The Eagles returned from Foxboro, Mass. in the early-morning hours on Saturday following the second preseason game against the Patriots. The Eagles lost 42-35, but as the team looks ahead to Thursday's first home preseason game against Pittsburgh here are the 5 key takeaways from the Patriots contest ...
1. Eagles Strong At Quarterback
Nick Foles rebounded from his two-interception performance in Chicago by completing 8-of-10 pass attempts for 81 yards capped off by a beautiful 6-yard touchdown on a stick route to tight end Zach Ertz. Head coach Chip Kelly said that he feels "really comfortable" about the quarterback situation after Mark Sanchez was 11-of-12 for 117 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Ertz joked after the game that Sanchez completed all 12 of his pass attempts. Matt Barkley also added a touchdown toss as all three signal-callers posted a quarterback rating of over 100.
2. Second-Round Bliss
In addition to Ertz's two-catch, 26-yard performance, wide receiver Jordan Matthews was dominant Friday night catching all nine of his pass targets for 104 yards. Matthews was dangerous in both the short and intermediate game. He flashed impressive run-after-the-catch ability. The arrow is pointing up for the Eagles' last two second-round picks.
3. Williams Backs Up His Talk
Cornerback Cary Williams was the center of attention entering Patriots week for his comments about New England's franchise. He heard boos from Patriots fans at the joint practice on Tuesday, but followed a strong week of practice with a pick six against Tom Brady on the first drive of the game as he returned it 77 yards for a score.
4. The Sixth Man?
Looking at the Eagles' depth at wide receiver, the team has Jeremy Maclin and Riley cooper starting on the outside and Brad Smith and Matthews working inside. There's also Josh Huff, the team's third-round pick, who plays both inside and outside. If the Eagles keep six receivers, who would make the roster? Arrelious Benn made a strong push with his performance Friday. He shined on special teams blocking a punt. He also caught a 6-yard touchdown after Ifeanyi Momah batted the ball into the air in the end zone. Benn is fully healthy after missing all of last season with a knee injury.
5. Fly, Penalty Flags, Fly
There were 29 penalty flags thrown. Twenty-one were accepted in Friday night's game. The referees were aggressive with the flags, but fair as the Patriots were penalized 11 times to 10 by the Eagles. However, the NFL's major point of emphasis this year is strict enforcement of the rule that prohibits contact with receivers beyond 5 yards. Head coach Chip Kelly delivered a Chip-ism following the game. "If you can't play within the rules, you can't play in this league. That's just the bottom line," Kelly said. "You're just handing people first downs. We better figure it out.
"You don't have to agree with the speed limit, but if the cop's out there with a speed gun then you better take your foot off the gas or he's going to pull you over."