Observations: Broncos 52, Eagles 20
Here’s what we saw during the Eagles’ 52-20 loss to the Broncos in Denver.
* Going in, some (present company included) thought Chip Kelly would be a little bit more aggressive, knowing the offense would have to match Peyton Manning and company. But that wasn’t the case. The Eagles kicked a field goal with a 4th-and-4 at Denver’s 17 in the first. They later kicked on 4th-and-4 from Denver’s 7. And finally, they punted on 4th-and-6 from the Broncos’ 37.
* Michael Vick and the offense moved the ball well in the first half, but were completely shut down in third and fourth quarters. Vick started off 10-for-16 for 170 yards. But he completed just four of his next 11 passes and finished 14-for-27 for 248 yards. The Eagles had three punts and a missed field goal to start out the third quarter as the game got out of hand. Vick was sacked three times. The Broncos used a familiar strategy: playing man coverage on the outside. We’ll see with the All-22 whether Vick missed open guys, but from the TV angles, it looked once again like players struggled to get open.
* The Broncos entered the game limiting opponents to a little over 43 rushing yards per game and 2.3 YPC. The Eagles totaled 166 yards on 35 runs, averaging 4.7 YPC. LeSean McCoy had 16 carries for 73 yards. He missed some time in the first half because of an injury. Official word was that he got the wind knocked out of him. Bryce Brown had eight carries for 19 yards. Chris Polk got the ball on his first career snap and scampered into the end zone from 4 yards out for a touchdown. He finished with 33 yards on three carries.
* Brent Celek was the team’s leading receiver with three grabs for 57 yards. But he had a huge drop early. On third down, with the Eagles driving, Celek couldn’t hang on to a pass from Vick that would have given the offense a first down inside the Broncos’ 5-yard-line. Brown had two catches for 41 yards, including a 35-yarder that set up their lone first-half touchdown. Evan Mathis made a nice block on the play.
* DeSean Jackson finished with two catches for 34 yards on six targets. He had a big play taken away because of a Mathis penalty. Riley Cooper had two catches for 25 yards.
* It seemed like the Eagles went with more two tight-end sets. Zach Ertz had a 38-yard catch. James Casey had his first catch as an Eagle, a 12-yarder in the first half.
* Damaris Johnson gave the Eagles good field position with a 21-yard punt return on the first-half possession where they scored a touchdown.
* The Eagles kicked the extra point rather than go for two down 14-12 in the first half.
* Jackson slid down to avoid a big hit after a 14-yard catch in the first. He left the game for a snap and appeared to be dinged-up, but returned.
* Nick Foles came into the game late in the fourth and engineered a 7-play, 80-yard drive. Jeff Maehl scored a 6-yard touchdown.
* The Eagles’ defense allowed the Broncos to set a franchise record with 52 points, although to be fair, special teams gave up 14 of those. Peyton Manning went 28-for-34 for 327 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. manning was pulled in the fourth quarter. The Broncos scored 21 points and piled up 18 first downs in the third quarter.
* The Eagles’ D gave up two touchdowns on four Broncos first-half possessions. Denver drove 74 yards on nine plays on its first possession. Manning hit Wes Welker for a 6-yard score. The Eagles blitzed seven on the play, including slot corner Brandon Boykin. Fox announcer Troy Aikman seemed to think rookie Earl Wolff was out of position on the play. In the second half, Boykin got beaten by Welker for a 4-yard touchdown.
* Fletcher Cox twice jumped offsides for penalties in the first half. Both times, he gave the Broncos first downs.
* The Eagles had one sack (Cedric Thornton) and two QB hits (Cox and Thornton). For most of the game, Manning had all day. None of Billy Davis’ blitzes seemed to get home. On one second-half touchdown, Brandon Graham lined up over the slot receiver and then rushed the QB. He had no chance of getting to Manning, who slipped the ball to Demaryius Thomas for a 15-yard touchdown.
* Cary Williams got smoked by Eric Decker on a double-move in the first half, but Manning overthrew him. Later, Williams got beaten for a 52-yard bomb. It looked like Wolff was out of position on the play. Bradley Fletcher also struggled. He got called for pass interference in the third and then allowed a touchdown to Thomas.
* Special teams let the Eagles down for a second consecutive week. Trindon Holliday took a kickoff 105 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. It looked like Jordan Poyer might have been held on the play, but there was no call. In the second half, the Eagles had a punt blocked and returned for a score.
* The Broncos had 141 yards rushing and averaged 4.3 yards per carry.
* Did you notice the Eagles with a “Papa John’s! Papa John’s!” call that the TV microphones picked up?