
- Wendell Smallwood was unable to suit up once again, which puts the Eagles in a tough spot when it comes to sorting out the running back situation.
- Torrey Smith doesn’t have a catch in the team’s first two games, but I’m not worried about him. There’s only so many opportunities to go around when the first-team offense has such a small amount of time on the field.
- Marcus Johnson suited up, and his training camp success carried over to this game, recording two catches for 45 yards, including a 38-yard catch and run.
- Nelson Agholor had a nice reception of his own, picking up 21 yards on a pass from McGloin to get the team deep in the redzone.
- Byron Marshall also looked impressive, rushing for 21 yards on six carries, and scoring the winning touchdown.
- Apart from Ronald Darby, the most impressive member of the defense from tonight’s game was Mychal Kendricks, who came down with another interception, and picked up a sack as well.
- Another strong showing for Derek Barnett, who picked up a sack and was disruptive on several other plays.
- Steven Means notched two more sacks of his own. He’s going to make the team, but I hope Jim Schwartz gives him a real opportunity to crack the team’s rotation this year, its clear he has some decent ability as a pass rusher.
- With Darby now starting, Patrick Robinson is getting a look in the slot, but I still don’t think he’s particularly likely to make the team.
- Rasul Douglas broke up a pass, and seemed to hold up well for the second straight week.
- Tyrod Taylor played into the second quarter for the Bills. His numbers against the Eagles’ first and second units? 8/18 for 58 yards, two interceptions, and a quarterback rating of 12. That’s a good night for Jim Schwartz’s unit.
- Caleb Sturgis went 2-3, missing another 40-yarder.
- Mack Hollins drew two special teams penalties on the Bills.
So far, so good on the Ronald Darby trade. Howie Roseman’s latest move has provided promising returns.
We’re halfway through the preseason.
It’s ugly football, and the stretch where Matt McGloin quarterbacked this team is some of the worst, most embarrassing thing you can see watching the NFL preseason.
Next week’s game against Miami promises to be much more eventful, as the Eagles make their final tune-up before the regular season.