Friday, August 15, 2008

All wet: Eagles offensive starters flop while back-ups shine

(Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Well, that was an ugly game. In a game marred by rain and a lengthy lightning delay, the Eagles pulled out an impressive 24-13 come-from-behind win over the Panthers. While wins and losses in preseason NFL games doesn't really matter, the way the team plays does. And, from what I saw, the Eagles offensive starters did a lot more bad than good while the back-ups stole the show.

Positives:

- The Carolina Panthers aren't an offensive juggernaut, but you still have to be impressed with how the first team defense played for the Eagles, holding the Panthers to under 100 yards in the first half. They started the game with a pair of 3 and outs, showing a big improvement over how they started last week. The defense put pressure on the quarterback, stepped up to make solid tackles and Asante Samuel made a nice play to break up a pass in his first game as an Eagle. The Panthers did manage to put together one good drive, but the Eagles did well to keep them out of the end zone. Back-up cornerback Lito Sheppard even stepped up for an interception that could help out his trade value.

- The first team offensive line looked great, giving Donovan McNabb all the time in the world to move around and find open receivers. McNabb only had to rush his throw one time, so credit has to be given to the big guys up front for doing a great job protecting their starting quarterback.

- DeSean Jackson again showed a ton of promise in the passing game, catching 7 balls for 71 yards while playing the entire game. He really showed his versatility, catching some balls in traffic as well as along the sidelines. He even helped Tony Hunt find the end zone on a long run by making a few blocks. I doubted how effective the little guy could be as a wide receiver in the NFL, but so far he has really proven he could be a solid number two receiver.

- I called out Kevin Kolb's play last week, but he showed definite improvement this week. He showed off his strong arm and made some beautiful passes, including the 33 yard touchdown toss to Greg Lewis. He also showed poise in leading the Eagles to two late touchdowns to win the game. He just might have a bright future as an Eagle quarterback.

- Jerome McDougle recorded a sack and forced a fumble in his second straight good preseason game. He was all over the field and was seemingly involved in every play. When I made my projections for the Eagles 53 man roster, I didn't include McDougle on the team. That will probably change when I make my next projection. McDougle looks like a man determined to make the team, or at least make himself attractive to another team in a trade.

- Another guy I left off the projected Eagle roster was Tony Hunt, who made a strong case that he deserves a spot on the team tonight as he rushed for 79 yards on 5 carries. Most of his yards came on an impressive 51 yard touchdown run, but if you take that run out of the equation, he still averaged 7 yards per carry. He is still a longshot to make the team because there is virtually no room on the roster for 4 running backs, but he just made Andy Reid's job a little tougher as he makes cuts.

Negatives
- Despite a strong start, the first team offense failed to score a single point. After completing four straight passes to start the game, Donovan McNabb finished only 11 of 24 in the passing game, although he did manage to spread the ball around to seven different receivers. He seemed to get worse the longer he played, overthrowing several receivers and nearly throwing it right to the Panthers several times. Of course, it didn't help that the receivers kept dropping the ball. Early on in the game (before the lightning), the Eagles were racking up the yards, making it even more concerning that they weren't able to punch it in the end zone when they got close, a problem they had last year. Of course, they easily would have had six points if it wasn't for a missed David Akers attempt and a lame fake field goal attempt.......

- The fake field goal attempt by the Eagles was stupid. I don't know whose idea it was or why they did it, but obviously it wasn't a bright move. What's the point of using a fake play in preseason, anyway? If the fake was any good, you wouldn't be wasting it in a meaningless game. Thank goodness this wasn't a regular season game or Andy Reid would have a ton of explaining to do. On the positive side, at least we won't be seeing that play again.

- It didn't take long for Reggie Brown to get hurt again, did it? Brown missed last weeks preseason game against the Steelers with Achilles' tendinitis, and he left during the first drive of tonight's game with what looked like a hamstring injury. With the way DeSean Jackson is playing, Brown is already in danger of seeing a reduced role and these nagging injuries aren't helping him get ready for the season.

- The Eagles brought in DeSean Jackson and Lorenzo Booker to help fix their return game, but both had some real problems holding on to the football. Jackson really showed his explosiveness on a great punt return of over 25 yards but got stripped right before he fell to the ground. Booker looked even worse, muffing two kickoff returns and averaging only 6.7 yards per return. I know the ball was wet, but the Eagles have to hold on to the football in the return game or we might see Reno Mahe suiting up soon, and no one wants to see that.

2 comments:

dohlinden said...

i spent 3 quarters in the rain at this game and left before the 4th. the game was horrible so i didn't think they would do anything. i get home and see tony hunt running 40 yards to the house and an eventual win. wtf.

EnriqueFed said...

Wow, I'm impressed you stayed for three quarters in all that rain, it looked like 75% of the crowd left after the delay. Yeah, you missed quite a finish, but it was only a preseason game!