Kolb Shaky in Flight Night Debut

Kolb Shaky in Flight Night Debut

It doesn't take an expert to make that observation, but the fact is Kevin Kolb did not impress last night. There's really no sugar coating it. He stank. He was unable to find open receivers, missed a few throws, got flushed out of the pocket a few times, and by the time his day was finished, he seemed hesitant to even release the ball. Downright brutal to watch.

This is not turning into a pleasant report on the Eagles' second annual Flight Night practice at the Linc. Surely there must be something positive to take away from the event. I dunno, maybe the festive atmosphere?

For starters, let's consider the fact that the first team offense was without its numbers one and two wide receivers. No DeSean Jackson. No Jeremy Maclin. Obviously the potential exists for the same scenario to exist in a meaningful game, and he'll need to handle it far better then. For the time being, we can probably give the young quarterback the benefit of the doubt, and chalk up some of the struggles to practicing with the B team.

Protection was also an issue on a few snaps, particularly early on. The defensive line was definitely putting some pressure on Kolb, and there were at least a couple times where he probably would have taken a sack in a real situation. Again, the O-line is a bit of a question mark, and the quarterback will need to deal with it. Perhaps Kolb should have gotten rid of the ball sooner a few times.

Most importantly, it was just a practice. There's nothing here to get really fired up about, but it was certainly disappointing. In fact, you might go so far as to say the lack of success by the first team offense put a damper on the entire evening.

Vick... Looked Pretty Good, Actually

I spent a lot of time watching the quarterbacks. It was easiest, number one, and I'm lazy. It's also difficult to take much away from most of the other positions during such a casual practice. No hitting, and all.

As bad as Kolb was, it wasn't very hard for anybody to outshine him. I felt Vick accomplished that and more. Sure, he was carving up the second string defense, but he did it while playing within the offense. He showed recognition, moving through his progressions before taking off. He showed anticipation, hitting at least a couple of receivers as they turned around or made their break. He wasn't bad running around either, deftly avoiding the pressure and following with decent throws downfield.

He made a few mistakes, too. Overall, I came away impressed though, much moreso than by anything I saw last season. He may still have much to learn about how to conduct business in his personal life, but it appeared he may be making some progress as a football player.

Mike Kafka, too.

Kafka actually made the play of the evening, hooking up with wide receiver Jared Perry on a 50-yard touchdown pass during his first set of 11-on-11 reps. He had by far the highest completion percentage of the three quarterbacks, and he also aired it out the most often, despite taking the fewest snaps. Nice practice for the rookie.

Thoughts on Flight Night experience

The Eagles were definitely trying to create a fun, party-like atmosphere at the stadium, as opposed to the intense, blood-thirsty mentality that typically is attached to a pro football game. To accomplish this, they turned to DJ Dave Spadaro, who rambled on and on over the microphone while Jeffrey Lurie and various players threw souvenirs into the stands, and continued for some time even once practice began.

He interviewed a few players on the field as well, including Leonard Weaver and Brent Celek, both of whom led the crowd in Eagles chants. That was kind of nice. Overall though, I didn't see the appeal of having Spadaro run around the field yukking it up for all that time.

They were trying to create excitement, but it wasn't really there. After the players were introduced, by far the loudest crowd pops of the night, they immediately went into their position drills. This seemed to zap the life out of the stadium. Some solid 11-on-11 football might've created some energy, but the documented offensive struggles and lack of big plays didn't give the crowd much to cheer.

While I can see ways this format could work, and I think it's a very nice event for families or fans who can't get their hands on a ticket and won't make it to Lehigh, the experience is missing something. Tickets are cheap, and there were a ton of giveaways, but parking and what not cost the same.

Honestly, a preseason game seems like a better investment. It's a bit more money (face value), but at least guys are out there hitting and playing for real.

Most importantly

NO INJURIES.

As Eagles enter bye, Doug Pederson aims to thwart complacency

As Eagles enter bye, Doug Pederson aims to thwart complacency

The Eagles are 3-0. They’re alone atop the NFC East and have been the biggest surprise of the young NFL season.

Doug Pederson’s message to his team: You haven’t done anything yet.

Although the Eagles are riding high, Pederson doesn’t want his team to change its outlook or hard work. That’s what teams have to worry about once they’ve found some success.

“The biggest thing is complacency,” Pederson said Monday. “You think you've arrived. You think you are all that. When that creeps in, that's when you get beat. It's my job not to let that creep in. I've got to keep the guys focused and grounded. I told them this week they're going to travel and go home and people are going to pat them on the back and say how great they are.

“But next Monday, I'm going to tell them, ‘Hey, we're back to work. We're 0-0. This is Game 1 and let's go.’ That's just the way it has to be. You are building for one ultimate goal and that's a few weeks down the road. That's what you are trying to get to. But you can't get there unless you take care of the next opponent. It's my job to keep them focused that way.”

Being 3-0 (they’re one of five 3-0 teams) gives the Eagles a head start, but it certainly doesn’t guarantee them a playoff spot. This is the ninth 3-0 start in franchise history. They’ve made the playoffs just five times in the previous eight. And they recently missed the playoffs after starting 3-0 in 2014 under Chip Kelly.

In NFL history (before this season), there have been 276 teams to start with 3-0 records. Of them, 200 (72.3 percent) have made the playoffs.

“We just have to approach it the same, one day at a time,” Pederson said. “That's the way this business goes. You are on top of the world one minute, and you can be at the bottom of the heap the next. Just got to keep things even-keeled and can't get too high, can't get too low. Approach it the same. Like I mentioned earlier, you can't substitute for hard work. That pays off on Sundays. We just have to stay the course. Again, a lot of football left.”

While the Week 4 bye comes pretty early, the Eagles have a couple key players who will use the time to get healthy. And Connor Barwin pointed out that the bye is coming about closer to the halfway point between when the team started its tough training camp and the end of the season.

Pederson told his players to use the week to get away from football and free their minds. Meanwhile, Pederson and his coaches will use the extra time to self-scout and prepare for the final 13 games of the regular season.

With a first-year head coach and a rookie quarterback who was thrust into action a week before the opener, expectations outside (and perhaps inside) the building were tempered.

The Eagles aren’t an underdog anymore.

“We kind of enjoyed flying under the radar, but obviously a win like this against a team like the Steelers will open some eyes around the league,” Malcolm Jenkins said. “For us, nothing different. We’ll keep our preparation the same. We’ll stick our heads down and focus on the work day to day and understand what’s gotten us to 3-0.”

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Ivan Provorov displays durability, versatility in Flyers' preseason loss

Ivan Provorov displays durability, versatility in Flyers' preseason loss

BOX SCORE

NEWARK, N.J. — How much of a horse is Flyers defensive prospect Ivan Provorov?

Well, consider this:

The 19-year-old logged a game-high 28:48 of ice time Monday night during the Flyers' 2-0 split-squad loss to the Devils in which he also quarterbacked the first-unit power play (8:03) and had the most penalty kill time (3:58) (see story).

“I thought I played well,” Provorov said. “It took me a few shifts to get into the game. I competed as hard as I could.”

He said he was used to playing more than 25 minutes in Brandon (WHL), anyway.

“Of course, this is a better league, high pace and it will take a few games to adjust,” Provorov said.

Because the Flyers have yet to work on power play, the results aren’t there. They were 0 for 7 in the game.

“We haven’t done anything on the ice, but have done some video on the PK on the board but nothing on the power play,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “There’s other priorities now with so many players (64) in camp.”

Provorov worked both points on the power play and had just one official shot in the game.

“We didn’t get to do much power play [in camp],” he said. “It will get better as the preseason goes on.”

Rookie forward Travis Konecny worked the low slot on the top power play. He logged 18:34 of ice time, including 6:01 PP time. Konecny had two shots in the game.

He was on Andy Miele’s line with Scott Laughton. Konency had the only shots on his line.

Hakstol said Konecny and Provorov each “settled in” as the game went on. Hakstol isn’t sure if one or both will play Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center against the Islanders.

Konecny’s body language in camp exudes confidence unlike a year ago when he was skittish in his first-ever Flyers training camp. Now he sits back, takes it all in and has that look on his face of been there, done that.

In fact, he was trying to calm down some of his buddies, Anthony Salinitri and Connor Bunnaman, who were seeing the lights before the game.

“Me and [Ivan] Provorov were just talking,” he said. “We feel a lot more comfortable this year.

“I’ve been in this position here. I have my guys Salinitri and Bunnaman, we all hang out together and it’s their first year.

“They’re excited for their first preseason game just like I was last year, but I’m not thinking, ‘Wow, it’s an NHL arena.’ I’m thinking about the game and getting ready to play.”

Konecny was impressive last fall as an 18-year-old and Hakstol said he takes everything into account with more emphasis on the now than the past.

“Your body of work includes your season last year,” Hakstol  said. “Includes everything. The most important information is what you do right now. No question in my mind. I take everything into account.”

Take this into account: Alex Lyon is going to be a contender with Anthony Stolarz for the starting job in goal with the Phantoms this season. He was outstanding with 28 saves on 29 shots.

“They spent some time in our zone and had their big guns out there,” Lyon said of being under siege for two-thirds of the game. “They had a few shots but we did a good job keeping them to the outside. No super grade A opportunities.”

Lyon stopped two breakaways by Beau Bennett, one within three minutes of play.

“I felt like a newborn deer and could barely stand up,” quipped the former Yale goalie. “I was so nervous. It felt good to stop the first one.”