Four Downs: Tim Tebow’s Debut
The Eagles beat the Colts, 36-10, in their preseason opener. Here’s what I noted.
MOST TELLING STAT: 60%
Although the Eagles’ defense played without four key defenders, most of their starters played every snap in the Colts’ first two drives. After allowing 16 yards on the first series, Philadelphia gave up a 68-yard drive in the second series. Why? The Colts’ third-down conversion rate was 60%.
The Eagles gave up an average of 2.5 yards on both first and second down in the first two drives, but allowed 8.6 yards per play on third down. A big reason for the starting defense’s success on early downs was Bennie Logan. The nose tackle helped force Andrew Luck out of the pocket on the first snap and tackled the Colts’ running back for no gain on second down.
Logan recorded two more tackles on the Colts’ second series, including one tackle-for-loss. He got into the backfield immediately and disrupted the play twice and consistently stood the center up at the point of attack. He was never pushed far off the line of scrimmage, even when he battled double-teams.
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Rookie defensive back Eric Rowe had an up-and-down game. He forced a turnover by stripping a Colts’ receiver after a completion, and stood up a ball carrier before Chris Maragos came in to cause another fumble (though the Colts recovered it).
However, Rowe forced the turnover after he got beat and gave up a big play. On the drive before that, he allowed the receiver to create a lot of separation over the middle. If Luck hadn’t throw the ball elsewhere, Rowe would’ve given up the first down.
He had his highs and lows in the run game, as well. Early in the game when he was the outside corner, he got sucked into the play and allowed the running back to get wide of him. However, he also made multiple tackles after shedding a blocker and didn’t give up the outside when it was his responsibility on almost every run play.
Early in the third quarter, thousands of Eagles fans at Lincoln Financial Field stood up and applauded. It was Tebow Time.
Unlike Mark Sanchez and Matt Barkley, Tim Tebow didn’t miss any throws that would have likely resulted in touchdowns. However, he also struggled to develop a rhythm because he was often under pressure behind his back-up offensive linemen.
Tebow broke multiple tackles to extend plays, but there were moments he could’ve thrown the ball away to avoid a sack. He almost always hit open receivers when he had time, but didn’t make any big plays with his arm. He also didn’t throw an interception, although one of his handoffs was fumbled. (It’s unclear if it was Tebow’s fault, or the running back’s.)
Tebow threw the ball into the ground over the middle multiple times, partially due to pressure and partially due to inaccuracy. He did have his moments, though, and led his receivers on intermediate routes to put them in a position to make plays after the catch. He also finished off the Eagles’ last drive by keeping the ball on a zone-read and running seven yards for the touchdown.
Tebow completed six of his 12 passes for 69 yards and carried the ball four times for 15 yards and a score.
Many are worried about the Eagles’ prospects this season if Sam Bradford can’t stay healthy, and Sanchez did nothing to alleviate that concern. With Bradford out, Sanchez got the start. Although Sanchez threw a touchdown, he completed just two of seven passes.
Sanchez played two drives and started the first one by under-throwing Trey Burton on a deep pass. If Sanchez led Matthews, it could’ve been a touchdown; instead, it was an incompletion. On the second drive, Sanchez again missed Matthews that could’ve resulted in a touchdown.
Ironically, when Sanchez threw his touchdown pass, his somewhat inaccurate throw led to the big play. Sanchez threw the ball up high to Nelson Agholor and Agholor’s defender over ran him, partially because of the delayed timing of the pass.