Eagles/Patriots Post Game Thoughts
A few thoughts from what I saw from tonight’s preseason game.
1. Vick injured his ribs again early in the game, expect questions about his durability to cover ESPN until your grandchildren have grandchildren.
2. King Dunlap had a solid outing tonight, containing Chandler Jones throughout the game and making an impact on the second level. The starting left tackle job now appears as though it’s his to lose. Demetress Bell has an awful outing against the second and third sting players from New England as he struggled maintaining his blocks and was an obvious weak link throughout the second half. He was also called for a few holding penalties. Very concerning for him overall.
3. If I had to pick a single bright spot, it was undeniably Nick Foles. Foles continued showing good pocket presence, confidence, and precision as he led the Eagles through most of the game going 18 of 28 for 217 yards 2 TD’s and a pick. It was quite the showing from the rookie. After the first preseason game, when talk had started of Foles taking the #2 QB position from Mike Kafka, I felt the praise was a bit premature. However, Foles was impressive again tonight and I’m having second thoughts. His poise and decision making was beyond impressive for a preseason rookie QB…I bet Mike Kafka isn’t nearly as confident as he was two weeks ago either.
4. Mychal Kendricks looks like everything he’s ben hyped up to be. While he didn’t have the chance to cover Rob Gronkowski or Aaron Hernandez, Kendricks was making plays all over the field. He disrupted screens, pressured the QB while lining up as a defensive end, and always seemed to be near the play. Jon Gruden described him as being similar to Lance Briggs which, while premature, may not be far off. Kendricks has been physical and made tackles in the open field, which is important for the success of this defensive unit going forward. The sky seems to be the limit for this kid.
5. Speaking of the defense, I hope they come up with a way to stop the screen pass. Opponents know that the Eagles are going to bring the heat with a deep rotation on the front four and are more than content to just throw dump screens over them and force the back seven to make a play. Derek Landri showed a good effort of reading and reacting to screens, but they were still burnt a countless number of times throughout the night. Tackling was much improved tonight, but plenty of Pro Bowl caliber starters didn’t play for New England so it;s hard to take too much from that.
6A and B. Two other players who performed particularly well tonight offensively outside of Foles, Clay Harbor and Bryce Brown. Harbor had a great night, catching six passes for 30 yards and 2 TD’s while seeing plenty of time with the first team offense. Expect a piece about him in the next few days here at The Wooder Cooler. Very interesting player for the Birds this year.
Bryce Brown again showed a solid rushing performance going 9 times for 51 yards as well as two catches for 16 yards. Make no mistake about it, Brown is going to be the third back on this team. He’s a strong runner who has demonstrated good vision and a stiff arm that makes me gush like a 12 year old girl at an Elvis concert. As long as he can improve his pass blocking, which is a new aspect of his game, then he has the potential to be a very solid back in this league.
7. Chris Polk had a good day as well, converting several short-yardage runs. The Eagles definitely like him, however, with McCoy, Lewis, and Brown there’s really no place for Polk in the crowded backfield. They’ve discussed placing Polk at fullback, a la Tony Hunt, but he seems to be destined for the practice squad if he clears waivers.
8. Mat McBriar looks like the leading candidate to be the Eagles punter. He was the holder for the first half of the game on field goals, a point that I discussed in my 5 things to watch, and it appears as though he’s the leader for the job. Just consider these numbers, Mat McBriar had a long of 56 yards, Chaz Henry–41 yards. Ouch.
9. The replacement referee’s made another botched call today when a dropped pass by Brent Celek was initially called a fumble and returned for a TD by New England. When watching the play, the fact that it was initially called a fumble was laughable and exactly for that reason, terrifying. NFL, please give some of your disgusting amount of revenue to the refs soon. There’s no reason to play games of going tit-for-tat through the media. The refs deserve what they want and the league will benefit by it in the long run.
10. Demaris Johnson went from Cinderella to the pumpkin in one week. He botched an early punt return, fumbling the initial catch, and gained only 5 yards after picking it up. He also struggled with a few tough grabs during the game. This is in no way a condemnation for Johnson, but rather a reminder that preseason success is not a sign of guaranteed greatness, especially for undrafted rookies.
11. Steve Vallos, a 6th year journeyman, got some time a center tonight. Definitely worth a close look when the Eagles play the Brown’s on Friday.
Biggest non-story from the night: Andy Reid yelling at Cullen Jenkins. It’s happens and they were fine by the time the game ended. Great job by Andy handling that during his press conference and quashing it quickly.