Game Review: Eagles Offense Vs. Patriots

NFL: Preseason-Philadelphia Eagles at New England Patriots

Here’s a position-by-position breakdown of what we saw from the Eagles’ offense against the Patriots, after having re-watched Friday night’s game.


* Nick Foles played really well, completing 8 of 10 passes for 81 yards and a touchdown. The decision-making resembled what we saw a year ago, and he was accurate with the ball. Foles hit Brent Celek for a 23-yard gain downfield and later went through his progressions before connecting with Celek on a 22-yard completion. He gunned one to Zach Ertz for the touchdown, showing good patience and delivering on-target.

The one throw I think he'd like to have back is the fade to Ifeanyi Momah in the end zone. It looked like Foles just overthrew him or could have had another touchdown. Overall, though, strong performance.

* I'll admit I had the backup QB situation listed as a concern when the summer began, but Mark Sanchez has really played well. Against New England, he was 11-for-12 for 117 yards, two touchdowns and a score. Early on, Sanchez showed good calmness in the pocket. The Patriots had some pressure up the middle, but he took his time before dumping the ball off to Darren Sproles for a 7-yard gain. Later, he did a nice job of putting the ball up for grabs for Ertz on a 20-yard completion downfield. Sanchez put the ball on the money in between defenders to Jordan Matthews for an 18-yard completion. And his pass to Momah in the end zone was perfect, even though it bounced off of Momah's hands and into Arrelious Benn's.

The one mishap was an off-target throw intended for James Casey that resulted in an INT.  Through two games, Sanchez is 18-for-22 (81.8 percent) for 196 yards (8.9 YPA), two TDs and one INT.

* Matt Barkley completed nine of 12 passes for 132 yards, a touchdown and an INT. The pick wasn't his fault. The ball bounced off of Damaris Johnson's hands on a wheel route near the sideline. Barkley's best throw of the night was an 18-yard completion to B.J. Cunningham in traffic.


* Not a whole lot to say about LeSean McCoy. He had six carries for 19 yards, including a 13-yard gain in the second. McCoy also had a nice blitz pickup in the first on the play where Allen Barbre was beaten for a sack.

* Darren Sproles had two catches for 13 yards.

* Henry Josey got the bulk of the work in the second half with Chris Polk and David Fluellen sidelined. Josey had eight carries for 56 yards to go along with a 27-yard touchdown catch. On the score, Josey did a great job of staying in bounds near the sideline before diving into the end zone. He had nice runs of 7 yards, 14 yards and 9 yards. Josey also had a very nice blitz pickup on the play where Sanchez was intercepted. Behind McCoy and Sproles, the Eagles' RB situation is unclear because of multiple injuries. But Josey made a strong impression vs. New England.


* It really is remarkable how much Momah has improved in a year. Early on vs. New England, he faced man coverage and got open twice on dig routes. The first time, he made a nice grab with his hands but ended up fumbling. He got open again for a 12-yard gain. Momah actually separated from the cornerback on a fade that could have resulted in a TD with a better throw. He should have held on to the TD pass from Sanchez. Momah is still not a finished product, but he's showing progress and doing a much better job of using his size than he did a year ago. He's fighting for the final WR spot on the roster.

* There was plenty to like about Jordan Matthews' performance. He finished with nine catches on nine targets for 104 yards, although only one of those catches came with the first team. Pat Shurmur has talked about Matthews' spatial awareness. That showed up in the second as he found room between defenders and came down with an 18-yard grab. He picked up some YAC on a 10-yard gain off a screen on the next play. In the third, on a shallow crosser, he made the catch, turned upfield and picked up 25 yards. That's the kind of play we've been seeing at training camp. In the third, he broke a tackle and picked up 19 on a bubble screen. Nice hands catch in the third on a Barkley throw that was low and to his left:

Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 8.00.39 AM

* As for the rest of the backups, Arrelious Benn was in the right place at the right time on the 6-yard TD off of Momah's hands. He also blocked a punt. Damaris Johnson saw time as both a running back and a WR. He started out in the backfield, leaked out to the right and caught a 5-yard TD in the third. Johnson also made a defender miss on a 21-yard pickup in the fourth. Jeff Maehl fumbled trying to pick up extra yards on a screen in the third.


* If preseason is any indication, the Eagles are going to rely on their tight ends to make plays in the passing game. Brent Celek got behind the linebackers for a 23-yard gain on Y-Cross in the second. He later came down with a 22-yard grab despite having his helmet knocked off by Patrick Chung. You get the feeling Celek almost likes getting hit like that. He sprang right back up, as usual.

* Zach Ertz continues to have a strong summer. He got Chung on his back and used his size for a 6-yard touchdown in the second. And Ertz did a fantastic job of using his size on a 20-yard catch from Sanchez. Look at the way he reaches for the ball at its highest point:


There's still room for improvement with Ertz as a blocker. He whiffed on the safety on McCoy's 3-yard run in the second. But overall, he's going to be a big part of the passing game.

* James Casey had a couple grabs for 15 yards, and Trey Burton caught an 18-yarder down the field from Barkley.


* This is always a tough position to evaluate without the All-22, but it looked like an average showing for the starters. Allen Barbre got beaten cleanly off the edge by Rob Ninkovich, who sacked Foles in the first. Jason Peters and Evan Mathis had trouble handling a stunt in the second. Peters lost his footing and nearly gave up a sack, but Foles was able to get rid of the ball for the incompletion.

* I'm willing to give guys like Peters, Mathis and Jason Kelce the benefit of the doubt. The right side, with Herremans and Barbre, is the area to watch for the first four weeks of the season.

* On the flip side, I feel better about the depth than I did a few weeks ago. Andrew Gardner has played well at left tackle. And Matt Tobin has looked good at left guard. Both players did a nice job on Josey's 7-yard run in the third, and again on Josey's 14-yarder. I'll be surprised if those aren't two of the Eagles' backups when they cut down to 53.

* Lane Johnson held up well in pass protection and did a good job on Josey's 15-yard run. Tough to say how this will affect his development, considering Johnson is going up against second- and third-teamers after starting all of last season.

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  • Anebriated

    Josey’s ability to pick up the blitz was impressive for a rook. I could see him snagging that 3rd spot or forcing us to carry 4 RBs.

    • RJ

      I think carrying four running backs would be a valuable asset to the team. Where we would free up the other roster spot though remains the question. If we put Josey on the PS he will no doubt be signed by someone else.

      • Anebriated

        Agreed on all your points there. Safety would be the most likely spot(assuming they are currently keeping 5, Jenkins, Allen, Wolff, Maragos, Reynolds) but I dont know who you get rid of.

        • RJ

          In my opinion that would be Reynolds if you drop one of them five. Jenkins is a lock, I doubt Allen is going anywhere, Wolff is a future piece of the puzzle, and Maragos might be the best special teams guy we have (outside of crazzzzzzzzzzzzy Bryan Braman).

        • D-Von Funk

          That’s easy. If you keep 4, Reynolds is the odd man out. Maragos will be a valuable special teamer for us, and I think he could fill in adequately if we need him to.

          I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again, I don’t see how Reynolds is – or should be – a lock to make this team. I don’t care that he was a 5th round pick. Stash him on the PS if need be, because I really don’t see him getting poached by another team, unless Harbaugh wants one of his ex-Stanford guys.

          At this rate, we need to keep 4 backs (and 6 wideouts) more than we need 5 safeties.

          • Pennguino

            We can keep 55 players for the first 4 weeks then we have to drop down to 53 when the suspensions are over

        • A Roy

          They free it up by only carrying 3 TE. The fight is between Igwenagu and Josey, as I see it. And they may only carry 5 WR.
          Assume 3 QB, 4 RB, 3 TE, 9 OL and 5 WR.

          They have to decide between an OL and a WR for the 25th offensive spot. And remember, one will have to be waived to the PS when Lane Johnson returns…assuming no injuries, of course.

          • Jerry Pomroy

            LJ would count against the 53 man, just not active. I’d just go light at OL knowing he’ll back after 4 games & not take chances of going light at another spot where you’ve had guys bringing it and would snatched up if you tried to PS them.

          • A Roy

            I’ve read three different sources that say a suspended player does not count on the active (53) roster. They can keep someone instead of Johnson and make a decision after week 4.

          • Jerry Pomroy

            Really? Well then that’d make this a little more interesting & give us some more time to maybe look at a Momah/Josey in games that count (granted they continue to show something w/ 2 remaining PS games). Then it’d probably be easier to get them through waivers if we did waive them as most rosters will be set after 4 games in. That’s still a fingers crossed situation though of course.

          • Anebriated

            Momah seems determined to give his spot away to Benn this preseason.

          • Jerry Pomroy

            I see what you did there…

            But seriously, I’m just talking about guys that may be question marks but have some potential upside if you stuck with them.

          • Anebriated

            There is no question Momah has a high ceiling. He has made incredible strides since last offseason. Ive been HOPING that he would capitalize on his situation but I also know how much Chip values special teams. Momah hasnt really shown much there where as Benn, who appears to be fighting for the same roster spot, looked great this past week. I would prefer Momah but I could see Benn getting the spot.

          • Jerry Pomroy

            I guess maybe I’m haunted a bit by Brian Finneran from quite a few years back. Big, raw WR that we cut and went on to become a pretty good WR for Atlanta. Just don’t want to see a repeat of that scenario and we cut Momah and then he turns out being a quality #2 for another team that was willing to develop him. That crap irks me.

          • Anebriated

            Im with you on that believe me. The same thing could happen with Benn… I found myself wondering if Momah would be capable of playing some TE, I would rather keep him over Igwenagu

          • EAGLES

            Before I even read this I was thinking the same. Momah is the obvious higher talent than Benn, and the ceiling is crazy. I’m surprised Benn has not shown up at all though.

          • Jay Kalinowski

            I think for the most part that Matt Barkley will be inactive every week. 4 RB and carry 5 WR, as Ertz and Celek line up in the slot often enough. I would honestly rather keep Trey Burton (TE/WR) than a few of these receivers. He doesn’t exactly have TE size or WR speed, but he is a guy that is good in space and uses his size well with good hands. I knew coming out of UF he would have trouble catching on in NFL because he is a “tweener” but he is a good player in all aspects he plays in. (Receiving, running, blocking)

          • A Roy

            Agree Barkley will be inactive, but that still counts against the 53. 45 active 8 inactive. Haven’t seen Burton enough to have an opinion, but carrying 4 TE is a luxury they don’t have. Probably PS if he’s shown anything.

    • anon

      he really looked great all around the other night.

  • RJ

    “If preseason is any indication, the Eagles are going to rely on their tight ends to make plays in the passing game.”

    As well as they should too. The thing is, it’s not like Celek is without his receiving chops. We seen him catch 76 passes in 2009 when LJ Smith split for Baltimore, and no doubt Zach Ertz is a fast riser. Factor in James Casey who has some receiving skills, and we have a troublesome unit for opposing defenses to stop.

  • TjPup

    Just so much concern with injuries. Has Polk taken a snap yet? Both sides of the ball are decimated. Hamstrings are popping all over the place…. Not good.

    • RJ

      Yeah, this is looking like the anti-2013 season, where we had a few injuries and nothing serious. But from what I read, none of the guys who are suffering would miss season time, so that’s the only up. And no, Polk hasn’t taken a snap, neither has Cooper for that matter.

    • Dsjunior

      Soo you would rather take last year? Few injuries but all major or this year quite a few injuries but nothing major? Chip already said Mac Cary coop and Carroll could all play if the game counted…it’s just camp, no need to go all out for no reason

  • calm weather

    It seemed to me the more impressive part of Josey’s TD run was how he adjusted speed and direction to use his blocker. That’s the only reason he got past the first defender near the sideline.

  • Explorer51

    CK & the Eagles would never talk about this but wouldn’t it be interesting to get the Sports Science take on the proliferation of hamstring injuries this summer? Is it a training technique issue, nutrition, bad luck, all of the above? With the constant body monitoring, I would bet they are looking how to pinpoint the warning signs of a hammie ready to blow…

    • Anebriated

      Wonder if any of the recent injuries has to due with the fact that they had to slow down their practice habits this past week when they were in New England.

      • Explorer51

        Interesting thought.

    • MagatBrackendale

      Let’s be glad it’s not like last year around the league where it was an ACL or two somewhere every week.

  • JofreyRice

    A lot to like about the offense in this game.

    • Adam

      I’m keeping your spot on the Ertz bandwagon warm!

      • EAGLES

        He’s gonna be a star for this team.

  • PaoliBulldog

    I don’t think Momah or Josey would clear waivers at this point. I still maintain that Brad Smith is a versatile scrub with no upside. I’d hate to keep him over either of those guys.

    • Rellihcs

      I disagree there. I think he’s a scrappy vet who can get you first downs and contribute reliably on special teams. Find me a better #5 guy in the league…

      • jackson

        Momah! He’s green, yes, but kid has what you can’t teach. Get some glue for his gloves and we’ll stick him in the back of the end zone on all redzone plays. Shady, Celek, Ertz, Matthews, and Momah, with a smart QB to decide who gets it, could rival any red zone attack.

  • Rick H

    Wolff made one play. To me he is anything but a sure thing and not a guy to even consider right now for the Eagles future. Barbre is a concern. Carroll must get back on the field Cornerbacks are a concern in general. Maclin has to show some level of consisent health. Backup linebackers are weak. The Eagles are getting deeper & better but those are my areas of concern.p.s. Of course Henery’s field goals are always an anxiety filled adventure.

  • Glenn

    Really think Josey is good. Would love to see him get the backup RB spot. Might be time to turn the page on injury prone Polk.

    Am concerned about Barbre, who looks awful in pass pro. How about giving Kelly some reps with the ones? Or giving Gardner reps at RT?

    Very impressed with Matthews comeback from last week.

    Anyone else notice Brandon McManus, former Temple kicker, who is in the midst of a kicker battle with Josh Brown with the Giants? He kicked a 75 yarder in practice! His kickoffs routinely go beyond the endzone! The New York Times wrote about him in an article on August 2nd. He has already made 50, 47, and 46 yard FGs. No misses yet. McManus will be an NFL kicker, and a good one. The loser of that battle would be an upgrade over Henery. Hope Howie is paying attention!

  • Tom w

    Ugh I hope we don’t keep maragos over Reynolds or Braman over Travis long or Maehl over momah or Philips over acho or Krueger or bair. No need for a team of special team aces but average players w limited upside to help if injuries occur. One or two special teams guys is enough.

  • Philly Phil

    Seriously? You guys don’t see through the whole “hamstring” injury report gimmick? Chip is resting guys and building depth. Lane Johnson will be the only starter missing opening week. Book it.

    • EAGLES

      Cary Williams looked fine after the TD, I think Brady was gonna test him because of what he said. He went right for him. But he looked fine running the whole time.

  • Andy

    I’m afraid the offensive line is going to be a weakness for the first month of the season, and maybe a couple of weeks after that as LJ gets up to speed and they gel as a unit. And that’s assuming everyone else stays healthy again this year.