Instant Observations: Eagles Vs. Panthers

Here’s what we saw during the first half of tonight’s Eagles-Panthers game.

OFFENSE

* Michael Vick was outstanding, going 9-for-10 for 105 yards. His only incompletion was a jump-ball attempt on the final play of the first half that was picked off. Through two games (five possessions), Vick is 13-for-15 for 199 yards. He has two runs for 20 yards and has been sacked once. Tough to believe Chip Kelly, fans or anyone else could have expected him to play better in the first two games.

* Nick Foles looked good too for the most part, completing 6 of 8 passes for 53 yards. But he threw an ill-advised pass into the back of the end zone on a red-zone possession in the first quarter that was intercepted. Foles also had some trouble hanging on to the football, twice fumbling the snap.

* The Eagles went no-huddle for the entire first half.

* The offensive line held up well early, but it looked like Lane Johnson had some issues in pass protection. Will have to re-watch to be sure. Todd Herremans was called for a holding penalty that negated a big Chris Polk run. It looked like a questionable flag on the replay.

* LeSean McCoy played the entire first half and looked great, carrying eight times for 47 yards and a score. He also caught three balls for 16 yards.

* The Eagles essentially showed 4-TE sets on multiple occasions. Clay Harbor is officially a wide receiver. But he was on the field with Brent Celek, Zach Ertz and James Casey in the first half. Later, it was the same look, except Emil Igwenagu in for Celek.

* Polk had four carries for 23 yards in the first half, but he lost a fumble. Bryce Brown (quad) did not play.

* Early on, it looked like Foles made the wrong decision on a read-option play. The DE crashed, but he gave the ball to McCoy anyway. McCoy made the defender miss and picked up 8 yards.

* Nice catch by Ertz on 3rd-and-3 from Foles for 15 yards. Avant flashed great hands on an 11-yard grab from Foles in the red zone.

* Damaris Johnson had an excellent 18-yard punt return where he made two Panthers players look silly with his first cut. He gave the Eagles’ offense field position at the Carolina 39.

* The Eagles showed a wrinkle early on, running the read option. But when Foles took off to the left, he swung a pass out to Jason Avant for 6 yards. As Chris Brown of Grantland Tweeted, it was essentially a triple option.

* Riley Cooper with a nice block on Foles’ touchdown run. Cooper also did a nice job of coming back for the football on a 22-yard catch in the second. Vick did an excellent job of buying time on the play.

* Nice job by Russell Shepard on kickoff coverage, tackling the Panthers’ returner at the 11.

DEFENSE

* The only change to the starting lineup was Cary Williams getting the start at cornerback opposite Bradley Fletcher. Patrick Chung and Nate Allen were the starting safeties. The Eagles held the Panthers to a pair of field goals in the first half and looked much better than last week.

* On the defensive line, Cedric Thornton played well, pressuring Newton on the first drive. He later was unblocked and dropped DeAngelo Williams for a 5-yard loss. Bennie Logan also looked good when he came in, playing the run well and batting a ball at the line of scrimmage.

* Trent Cole also seemed to play much better than last week. He and Chung made a nice play against the run on the first series. Steve Smith tossed Williams to the ground on the play, and the two mixed it up after the whistle. Chung later made a nice tackle on a 1-yard run in the first. He’s looked like a sure tackler through the first two preseason games.

* The Panthers tried to block Cole one on one with a tight end in the second, and he forced Newton to scramble. Mychal Kendricks then made a nice open field tackle.

* Kendricks was outstanding in the first half. On a third down on the first possession, the Eagles sent a six-man blitz with both Kendricks and DeMeco Ryans. Kendricks got through, and Fletcher Cox also got good pressure, forcing an incompletion. Kendricks later shot into the backfield and made a play behind the line of scrimmage. He hit Newton on a blitz as well.

* On 3rd-and-20 in the second, the Eagles only rushed three, dropping eight into coverage. Brandon Boykin had a great shot at an interception, but couldn’t hang on.

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