Observations: Eagles Vs. Steelers

NFL: Preseason-Pittsburgh Steelers at Philadelphia Eagles

Here’s what we saw during tonight’s game:


* Nick Foles was off-target early, but settled down, going 19-for-29 for 179 yards, a touchdown and an interception. The starters put together an 11-play, 80-yard drive in the first and a 13-play, 77-yard drive in the second.

* LeSean McCoy carried four times for 24 yards and caught two passes for 26 yards, including a 22-yard TD on a screen. Todd Herremans and Jason Kelce threw great blocks downfield on the play. McCoy also had a 15-yard run on a sweep where Herremans did an excellent job pulling and taking out the defensive back. McCoy left with a thumb injury. He had X-rays taken, but they were negative.

* Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin started on the outside. Cooper had three grabs for 25 yards. Maclin had six catches for 43 yards. Scary moment in the second. Maclin planted awkwardly and crumbled to the ground, grabbing his right knee. But he ended up only missing one play before returning. Cooper, meanwhile, was called for offensive pass interference on one play. He dropped a touchdown in the end zone on another play.

* On the first series, Foles missed Jordan Matthews wide, Maclin short and Cooper high. He also nearly fumbled on a zone read packaged play where he kept the ball.

* Brent Celek continues to make catches downfield and absorb big hits. He had a 23-yarder where his helmet got knocked off and another 18-yarder. Celek ran a great post-corner route against Troy Polamalu, but Foles overthrew him.

* Zach Ertz had a pair of grabs for 24 yards. He beat athletic rookie LB Ryan Shazier on one play.

* It looked like Allen Barbre got beaten a couple times early in pass protection.

* Darren Sproles saw his most extensive action of the preseason. He had six carries for 33 yards and a TD.

* The Eagles’ second-team offense tore through the Steelers’ starters, putting together a nine-play, 60-yard drive and a nine-play, 80-yard drive. Mark Sanchez was on point once again, completing seven of nine passes for 85 yards. His best throw was a 25-yarder down the seam to Trey Burton.

* Perhaps the biggest surprise of the preseason has been the Eagles’ second-team offensive line. The offense ran the ball at will in the third quarter against Pittsburgh. Matthew Tucker had runs of 12 and 15. He got in the end zone twice and finished with 10 carries for 46 yards.

* Arrelious Benn left the game in the third quarter because of a head injury.

* Henry Josey had a long TD run called back because of a penalty on B.J. Cunningham. On the replays, it looked like a good block.


* The defense turned in its best performance of the preseason, shutting the Steelers’ first-team offense out. The standout player was Mychal Kendricks. He had four tackles, a pass defended and pressured Ben Roethlisberger three times. Kendricks flew in on a blitz early and helped force an incompletion. Later, he blew by the left guard, and Nolan Carroll II came away with an interception. Kendricks hit Roethlisberger on another blitz and made a nice tackle in space against speedster Dri Archer.

* Bradley Fletcher and Carroll started on the outside with Cary Williams sidelined. Fletcher continues to draw illegal contact penalties.

* The Eagles used a lot of their dime package with Fletcher, Williams, Jaylen Watkins and Roc Carmichael. Kendricks is the only inside linebacker on the field in this package.

* Cedric Thornton blew up a couple of run plays early.

* DeMeco Ryans got whistled for a personal foul on a big hit over the middle where he unloaded on a receiver running a slant. Malcolm Jenkins was later called for unsportsmanlike conduct for knocking the ball out of Antonio Brown’s hands after the play.

* Jenkins had a diving attempt in coverage and nearly came away with an interception.

* Brandon Graham beat the left tackle and had a strip sack on the final drive of the first half.

* Roethlisberger went 8-for-17 for 60 yards and an interception in the first half. Overall, he was 15-for-24 for 157 yards, a TD and an INT.

* The Eagles’ backups competed against Pittsburgh’s starters in the third quarter. Marcus Smith II had four tackles overall, including one for loss. He stuck with Brown down the sideline, but couldn’t break up the pass, which was completed for 18 yards. Overall, it looked like an improved performance.

* Brandon Bair and Graham combined for a tackle for loss in the third. Late, Graham and Smith collapsed the pocket, and Vinny Curry sacked Roethlisberger. Bair also deflected a pass at the line of scrimmage.

* Travis Long saw some reps at inside linebacker. The Eagles are cross-training him there in case of emergency.

* Roethlisberger escaped pressure and found Heath Miller for a 27-yard TD in the third.

* Alex Henery missed a 31-yarder in the second half.

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  • Dsjunior

    Foles started off shaky but settled down and looked good, seems to be working on not holding onto the ball…INT wasn’t his fault, sproles fell when the ball was in the air…offense looks very good for the first time being all together at once…defense looks great tonight, I think even with missing time, Carroll will start over fletcher

    • Phyxius

      Man, our CB’s are looking to be a solid group.

      • Dsjunior

        Yes! Cary and Nolan starters with Boykin in the slot and fletcher and watkins as backups…I love it!

        • MagatBrackendale

          Cary didn’t even play tonight.

          • Dsjunior

            Slight hamstring soreness, holding out til the first day…I was just saying how the depth chart should be…fletcher is too handsy and these new rules are gonna kill him

          • Mr. Magee

            Yeah, will be interesting to see if he can be ‘reprogrammed.’ If he can’t, he may be out of a job.

        • Mr. Magee

          Hope Williams’ hamstring does not turn out to be a problem… Of course if it does, we won’t know till after the fact. I understand the reason for lack of info when it comes to injuries, but it sure is frustrating.

    • IDB

      He’d have looked even Better if cooper doesn’t drop that fastball first down and that touchdown pass. Foles played well

      • Dsjunior

        Agreed! Let’s hope it’s just rust from his 2 weeks off and he makes those catches during the regular season

  • Phyxius

    Everytime I see Graham on the field I just feel like crying, man.

    He’s going to make a 4-3 team very happy.

    • James Hathaway

      Sort of like watching an ex that let herself go snap back into fighting shape right after a breakup. You remember what was so intriguing about it, then you remember the last time Brandon graham saw Blount.

      • James Hathaway

        DID YOU SEE THAT? he threw himself Coleman/Chung style into his own player. That’s exactly what I meant.

  • John E. Zang

    Same story every week. Curry and Graham step in and instantly cause havoc. I don’t see how anyone can deny Graham is clearly better and has more ability than Cole. Cole had zero sacks until the end of the season and got his 8 in chunks. I really hope they give Graham a shot but it’s highly doubtful. Trade Cole now and let him play.

    • Kenneth Wayne

      Cole is a better at setting the edge against the run, and (unbelievable as this sounds) better in pass coverage. Hope they trade Graham while he boosts his stock this preseason.

      • willissez

        trade him for what? what compensation is worth more than his pass rushing ability?

        • pjcostello

          He’s a perfect 4-3 defensive end — pass rush is almost all he needs in that scheme. Here, he’s miscast as an OLB. He’d be a great fit for the Lions, Seahawks, Cowboys…

          • Adam

            Eagles need him. He’s the only guy on the roster who can rush the passer. News flash.. Cole isn’t an OLB either. Until they find one that can rush the passer, we have to make due with 4-3 DE’s.

          • shady25

            And Graham is younger, faster and can rush the passer just as good as Cole. I’m sorry, but Cole’s best days are behind him. I am willing to give up a little in the run game for a more dominant pass rush.

          • dnabrice

            Coles cap number means he’s gone next year unless he takes a big pay reduction, I think he would rather go play somewhere else as a veteran 4-3 DE for a few years to close out his career. A lot depends on Smith coming along.

        • DuckHunterSThompson

          trade him for what?

          A kicker, duh

          • tomw

            Knowing kelly. It would be another Duck

  • Philly0312

    They need to take Big Ben out…I’m starting to get embarrassed for them…

  • dislikedisqus

    I’ve been blown away by Sanchez these 3 games. I live in NJ and Jets have always been my #2 team so I watched him for the past few years at NYJ. No way would I have expected this level of accuracy and pace. He spent years with a deer in the headlights look. Comes to Philly and he’s turned into Peyton lite. Incredible. Don’t trade him,

    • Ark87

      My best friend and current roommate grew up in Brooklyn, huge Jets fan, The Deer in the headlights look belongs to him now, you can just see it in his eyes:

      • Wilbert31

        I’m as shocked as I can be, but can’t imagine the feeling your friend has!

      • Mr. Magee

        Great post. Eagles probably won’t be able to hang onto Sanchez after his rehabilitation, but Chip should have line of veteran QBs waiting for similar treatment going forward. Great position to be in, especially if Foles pans out like we hope.

    • KobraKai7474

      The Ryan family does that to QBs. After too many years of skimping on offense (both in terms of talent and coaching) in favor of the defense, all QBs playing for a Ryan-coached team tend to have that look. Randall had it after a few years under Buddy, and Sanchez (and Geno Smith, too) had it almost from the day he was drafted by Rex. You can look for Michael Vick to have it by mid-season if he is still upright at that point.

  • Eagles1018…Please no more du

    That was just a perfect snap and hold on like a 40 yard fg attempt. Seriously why aren’t we putting Parkey on the field to see what he can do. Enough already

    • BlindChow

      Parkey just got there yesterday, so he probably hadn’t had time to practice yet. I guess they let him do a kickoff because it doesn’t require chemistry with a holder.

  • Kleptolia

    Put me down for still not worried about the defense.

    • Andy Six Score and Four

      Gave up 21 second half points. Total train-wreck.

      • Kevin.Rosenberger

        We shouldn’t even play defense this year. Just give auto 7 to the opponents. What an embarrassment 😉

        • Dsjunior

          Sarcasm right?

          • Kevin.Rosenberger


      • Kleptolia

        Cut them! Duck bias! Bair needs to go! And so does Hart!

        • MagatBrackendale

          Hart? in preseason? What did the poor man ever do to you?

          • Andy Six Score and Four

            He’s an Oregon fan. He’s kidding.

      • Dsjunior

        You can’t be serious right? Lol please be sarcasm

        • Kleptolia

          Oh, Junior. Thank you. Perfect.

        • Andy Six Score and Four

          No. No, I can’t be serious. I try to avoid being serious as much as I possibly can.

  • JosephR2225

    Oh Henery!

    Open kicker tryouts at the Linc.

    • Jerry Pomroy

      If I was only 15yrs younger. Kicked & played FS in HS after being recruited from soccer team over to football. I’d at least hit from inside 40 & also hit returners on KOs. At that age, I’d also be an Army Infantry vet. So I’d be a fan favorite right…lol. Just find me the fountain of youth & I’m there!!

  • Eagle in VT

    Can we please pay someone to help fit Celek’s helmet properly before his grey matter gets jiggled?

    • UncleCarm

      Celek has no chin for his chin strap. His neck is so big it goes right up to his forehead.

    • Mr. Magee

      Yes, helmet needs to stay on… But either way, I’m a little concerned about his post-football health.

  • John E. Zang

    I hope they keep Henrey Josey. He has some serious upside if his knee is okay. But I feel like Chip will keep all his Oregonians unfortunately. We’ll see Maehl, Casey “how on gods earth am I still in the nfl” Mathews, Barner and the crew over more talented players. I hope I’m wrong.

    • John E. Zang

      Rb’s should be McCoy, Sproles, Tucker/Barner and Josey. Polk is overrated and can’t stay healthy and Tucker and Barner should battle for the final spot. Tucker probably deserves it but Barner has a leg up because he’s a duck.

      • NickS, Combine Warrior

        He was a wing up.

        • McGruber

          Ducks have legs….no?

      • Ian Farley

        Barner will have a hard time making the team. Tucker has looked really good and is built like a NFL RB. I see Josey making the PS for sure. If polk can’t make it back to practice this week and show SOMEthing… he is in trouble.

    • Will, Always Shady in CA


  • Jimmy Wilson

    Maclin and Ertz look to be key contributors in the pass game this year. With SF,SEA,AZ,HOU on the schedule this year I’m eager to see how Kelly will attack these aggressive man to man defenses that favor bump n run coverage.

    • Will, Always Shady in CA

      Run the ball

    • Mr. Magee

      No worries, we have Maehl and Smith, lol

      Having one of those two on the final roster is more than enough. Would rather see Eagles use the roster spot elsewhere, and get Casey (James) more involved in the offense, if necessary. At least he can block or create a potential mismatch. Those other two are just taking up space.

  • pjcostello

    “Cooper, meanwhile, was called for offensive pass interference on one play. He dropped a touchdown in the end zone on another play.” –> same play.

    The offense was crisp and smart, showing no-huddle but not operating at top-speed. I was most-impressed with the Eagles’ second team offense vs the Steelers’ first team defense — Sanchez and company moved the ball at will, efficiently.

    • Michael West

      i thought the PI was in the first quarter and the drop was in the second

      • G_WallyHunter

        It was, drop was in middle of endzone PI was in corner

      • pjcostello

        They called him for a push-off on the ball he dropped in the end zone. Phantom call.

  • John E. Zang

    The officiating was horrible as usual. When a reciever initiates contact how does the cb get called for illegal contact? Oh I see you should just let the reciever have his way with you. It’s impossible to play defense these days. Completing a pass is becoming easier ever day.

    • DoctorRick

      27 Penalties for 202 yards.

    • NickS, Combine Warrior

      You talking the first illegal contact penalty on Fletcher where Wheaton ran into him and Fletcher basically did what he could to stay on his feet?

  • Kevin.Rosenberger

    Super impressed with Sanchez but I think that defense was exhausted and gave up after the first half. The tempo on offense is impressive even after watching last year. I don’t even think they are at full speed yet.. Chip really knows how to have an extra gear. Crazy

    • anon

      Hard to take anything away from Sanchez he’s been the most consistent player outside of the OL.

    • sprawl

      I think their defense being exhausted is overstated. Their starters had just gotten the entire halftime + first Steelers possession in the 3rd quarter to get it together and come in and make a statement against our 2nd string offense.

      If they are that exhausted in the 3rd quarter after that kind of break then they are going to have an awful time in week 1…

  • Dave52

    Roethlisberger goes down! I love you Vinny Curry!

  • Brett77

    One some of the plays you blame on Foles being inaccurate, the receivers weren’t really that open. The one high to Cooper looked catchable…

    • Breathe 21

      If the pass to Cooper was on time and a little more accurate, Ike Taylor doesn’t even get the chance to break it up. Foles had a clean pocket at the time, so he could’ve made a better throw. You can’t expect WRs to make every catch a DB gets their hands on.

      • Ron Swanson

        The breakup was not that strong. That ball has to be caught

        • Breathe 21

          I agree to a certain extent, but which one is more difficult? Is it making an accurate pass, on time with a clean pocket or high pointing a contested catch a DB gets his hand on? I’m just saying I’m giving more (not all) blame to Foles.

      • Wilbert31

        If Foles put it on his chest it’s a catch and first down.

  • Jerry Pomroy

    I think the Eagles should be looking hard to try and make a back door trade for the McManus kid from NYG. Henery is an embarrassment! 31yds?!? Really??? I can make a 31yarder at 39yo and I haven’t attempted a FG in almost 20yrs. That’s how embarrassing he is. Be gone and never return kid. Sheesh!

  • Rick H

    Pretty funny!!! Read this article by Sheil & you would have thought Foles was ordinary at best. Sheil, with all due respect Foles looked great! I was there front & center looking at the game from almost a coaches perch. Foles is the real deal!!! I guess you need a 198.0 QB rating to say he had a decent night. Don’t get the restrained overlooked outstanding QB play ???

    • NickS, Combine Warrior

      I might be the biggest Foles supporter here and I thought he took a few throws to get his feet set and get used to the flow of the game, which is fine, it happens. Some of it was the O-Line too. Thought Barbre took a little time getting into it. Foles (and Barbre) got it going after that first series and there really wasn’t any looking back.

      • Andy Six Score and Four

        Yeah, he was off a bit in the start, but really good after that.

    • anon


    • Ty

      Great? I don’t know about all of that. there is room for improvement, but I think Foles has played just fine. hasn’t opened the playbook all the way up yet, we don’t know they might have been focusing on something completely different in practice then they are showing in the preseason. I think the real reason any of us like Foles was his efficiency last year combine with not throwing ints. which last night he did neither well in the beginning at least. do you really think a sports writer would bash or downplay the qb play of a home towns qb on a website for that home town team? no, he is just being honest to us about what he saw. if you saw something different out there that’s fine. but 19 for 29 one td one pick isn’t the best its ok, but room for improvement.

      • Rick H

        Ty, did you go to the game? I have been going to Eagles games since 1962. I have season tickets. I like Sheil & Tim a lot. If you read the article did you see any praise at all for Foles? No! Is Sheil after Nick Foles? NO!
        The incomplete passes were where only an Eagles receiver could catch it or he threw it away due to a pass rush. One pattern run by the receiver was wrong but Foles threw it out of bounds again due to pressure. Sproles was knocked down by his own offensive linemen otherwise the pass was thrown right to him. It would have been a huge play because Polumalu was looking at three or four offensive linemen coming right at him. No other Steelers in the area. Big gain if Sproles doesn’t get knocked over.
        Watching the game I saw a soon to be great QB! Did you get that idea from the article? His numbers should have been 23 for 29. Would you take that? The Eagles dominated the Steelers.
        Now if you want a guy that is a poor writer that refuses to give any credit to Foles and jumps on almost every opportunity to rip him please go to Philly.com and waste time reading Jeff McLane.
        I.E. When the Eagles spent the week in New England all writers for both the Eagles & Patriots including Sheil & Tim were super impressed by Foles. The head coach BB was super impressed as were the Patriot players. One writer was not only not impressed but was critical of Foles that week AGAIN! Jeff (I know nothing about football) McLane. He had so many negative comments about his article he backed off.

        YES! There are guys that have it in for players for a multitude of reasons.

        • Ty

          little ricky, I was at the game, season ticket holder since 1961. that goes to show I obviously know more about football and nick foles than you. I guarantee no one wants to read article after article kissing foles’ ass, I want the truth, most people want the truth. if you make an excuse for every bad play or incomplete pass or interception or non first down or bad decision every qb would be the best qb. if a ball is thrown and not caught it is an incompletion, no yards on the play, a failure. if foles went out and threw 0 for 15 but had a reason each pass was incomplete like you did there would foles be a good qb that game or bad because I would say bad bu,t you wouldn’t?. because according to you some passes don’t count as incomplete. numbers never lie. I am not against nick but I am not blowing any smoke either.

          • Rick H

            Ty, I won’t comment anymore on your comments please do the same for me. It is a waste of time. I talk & communicate to people that are positive and truthful. Let’s ended here. Thank you

          • Ty

            don’t act like your taking the high road when you were the one trying to say I didn’t know football or the eagles. I was being truthful. you were the one who wasn’t positive, im sorry you can dish it out but cant take it. I am fine with “ended”-ing here but the best way would have been to just not reply to my comment, not saying I am a negative liar. lets end it here. thank you.

  • Charles

    Meanwhile, this is just awesome guys!


    • Andy Six Score and Four


    • MagatBrackendale

      Too bad it din’t finish …”and the vision that was planted in my brain still remains…”

  • DuckHunterSThompson

    The competition is over. Just give Sanchez his first string, already!

    On a serious note, if both quarterbacks had blank slates coming in, would this be a close competition? I found it ridiculous that they signed Sanchez, and the thought of him starting still makes me feel… well, you know. But if this were last year, objectively, would it be close? I just want to add that I know Foles lost (or rather Vick won) last preseason and still tore it up so the preseason only counts so much. I’m just curious, objectively.

    • anon

      sanchez and the twos destroyed the steeler’s ones last night

    • Breathe 21

      It wouldn’t be a close competition because Foles outperformed Sanchez at camp to the point that this isn’t a discussion. If Sanchez was playing with Momah, Benn, Smith, and Maehl against starters on other teams, he wouldn’t be very impressive either. Foles would look better than Sanchez playing with Matthews and Ertz against the backups of another team.

  • James Hathaway

    The thing that jumped out at me about cooper’s drop on the first drive was that he ran an extremely sloppy route, rounding off the cut. Because he didn’t plant and go, he was open sooner than nick expected, which allowed the defender to break on the ball. Had he made a crisp, Maclin style cut, that ball would’ve been uncontested.

    Also, first game back jitters. He’ll be fine. Seriously needs to work on route running though.

  • Joe Thomas

    I think we’re coming together nicely

  • UncleCarm

    Some of these penalties they are calling would not be fouls in basketball or even (gag) soccer of all things. It’s extremely ridiculous. Touch football is coming, but you won’t be allowed to touch. The PI on Fletcher where the receiver ran into HIM was over the top. If they are going to call that, every team in the league can move right down the field by having their receivers run down field and run into the defender. Something has to give here or I’m going to have a lot of free time on Sundays this year.

    • John E. Zang

      Exactly what I said. The offender initiated contact so Fletch had the choice of getting pushed on his butt or hold his ground. Roger Goodell is a jackass and I have a feeling this has everything with last years bowl. Poor Peyton and Elway probably cried to the league about how their team was butt hurt by the legion of boom. The league also probably wanted Denver’s offense to score a bunch of points. I love how they got whooped myself.

      • peteike

        I just hope it stops come regular season. That stretch after the phantom hold on the running play for a td was comical.

  • eaglesfan, 20-win failure

    funny that the stat sheet makes it look like this game was evenly matched. Love how dominant the Eagles looked in all phases (except chip shot field goals).

  • John E. Zang

    How crazy would it be to employ two offenses in one game? Sanchez handles second team and Foles does first team. Don’t think there’s enough roster spots but some players can overlap. Just throw in a few fresh lineman and change a couple skill players.

  • peteike

    Great showing, they look locked and loaded. I mean there is nothing better than seeing a D just gassed like that. Its like having a guy on the ropes in a boxing match, never seen anything like that in football. It honestly feels like hes got this team on its way to possible elite levels coaching/scheme wise. Okay, kool aid for sure but really, when you see what the donkeys, pats, GB and NO do in terms of effective offense its not that far off. It just feels like a really solid direction for a team if youre ever going to get to that kind of level. Seeing other teams just muddle around with old ideas really shows, now you can absolutely still win esp come playoff time with solid D and run game. I still believe those foundations work but you better have really good depth and players which is much harder to build imo.

    Also maybe the difference is really coaching between last week and this week with Belichick having depth and being used to handling our type of offense or at least knowing how to handle it better. Esp the Pats on the offensive end just abusing our D, also coaching and solid depth. Foles throwing that INT on a double screen, thats really not going to get INT much if ever. I think maybe Polamalu is one of the few guys who could make a play like that. Hes usually better at throwing some away. He was all over Cooper when he made a mistake in a route on that one miss.

    • dnabrice

      The Foles Int came because Sproles tripped on his Olineman.

      • peteike

        ahh he did but they were all kind of fumbling around there it looked like and Troy was probably causing that a tad. I didnt watch it that closely though on replay, maybe he did just fall down.