Game Review: Eagles Offense Vs. 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:
* 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.