Sunday Recap: Eagles Wake Up vs Jags, Show Team Identity
When reflecting on yesterday’s game I can’t help but think that this was the best possible outcome for the Birds. The first-half thrashing by Jacksonville was a fitting calibration for the team and fans alike as we move from the inflated expectations of the offseason into the reality of the NFL.
Some of the major points of emphasis?
1. Nick Foles is by no means a god. He was miserable and then he got worse before balancing out in the second half. Errant throws, holding on to the ball, and underwhelming with his deep power. This kid still has a lot to work on. He’s by no means a star.
2. The secondary is still a major point of concern. Cary Williams specifically was awful as he was regularly torched by an undrafted rookie wide receiver. Malcolm Jenkins also bit on a screen that led to a touchdown. Then you consider that the team’s best defensive playmaker in Brandon Boykin was sidelined because of personnel packages and my confidence wanes. They have a lot to prove this year.
3. Chip Kelly needs to improve from a tactical standpoint. Yes, Chip is a great mind offensively, but he’s not perfect. The Eagles offense was a corpse until halftime and if Chip is going to be one of the greats, he’ll need to adjust better on the fly. If a good team has the Eagles down 17-0 at halftime, they’re not likely coming back.
However, after a putrid opening to the season, the Eagles saved the game and the lives of many with a 34-0 half. Though, like a hearing a newborn giggle when they fart on you while you’re wiping their ass, the important thing wasn’t cleaning up the mess but the revelation of character. What we’ve learned:
1. The offensive line has depth. The heart of the team last season, the offensive line has already been a wreck compared to 2013 when the best five started every week together. Now Lane Johnson will miss the first four weeks, Evan Mathis is banged up and reserve swing tackle Allen Barbre is too. The Eagles played their 7th and 8th lineman in this game in Andrew Gardner and David Molk, who performed rather well in the second half. Give the team credit for having depth at a vital position. If you don’t believe me look at Green Bay.
2. Darren Sproles is everything we dreamed of and more. He’s gotten quality reviews with a bit of a lukewarm reaction from me. I expected Sproles to be a good player and to contribute, but to perform in all aspects of the game the way he did was impressive. His contributions as a player and leader are why Sproles is quickly emerging as a symbol of everything Chip stands for (except big people beating up little people).
3. Special Teams is now looks like the real deal. It took a year to cycle out the bottom of the roster, but now Chip has built himself a respectable looking special teams unit. Donnie Jones is a top-notch punter, Parkey is knocking down 50+ yarders and generating touchbacks, and guys like Brandon Bair and Boykin are blocking kicks and downing at the 1. The special teams unit had a fantastic showing throughout the game, which is invaluable. Outside of Librarians Gone Wild, its the non-sexiest thing to celebrate in quite some time.
The Eagles will now prepare for the Colts on Monday Night next week. Get ready for another wild one!