Instant Observations: Eagles vs. Steelers

Here’s what I saw during tonight’s Eagles-Steelers game.

OFFENSE

* Michael Vick suffered a left thumb injury in the second quarter. He played two series’ – both three-and-outs. Vick was 3-for-4 for 6 yards. He also was sacked by defensive lineman Steve McLendon, who threw Vick to the ground in the first quarter.

* Jeremy Maclin suffered a hamstring injury during warm-ups and was a late scratch. Damaris Johnson took his place in the starting lineup and had four catches for 85 yards. He also had an electrifying 55-yard punt return, but it was called back for an illegal block in the back.

* Nick Foles was the bright spot offensively. In the third quarter, he escaped pressure, rolled to his right and hit Johnson for a 70-yard touchdown. By my count, the ball traveled about 43 yards in the air. Later in the quarter, he showed good touch, hitting Mardy Gilyard for a 44-yard score down the left sideline.

* Mike Kafka came into the game in the second quarter and went 5-for-9 for 31 yards. He was also intercepted on a designed screen pass. Kafka was under pressure and let go of the ball, looking for Bryce Brown, but defensive tackle Al Woods picked it off and returned it 53 yards.

* Dion Lewis had four carries for 22 yards in the first half, including a nice 12-yard scamper.

* Bryce Brown had a nice 33-yard run in the third, shaking a pair of tackles and making his way down the left sideline.

* Brandon Boykin had a great 46-yard kickoff return in the first quarter. He fielded the ball 8 yards deep in the end zone but took it all the way to the Eagles’ 38. As a point of reference, Lewis’ longest return last year was 33 yards.

DEFENSE

* To say Jaiquawn Jarrett had a bad first half would be an understatement. Jarrett had a chance to make an impression, getting the start for an injured Nate Allen, but the results were not pretty. He missed a pair of tackles and took a couple horrible angles on running plays, once flying into defensive end Vinny Curry. Jarrett, Nnamdi Asomugha and Brian Rolle also left Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders wide open on Pittsburgh’s second-quarter touchdown.

* The first-team defensive line featured Cullen Jenkins at left defensive end, Antonio Dixon and Derek Landri at defensive tackle, and Darryl Tapp at right defensive end. But Jenkins suffered a hamstring injury in the first half and left the game.

* The second-team defensive line was Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Cedric Thornton and Phillip Hunt. Hunt and Graham met at Ben Roethlisberger on one play. Hunt picked up the sack, and it looked like Graham might have forced a fumble. Hunt had two sacks, and Graham was credited with one.

* I noticed Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie lining up at right cornerback on one play and Asomugha on the left. We’re definitely going to see some of that this season.

* Good coverage on Sanders by Rodgers-Cromartie in the first quarter, as Roethlisberger took a shot at him deep. Rodgers-Cromartie also drew a personal foul penalty for launching himself at Leftwich.

* Mychal Kendricks was very active, starting on the strong side. He was credited with five tackles (four solo), and two for loss. Kendricks stayed on the field in nickel situations with DeMeco Ryans.

* The second-team linebackers had Casey Matthews in the middle, with Akeem Jordan at SAM and Keenan Clayton at WILL.

* Landri pressured Leftwich on one play, and Tapp and Rolle finished him off for a sack.

* Asomugha made a couple good tackles against the run, a welcome sight after last season.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.

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  • kimbafuzz

    Kendricks and Hunt had, IMO, very good games. But there were many of the same defensive issues that the Eagles had last year. They were really good on 2nd down creating 3rd and long situations, but then would fail to get off the field on 3rd and long. It was frustrating.

  • Run Eagles Run

    I have been saying it since last year, cutting Hunt is a mistake.

  • Skeptic_Eagle

    horrible use of Asomugha. Had him in zones again, and he wasn’t pressing. IIRC, he gave up 2 big 3rd down conversions, 1 to Sanders, when he was in some stupid zone that Sanders got behind as RBerger scrambled, and 1 to Brown, whom he let get a free release on an inside slant. The TD that was probably on Jarrett as well would have been a lot less likely if Aso was at the line, covering Sanders in press man.

    It’s obvious the guy is a one-trick pony, he has no feel for playing zones. The Eagles bought a Maybach, and insist on trying to take it off-roading every week. It just comes down to stupid, stubborn coaching, and what’s worse, they should already know this by experience. They do realize this guy regularly erased the league’s top receivers when he was w/Oakland, right??

    • http://www.facebook.com/matteuwh Matteuw Hines

      As you stated I think that the TD was more Jarrett’s fault more than Nnamdi and they have to put the players in better positions in these instances but that same kind of play Asante got beat on a lot! What im saying is that it’s less of a matter of Nnamdi being inept in zone coverage than it being a bad call or bad position defensively. Its hard to really judge how they have improved in zone coverage but again that play I would have put him in man.

      • Skeptic_Eagle

        yeah, I agree with you. Can’t put that TD all on Nnamdi. I would have definitely had him in man there, though.

  • JordanMetzler

    Good work Sheil, It’s early but do you think last night showed there is a legit possibility of Foles winning the backup job by the start of the season?

  • Bird of Prey

    I really like AR, I do. But Juan has little clue how to maximize the assets he has. Admit the mistake with Jarrett, with a year and a full off season under his belt he looks lost. AR even made comments on the lack of a basic skill set with this guy. I really believe if we had a good defensive coordinator, even using the wide nine, this could be a pretty good D. But to be calling zone coverage without a safety that understands and has the ability to play it and a superstar cover corner that has problems with it makes no sense and plays to the vulnerability of the personnel rather to it’s strengths.

  • http://www.facebook.com/matteuwh Matteuw Hines

    I like how Kendricks played but the linebackers as a whole did not do a good job. Watching at the stadium I see what Demeco brings to the table with his patience and vision locating the ball carrier but I still saw some struggles getting off blocks. Even in this one preseason game I think I saw less over pursuing from the LBs then all of last season.