Preseason Report: Some Good Individual Performances, Some Terrible, and Undisciplined Mistakes

Preseason Report: Some Good Individual Performances, Some Terrible, and Undisciplined Mistakes

We
already discussed the quarterback situation following the game, which
you can read here. Let's jump right into the good and the bad from
Monday night's 27-17 preseason victory over the Patriots.

The Good

King
Dunlap appeared to solidify himself as the left tackle going forward.
He seemed calm and solid, and I only counted one pressure coming from
his assignment. The Eagles ran to the right side more, but the few times
they went left, he looked okay. And while it's true the Patriots
weren't using many of their starters, Dunlap had a decent test going
against first-round pick Chandler Jones most of the night. Meanwhile,
Demetress Bell looked adequate at best when he entered the game in the
second half.

As we mentioned in the past, Dunlap could very well
be the solution there
. He's generally played very well in seven starts
over the past two seasons, and so far, so good this summer.

Mychal KendricksFor
the second week in a row, the rookie linebacker gets a mention in the
good column. While Mychal Kendricks was beat for a touchdown pass, it
was close to the only notable flaw you could find in his performance on Monday
night. Kendricks was disruptive in the backfield, causing several plays
to go for a loss, and he's been excellent at diagnosing screens this
preseason.

With his speed and instincts, Kendricks may already be
the best linebacker on this team. DeMeco Ryans hasn't looked bad, but
he looks like he's running in mud compared to the second-round pick, who
finished the game with six total tackles.

Running Backs

We
all know LeSean McCoy can play, and he eased some concerns that the
running game might not be nearly as effective without Jason Peters anchoring
the left side, rushing for 30 yards on seven carries and a score. Nice
night, now keep him on the shelf until the real deal begins, please.

But
the backs who really caught my eye are a pair who were thought to be potentially fighting for roster spots -- and may have ended any debate
with strong outings. Bryce Brown and Stanley Havili impressed in several
phases of the game. At 6-0, 223, and sporting 4.48 speed, Brown is really something to
behold when carrying the football. He's got good burst, is able to gain the corner, then
finish runs with power. Brown finished with 51 yards on nine
carries, including a 27 yarder, plus caught two passes and made a tackle
in the return game. Havili's action was limited, but the fullback had a nice series,
taking a trap play 14 yards to the goal line, followed by a nice
block on the next play to help McCoy punch it into the end zone. Havili
had a tackle on special teams as well, and if these guys can play on the
third unit, there will most definitely be space for them.

Nate Allen

While
he didn't do anything that overwhelmed, I thought Nate Allen
played a very strong game. The third-year safety led the team in tackles
with seven, was aggressive in run support, and batted away a deep pass
in coverage. His effort against the run was the biggest thing that stood out though. On several occasions, Allen came flying into
the picture, but under control, limiting runs to just a handful of
yards. Good night for Nate Allen, as he and Kurt Coleman have both
looked fine so far.

The Bad

Penalties

This is going
to be a short list, because penalties were primarily what the negatives
on defense boiled down to. The Patriots managed to put 14 points on the
board with a pair of backup quarterbacks in the game and all their star
players on the bench, but it didn't have to be that way.

On New
England's touchdown drive, the Eagles had them pinned twice. First,
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie intercepted a Ryan Mallett pass deep inside
Patriots territory, but the pick was erased by a Fletcher Cox late hit
on the quarterback. It wasn't malicious, but under the rules, it is a
penalty. No need to kill the rookie for it, you just chalk it up as a
less of the preseason, hope he learns from his mistake. Three plays
later, it's third down again, only this time Mallett is sacked and they
will be forced to punt -- except a Nnamdi Asomugha holding penalty
results in an automatic first down. I did not see this shown during the
broadcast, so we'll take the officials at their word.

The Pats
converted three more third downs on the series, including the score, and
there is something to be said for the defense's inability to get off
the field in some of these situations. The blog McNabb or Kolb takes a
detailed look at all 13 third downs
, of which New England converted
eight total. That's far too many, especially with the B-team out there,
and considering it's been a recurring theme.

However,
the Eagles most likely don't face anywhere near 13 third downs if it weren't for the
fact they shot themselves in the foot on multiple occasions. All three
Patriot scoring drives were aided by a 15-yard personal foul (as an
aside, the words personal foul are telling -- when a player hits
somebody late, I fail to see how that's on coaching), and if only DRC's INT
holds up, that's likely a 10-to-14 point swing in Philly's favor. This
alone would've made the outcome, and the way the defense was viewed,
quite a bit more favorable.

All of which is not to make excuses.
They committed the penalties, and plays that ensued then ultimately led
to points falls on the defense. It made for a miserable viewing
experience, and plenty of reasonable second-guessing. The question now
is whether they can clean it up, because in the NFL, you can't give
anybody -- not even the backups -- second and third chances.

Upon arrival, newest Eagles LB Stephen Tulloch ready — but for what?

Upon arrival, newest Eagles LB Stephen Tulloch ready — but for what?

Stephen Tulloch walked out of the NovaCare Complex on Tuesday afternoon chatting with new teammate Brandon Graham, while wearing a crisp white No. 54 jersey for his first practice.

Jim Schwartz wasn’t sure if Tulloch would make it onto the field Tuesday because of all the “administration stuff” the linebacker needed to do, including putting ink to paper. But as the Eagles took the field at around 1:30 p.m., Tulloch joined them. He wouldn’t miss it.

After all, practice is where the 31-year-old feels most comfortable.

Schwartz on Tuesday morning recalled a story from training camp several years ago, when, as the head coach of the Lions, he wanted to give Tulloch a veteran day off. The coaches even told the training staff that Tulloch wouldn’t be participating that day.

“He came in my office mad as a hornet and was ready to practice,” Schwartz said.

Tulloch then told his head coach that he was ruining his streak. Forget games — dating back to high school, the linebacker hadn’t missed a practice.

Schwartz admitted he’s not one for compromising, but did make a compromise that summer day. Tulloch was allowed to practice, but his reps were cut down some.

“He knows how I am. I prepare,” said Tulloch, who remembered the story. “To me, practice is more important than that game. When you miss a rep, you miss something and you can’t make it up. I try to be present every day that I’m out here on this field. We’re playing a kid’s game. I’m 31 years old and to be able to come out here and play this game, it’s pretty fun.”

Tulloch was 28 during the 2013 training camp and went on to play and start all 16 games in the 2013 season. In 2014, he played just three before tearing his ACL, but returned to play in all 16 last year.

Tulloch told Schwartz he has been working out twice per day while unemployed this summer. “Guys like that, they know how to get themselves ready,” Schwartz said.

“I have tremendous respect for guys that get 10 years in the NFL because you can’t make 10 years on talent alone,” Schwartz said. “You can’t make 10 years by being a try-hard guy. You gotta have a great combination of things and also in 10 years, you’re going to be working with different coaching staffs in 10 years. You gotta have the ability to work in a lot of different schemes, whether you’re an offensive player or a defensive player. I’ll bow down to guys who play 10 years in this league because that’s tough business.”

Tulloch has been a starter in the NFL for years but likely won’t have that role in Philly. The Eagles have a starting linebacker group of Jordan Hicks, Mychal Kendricks and Nigel Bradham. Doug Pederson said Tulloch will compete at the middle linebacker spot, but Hicks is still the starter for now (see story).

For a long time, Tulloch was very good. He's one of just nine players in the league to have five interceptions and 12 fumble recoveries since 2006. And he’s played six of his 10 NFL seasons under Schwartz, who already has three of his former players in prominent roles this year.

Schwartz said Tulloch is “not here to replace anybody,” but added that a rotation isn’t out of the realm of possibility. The defensive coordinator, citing an analogy in which everyone brings something different to a party, said it’s important to accentuate each of his players' strengths.

Despite starting for most of his career, Tulloch in 2016 will likely be a backup, which includes playing special teams. Earlier in the week, Pederson said he wants to get Tulloch on at least one special teams unit. The veteran linebacker on Tuesday said he hasn’t played special teams since 2006 or 2007.

“Whatever’s asked of me, I’ll do,” Tulloch said.

Tulloch was informed of his release from Detroit in February, but he wasn’t officially cut by the Lions until July, after he healed completely from a minor ankle surgery. He said he felt good a long time ago, and had a couple other teams interested in him. Ultimately, though, he decided to join the Eagles and reunite with Schwartz, for whom he has great respect and whose defense he feels most comfortable in.

Even if Schwartz tries to make him take a day off.

“I just love football,” Tulloch said. “I think this is my 26th, 27th year of playing football. I started back in 1991 when I was five years old. It’s just a way of life for me. It’s something I do. I have a passion for practice, I have a passion for the game. I play hard, I work hard, I take care of my body. I do what I have to do.”

Tonight's lineup: Phillies load up with righties vs. White Sox lefty Carlos Rodon

Tonight's lineup: Phillies load up with righties vs. White Sox lefty Carlos Rodon

The Phillies are loading up with right-handed hitters for Tuesday's series opener at U.S. Cellular Field against White Sox lefty Carlos Rodon.

Odubel Herrera is out of the lineup and Aaron Altherr takes his place in center field. Peter Bourjos and Tyler Goeddel are in the outfield corners. 

Carlos Ruiz serves as the designated hitter against Rodon, who has huge platoon splits. Righties have hit .305/.365/.484 against Rodon; lefties have hit .220/.268/.286.

Rodon has a changeup to stave off right-handed hitters, but he's used it only eight percent of the time this season. He's thrown his 94 mph fastball, sinker or slider with 92 percent frequency (see game notes).

Emmanuel Burris gets a start at second base.

Ryan Howard is out of the lineup. U.S. Cellular Field is the only active stadium in which he's never played. The Phillies haven't been there since 2004.

1. Peter Bourjos, RF
2. Aaron Altherr, CF
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
4. Tommy Joseph, 1B
5. Cameron Rupp, C
6. Carlos Ruiz, DH
7. Freddy Galvis, SS
8. Tyler Goeddel, LF
9. Emmanuel Burris, 2B

Philadelphia to host 2016 U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame ceremony

Philadelphia to host 2016 U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame ceremony

Philadelphia will host the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Nov. 30.

USA Hockey on Tuesday announced that the Flyers will host the event for the first time.

The 2016 Hall of Fame class includes legendary high school coach Bill Belisle, former NHL forward Craig Janney, and the 1996 World Cup of Hockey team. 

That team featured Brett Hull, Brian Leetch and Abington native Mike Richter. It also has a special connection with Philly. The 1996 World Cup of Hockey was the first sporting event played at the CoreStates Center (now the Wells Fargo Center). The U.S. would go on to win the tournament.

“We’re excited to bring the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Induction Celebration to Philadelphia,” Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey, said in a statement. “It’s one of our nation’s very top hockey cities, thanks in large part to the decades-long efforts of the late Ed Snider, and fans in the area will enjoy being part of enshrining the Class of 2016. This is always one of the most anticipated events on the calendar each year and we’re grateful for the advance support we’ve received from the Flyers and our Atlantic Affiliate.”

Tuesday also marks 50 days until the Flyers begin their 50th anniversary season.