Reminder that we are without All-22 film until the season starts, so the diagrams won’t reappear until then. However, last night the Eagles played a very good game, and I wanted to give you some takeaways:
– Both QBs look really good. It looks like everyone is jumping on the Vick train, but I’m sticking with Foles. Given the performance of both QBs, this is turning into a fairly simple decision. If you want the highest upside for this season, Vick’s your guy (though he likely doesn’t offer as big an advantage as most seem to believe.
On the other hand, I don’t understand how anyone can watch Nick Foles and not get at least a little excited about his potential in the NFL. Last night, Foles finally put a stake in the heart of the “too slow, not mobile” argument. I’m not even talking about the TD run. Watch him move in the pocket and avoid the rush. He consistently helps his O-Line by sliding away from pressure while keeping his eyes downfield. Most importantly, each of his throws was about as accurate as they could possibly be.
Finally, I don’t mean to bring everyone down, but just remember that Michael Vick has been in the NFL for a very long time. He’s played 10 seasons and has thrown nearly 3000 passes. That sample is likely a MUCH BETTER indication of what we should expect than these past two preseason games. Maybe Chip Kelly “unlocked” Vick. It’s possible, just know that its unlikely.
– Shady shouldn’t touch the field again until the regular season. I said at the end of last season that the Eagles’ rebuilding plan was relatively simple: Rely on McCoy and a healthy O-Line to carry the offense while you focus on fixing the defense. Regardless of who the QB is, its clear who will be the driver of the offense. Shady looks fantastic, lets not get him hurt.
– I’ve mentioned it a few times (including yesterday), but last season the Eagles offense started their drives, on average, nearly 7 yards behind where the opposing team did. It doesn’t sound like much, but its a huge disadvantage. A big reason for that was terrible Special Teams.
Perhaps the biggest preseason development is how improved the STs look. I’ve talked about how improvement was assured (by virtue of how bad the team was), but we might have to actually raise those expectations. Punt return/coverage, the biggest weakness from last year, looks really good. That should lead to a lot more points scored, regardless of whether the offense itself improves.
– Some bright spots on the defense as well, though I’m grading them on a curve. Patrick Chung, if he can stay healthy, looks like he’ll be a big upgrade at Safety. The fact that he can consistently step up and make tackles is big, even if he isn’t great in coverage (haven’t seen much of this without the All-22, so I can’t grade that part of his game).
– Bennie Logan and Vinny Curry are both flashing big potential. A word of caution though, they haven’t been playing against #1’s. My biggest hope for the next game is that we see a D-Line combo of Cox-Logan-Curry. Given how well Logan/Curry has played so far, Kelly owes it to them to see if they can hold up against better competition.
If both players can turn into at least solid starters, the team’s defensive rebuild accelerates by at least a full season.
– Might be time to forget about Trent Cole and Brandon Graham. We knew it was going to be a tall order to fit them into a 3-4/4-3 Under defense, and it looks like it’s not going to happen. At this rate, I expect to see Graham quietly traded later in the season for a middle-round draft pick. Maybe it’s too early to judge, but I’m firmly pessimistic that either one of these players can play a significant role in the new defense. At best, they’re placeholders on the depth chart until the team can draft/sign players who fit the scheme better.
– Get ready to hate Cary Williams. Last night was a great example of what he “brings” to the table. He’ll be a big improvement over last year, but expect to see a high number of passes completed to his man. The book on him is he gives WRs a lot of space to make the catch underneath, but tackles them after the catch to limit gains. For this year, that’s fine, it’s a big step up from getting beat deep every other play. However, I have a feeling Eagles fans will get tired of that style fairly quickly.
– I’m a little worried about Zach Ertz. In my ratings system, I had this pick as a reach. So far, he looks like a good receiver (which we expected). However, the fact that he, a high second round pick, isn’t getting more playing time tells you he must be doing something wrong in practice. Update: After finding the snap counts, it seems Ertz played more than I thought (20 snaps). I’d still like to see more of him in-line before the season starts. The easiest guess is his blocking, which was a known weakness. Still, it’s not as if the Eagles TE corps comprises a bunch of pro-bowlers. I like Celek a lot, but I’d expect the #35 overall pick to at least give him a battle for the #1 spot. Definitely not a big deal yet, but it’s something to keep an eye on.
– Matt Barkley is quietly having a pretty good stretch. Granted he’s not playing against starters, but considering he was a 4th round pick, he’s acquitting himself very well.
Lastly, some of you may have noticed that yesterday’s chart was also posted over at BleedingGreenNation.com. I’ve joined that site as a contributor, but this site will remain the main focus. In fact, for the time being, my BGN posts will consist entirely of what I feel are the most interesting/important EaglesRewind posts.