The Philadelphia Eagles ‘dream-team’ has had a rough welcoming into the pre-season, splitting the first two games by large margins, and then finishing the third by blowing out the Cleveland Browns 24-14. This game sheds a substantial amount of light on the Eagles current roster, and what Andy Reid is likely to do heading into the regular season. This game should quiet some of the heavy critics of the Eagles, but with the the good, there is still some bad.
Here are some quick thoughts following the game:
The Offensive Line is Far From Perfect: – Any one who has been following the Philadelphia Eagles over the last three seasons is well aware that the offensive line is the weakest part of the team. The Eagles tried to stem that problem by drafting three offensive lineman in the 2011 draft, the most notable being Danny Watkins in the first round. There is no question that Watkins helps, but he is by no means the solution.
Ronnie Brown Was a Great Pick-Up: – Originally when the Eagles signed Ronnie Brown as a free agent, I immediately raised my eyebrows. Philadelphia already had enough running backs on the roster to cover there offense and then some. But Brown has made me a believer. On every carry, Brown is going 250%, and fighting for every single yard. He won’t be starting over LeSean McCoy, but he is a great third down back.
Casey Matthews Looked Like His Brother: – The typical Philadelphia media overreaction was in full-force last week following Casey Matthew’s terrible performance against Pittsburgh. It seemed like the entire fan base went from adoration to panic, and the talks of finding a replacement had already started. Matthews came out of this game, and was literally playing like his brother. He was hitting the ball carrier, playing downhill, and still making the smart coverage plays. On a few plays — I honestly believed I was watching Clay.
The Eagles Special Teams is Much Improved: – Do we all remember last season when every time the Eagles would kick off or punt the ball, we would hold our breath waiting for that imminent disaster of a touchdown return? It seems that Bobby April has changed the entire face of Philadelphia special teams. There are no longer huge torching runs by other teams, but contained and turnover agressive players that are playing to win games. This is a huge step in strengthening the core of the Eagles, and the returns with DeSean Jackson will only make it better.
Kurt Coleman is Not Going to Be a Push-Over: – Kurt Coleman filled in towards the latter end of last season following Nate Allen tearing his ACL. When he was handed the starting role as a rookie, he was rough around the edges. This pre-season, Coleman looks much more developed in reading the play, moving towards the ball carrier, and making sure the quarterback knows he is still there. Considering the Eagles’ depth is weak at safety, Coleman may have more playing time than anticipated, and I have no issue with that.
The Eagles May Have a Rushing Defense Issue: – Much like the Eagles offensive line woes, the starting set of linebackers have been tabbed as one of the weaker parts of the team. With having a young and unproven set of starters, there will be occasional slip-ups. During the game, the Browns had a pretty easy time running the ball with Peyton Hillis, (albeit Hillis), and the Eagles defense struggled to contain him. This may only be temporary and something the Eagles defense needs to work out on there own, but it does not bode well for the future.
The Eagles Secondary is as Good as Predicted: – The three-man super tandem of Nndami Ashomugha, Asante Samuel, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie are simply amazing to watch in action. It seems that Juan Castillo is not afraid to move the three around the field, as there were plays where Samuel was playing safety, and other plays where Ashomugha was playing up at the line. The end result is all the same — Covered receivers. Turnovers. A no-fly zone in Philly.
Michael Vick Still Has It: – For all those doubters of Michael Vick — Think again. It seems that Vick has wasted no time picking up exactly where he left off in 2010. This is Vick’s first actual off-season with the Eagles where he if the definite starter, and it reflects directly in his play. He showed great down field vision, and even with some questionable blocking, was able to get some great passes off. The same goes for his scrambling ability, which earned him one rushing touchdown on the day.
Looking forward, the Eagles take on the New York Jets in their fourth and final pre-season game. This will be a true test to the Eagles first team offense and defense, as the Jets could easily be a Super Bowl team this upcoming season, and it will be a good gauge of the team’s talent. My current attitude is so far so good for Philadelphia, and I hope the trend continues into next week and beyond.