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]

NBA Finals: Warriors coach Steve Kerr not well yet, but hasn't ruled himself out for Game 1

NBA Finals: Warriors coach Steve Kerr not well yet, but hasn't ruled himself out for Game 1

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Golden State's Steve Kerr expects to decide soon whether he will coach in the NBA Finals, saying Monday he's not yet ready but hasn't ruled himself out for Game 1.

Kerr said: "As of right now I would not coach Thursday night. It's still up in the air." He said that by Game 1, he might make a decision on his status.

The reigning NBA Coach of the Year, still not feeling well after a May 5 procedure to repair a spinal fluid leak, addressed the media Monday when acting coach Mike Brown was out with the flu.

He joked: "I told the team the good news is the team is really healthy, the bad news is the coaching staff is dropping like flies."

Brown has been coaching the team since Game 3 of the first round at Portland, with Kerr assisting at practice and from the locker room before and during games.

Inside Doop: How a record win streak came to an end

Inside Doop: How a record win streak came to an end

Over the course of a long season, there are forgettable games where few things — or players — stand out.

Saturday night’s Union game out in Salt Lake City seemed like one of those — but will still be remembered for the fact that it ended a record winning streak.

Here’s a closer look at the 1-0 loss to Real Salt Lake that snapped Philly’s four-game winning and six-game unbeaten streaks, as well as a look ahead for a team that will now look to start another one.

Three thoughts about Saturday’s game
1. There was one play early in the game that could have been exceptional as Haris Medunjanin lofted a pinpoint over-the-top pass from midfield to Fafa Picault, who got behind the defense and controlled it perfectly. But Picault’s first attempt and his follow-up were both saved — the second on a goal-line clearance from defender Aaron Maund — and the Union had few other good chances as their offense dried up. That was perhaps, bound to happen, after the team, led in part by the strong play of newcomers Medunjanin and Picault, scored multiple goals in every other game this month.

2. While Nick Rimando showed why he’s the most accomplished MLS goalie ever by earning the shutout, Andre Blake showed why he’s the reigning MLS Goalkeeper of the Year with even better saves, including a few spectacular diving and leaping ones. Blake certainly wasn’t to blame for the Union’s eight-game winless streak to start the season but he also wasn’t making the kind of game-changing saves Philly fans grew accustomed to last year. Now that he is, it’s one of the big reasons why the Union are back in the playoff race, despite Saturday’s loss. 

3. Although it didn’t really show earlier in the season, one of the Union’s biggest strengths is depth at the winger position as they have four players — Picault, Chris Pontius, Ilsinho and Fabian Herbers — who are capable MLS starters. But with Herbers injured and Ilsinho sliding over to the central midfield, head coach Jim Curtin needed to call upon rookie Marcus Epps as his first winger off the bench. It was a difficult MLS debut playing on the road, across the country, with the team pushing for a late goal. But Curtin likes throwing guys into the fire to see what they’re made of, and will likely use Epps’ minutes in Utah as a springboard moving forward.

Three questions for the week ahead
1. The Union had a busy end of the month, flying out to Salt Lake City a few days after a three-games-in-eight-day stretch. But they also have 15 days between MLS games following Saturday’s contest vs. New York City FC at Yankee Stadium (1:00, 6ABC). So does Curtin opt to give guys some rest because of the former or trot out the same lineup because of the latter? There are also other things to consider, including the fact that the Union will open U.S. Open Cup play on June 14 — often an ideal time to give minutes to younger guys and backups.

2. One particular position to watch is the No. 10 attacking midfield spot. Ilsinho had filled in beautifully there in place of the injured Roland Alberg, particularly during a 2-0 win over Houston on May 17. But he was mostly invisible vs. RSL, a game in which Alberg returned from a three-game absence. Considering both have never really been 90-minute players and have similar playmaking abilities, could Curtin consider a platoon with Alberg and Ilsinho? Or will Ilsinho return to the wing, at least until Herbers returns from his injury?

3. Another spot to watch is the backline, which had been mostly kept intact during the team’s six-game unbeaten run. But now that the team lost, will Curtin go back to starters Keegan Rosenberry and/or Richie Marquez? What about Josh Yaro, who’s on the mend from shoulder surgery? The makeshift group that included Jack Elliott, Oguchi Onyewu, and Ray Gaddis should be commended for changing the course of the season, but it seems unlikely that Rosenberry and Marquez will remain on the bench must longer considering they were two of the team’s most promising players last year.

Stat of the week
Fabinho played his 100th MLS game Saturday. The only other players to surpass 100 games for the Union have been Sebastien Le Toux, Brian Carroll, Sheanon Williams, Gaddis and Amobi Okugo.  

Quote of the week
“A good run of six games comes to an end for us now. We’ll have to look forward to starting a new streak as we go away to New York City next week.”

— Union manager Jim Curtin 

Player of the week
Andre Blake got the loss but still had one of his best games of the season, wowing the crowd at Rio Tinto Stadium on more than one occasion.