The Eagles have garnered plenty of attention for all of the players that they have added in the preseason, but lost in the shuffle of those moves were the vast changes to the coaching staff. But in Thursday night's preseason opener, the fingerprints of the new staff were all over a promising exhibition opener that saw the Eagles beat the Baltimore Ravens 13-6 at Lincoln Financial Field.
Quarterback Michael Vick engineered a touchdown on his one and only drive of the night completing 4-of-6 passes for 74 yards including a 3-yard touchdown pass to tight end Brent Celek. On the drive, Vick got rid of the ball quickly with a slant to Chad Hall for a 9-yard gain. He attempted a fade in the end zone for Jason Avant, which was nearly brought in but called just incomplete before hitting Celek out of the shotgun in a four-receiver set. The touchdown was set up by a 42-yard pass down the field to Riley Cooper, who leaped over safety Ed Reed to make the grab.
Vick was protected by Howard Mudd's new offensive line which featured first-round pick Danny Watkins at right guard and free agent addition Ryan Harris at right tackle. On defense, Thursday night's game gave us the first chance to see defensive line coach Jim Washburn's wide-nine scheme along with first-time coordinator Juan Castillo.
After surrendering a 21-yard screen pass to running back Ray Rice on the game's opening drive, which ended up in a field goal, the Eagles defense settled down and gave up a total of just 107 yards in the first half. The secondary showcased its prized wares with cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. The Eagles utilized a number of different looks with all of the puzzle pieces. Cornerback Asante Samuel dropped back as a safety, Rodgers-Cromartie was put in the slot in nickel and Joselio Hanson even lined up in the slot while Samuel and Asomugha were on the field. Up front, Trent Cole notched a sack with the starters and new defensive end Jason Babin applied pressure coming off the edge in the wide-nine. The line also held its own against the run allowing just 7 yards on the ground to Rice.
After the starters were off the field, Vince Young showcased the playmaking ability that made him the No. 3 overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft. Despite just learning a new offense in less than a week, Young maneuvered in the pocket and delivered a 32-yard pass to Hall as he led the Eagles to a field goal before giving way to Mike Kafka late in the second quarter. Young finished 3-of-5 for 45 yards with an additional 6 yards on the ground. New running back Ronnie Brown took the pressure off of Young with nine carries for 22 yards and a catch out of the backfield for 7 more.
On defense, Darryl Tapp was relentless with a pair of sacks as the onslaught from the line continued thanks to Washburn's penchant to rotate linemen in and out of the lineup. In all, the Eagles defense had six sacks on the night. New defensive tackle Derek Landri also contributed a sack. Rookie second-round pick Jaiquawn Jarrett intercepted a pass from Baltimore backup Tyrod Taylor in the second quarter. Veteran safety Jarrad Page picked off a Taylor pass in the end zone in the third quarter.
A new era was also unveiled at the kicker position as rookie fourth-round pick Alex Henery made his Eagles debut. Henery's strong leg was evident immediately as he boomed his first kickoff deep into the end zone for a touchback. Note that this was the first game where he kickoff spot was moved up 5 yards from previous years to the 35-yard line. Henery also made two field goals from 35 and 24 yards out, respectively.
Down 13-3 in the fourth quarter, the Ravens made a last-gasp effort as Taylor was replaced at quarterback by Hunter Cantwell before Taylor re-entered the game. Taylor drove the ball to the Eagles' 15-yard line before the pressure from Washburn's line rotation got the best of the Ravens. Taylor was sacked twice - once by Daniel Te'o-Nesheim and once by Phillip Hunt - before the Ravens had to settle for a 34-yard Billy Cundiff field goal to cut the deficit to 13-6.
After a three-and-out by the Eagles, the Ravens marched to the Eagles' 6-yard line before a false start penalty moved the ball back to the 10. On the final two plays of the game, the defense line pressured Taylor into errant passes. The final one fell incomplete over the middle of the field for wide receiver Justin Harper.
MACLIN UPDATE: After the game head coach Andy Reid confirmed that wide receiver Jeremy Maclin is in St. Louis undergoing further testing for what Reid said was an unknown illness. Reid said that one of the reasons that Maclin returned to his hometown is that his surrogate father, Jeff Parres, is a doctor. There is no timetable at this point for Maclin's return to the team, but Reid reaffirmed that he's "optimistic" that the starting wide receiver will be ready for the start of the season. Reid also emphatically stated that the addition of free agent wide receiver Steve Smith, who agreed to a 1-year deal with the Eagles on Wednesday, had nothing to do with Maclin's condition.
POST-GAME INJURIES: Safety Jamar Wall suffered a hamstring injury while offensive tackles Fenuki Tupou and King Dunlap each injured their left knee. Dunlap twisted his knee, while Tupou suffered an MCL sprain.
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