Eagles vs. Patriots: 10 Things We Learned from Philadelphia's 27-17 Win
First and foremost, it is important to note that the Patriots did not play most of their starters, including Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and Wes Welker. So whatever is taken away from this game must be also taken with a grain of salt.
Still, the following are some of the biggest observations from the game.
Michael Vick Still Plays Like Michael Vick
For the second straight preseason game, starting quarterback Michael Vick has been forced from the game due to injury. The startling rate at which he is getting nicked up is alarming, and it is hard to feel confident in the injury-prone starter.
Against the Patriots, Vick suffered a rib injury (X-rays came back negative for a fracture) after being hit hard, which could have been avoided had he gotten rid of the ball faster. I understand buying time to find the open player, but on that particular play the smartest thing to do would have been to throw the ball away.
Vick's injuries have limited the amount of snaps he has played so far this preseason, and there has not been much for fans to be hopeful about.
The Replacement Referees Have Some Work to Do
As much of a cliché as it may be, the referees for this game need to stick to their day jobs.
Not only did they make some boneheaded calls, they were also prone to giving into player demands. Worst of all, they were extremely slow to both make calls and set the ball for the next snap. At this rate, games could easily eclipse four hours, which is absurd.
Fortunately, games like this will give the NFL more incentive to come to an agreement with the actual refs.
Team Needs to Work on Minimizing Penalties
Perhaps more than anything else, penalties are what killed the Eagles this game. Routinely, the defense would make careless mistakes that cost a big play or a crucial stop.
Preseason are where penalties should be made so that the team can go back and work on them, so hopefully this game was a wakeup call that the team has plenty of mental mistakes to fix. Continually giving the opposing offense first downs will quickly tire a defense, and it showed.
It will be interesting to see if the team addresses penalties in practice this coming week.
Nick Foles Looks Very Much Like a (Promising) Rookie
Filling in for an injured Michael Vick, Nick Foles played very much like a rookie third-round pick.
Granted, he made a few good reads and throws (particularly on two touchdown passes to Clay Harbor), but largely all his completions were short passes to the running back or tight end. He also made a few mental errors and locked into his primary target too often. The later resulted in an easy read and interception by the Patriots defense.
Now, he did start making throws down the field in the second half, but remember that it was against a second-string defense.
That being said, he has more than lived up to the expectations placed on him. With more progress, he could make a very nice backup and could easily push Mike Kafka for the permanent backup spot behind Vick.
Mychal Kendricks Is Progressing Nicely
Arguably the teams most impressive linebacker so far this preseason, Mychal Kendricks has been a revelation for a defense that has lacked a true stud linebacker for the past few season.
Not only does he play the run well, but he has shown promise both in coverage and when rushing the quarterback. He still made a few errors, but they were few and far between. Based on the first two preseason games, it isn't hard to imagine Kendricks leading the Eagles in tackles this season.
LeSean McCoy Is Still Shady
Not much needs to be said here. McCoy looked like his typical shifty self against the Patriots and was as elusive as ever.
With plenty of concerns at the quarterback position, the Eagles may be forced to rely heavily on the running game this year. Fortunately, McCoy appears yet again to be up to the challenge.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie Is Living Up to the Hype
If Kendricks has been the most impressive linebacker, then Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has been the most impressive cornerback.
He has continuously played tight coverage and made it difficult for receivers to get open. He even had an interception against the Patriots, but it was called back due to penalty (shocker).
Unfortunately, he left the game with a right shoulder injury. Hopefully, he can make a quick recovery because the secondary struggled mightily against the likes of backup quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallet when he wasn't on the field.
Brandon Boykin Is Making for a Fine Special Teams Player
While Brandon Boykin is still competing for the starting slot cornerback position, his biggest contributions this year will likely come on special teams. And that is absolutely not a bad thing.
Boykin has looked explosive as a kick returner and continually gained extra yards. But against the Patriots, he added a new qualification to his resume: quality gunner. Boykin was able to shoot down the sideline on a punt and force the Patriots returner to muff the catch, allowing for the Eagles to come up with the ball.
I like what I have seen from Boykin and expect the special teams to be much improved this season.
Tempers Are High
With the Eagles struggling through two preseason games, it was easy to notice the tension and frustration on the sidelines. This was most obvious when cameras cut to head coach Andy Reid getting into a shouting match with starting defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins.
If things don't turn around for the Eagles, expect more sideline scuffles like these.
Philip Hunt Continues Strong Preseason
One of the key standouts through two preseason games is defensive end Philip Hunt, who has been all around the football. He has shown a knack for big plays and creating turnovers.
Jason Babin is in no danger of losing his starting gig, but Hunt gives the Eagles another valuable weapon who can get after the quarterback and wreak havoc.