Philadelphia Eagles News

A Review Of Preseason Opener

It wasn't a pretty first half at all. The offense went out and struggled, and then quarterback Michael Vick suffered a thumb injury that – who didn't hold your breath? – looked scary through halftime until the X-rays came back negative on the thumb of his throwing hand. Head coach Andy Reid compared the injury to a "stinger" in his thumb and said Vick will be fine.

It was an emotional night for Reid, who received a roaring standing ovation from the Lincoln Financial Field crowd after a thank you message from the Reid family was played on the in-stadium video boards.

"We (Reid family) feel the love," said Reid.

We'll see what the next days bring with the Vick injury, but for now it doesn't sound serious and, in the big picture, that's all that matters. An offense that played without tight end Brent Celek (knee from first day of training camp) and wide receiver Jeremy Maclin (hamstring tweak suffered before the game) did not much of anything.

The defense, meanwhile had its share of good and bad. The good: The defensive line was overpowering with pressure and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie had a pass breakup, just as he has in training camp every day.  He also had an unnecessary roughness penalty when he launched on a hit against quarterback Byron Leftwich.

The bad: The tackling was not good at all from start to finish and that is something that must improve right away.

Anyway, trying to take the big-picture approach, here are the notes I took during the game. Nobody rushes overboard in the first preseason game. With that, my observations …

  • On the very first play of the game, Antonio Dixon had good backside pursuit from his defensive tackle spot on a screen pass.
  • I liked what I saw from linebacker Mychal Kendricks, first on a pitch to his side on the second play of game. Kendricks had an inside angle and then chased running back to sideline for a 2-yard gain. Later, Kendricks had a tackle for loss.
  • Ben Roethlisberger's ability to shrug off tackles and step up in the pocket allowed him to make big plays on the Steelers' opening drive, which resulted in a field goal.
  • The starting defensive line added good pass pressure. Derek Landri and Darryl Tapp were active. Phillip Hunt had dominating game, as did Brandon Graham.
  • Jaiquawn Jarrett missed tackle on sideline completion to Emmanual Sanders and later missed another tackle. On a touchdown pass to Sanders, Jarrett appeared to have a miscommunication in coverage.
  • Good coverage on fade to Sanders by Rodgers-Cromartie.
  • Early, Curtis Marsh contained well on pass in flat to Chris Rainey to force a fourth down.
  • Great Brandon Boykin kickoff return helped by a Stanley Havili lead block. Good speed to outside for a 46-yard gain.
  • I liked the call on the opening offensive play quick out to Johnson. Yes, Johnson started the game. I think he has a good chance to make it, huh. Johnson had 4 catches for 85 yards and the touchdown, and he had a nice punt return nullified by a blocking penalty.
  • The tackling was not good at all. Middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans was beaten on a running play that bounced outside and too many arm tackles throughout defense marred the effort.
  • After three years on the practice squad, Dallas Reynolds is shining as a backup center. He has, it appears amazingly, blossomed and is competing for a roster spot big time.
  • A poor play from the offense: Some pressure on Mike Kafka on an attempted screen pass to Brown resulted in an interception.
  • I love the defensive line. Derek Landri, Brandon Graham, Phillip Hunt and Cedric Thornton dominated. The Eagles recorded 4 sacks in first half. The back seven did not tackle well, however.
  • Chas Henry boomed a 54-yarder on his first kick and then had a 36-yarder on his second kick. There must be more consistency. Mat McBriar had punts of 43 and 41 yards, but didn't get a lot of hang time on his second kick.
  • Too many times Pittsburgh's quarterbacks stepped up against pressure to create room to pass the football.
  • Rookie quarterback Nick Foles made a couple of terrific touchdown passes. On the first one, he stepped up against outside pressure and then moved right. On the run, he threw a fine pass to Johnson for a catch-and-run touchdown. On the second one, he pump faked and then threw to wide receiver Mardy Gilyard, who reached back and made a terrific catch and then fell into the pylon for a touchdown. Foles was 6 of 10 for 144 yards, with a passer rating of 143.8.
  • Vinny Curry joined the parade in the second half with a dominating performance from the right defensive end spot.
  • Bryce Brown ripped off 33-yard run down the sideline, showing speed, power and moves. He had a solid first game in running the football, blocking and in the passing game. That sound you just heard was Brown separating himself from Chris Polk for the third running back spot.
  • How many times did the Steelers blitz? Every down? It doesn't matter to them if it's a preseason game …
  • On a fine third-down throw from Trent Edwards to Tiger Jones early in the fourth quarter, Chris Polk had a terrific blitz pickup in pass protection.
  • The Eagles rolled up 7 quarterback sacks, and there are plenty more to come.
  • How can you not feel good for quarterback Trent Edwards, who ran a beautiful final 11-play, 51-yard drive that led to Alex Henery's game-winning 51-yard field goal.
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