Game Review: Evaluating the Eagles’ Offense

Philadelphia Eagles running back Bryce BrownHere’s a player-by-player look at the Eagles’ offense after having re-watched Thursday night’s preseason game against the Steelers. If a player is not listed, it’s probably because he has no chance of making the team, or I didn’t notice anything about him one way or another.

Michael Vick – Third down on the first series was ugly. Vick first had to use a timeout. Then the Steelers showed blitz, but only rushed four. Pittsburgh got some pressure off the edge, but Vick walked right into a sack. He went 3-for-4 for 6 yards and suffered a thumb contusion. The Eagles’ offense went three-and-out twice. Things can only go up from here, right?

Mike Kafka – He played most of the second quarter and went 5-for-9 for 31 yards. Kafka was pressured on the interception, but has to be smarter with the football. While on the move, he made a good throw to Chad Hall for 11 yards on 3rd-and-6. I’ve had my concerns about Kafka being the backup all offseason, but nine preseason passes shouldn’t change anyone’s mind one way or another. He’s still the No. 2 guy – for now.

Nick Foles – One of the few bright spots offensively, Foles went 6-for-10 for 144 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He did a nice job of keeping his eyes downfield on the 70-yard TD to Damaris Johnson. The big arm was on display as the ball traveled about 43 yards in the air, and Foles delivered it on the move. He showed nice touch on the 43-yard touchdown to Mardy Gilyard. He’s still the No. 3 quarterback, but showed why the Eagles like him.

Trent Edwards – He was 12-for-20 for 106 yards and a score. Edwards’ focus right now is on putting good play on tape so that he can try to find another home when the Eagles cut him.

LeSean McCoy – One carry for -2 yards and one catch for -3 yards. Anyone ready to panic? Didn’t think so. A bright spot with McCoy was an excellent blitz pickup on the play where Vick injured his thumb. Not sure he needs to be on the field much this preseason.

Dion Lewis – He looked good, carrying four times for 22 yards. Lewis shook a tackle and picked up 8 yards on his first carry. He had a good, tough run for 3 yards on 2nd-and-2, and also picked up 12 on a second-quarter run. Perhaps more importantly, Lewis picked up the blitz nicely on Kafka’s incomplete throw for Marvin McNutt. And later, he chipped a linebacker and put him on the ground before going out into his route. Lewis suffered a hamstring injury, though. We should know more about the severity on Saturday.

Bryce Brown – The highlight was a 33-yard scamper where Brown broke a pair of tackles and rumbled down the left sideline. He also picked up some YAC on a 16-yard reception from Foles. Good hustle to tackle Al Woods after the Kafka interception. As for the whole blocking thing, Brown pretty much whiffed on a blitz pickup in the third. He’s still in good position to make the team.

Chris Polk – I don’t know if he’s going to make the team, but the Eagles should have Polk spend five minutes each practice showing the rest of the running backs how to pick up the blitz. I counted at least three plays where Polk was charged with protecting the quarterback, and he got the job done every time. He had three carries for 1 yard and three catches for 28 yards.

Stanley Havili – He got on the field in the first half and actually had a nice lead block on a Lewis run that lost 1 yard. Still needs to prove himself in the coming weeks.

Clay Harbor – With Brent Celek sidelined, he got the start and was targeted on the play where Vick sailed the throw and injured his thumb.

Brett Brackett – He had two catches for 9 yards, but also had a pass go right through his hands in the third. Don’t see him making the team.

Demetress Bell – By my count, the Eagles gave him help on three of five pass plays. Linebacker Chris Carter went right around Bell on Vick’s completion to McCoy in the flat. Carter went around him again, forcing Vick to step up on the play where he hit his thumb on Kelce’s helmet. Small sample size, but unimpressive debut for Bell.

Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Danny Watkins, Todd Herremans – They all started and were fine. Again, only talking about six plays here.

King Dunlap – He played left tackle with the second team and was fine. The Eagles know what they have in Dunlap.

Julian Vandervelde – Disappointing game for the second-year player. He started out at left guard with the twos. It looked like Vandervelde was slow to pick up a blitzer on Kafka’s incompletion intended for McNutt. Later, the Eagles had him pull to sell the play-fake, but Vandervelde was slow to get to the edge, and Carter forced Kafka to scramble. He was also called for holding on the play. Vandervelde played center in the third and got beat by Alameda Ta’amu, who pressured Foles.

Dallas Reynolds – He started out at center with the twos and then moved to guard. On one play, Reynolds got beat by McLendon, who dropped Lewis for a 1-yard loss.

Mike Gibson – He played right guard with the twos. Very nice block by Gibson, taking a Steelers linebacker to the ground on Lewis’ 3-yard run.

Dennis Kelly – He started out at right tackle but also played some right guard. Kelly was slow to pick up a blitzing linebacker, who got in Kafka’s face and helped cause the interception. Later, he failed to pick up a blitzing linebacker on third down in the second. Kelly looks very much like a project. Don’t expect the rookie to get on the field much in his first season.

DeSean Jackson – He was targeted once and made a 5-yard grab. Great moment between Jackson and Andy Reid at the end of the game.

Damaris JohnsonI wrote about him yesterday. Johnson got the start in Jeremy Maclin’s place and finished as the game’s leading receiver with four catches for 85 yards. He put a great move on the linebacker on a crossing pattern for a first down in the second. Johnson also made a great move on the 70-yard TD to get wide open. Earlier, he dropped a good pass from Kafka on a slant. But overall, strong game.

Jason Avant – Played, but was not targeted.

Marvin McNutt – No catches, but nice effort as a downfield blocker on Brown’s 33-yard run.

Chad Hall – Made an 11-yard grab on 3rd-and-6. Not sure what he provides that Johnson doesn’t, other than experience with the offense.

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

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  • http://twitter.com/WiffleBall1 WiffleBall1

    appreciate the updates

  • http://twitter.com/ScottJ610 Scott J

    Most dynasties start with three-and-out.

    • http://twitter.com/The_Jruth Cory Widmann

      haha

  • borntosuffer

    Wow – Dunlap with the 1s and Bell with the 2s today. In terms of Polk vs. one of the fullbacks, what do any of the current fullbacks offer that Polk doesn’t? That’s not a rhetorical question so I would be interested in anyone’s ideas there.

  • g b

    Gg

  • moyle

    Vandervelde also got knocked on his butt on the screen and his man picked it off. Pretty awful game for him.

  • PaulyDak

    I hope Chris Polk sticks.At least on the practice squad. They may have to make a new term for him, “Pancake blitz.pickup”.

  • JimK

    I am a bit surprised by the comment on Edwards. He had at least one pass dropped but nonetheless moved the team well and got in position for a FG with no time outs on a good (albeit rare for the Eagles) 2 minute drill. In short, he looked like a professional back there. Based on his diminished snaps and his presumed lack of familiarity with the playbook or the West Coast offense, I too expected he would be the odd man out but, when you compare his performance to Kafka’s, who I’m told knows the playbook in and out, I wouldn’t rush to a decision. Maybe now that Kafka is hurt and will see less snaps for the next few weeks, Edwards will establish himself as the #2.

  • Obama’s blocking back

    Bryce Brown was totally lost and looked like a “man without a country” when he stayed in to block. Runs great, but he absolutely can’t play for the Eagles without being able to block. Runs far too well to last on the practice squad. Give him some more excellent runs in preseason and trade him when the real season starts for a rookie safety with equal upside, esp if it’s someone who can be stashed on the PS.–