The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly from the Eagles’ Third Preseason Game

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly from the Eagles’ Third Preseason Game

Despite pulling out a 31-24 win in Jacksonville on Saturday night, there is no question this will go down as the most disappointing of the Eagles’ four preseason games. All you’re really looking for from these glorified scrimmages is execution, and it was lacking in bounds by Chip Kelly’s squad.

The offense looked sloppy and disoriented, nothing at all like the hyper-efficient unit from the previous two weeks. Defensively they were mistake-prone and had trouble getting off the field, inconsistent like you might expect of a work in progress.

The issues on both side of the ball are compounded by the added emphasis that’s often placed on the third exhibition game, the proverbial dress rehearsal. If this was supposed to be a preview of what’s in store for 2013, the Eagles failed to distance themselves from 2012 first.

Now there’s no need to overreact. Both Kelly and defensive coordinator Billy Davis undoubtedly left plenty in their bag of tricks. There were a lot of teaching moments, and there are still two weeks to get the club ready for September 9 in Washington. Remember to breathe.

It honestly wasn’t pretty though, and there’s no one real area to point the finger. We’ll break down the individual efforts in the next few days, but let’s go lightning-round style with the good, the bad, and the ugly from what could be the last significant tune-up before the regular season gets underway.

THE GOOD

Nick Foles’ game-winning drive

Finished 10/11 for 112 yards, and led the offense on two touchdown drives including a 14-play, 99-yard march to put the Birds ahead with 2:18 left to play. Mike Vick was more erratic than we’ve seen of late, so expect Foles’ performance to give rise to some controversy in print and on talk radio, even if he did play against backups and all but one snap came in the fourth quarter.

456 yards of total offense

The Eagles trailed for much of the game, and while they did score 31 points, they left plenty more on the field. Still, it’s positive to see the offense continuing to roll up big numbers, because if they ever manage to quit shooting themselves in the foot, they’re going to be very difficult to stop.

Seven sacks

The defense had its share of issues, but one area they were a plus was rushing the passer. On top of hauling down Jags’ passers in the backfield a whopping seven times, they also landed a bunch of hits, and the relentless pressure even helped force a turnover.

THE BAD

The offensive line

Not a good night for this unit, and we’re talking as a whole. Evan Mathis got tagged for a hold on a big third down. Lane Johnson looked like a rookie for the first time. Jason Kelce had trouble snapping the ball, while Todd Herremans’ up-and-down play carried over for a third straight week. Surprisingly disappointing.

Stalling in the red zone

A big reason why the Eagles left so many points on the board is their failure to capitalize down tight. They punched the ball into the end zone three times on six trips, far from ideal to say the least, especially considering two of the conversions came when Foles was in the game. Must get better in the red area.

Getting pushed around by the Jaguars

Realize the Eagles were only 4-12 themselves last year, but by all appearances the Jacksonville franchise is in far worse condition, as it usually is. Coming off a 2-14 campaign, the Jags’ quarterback options are worse, and they don’t have near the high-end talent Philly does. Sure, Gus Bradley is trying to change the culture, but it should take time. That said, it sure looked like their starters were on a level playing field here.

THE UGLY

Jordan Todman’s 63-yard touchdown run

We’ll have to examine exactly what went wrong on the play, but some of it was obvious. Bad backside pursuit created yet another huge cutback lane, while Earl Wolff (in at safety with the first-string D) took a horrible angle to the ball carrier, allowing a relative unknown to take it to the house with ease. This was the third run of 50-plus yards surrendered by the Eagles this preseason, and that’s three too many.

These helmets

I mean, what are they thinking???

Turnovers

The real story. Yes, the Eagles are going to let opponents score, because they’re just not there yet defensively. And yes, Chip Kelly’s offense is exciting as hell and has no problem flying up and down the field at will. But if they don’t knock it off with the turnovers, they can’t beat anybody. It’s 2011 and 2012 all over again.

Vick threw an interception caused in large part by some immediate pressure up front, but it was a bad decision as he jumped off of his back foot, probably just trying to throw the ball away – gotta eat that one. Damaris Johnson fumbled on a punt return. Bryce Brown fumbled as he was going into the end zone. There’s no telling exactly how many points this cost the Eagles both ways, but you can estimate they left between 7-13 out there, and those giveaways directly led to 10 the other way. Rest assured, better teams will not let them get away with it.

>> BOX SCORE [ESPN]

Alec Asher lone bright spot as Phillies continue to limp to finish with another loss to Mets

Alec Asher lone bright spot as Phillies continue to limp to finish with another loss to Mets

The Phillies returned home from a bad road trip Friday with only three games to play and the only thing to play for being the role of spoilers.

With the New York Mets in town looking to put a stranglehold on a wildcard spot, the Phillies, as another losing season finishes out, could be a thorn in the side of their rivals.

Alec Asher looked like he was playing the part of spoiler, retiring the first 11 batters he faced, but the Mets rallied, got behind starter Robert Gsellman, and turned back any Phillies sabotaging on this night, beating the home team, 5-1.

The two teams are heading in quite opposite directions.

The Mets, with their win, clinched at least a tiebreaker in the wildcard and guaranteed their season not ending on Sunday, the league’s final regular season date.

The Phillies on the other hand… 

“We’re certainly limping home,” said manager Pete Mackanin an hour or so after being ejected for the first time this year. “Not playing well, not swinging the bats very well.”

They struck out 14 times Friday night. And after scraping a run across in the second inning, never really looked like they were in the game at the plate.

Mackanin's ejection came in the eighth inning. Mackanin wasn’t happy with first base umpire Will Little and was thrown out of a game. Reliever Michael Mariot threw a fastball in on Yoenis Cespedes and Cespedes appeared to lose control of the bat through the strike zone. When appealed to, Little ruled Cespedes did not swing, and out came Mackanin.

"I had to get thrown out there," Mackanin said.

Perhaps he just couldn't stand to watch anymore. 

Gsellman battled through some early struggles and stymied the Phillies’ offense. Gsellman turned in six innings of one-run baseball, improving to 4-2 on the year. He allowed one run on seven hits and struck out seven.

Asher, in his last start of 2016, was the lone bright spot on this night.

With two outs in the fourth, his brief perfect game bid was ended with a single from Yoenis Cespedes. That was followed by another from Curtis Granderson. 

Jay Bruce then worked a full count but Asher couldn’t put him away. On the ninth pitch of the at-bat, Bruce singled home Cespedes to tie the score. 

A fourth consecutive single, this time off the bat of T.J. Rivera, allowed Granderson to cross the plate for a 2-1 Mets lead.

Asher’s night and season ended with a Bruce home run - his third in as many games - to lead off the top of the seventh.

“I wanted to go sinker away and just kind of got it mid-thigh belt,” Asher said. “He took advantage of the mistake.”

Asher, 24, went six-plus innings Friday, throwing 104 pitches while allowing three runs on five hits. He struck out four and walked zero.

His 2016 finishes with a 2.28 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in 27 ⅔ innings pitched. He struck out 13 and walked four.

“Last year when Asher was here I recall being asked if it was a smart thing to do because he got rocked so badly,” Mackanin said. “We talked about if and when he did get back to the big leagues if he would be able to handle it. What kind of make up he had. Certainly he made an adjustment. Added a two-seam fastball which he never had. Has a plus changeup. He needs a little more work on his breaking ball, but nevertheless he’s pitched well since he’s been back. He’s done a good job.”

The Phillies bullpen hasn’t lately.

Mariot, in relief of Asher, gave up two runs in 1 ⅔ innings of relief, including Bruce’s third RBI of the night to give the Mets a 5-1 lead.

The Phillies offense then went quietly into the fall night. The Mets didn’t allow a hit from the final 12 Phillies hitters.

Their season will continue beyond Sunday.

“It’s step one of a bigger accomplishment,” said Mets manager Terry Collins. “We’re certainly pleased we get to play past Sunday.”

The Phillies are just limping.

Orthopedist on Ben Simmons' injury: 'The prognosis is good'

Orthopedist on Ben Simmons' injury: 'The prognosis is good'

On Friday, Sixers fans got some bad news when the team revealed that No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons fractured the fifth metatarsal in his right foot.

The Sixers didn't give a timetable for his return, saying that they were reviewing treatment options for the 6-foot-10 point-forward.

As a guest on CSNPhilly's Sportsnet Central, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Mark Schwartz gave a little insight into Simmons' injury. Schwartz is not treating Simmons, but has dealt with similar injuries. Schwartz believes the prognosis is good for the Sixers' rookie.

"The big question is where the exact location of this fracture is," Schwartz said. "That will dictate the prognosis and the treatment. If it's at the base of the fifth metatarsal, it's usually a non-surgical treatment. It's usually a cast/boot for six to eight weeks and return to play somewhere around eight weeks."

That would be great news considering Sixers fans didn't get to see Nerlens Noel the year he was drafted and are still awaiting the debut of 2014 draft pick Joel Embiid. 

Schwartz warns that the injury could be something known as a Jones fracture, which would likely require surgery and the recovery could be three to four months. The prognosis would still be good, according to Schwartz, but other NBA players have had lengthy recoveries with a similar injury.

"The prognosis is still good, but we know that Kevin Durant had a Jones fracture and he was out for an entire season because of it not healing," Schwartz said. "But the prognosis is good, however, the question is whether it's going to require surgery or not."

For more from Schwartz on Simmons' injury and possible timetable, check out the video above.