Here’s a position-by-position look at how the Eagles’ offense performed against the Steelers, after having re-watched the first three quarters of Thursday night’s game:
* Nick Foles started off slow, but eventually got into a rhythm, going 19-for-29 for 179 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He threw wide to Jeremy Maclin on a hitch on the first drive and was off-target to Jordan Matthews on a corner route. Foles’ third-down throw to Riley Cooper was high, although Cooper could have come down with it.
Foles settled down and connected with Maclin on a slant on a third down to beat the blitz. He later found Brent Celek on a pop pass for 23 yards. Nice throw to Cooper on a slant to convert a third down as well. Cooper dropped a potential touchdown that was right on his hands.
Foles had chances for a couple more big plays. He missed Celek on a post-corner route, and he slightly overthrew Darren Sproles on a wheel route. He was a little off here and there, but certainly not a performance to be concerned about, considering the circumstances.
* Mark Sanchez continues to surprise. He was 7-for-9 for 85 yards. Good throw to Damaris Johnson over the middle for 15 yards. Fantastic job staying in the pocket, taking a hit and delivering a beauty to Trey Burton down the seam for 25 yards. Sanchez has been money on those throws all preseason long. He also connected with Johnson for a 14-yard completion to set up a TD. Sanchez has been one of the biggest bright spots this preseason.
* LeSean McCoy carried four times for 24 yards. He picked up 15 on a sweep to the right. The tosses to the perimeter weren’t working, but on one, McCoy reversed field and picked up 13 yards. He took a screen 22 yards to the end zone in the first. McCoy suffered a thumb in jury, but X-rays were negative.
* Darren Sproles had six carries for 33 yards. He looked shifty on an 8-yard inside zone run in the first. Excellent second effort on the 1-yard TD run in the second. Sproles had a nifty 14-yard run up the middle in the second. As a receiver, he had a drop in the first, but there was a flag on the play. He beat the LB on a wheel route, but Foles overthrew him. And Sproles tripped on Todd Herremans on a screen, leading to an interception.
* Matthew Tucker also played well, carrying 10 times for 46 yards. He had an 8-yard run in the first and delivered a good, physical run for 6 on a 3rd-and-1 carry. Tucker had runs of 12 and 15 yards in the third. He looked good on blitz pickup on a couple of occasions. Tucker is squarely on the roster bubble going into the final game.
* Jeremy Maclin caught six balls for 43 yards. Everything was on short and underneath routes. No reception netted more than 9 yards. He was the hot receiver on a third-down blitz and made the grab on a slant for a first down. He had a scare in the second when he went down and his knee buckled, but Maclin only missed one play.
* In his first preseason action, Riley Cooper had three grabs for 25 yards. He had an 11-yard catch and run in the first. Later, Cooper made a contested catch for a first down on a 7-yard slant. And he took a screen 7 yards for a first down. Early on, Cooper ran a deep dig, went up for the ball, but had it knocked out of his hands. He was later called for offensive pass interference and dropped a perfectly placed pass in the end zone.
* With Brad Smith out, Jordan Matthews played the slot with the first team and had two catches for 16 yards. The highlight was a screen he took for 14 yards. He also had a good block on Cooper’s screen that picked up 7.
* The tight ends have been responsible for almost all of the Eagles’ big plays downfield this preseason. Brent Celek had two catches for 41 yards. In the first, he absorbed contact and picked up yards after the catch on a pop pass that picked up 23. Later, he made an 18-yard reception and took another big hit. Celek ran a beautiful post-corner route against Troy Polamalu, but Foles overthrew him. As a blocker, he did an outstanding job on McCoy’s 15-yard run in the first. Celek got beaten by Jason Worilds on a run play that was stopped after a 1-yard gain. He did a good job blocking on Matthews’ 14-yard screen.
* Zach Ertz also played well, catching two balls for 24 yards. He shook off athletic LB Ryan Shazier, creating space on a 12-yard grab. Later, he grabbed a pass behind his body for a 12-yard gain. Ups and downs as a blocker. In pass pro early on, Ertz got matched up one on one against Jarvis Jones and was driven back into Foles’ face. But Ertz drove Polamalu back on Tucker’s 8-yard run in the first. And he delivered good effort against the lineman on Sproles’ 8-yard run.
* Overall, a much better showing. Jason Peters didn’t have any issues in pass protection and stood out on a couple runs – Tucker’s 8-yarder and Sproles’ 14-yarder. Evan Mathis was OK. He got shoved back into Foles’ face on an incompletion in the first, but made good blocks on the same runs mentioned above.
* Jason Kelce leveled a defender in space, creating a lane for McCoy on the screen that scored. He also did a good job on Sproles’ 4-yard run in the second.
* Todd Herremans looked fantastic. Excellent job pulling and taking out the defensive back on the sweep that picked up 15 in the first. Herremans crushed a defender on McCoy’s screen, and he got out in front of Matthews’ screen that picked up 14. Really strong overall performance.
* There’s reason for concern with Allen Barbre when it comes to pass protection. Worilds beat him badly around the edge and nearly sacked Foles. Then Worilds used a spin move and beat Barbre inside, pressuring Foles on an incompletion. In the run game, he did a good job on McCoy’s 15-yard run in the first and Sproles’ TD in the second.
* The second-team offensive line dominated the Steelers’ starters. Matt Tobin looks like he could step in right now and be a starting guard in the NFL. Good job pulling and getting to the defender on Tucker’s 12-yard run. And great job on Henry Josey’s 6-yard run in the third.
* Lane Johnson, Dennis Kelly and David Molk did a great job opening up space on Tucker’s 15-yard run in the third. Strong performance in pass protection from the second unit as well.