The third preseason game is supposed to be the most watchable of the four, but that was actually one of the worst football games I’ve ever seen at any level, and I used to stay up until 1 a.m. on Saturdays watching Hawaii play Louisiana Tech when both teams were in the “Western” Athletic Conference.

The Eagles offense was bad, the Browns offense was bad, and the only scoring came place on a first-half field goal and safety.

Those first 30 minutes were the stuff of dreams, featuring this:

  • 2 Nick Foles interceptions
  • 1 Foles fumble
  • 1 Matt Jones fumble
  • Foles tripping and falling down in his own end zone
  • zero Eagle points
  • Cleveland turning a +4 turnover margin into 3 points

Just wonderful stuff all around from the offense, but is it really that surprising? Again Carson Wentz, Alshon Jeffery, Jason Peters, Nelson Agholor, Darren Sproles, Jay Ajayi, and Corey Clement were inactive, now just two weeks out from the season opener.

The defense, however, was very good, showed up mostly ready to play, and looked a lot like the unit we saw last year after settling down in the first quarter and putting up a goal line stand to keep the Browns out of the end zone. I have a feeling that week one against the Falcons is going to be a low-scoring defensive struggle as the Eagles d-line holds down the fort until the offense finds its footing.

Some random notes I jotted down:

  • Sidney Jones started the game in the slot and defended two red zone targets very well (two natural pick plays where the Browns tried to free up Jarvis Landry in the back corner)
  • Avonte Maddox came in with the second unit and picked off Baker Mayfield
  • LaRoy Reynolds was on the opening special teams unit, Corey Nelson was not
  • Kamu Grugier-Hill came in to play the game’s first WILL snaps (looked like the Eagles opened in nickel)
  • WR DeAndre Carter returned the first punt and got some slot looks with the first team offense. He had a nice punt return to start the second half and finished with 4 receptions for 73 yards.
  • Wendell Smallwood started at running back with Mike Wallace and Shelton Gibson joining Dallas Goedert and Zach Ertz in the skill positions (12 personnel look)
  • Matt Jones fumbled with his first touch and will not be making the roster
  • Josh Sweat and Joe Ostman had monstrous tackles for loss in the third quarter
  • Josh Adams did not get in until late in the third quarter and ran the ball 4 times for 33 yards. I would have liked to see much more of him.
  • ho hum, another Steven Means sack
  • Jake Elliott missed another field goal in the 30-40 yard range
  • Big V again struggled at left tackle
  • the entire offensive line was underwhelming
  • Mike Wallace was only targeted twice and caught one pass for 3 yards

Other notes:

Nick Foles

He looked fine on his first couple of passes, then almost threw that pick-6 on the Shelton Gibson target, a ball that Gibson should have come back for.

The safety is what it is, just a stumble in the worst possible area of the field at the worst possible time. I do give him credit though for recovering and hurling a completion 40 yards down the field, which would have been a heck of a play if a Cleveland defender hadn’t made contact before he got himself upright.

On the second turnover, Zach Ertz got trucked by Genard Avery before Lane Johnson was pushed backwards into Foles. Big V also got manhandled, so he didn’t help out, but Nick can probably do a better job of stepping up into this pocket and getting rid of the ball early:

The interceptions were both just horrible passes, one where he didn’t hold the safety long enough before trying a deep ball and one where he just did not see a linebacker standing in front of his target.

At halftime, Erin Andrews spoke with Doug Pederson, who obviously wasn’t happy with his quarterback’s performance:

After the game, Doug kind of circled back and spread out the blame to his entire offense:

So I guess the question is: How much concern should we be showing with Foles?

I think “a lot” of concern would be appropriate, but here’s the thing – we’ve seen this before from him. He was not good in the Oakland game last season. He has put up plenty of duds before. That’s how he became a backup in the first place.

Nick goes hot and cold frequently. When he’s on, he’s REALLY on. And when he’s off, he’s REALLY off. There certainly is not a lot of middle ground with him. While it’s more than fair to be leery heading into week one, nobody should be surprised, because we’ve seen this movie before. Sometimes it’s The Fifth Element (last night’s performance) and sometimes it’s The Shawshank Redemption (Super Bowl 52). I don’t know if we’re gonna get Fifth Element Nick Foles against the Falcons or Shawshank Redemption Nick Foles, but I hope it’s the latter.

More Doug:

“He finished the season pretty well last year,” Pederson said regarding Foles. “We know who he is and what we need to do to get him ready to go, and again, we’re still pretty vanilla offensively. We haven’t done any of our [run-pass option] game. Those are all things that are part of his strengths, too, so we’ve got to make sure that when we put game plans together moving forward, that we’re utilizing his strengths too.”

I just don’t want this to turn into a narrative of, “well let’s speed up Carson Wentz’s recovery,” because that’s not what we need. You don’t want to rush back the injured franchise quarterback of the future because the hot and cold career backup is out of form heading into week one. Let’s just get these guys back to 100% and if they lose to the Falcons, so be it. You gotta think long term here.

Helmet rule

Zero flags last night, unless something happened during the final 5 minutes of the fourth quarter when I was falling asleep on the couch.

Whatever the NFL sent out or said to officials and teams this week obviously made a difference (in this game at least).

National anthem

Joe Buck and Troy Aikman

Aikman said the Eagles have the best offensive line in football, so he obviously hates Philadelphia, same with Joe Buck, who apparently hates everybody.

But I did think it was funny how Buck said something to the effect of, “I don’t know how much it’s been talked about that Nick Foles called the Philly Special.”

Well, everybody talked about it here. I think the average NFL fan had seen that Super Bowl clip at least once, yeah? I don’t know. If you’re a Cowboys or Patriots fan maybe you had no interest in Eagles Super Bowl documentary material.

On the broadcast, I thought it was interesting that they double-boxed a commercial during the first review and kept the camera on Nick Foles and the sidelines while the officials were working:

When I say “double-box” I’m just talking about the TV term where you put two different shots in two different frames, then play one track of audio over the top of both. So in this case, you’re looking at a 2×1 “stagger” box where the Geico commercial is in the big box with audio, while you can still see what’s happening during the game as the officials go through their review.

Time’s yours.