Game Review: Eagles Defense Vs. Patriots

NFL: Preseason-Philadelphia Eagles at New England Patriots

Here’s a position-by-position review of how the Eagles’ defense performed against the Patriots, after having re-watched the game.


* The most active starter among this group was Cedric Thornton. He pushed a lineman back on a run play early, paving the way for Mychal Kendricks’ tackle for loss. He stopped Stevan Ridley after a 2-yard run in the first and was in on another tackle. Early on, Thornton put himself in great position, got into the backfield, but missed a tackle on Ridley’s 6-yard run. He also got tripped up and ended up on the ground on an 11-yard Ridley run. Overall, though, active and consistent.

* Fletcher Cox had a couple tackles against the run. Bennie Logan looked like someone who had not practiced or played a lot this summer (which is understandable).

* The best thing I can say about Vinny Curry is that you always notice when he’s on the field. His hustle and effort jump off the screen. Chip Kelly pointed out the way Curry blocked for Cary Williams on the pick six, but there are other examples too. He blew up a run play that gained 3 in the second and then made a tackle on a 2-yard carry. In the second quarter, he started out as a down lineman, rushed the passer, realized it was a WR screen, hustled downfield and leaped on the ball-carrier. Later, Curry fought through a double team and nearly got to the QB. I understand why he’s not an ideal fit for a two-gap 3-4. He should be on the field though in all passing situations once the regular season begins.

* Beau Allen showed some pass-rushing chops for the second week in a row. He won his matchup, forced the QB to flee and helped force an incompletion.

* Ups and downs for Taylor Hart. He battled through a double team and helped stop Ridley after a 2-yard run in the second. Later, Hart got a good pass-rush on third down and forced the QB out of the pocket. It looked like he was blocked to the ground on a 13-yard run to the right side in the third. And Hart missed a tackle on a cutback run that got called back.

* Joe Kruger had a tackle against the run in the third and was later called for illegal hands to the face.

* Brandon Bair continues to be active against the run. He stopped a run after a 1-yard gain and later shed his block before making another tackle.


* Connor Barwin had a couple decent pass-rushes. On one, he got around the edge, but couldn’t finish. On another, he nearly swiped Tom Brady’s arm. If Marcus Smith II can’t get on the field, though, Barwin’s role is unlikely to change from a year ago.

* Speaking of Smith, Billy Davis was pretty clear that the rookie’s head was spinning vs. New England. I’ve said I think Smith can help the Eagles as a first-year player, but I might have to re-think that stance. The pass-rush looks to be very much a work in progress. And Smith didn’t flash in other areas either this week. Davis said Smith is playing slow because there’s so much going on in his head right now, and that shows. There was a third-quarter run where he couldn’t get off a wide receiver’s block on a run play. Later, he had a chance for a stop behind the line of scrimmage, but couldn’t get off the TE’s block. And Smith was at fault for some cutback runs to his side. I still like him as a prospect, but Smith could be a ways away from contributing. Let’s see how he does against Pittsburgh this week.

* Davis liked what he saw out of Travis Long. What I learned about Long that I didn’t know before: He looks like he can hold up well against the run. Long was in on a tackle on a 4-yard carry in the first. Later, he set up with his hand on the ground and made a stop after a 2-yard run. Coverage is tough to gauge off TV tape, but either he or Emmanuel Acho seemed to be at fault for the third touchdown pass. As a pass-rusher, Long got a hit on the QB in the second, but was otherwise quiet.

* Brandon Graham didn’t play defense in the first half. He got pinned inside on the third-quarter TD run. Later, he came unblocked for a sack.


* DeMeco Ryans was stout, as usual, against the run. There appeared to be some confusion between him and Brandon Boykin on the first third-down conversion.

* Mychal Kendricks has been very active in the preseason. He burst through the line of scrimmage for a TFL early. He hustled downfield to block for Williams on his pick six. He avoided an offensive lineman, got low and made a tackle on a 1-yard run. And later, Kendricks got into the backfield and disrupted a 2-yard run. In coverage, either Kendricks or Boykin was responsible for Danny Amendola on a third-down conversion in the first. Overall, though, strong game.

* I’m not seeing a whole lot from the backups. Najee Goode figures to be third inside linebacker. He was OK. Neither Jason Phillips nor Emmanuel Acho did a lot to impress.


* Williams’ INT was one of the lone bright spots for the defense. I didn’t see Bradley Fletcher get targeted.

* We know Curtis Marsh had a nightmarish game. He was called for an illegal contact penalty (which looked bogus, for the record), was hit with a 26-yard pass interference flag and got beaten for three touchdowns. Rough outing, to say the least.

* This wasn’t Brandon Boykin’s best showing. He got called for illegal contact in the first and later did a poor job of setting the edge on an 18-yard run.


* Nate Allen got matched up with Amendola one-on-one on a couple occasions. His coverage was OK in the first, but a better throw from Brady would have resulted in a big gain. Later, Allen was beaten for a 12-yard completion. The one area where he’s made the most strides since two years ago is his tackling.

* Earl Wolff’s athleticism showed in the first half. He came on a blitz in the second, got to the QB in a hurry, leaped and batted a pass down. Wolff flashed against the run too. He made a stop after a 2-yard run in the red zone and stripped Ridley in the second quarter.

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  • Pennguino

    Cox looked bad. One tackle was an assist where he fought to get to the outside. That was his best play of the night. His second tackle was blown back by the OT 3 yards on a 3rd and one. He got pushed out of his spot and the rb ran right past him on another play. He was usually the last lineman to react to the balk being snapped. Several times he was just coasting while the play was still active

    • anon

      he must think he’s revis

  • anon

    you guys are stealing Tommy’s thunder

    • JofreyRice

      Ah, there’s still a niche for his positive spin: “Great learning opportunity for Smith in this game. It’s great to get a young player experience like this, facing starters and taking his lumps. Davis & Chip will make sure he comes back stronger when the season starts and they install the ‘real’ defense. The tape on him in this game will lull opposing offenses into a false sense of confidence. The future is bright, bright, BRIGHT!!!”.

      • Jerry Pomroy

        I’m more of a realist, but do think that Smith will be a good player once the NFL game slows down for him & he gets the opportunity to continue to face inferior talent.

        3 things I would like to see on the Marcus Smith front…

        1) Add more strength up top
        2) Work non-stop on his hands
        3) Coaching staff utilizes him as the odd rusher to capitalize on his speed & create pressure until he can improve on #1 & #2.

        That’s how you’ll get quality production from him early on this year.

        • MediaMike

          And I’m just about the least trusting person on here when it comes to blind faith with the team, but I think they’ll be able to accomplish all 3 with Smith!

          • Jerry Pomroy

            I’m not one for blind faith either. I studied the crap outta Smith for months before he was drafted & before he was on many people’s radar. Outside of Mack, I found Smith to be the most ‘complete prospect’ for 3-4 OLB.

            I’m not exactly sure of the philosophy of using him at LOLB was the best idea if you ultimately see him as your ROLB. I get that they wanted him to learn behind Barwin & wanted him to make plays in coverage. But they should’ve followed the same path that Louisville took with him when they transitioned him from QB to LB and let him use his speed and athleticism from the right side getting into the backfield, then added more to his plate as he gained confidence & experience.

          • MediaMike

            They want Smith / Barwin as the OLB combo long term. In that case both guys will be totally impossible to figure out pre-snap.

          • JofreyRice

            yeah, which guy are you going to use your 5th WR to block?

          • NickS, Combine Warrior

            I’d like to see Smith put on a few pounds and add some strength. Seems that 250 is light on his frame.

          • Jerry Pomroy

            He played last season in Louisville at 261lbs. He slimmed down pre-combine. His junior year he played around 255 and was very light on his feet and would lose some 1on1 battles, but you could noticeably see that he was quicker. I’d personally like to see him at 260lbs, but I want that weight & strength specifically in his shoulders & chest, while chiseling his mid-section & core. That will bring much more explosion to his hands. He says he’s been studying Clay Mathews b/c he’s so good with his hands. He should also watch Reggie. Reggie had violent hands.

          • Eaglehaslanded

            Khalil Mack, #5 overall to the Raiders is struggling mightily. The press that covers the Raiders are questioning his selection, and ability to perform. People must give these guys a chance to develop.

          • eaglespur

            ok. but, if our D is hiding the good stuff, the defensive sets that’ll create pass rush once the season starts, why would ck complain about the pass rush? or maybe… he’s applying some devious psychological trickery!

        • JofreyRice

          Yeah, I was just goofing on Tommy’s eternal optimism. Smith looked really bad, but the sample size is tiny, and I’m sure he is trying to process a lot of info right now. Lane looked kind of horrible at times as a rook, and he’s turned out pretty well. We’ll have to wait and see.

        • dnabrice

          Doesn’t strength take a whole to build up???

      • Token

        Tommy was praising Allen for the last few days. Calling him a changed man. Seriously.

  • cliff h-MOAR white goons

    my review…it sucked! in reality, so hard to judge much when Roc and Marsh are either getting gashed or penalized every play.
    Com’on Wolffie! Allen is such a nothing out there, best he can do is ‘OK’. Defense needs playmakers, needs athletic freaks like Curry, Kendricks, Boykin and Wolff flying around. Hopefully Cox and Cole are Vet’g it right now, no need to do anything but get to the sidelines healthy.

    • Andy Six Score and Four

      I hope so. The phrase “It’s only preseason” never seems to become second nature to people.

      • cliff h-MOAR white goons

        yup, simply dont know what they are working on. it’s crazy. NFL charging reg season prices for glorified practices. and idiots like me 550 miles away rearranging my Friday night around it. Ugh, pathetic really! and, when’s the Steelers’ game, Friday 7-30?

        • Adam G

          Thurs 7:30

        • Andy Six Score and Four

          I’m right there with you.

    • Amar, CB who bought in

      I saw Barwin getting blocked easily by the TE. Same with Marcus Smith II.

      • cliff h-MOAR white goons

        ok. so what? Celek stones LBs all the time. right now Eagles are rushing 4 straight up 1v1, no stunts or twists. it’s plain jane vanilla.

        • I like it when our guys do it to them, not so happy when they do it to us.

          • MediaMike

            Correct. There is one group of superstars held to the highest standards and 31 groups of stiffs that suck and have loser fans who are fit to schedule dentist appointments if they dare speak up and/or show their faces around my Eagles!

        • Amar, CB who bought in

          So it means a very bad sign.
          3-4 Two gap is based on DL occupying the Olinemen and the LBs beating the 1-on-1 or getting a free lane to the backfield.
          Celek holding off Opposing LBs is also a bad sign…albeit for the opposing D, who, I’m not too worried about.

      • EaglesTrolltheWorld

        Smith didn’t just get blocked easily by the TE…he got knocked on his ass so easily off a chip.

        • anon

          he got blocked by a wr. Think about that – a WR who probably is not going to make a team that doens’t have great WR blocked your 1st round pick.

          • Jerry Pomroy

            Let it go man. Are you old enough to remember Trent Cole coming into the league? If so, he got manhandled physically every time someone got a hand on him and he couldn’t use his speed. That was until he gained some significant strength/weight & also learned how to use his hands.

      • Dominik

        As a foreigner, I had to watch the game on the Patriots Preseason
        network. The Patriots basically didn’t have any TEs so they used their
        Tackles as eligble receivers. Not that it’s great news for Barwin to get
        blocked by them, but it’s not like Zach Ertz kind of TEs blocked him.

  • eaglesfan, 20-win failure

    if he plays like he did against NE, we can put the ‘Boykin to the outside’ theme to bed.

    • JofreyRice

      yeah, he didn’t acquit himself very well. Although, really, most of us have just advocated a fair shot on the outside–that would probably mean actually practicing out there, not just getting shoved into the position in an emergency role, cold.

    • TNA

      I kind of see what Davis talked about in terms of BB still improving on leverage and awareness of what his teammates are doing. Although he’s a playmaker based on the number of INTs he gets and PDs, he still gets roasted every once in a while. Like against the Raiders…Streater was getting open against him with ease and BB always seemed to have a bad angle. That said, I don’t see any of the other CBs being nearly half as effective against slot receivers with the exception of Carroll who we haven’t really seen in game action with the team yet. Definitely one of the things to look at in the upcoming game.

      • eaglesfan, 20-win failure

        no doubt he’s a playmaker, letting him continue to develop in the slot may (unfortunately) be the right call.

    • Bird of Prey

      With the new rules enforcement and the huge receivers he really doesn’t stand a chance outside without getting a flag. It’s just unwatchable now. Sad.

  • peteike

    looked like the wide 9 out there trying to stop the run. Marsh getting killed, I just wonder though, he was right on the guys every time just cant turn around or make a play. Isnt that better than always being beat by 2 or 3 steps? Either way, this is depth, I want to see Carroll and were gonna need him. D has always been the worry on this team, I still think the O puts up points this season but they better learn how to win shootouts.

  • Jerry Pomroy

    I don’t know, call me negative but I’m just starting to get a bit frustrated with the coaching staff’s defensive philosophy. I thought we were going to be an “attacking” style defense? Isn’t that what Chip said when hired last year? I’m just not seeing that. Granted it’s preseason and we’re making ho-hum calls from the sideline, but I was really hoping to see some strides made on the defensive side. I mean, they don’t need to be a dominant force ranked top 5 in the league. Just show me something that says we’ll be markedly better than last year. Gimme some pressure in the backfield. It doesn’t need to lead to a sack. Just chase the QB into a throw away or blow up the RB in the backfield. Show me someone other than Boykin that can get a hand on a ball in the secondary & make a stop on 3rd down.

    In the words of Brett Michaels, “just give me something to believe in!”

    • MediaMike

      I’m saving my level of “irate” for the regular season. They aren’t even close to an ideal starting 11 on D, so I think the pre-season philosophy of no-frills D is going to be the best way they can evaluate guys’ individual strengths and weaknesses.

      • Jerry Pomroy

        Oh that’s frustrated. Not even close yet to irate…lol.

        • MediaMike

          Sorry if you read my wrong. I was talking about me getting ready to get irate.

          • Jerry Pomroy

            Lol! Calm down Mike. I’m usually a glass half full guy. But damn when the obvious it’s hitting you in the face, eventually you’ve got to question it. Now, I’m not a coach, but jeez, if you’re own HC is complaining about the pass rush lacking, maybe you should look to the obvious answer for a short term fix. If you have guys that their strength is shooting gaps and getting after the QB, utilize them to that strength & poof, the pass rush improves. There isn’t anything stopping them from 2-gapping on 1st down & then switching to a 1-gap on 2nd & 3rd & moving to a nickel/dime in secondary.

            Edit: Before anyone says well what about the run, they could easily switch their assignments (1-gap or 2-gap) as they see fit. There isn’t a huge change schematically between the two. Just a matter of how you line up and your post-snap responsibilities change. Maybe you pull Ced in favor of Curry, and/or rotate Allen in for Logan.

    • Eaglehaslanded

      Great song!

  • MagatBrackendale

    Let’s see. The 2 teams practiced against each other all week. The Patriots did not throw to #24’s side of the field all game. Hmm. Makes you wonder what they saw and how much he corrected since the previous game.

    • Will, Always Shady in CA

      Why would they when Marsh is giving them everything they want?

    • MediaMike

      Fletcher is an absolute pro. He’s not shutdown, all-pro, pro-bowl, or even a #1 CB; but he’s a pro. When the dude is on the field, I know we’ll be ok over there.

    • knighn

      Curtis Toasted Marshmallow was on the other side.

  • MediaMike

    It’ll be very disappointing if we don’t see Smith make some impact this season, but that doesn’t diminish him as a top flight pass rush prospect in my eyes. I think it more speaks to how he was most frequently able to be drafted in the late 2nd / early 3rd going into the draft.

  • cliff h-MOAR white goons

    oh man, BGN has some PFF grades up…
    M Smith -5.5…didnt even know it could get that low. Marsh was only -4.3
    Backup OLine is pretty solid. one less complaint
    Wolff +3.0. want that athletic talent on the field so badly
    Momah -3.5. RColton has game set matched the Momah sucks argument…he sux
    Kruger and Acho -3.1. think Kruger will be safe on PS

    • NJ Eagle

      Has anyone ever seen a play by play analysis from PFF? I’d love to understand how Marsh could get a -4.3, while Momah gets a -3.5. Heck, how did Smith grade out worse when Marsh gave up 2 penalties and 3 TD’s!

      • Adam G

        Funny, Kempski had a battle with someone over at PFF awhile ago. Basically said that people take their judgments as the truth, meanwhile its just a bunch of dudes grading out plays. And I think, but I’m not sure, they wouldn’t release who those people actually are. For pre season games I wouldn’t be surprised if it was some non paid college intern grading these plays.

      • cliff h-MOAR white goons
        it’s only off of what they see on TV. so DBs are off screen alot. where Smith is seen every play. sure he just got racked up with negative plays
        i take the numbers with a grain of salt. it’s an opinion, they dont know what’s being called. so difference between being 1 and 0.5, is all opinion. start getting -3, that player is getting steamrolled, just shouldnt be out there. or week in week out the player is always graded negative, he’s simply below average.

      • anon

        momah had a fumble and a couple of drops, i don’t know if he can even block he barely makes special teams. He should talk to C. Matthews about special team longevity.

        • hopefully they’ll get a place together and start coordinating hair & outfits.

          Or maybe we’ll get real lucky and Roc, caseymatthews, Moemah, and negligenthomicideleg will all get cut on the same day.

          • Andy Six Score and Four

            I heard they all wore black with midnight green accents last Friday… embarrassing.

    • he looks great in practice though, and he’s sooooo tall

      • borntosuffer

        Yea, and I heard he runs a sub 4.4 forty.

      • Andy Six Score and Four

        That’s all well and good, but how does he look doing crunches in his driveway?

  • NJ Eagle

    With his size and quick first step, why isn’t Curry getting a few reps at OLB? Get the guy on the field, he’s always making plays

    • MediaMike

      He’s not a “space” player.

    • Token

      He cant cover a TE. As if even the great Connor Barwin can do that well. They just dont like the kid.

    • Javi Echie

      He also gained more weight this offseason in order to play 3-4 de so I doubt he can make a transition to olb.

  • UncleCarm

    Graham getting pinned inside is a nice way of putting it. It looked to me like he ran inside right out of the hole, right out of the contain, and the blocker just followed him along. Unless they were doing some kind of stunt and the other guy didn’t show up, that was just a horrible moment for Graham.

  • TNA

    McCoy has a “minor” turf toe injury that required x-rays and an MRI.


    No kidding. If there’s a ligament strain in that toe, they need to get a handle on that and prevent Shady from trying to “push through it” and worsen the inflammation. Give it 2 weeks of rest. Put it in a boot if they can. Think long-term. No need to play with an injury during pre-season. I appreciate him trying to practice and fighting through the pain, but why risk playing with a nagging injury like that that reduces your ability to cut if you can take advantage of a couple weeks to let it heal?!? SHUT IT DOWN!

    • MediaMike

      Agree 100%. As the head mob boss said in Casino prior to ordering hits on everybody associated with their operations in Vegas; “Why take a chance?”

    • Jerry Pomroy

      Agree. Plus we know what Shady is & it’s not like we’re seeing them run anything dynamic as far as play calling that he needs to get reps on perfecting. Shutting him down also gives us the opportunity to see these other guys work & whether they’re worth a roster spot.

      • TNA

        Shady says he still wants/needs reps, and the telling quote is that he gets frustrated because he knows that other players are getting reps and getting better while he’s sitting out practice.
        He also said something about helping get this offense humming right out of the gate in a game (presumably thursday) – he’s frustrated that it’s taking too long to get the offense warmed up.

        This is all very admirable. But having “popped” my big toe and trying to continue playing sports with a toe that doesn’t bend or grip the ground like it’s supposed to, it leads to ankle, shin and hip injuries as the rest of the body tries to compensate. Although it feels like it’s something you can play through because you can still run and use other parts of your foot to plant, it’s definitely something I wish I shut down in the short-term. It’s been about 15 years after the toe ligament “popped” and I can still barely bend my toe.

        The only way I’ve been told ligament sprain injuries heal (not a soft tissue injury, mind you) is with rest, immobilization and anti-inflammatories. That said I don’t want to go overboard because I’m not a doctor and have only Shady’s brief comments on it to go on. But color me concerned.

  • Amar, CB who bought in

    Anybody here following the Browns-Skins game…

    • 1977

      Yeah Johnny football is terrible and rg3 will be hurt by week 3. The games terrible 3-0 browns

  • igglesfaninportland

    Does Curry rotate in for Both Cox and Thorton? Can He, is there that much difference in reposibilities between L&R? Maybe Im jacked but I thought they rotated enought that if subing in for two guys he would get nearly the same snaps as starters. Last season he got 26%, Cox 73% and Thorton 59%. Wasted some on Geathers and Square, although Square usually replaced Logan. It seems to me he could see 50% to 60% of the snaps easy if they dont sub in Hartor whoever they keep at Tackle.

  • scrapplejoe

    M. Smith draft pick could be worse than the Mamula draft. Ok, I am jumping way ahead of myself.

  • KobraKai7474

    I am just going to come out and say it: Except for a QB, there is no excuse for a picking a player in the first round who can’t help you on the field in his first season. If Marcus Smith is really such a project that he won’t be able to help this team win football games in 2014, then, I am sorry, but it was a bad pick… a REALLY bad pick. Even if he is a 10-year pro bowler from 2015 on, he was picked to help this team win football games this year and it is looking increasingly likely that that won’t happen.