Philadelphia Eagles News

It's Time For Some Conclusions ...

Before I get too deep into what all of this means -- 3-0, the Nick Foles Mania, the explosive youth on the roster, the pass rush that doesn't stop -- I urge caution. Just a little bit, though, because this is the presason and it's a time to dream for every NFL fan and, so, well, here we go.

Here are some things I think I have a pretty good handle on about the Eagles after watching them through the spring practices, in training camp and now through three preseason games. The schemes may be vanilla and some of the performances may be mirages, but I've come to the conclusion that I have some conclusions to announce ...


He is the real deal. To what extent, nobody knows. But Nick Foles has what it takes to be a big-time quarterback in this league. He's got the big arm, the smarts, the quick feet and the calm and confidence to play the game at a high level in the NFL.

Foles isn't Bobby Hoying, let's put it that way. He's going to have some ups and downs, for sure, but what he's done in three preseason games -- I know, I know, the defenses are vanilla -- has been so impressive.

Foles tossed a pair of touchdowns against Cleveland, both in the red zone and both into tight windows. He moved the offense well. The interception he threw was a bad one -- head coach Andy Reid said Foles was "greedy" on the play -- but Foles is not perfect, and not even close.

What you see is a young man who was not labeled correctly by the draftniks. According to them, the Eagles draft a big, stiff, strong-armed quarterback. What we've seen is a big, strong-armed quarterback who is nimble in the pocket, very physically strong and intelligent enough to check out of bad situations.

Foles deserves to be the No. 2 quarterback here, regardless of what happens with Mike Kafka and Trent Edwards. The Eagles are going to keep three quarterbacks, as Reid said on Friday night after the win. Foles should be second on the depth chart behind Michael Vick. The rookie has earned that right.


Howard Mudd is not afraid to move players around his offensive line and he's shown that his way works. Last year, as you know, the Eagles slid pieces all around until they got it right in mid season.

Here, left tackle is not settled. King Dunlap is the starter and he's played well in the preseason. He's also had some injury concerns in his career, and that's something to watch. Demetress Bell is not yet there and has been far too inconsistent to rely upon at left tackle right now. Dennis Kelly, a fifth-round draft pick, started at right tackle in Cleveland and could get a look at left tackle in the days to come. Don't be shocked if that happens.

Foles has not been sacked, and has generally had good time in the pocket. The offensive line didn't come out of the gates as quickly this summer as we expected, but Mudd will get the group going in the right direction. It's just that, right now, the starters aren't etched in stone, particularly at the left tackle spot.


We haven't seen the schemes in total yet, but the Eagles have been much more efficient on both sides of the ball inside the 20-yard line. The defense had two stops in three chances against Cleveland and the offense was 3 of 4 in the red zone. Good stuff. Encouraging.

Now, we'll see how much that changes when the regular season arrives. It is obviously very important for Vick to be accurate and timely in the red zone. He has to be on his game to put the ball in the end zone. It's encouraging that the Eagles have gotten touchdowns from tight end Brent Celek and from running back LeSean McCoy in the last two games. They are both going to have to come up big starting on September 9.


This pass rush is awesome. There is no other way to describe it. And when the pass rush is that good, the defense generally follows suit. The Eagles have shown a lot of improvement in the preseason and they've done an excellent job against the run and they're better in the red zone.

There are times, though, when big plays happen and it appears that a lack of communication is the cause. Cleveland gained 20 yards on a Brandon Weeden pass to tight end Alex Smith, who ran a crossing route and the Eagles failed to cover him. That just can't happen in the regular season. The Eagles are going to give up some plays, and some first downs and some points. But they all have to be on the aame page for 60 minutes, or serious breakdowns are going to hurt this team.


The Eagles are loaded, aren't they? Look at all of these rookies and young veterans on the team. The draft class looks great -- Fletcher Cox, Mychal Kendricks, Vinny Curry and Brandon Boykin are going to help the defense this season -- and Foles and Bryce Brown have been outstanding in the preseason. Undrafted rookies Chris Polk and Damaris Johnson can play.

Simply put, the Eagles have turned over the roster and have as a result an extremely talented squad. Cuts are going to be difficult in the next week. A lot of these players released are going to get looks elsewhere. The depth along the defensive line is enviable.

Give a lot of credit to general manager Howie Roseman and Reid for making this roster younger and so much more talented. The Eagles are, I have quickly come to this conclusion, going to be around for a long time.


Let's understand that the Eagles are going to keep three quarterbacks on the roster. So figure that Vick and Foles are going to stay. That means that either Kafka, who entered training camp as a clear-cut No. 2 behind Vick, or Edwards won't make the team.

Foles, Kafka and Edwards are likely to play on Thursday in the preseason finale against the Jets and from this perspective Kakfa needs to be productive to earn a roster spot. If the competition is true, as Reid insists, then he can't ignore how Edwards has played. The veteran completed 11 of 14 passes and had a passer rating of 117.4 in Cleveland. He has just played so well, and is a veteran presence, that Edwards making the roster is an idea that can't be ignored.

So there is still drama with one preseason game to go. After that, we'll wipe the slate clean and start 0-0 just like every team. And who knows how much of what has happened will carry over through the season?

I feel, though, that a lot of what we're seeing now is real. Conclusions can be drawn, with many more to be decided when the games count in the standings.

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