Good to watch football again. Good to watch the Eagles play against somebody other than themselves and throw touchdowns, grab interceptions, and hit 81-yard punts.
We saw a nice sample size of snaps for guys who are competing for roster spots, plus a standout performance from an Eagles rookie.
To start, however, these were the inactive players last night:
Carson Wentz, Nick Foles, Nelson Agholor, Mike Wallace, Alshon Jeffery, Brandon Graham, Zach Ertz, Donnel Pumphrey, Markus Wheaton, Matt Jones, Ian Park, Tim Jernigan, Chris Maragos, Asantay Brown
Pumphrey was a guy with something to prove, but missed out with a lower body injury, according to Doug Pederson. Matt Jones also did not dress, so maybe we see more of those guys next week as the battle for the 4th running back spot pans out.
Same with the receiving corps, with the entire starting group sitting this one out. That allowed Shelton Gibson and Bryce Treggs and other peripheral guys to get a good chunk of snaps and targets. With Wentz and Foles unavailable, Nate Sudfeld and Joe Callahan split the reps at quarterback.
Some short notes I wrote down while watching the game:
- Destiny Vaeao was in the 1st team defense
- Nate Gerry started at the WILL linebacker spot
- Corey Nelson played mostly in the second half
- Sure enough, on the first 3rd and long, the Eagles stacked Michael Bennett at defensive tackle inside of Chris Long. They’re gonna be a nightmare in those situations this season.
- Corey Clement got in on the punt return game with Rashard Davis
- The Birds started their 1st team offensive line minus Jason Peters, who gave way to Big V instead
- I’m a big fan of that heavy formation with Isaac Seumalo brought in as an extra blocker
- some of the defensive starters were still in at the start of the second quarter
- I thought Gibson looked halfway decent as a kick returner (and finally got loose for a receiving TD)
- Wendell Smallwood got a lot of touches but fumbled coming through the hole. Josh Adams probably had a slightly better day running the ball.
- Seumalo with another bad snap while playing center, which has been an issue at training camp
- Steven Means deserves snaps on another team; he’s a good player just buried behind a stacked group of ends here
- Jordan Mailata is going to be a work in progress
- I started to fade in the second half and allowed my wife to turn on E News with two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter
And some more thought-out stuff here:
He didn’t have a first team wide receiver to throw to, but he did get to play with 4 of 5 offensive line starters for a bit.
Obviously a bad interception in the 1st quarter, just a bait and drop off in zone coverage by Coty Sensabaugh that Sudfeld didn’t recognize at the line of scrimmage.
Sudfeld talked about that post-game:
“Greg Ward ran a great route. It was a bad read. I thought it was a different coverage than it was and I tried to play fast. I put it out there and the corner came off. I wanted to bury my head in the ground on that one. Those stink, but fortunately I got to keep going out there and get into a little bit of a rhythm. [I was] glad I could come back from that a little bit. Turnovers can’t happen.”
And Sensabaugh’s take:
“To be honest with you I don’t even know what the receiver was running. I know we were in cover-2 and I just had my eyes on the quarterback. I saw him throw it and he kind of just threw it right to me. So I just had to secure the catch and go from there.”
Sudfeld made a nice, calm throw on the next drive to a wide-open Dallas Goedert after a play action/fake bootleg. He hit Goedert in the hands on the next throw, which was dropped.
He almost got Clement killed on a dump-down where he aired the ball and just didn’t make the decision quickly enough, but circled back to hit Goedert on that Zach Ertz-esque 15 yard seam. On the same drive, he had his best play of the night, ducking former Temple Owl Tyler Matakevich, stepping up, and hitting Goedert right on the money for a touchdown.
The second interception looked like a miscommunication with Bryce Treggs, so I wouldn’t read too much into that. He then hit Gibson on the deep bomb:
AND THERE IT IS.
Shelton Gibson's first touchdown as an Eagle was a home-run hit! pic.twitter.com/xDptUF2LIC
— PhillySportsNetwork (@PhiladelphiaSN) August 10, 2018
Some good and bad from Sudfeld, but you can see why the Eagles like him. He does do some Wentz and Foles type of things and he’s built the same way, with that big 6’5″, 225 pound frame. If the cerebral side of the game catches up with everything else, he can probably be a viable #2 in this league. I definitely see some upside.
Much better than watching Matt McGloin for another preseason, that’s for sure.
Also, consider this:
Joe Callahan has a guy playing his first game ever (literally ever) protecting his blind side, and a center who can't snap the ball.
— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) August 10, 2018
Looked phenomenal minus the one drop. He caught 4 balls for 66 yards and a touchdown and his 5th target was a drop, so it probably should have been something like 5 grabs for 75 and a score, which is a very TE1 type of line. He looked like a pro out there.
Doug didn’t drop many interesting post-game quotes, but said this about Goedert:
“I wanted to feature him a little bit. We were very vanilla, obviously, on offense. But at the same time, just wanted to get him into a little bit of a rhythm, he and [QB] Nate [Sudfeld]. He did some nice things for us. He’s going to be a great addition to our offense and offensive package. Excited for his future and what he can provide offensively.”
And as far as blocking:
“He’s really done a nice job. He’s a willing participant to block. You’ve just got to continue to trust his technique, trust the coaching. And the way [Eagles tight ends coach] Justin [Peelle] is teaching. Continue to just get stronger. It’s good to see him stick his face in there and be physical with defensive and outside linebackers. He’ll continue to get better.”
Think about what the Eagles can do with both Goedert and Ertz on the field together. It’s gonna be something else when the Birds get into the red zone and run a two tight-end formation, which defenses are going to have a nightmare trying to guard. You’ve got two guys with a wonderful catch radius that use their body well and have the size and strength to match. Even if you’ve got a linebacker or slot guy who can stay with a tight end, you need to find somebody for the other guy.
It really is something else.
He wasn’t bad, yeah? Maybe he could have pinned that first punt inside the 10, but whatever. It seems like consistency might be a thing with him until he gets more games under his built.
Case in point – he hit a freaking 81 yard punt in the second half, net 76 yards, wiped out by a penalty but immortalized in video:
A penalty wiped away this 81-yard punt by Cameron Johnston, but this was a bomb!! pic.twitter.com/R2p996fECy
— The Bitter Birds (@AdrianFedkiw) August 10, 2018
Busy night for Rasul.
He played the ball fine on the first Steeler touchdown, but just misjudged it I guess. He was in really nice position to go up and get the interception but the leap was disappointing. His coverage was better on the third down end zone shot that eventually was wiped out due to a late hit on the quarterback by Josh Sweat.
He then had a nice really nice pick at the end of the second quarter, which looked like the Rasul I watched at WVU – just very good instincts and timing to go up and get the ball.
Then… he got beat on the TD right before halftime. Feels like he played it okay, but again just wasn’t deep enough and didn’t time his jump correctly.
I think the positive takeaway is that he’s always around the ball and seems to get good read on what’s going on, but had two bad jump ball scenarios on a hit or miss night.
Sidney Jones was the first Eagles penalized for dropping the head.
15 yards and an automatic first down right here:
Sidney Jones is the first Bird to get popped for the new helmet rule: pic.twitter.com/0xp23sH7Ls
— Kevin Kinkead (@Kevin_Kinkead) August 10, 2018
It definitely looked avoidable to me. The offensive player was already wrapped up and going to ground and he did lower the crown of the helmet to make contact.
Jones limped off the field in the first half but no worries, he says it was just a sprained ankle and nothing related to the Achilles that kept him out last year.
Loved the decision to go for two after the penalty following the first score, then to do it again after the second score. Might as well, right? It’s the preseason, get meaningful reps in.
That was Doug’s modus operandi last season – taking risks – so I wouldn’t expect that to change any time soon. He needs to get back into the rhythm and flow of the game and preseason is the perfect time to do it.
As far as working alongside new offensive coordinator Mike Groh for the first time, he said this:
“It was really good on the sideline. He and I just collaborated during the game. He was constantly throwing ideas and note cards with plays on it in my direction, runs and passes. That’s what I need. As a play caller, you get in these games like this, and you just want those ideas because my mind goes one way and his goes another, but we come together. But I thought the communication was really good tonight.”
New kickoff rules
Gonna take some time getting used to, but I think you might see teams try to hit that short kick and land it right at the goal line, or just boot it out of the end zone entirely.
I need to go back and watch the game again to write down how both teams approached the kick off. Seems like there’s gonna be a feeling-out period in this preseason where all 32 clubs try some different things and gather the data, then come up with a strategy moving forward.
But it does look weird to see no movement before the ball is kicked. Just doesn’t feel right.
Whatever. Jenkins and Bausby had the fist up, if you care about that.
Scott Graham and Mike Mayock
Probably the best broadcasting pair we’re gonna get all season long. Mayock actually watches film, studies the game, and puts in the time, unlike most color guys who just phone it in week-in and week-out.
When Mayock tells me that the nose tackle is on a twist stunt and sees the offensive lineman leaving position – so he follows them out into the flat to blow up a screen – that’s the kind of stuff I’m looking for from a color commentator. I’m not looking for, “man, what a nice play by that guy!” Yeah, no shit? Mayock gives me nuts and bolts and explains the game.
Also appreciated the fullscreen graphic and the shout out for the late Tom Heckert.
And of course there was this:
"I love Long Cox" pic.twitter.com/CaWP73QhP3
— Kevin Kinkead (@Kevin_Kinkead) August 10, 2018