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.


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 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.


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???


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.


Flyers Notes: Wayne Simmonds defends hit on Andrei Markov

Flyers Notes: Wayne Simmonds defends hit on Andrei Markov

MONTREAL — Wayne Simmonds didn’t feel as though he did anything wrong. Or that he even touched Andrei Markov.
Thing is, however, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety may have a different view of it come Tuesday morning.
Early during first-period play Monday night, the Flyers' winger came out of the penalty box after serving a minor for holding and cross-checked Markov from behind.
The Canadiens' defenseman went face-first into the boards and fell to the ice, where he appeared to try and sell a penalty. Nothing came of it, but the hit will likely be reviewed anyway.
“I barely touched him,” Simmonds. “When you got a bunch of guys diving all over the place, what are you going to do? Stand on your feet.”

There were a number of tough hits from both sides in the Flyers' 3-1 loss to the Canadiens (see game recap). It was evenly played and the Flyers deserved a point.
“We played a solid game,” Simmonds said. “Obviously, we lost and it’s not what we wanted but we have four more games this week.
“We go home and we've got to be focused on the positive things that we did and carry it over the rest of the week.”
Gudas eligible
Radko Gudas has yet to play a real game this season.
The Flyers' bruising defenseman has been serving a six-game suspension for a careless hit in Boston that closed out exhibition play earlier this month.
Tuesday night, the Flyers will play the back end of a back-to-back against Buffalo at the Wells Fargo Center and Gudas likely will return to the lineup now that his suspension has ended.
“It seems like forever,” Gudas said. “I could use more games behind me. I think I’m ready with my conditioning and skill level, so I can’t wait to get back in there.”
The decision as to who comes out will be difficult. A good guess right now would be Nick Schultz.
“We've got the information at this point,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. “It will be a tough decision, no question, if we are healthy.”
At some point — Nov. 5 — Michael Del Zotto will be eligible to come off LTIR. That means another veteran blueliner would become available and an even bigger problem will arise because Del Zotto carries a $3.875 million cap hit.
Barring injury or trade, when Del Zotto returns, the Flyers will have to move two players off their roster entirely just to be cap compliant.
For now, following Monday’s loss, Hakstol has to decide whether to stick with his current defense or put Gudas back in. Given the Flyers have missed Gudas’ physical presence — teams have taken liberties on smallish rookie Travis Konecny — it makes sense to reinsert Gudas.
“Obviously, teams are going to take advantage of smaller guys,” Gudas said. “I would love to be out there if anything happened. All the guys here are responsible and I think they did a pretty good job defending that. It’s not happening a lot.”
No, but it’s happened enough that the Flyers should take note of it.
Hakstol said his decision does not have to come until Tuesday.
“That’s not to say we haven’t looked at things and thought about the [issue], but that decision comes after tonight,” he said.
Meanwhile, Gudas finally has come to the conclusion that the NHL is watching his every hit.
“They’re looking at me since Day 1 I got here,” he said. “The guys made up their minds. I have to make sure I don’t give them an opportunity to call again.”
Maybe he should change his ringtone to say, “Player Safety calling.”

Loose pucks
Simmonds and Matt Read saw their four-game goal-scoring streaks come to an end. ... The Flyers were credited with 39 hits, the most they’ve had since 41 in a home game against Montreal on Jan. 5, 2016. Simmonds, Brayden Schenn and Schultz were credited with five apiece. ... Ice-time leaders: Ivan Provorov (21:31), Shayne Gostisbehere (21:27) and Brandon Manning (20:36). … Boyd Gordon was 10 for 12 (83 percent) on faceoffs. ... Jakub Voracek had five shots, giving him 21 overall, which ties him for 10th in the league. His goal gave him eight points and ties him with five other players for fourth in the NHL.

RT Halapoulivaati Vaitai 'calms the storm,' rebounds in 2nd start

RT Halapoulivaati Vaitai 'calms the storm,' rebounds in 2nd start

Halapoulivaati Vaitai wasn’t Lane Johnson on Sunday against the Vikings.

But he didn’t look like Halapoulivaati Vaitai either ... at least the version that was a revolving door last week in Washington.

In his NFL debut last week, Big V gave up two sacks, a quarterback hit and a hurry. Against the Vikings, he gave up just one QB hurry.

What led to the change?

“I just think learning from the week before, quite honestly,” head coach Doug Pederson said on Monday. “He really, again, detailed his work during the week. He practiced extremely well. He used his hands better.

“He was able to calm the storm, so to speak, and played a fine football game. He played the type that we saw [in] him and he’s capable of doing. Now it’s something that he can continue to build on.”

While it seemed like Pederson curtailed his offense some to counteract what could be a shaky offensive line, he said it was more about utilizing his team’s strengths. Still, Carson Wentz attempted just four passes that traveled over 20 yards on Sunday and didn’t complete a pass that went more than nine yards in the air.

Despite Vaitai’s scary performance in his debut, Pederson decided to stick to his plan and leave him at right tackle instead of shuffling the offensive line by moving Allen Barbre to tackle and replacing him with Stefen Wisniewski.

The jury is still out on the decision, but the Eagles probably have more confidence in their offensive line for the next eight games of Johnson’s suspension than they did before playing the Vikings.

The Eagles' O-line didn’t give up a sack to the Vikings after giving up five the previous week.

“I thought our guys [Sunday] did a great job of no sacks against a team that had 19 coming in,” Pederson said. “Protected [Wentz], kept him clean and it just gives him confidence now and gives our whole unit confidence moving forward and coming away.”