Oh, it was a just a glorious feeling to have it all started again. Eagles football returned on a perfect night in August at Lincoln Financial Field, and as always happens in a preseason game, there was some good, some not so good, and just enough nitpicks for head coach Andy Reid to pore over when he studies the game tape over the weekend.
There was far, far more good with the first-team offense and first-team defense on the field. The Eagles dominated the first quarter, moving the ball on all three of their offensive possessions and limiting Jacksonville to zero first downs. Asante Samuel made a tackle to end one drive and then followed with a fine pass breakup to end the second drive.
The final result was a 28-27 win, but preseason is not for wins and losses. It is for evaluating individuals and situations, and the Eagles had plenty to eye. Here is what I saw from the press box ...
- Kolb was outstanding. He opened with the dart to Jackson, then scrambled 6 yards on a third-and-5 play and then threw to an open Jeremy Maclin across the middle for a 29-yard gain to the Jacksonville 15-yard line. Good stuff. Who says Kolb isn't a mobile quarterback? He moved around in the pocket and he saw the field well and he ran when he had the opportunity. The Eagles should have scored a touchdown on their first drive, and Celek will come up with that catch the next time.
- LeSean McCoy carried 8 times for 30 yards and twisted between the tackles for some big runs. You want some balance? In the first quarter the Eagles called 10 runs and threw the ball 12 times. Jackson took a handoff and made defenders miss on the way to 17 yards. The offensive line came off the ball very well, with, Jason Peters, Max Jean-Gilles, Mike McGlynn, Stacy Andrews and Winston Justice starting from left to right.
- Obviously, the offense must score touchdowns in the red zone. That is something Reid will harp on in the coming weeks. The Eagles allowed Jacksonville to hang around, hang around, and the Jags put together some big plays and took the lead at the half.
- Bobby April won't be pleased with his kickoff coverage. Jacksonville had returns of 27 yards, 41 yards, 68 yards, 26 yards and 46 yards. ... Special teams take time to come together, of course, so it is probably unfair to be too concerned here.
- The defense gave up too many big plays, and the offense turned it over too much once the starters departed. Michael Vick, spectacular at times, lost a fumble and threw an interception. The Jags had a couple of big passing plays -- they had 27 points on the board early in the fourth quarter, and yet were zero for 7 on third downs -- and Sean McDermott will make sure his secondary understands the importance of limiting plays down the field.
- Safety is suddenly thin with injuries to Quintin Demps and Antoine Harris. At this point, nothing is known about the severity of the injuries.
- Kudos to Chad Hall, who had plays as a punt return man, a running back and a wide receiver. He played inspired and outstanding football. Nice little weapon there.
- Dimitri Patterson blew up a couple of screens and continued his excellent preseason.
- On Vick ... does he have his speed back, or what? He had 50 rushing yards on 6 rushing attempts and he gained a first down on his one snap with the starters in the Wild Eagle. OK, Wildcat.
- It is hard to comment too much on the line of scrimmage without seeing the film, but rookie left tackle Austin Howard looked very good to me. That kid has a chance to be quite a nice big, very big, player for Juan Castillo on the offensive line.
- Brandon Graham had a couple of pass pressures and looked quick off the ball. Daniel Te'o-Nesheim was quiet from my vantage point.
- Riley Cooper cemented his his spot on the roster, if there was a doubt, with 3 catches for 61 yards. He hauled in a Vick pass for 46 yards and showed, clearly, that he can separate at this level.
- Moise Fokou entered training camp as a starter. He played with the reserves and was up and down -- as a second-team linebacker and a third-team left defensive end -- and, well, I wonder where he is on the depth chart with the competition at linebacker. Keenan Clayton looked very fast coming off the edge as a pass rusher and he made such a nice play racing to the sideline to make a tackle on a third down play in the fourth quarter.
- When is the last time the Eagles put up 400 yards of offense in a preseason game? I mean, really. And the offense didn't touch its potential.
- As the Eagles hoped, Kurt Coleman continued his strong play. Geez, the smallish safety can hit and he seems instinctive and around the football a lot. He made a couple of nice plays in the secondary, throwing his body around and timing things up nicely. I would guess that Coleman is the team's fourth safety, with Demps third (assuming his knee injury is relatively minor) and Nate Allen and Quintin Mikell starting.
- Gotta love what Mike Kafka showed as the team's third quarterback. He is poised, he threw the ball well down the field and he hung in the pocket. Kafka played as he has played in training camp. Good prospect. Very good prospect.
- I seriously cannot remember when an Eagles rookie class -- and I include Howard in this summation -- stepped up and shined in such a big way in an opening preseason game. We have been high on the rookie class from the jump, and nothing I saw on Friday changed that opinion. This group is off to a super, super start.
- It wouldn't be fair to heap praise on the team without saying some kind words about running back Martell Mallett. The kid hasn't had an easy camp. He was designated to be released and then was recalled. He ran hard and scored a touchdown in the second quarter. Mallett faces tough odds making this team, but he put his game out there for the entire league to see.
- April won't be happy with his kickoff coverage, but his field-goal unit is in mid-season form. Akers was 5 of 5 on field goals, and the execution with snapper Jon Dorenbos, holder Sav Rocca and Akers was perfect.