The new look Philadelphia Eagles had their dress rehearsal debut tonight and overall looked very solid doing it.
We'll start with the defense, which came out absolutely breathing fire. The Eagles first team defense did not allow a single first down. They held the Jags to only 1.7 yards per play and - 2 yards per rush. The tackling was sure all around(even Asante Samuel!) and they succeeded in pressuring David Garrard on several occasions. Most notably, rookie Brandon Graham seemed to get himself in the backfield a number of times. The Jaguars finished the first quarter with just 10 yards.
The first team offense made a statement of intent with their first play as Kevin Kolb delivers a perfect pass to DeSean Jackson on a slant, which he proceeds to run up the middle for an easy first down. It seemed like Jackson was beyond the first down marker before the Jaguars defenders even realized the play had begun. It was the kind of quick hit precision play that the offense will be built on this year. The most exciting play for the first team is one Jags corner Derek Cox will not like to see again. DeSean Jackson takes an end around, Cox is in good position to limit the gain and Jackson just jukes him out of his shoes and takes the ball for a 17 yard gain. Overall Jackson touched the ball three times and gained 64 yards. He's obviously picked up right where he left off. Jackson said he was excited to start a "new era" of Eagles football,
"It went pretty well. The biggest thing about today was starting a new era, and we had [QB Kevin] Kolb out there and we're just starting something new and we're having a good time. Were all just coming together and having a lot of fun and just playing with a lot of energy. We're young guys out there but we just do what we need to do
For the most part, Kevin Kolb looked very sharp. He threw a bad pass over the middle that might have been picked if Jason Avant hadn't played some defense, but otherwise he moved the team at will and both of the drives he led ended up with field goals. Now you never want to see the team stall when it gets into the red zone, but that's something to be concerned with if it happens in the regular season. Kolb actually threaded a nice pass to Celek for what would have been a TD on one red zone play, but a Jags defender slapped it out of his hands before Brent could secure it. Kolb was happy with his performance, but noted the room for improvement in the red zone.
"It was good. Obviously, when you get down into the red zone you want to score points, but both drives were successful. We racked up some yards there and put six points on the board, then had a chance there with our third one. Overall, I thought it was good, but we've got to get better in the red zone."
The first team offensive line, which had been a question mark coming into the game, acquitted itself very well. Kolb had the time he needed and they opened up some nice holes for LeSean McCoy.
You really couldn't ask a whole lot more from the Eagles first team. A few TDs to finish those drives would have been nice, but for the most part the Eagles first team dominated the Jags on both sides of the ball. It was a real nice start to the preseason. We'll talk about the 2nd & 3rd stringers after the jump.
We saw the good and the bad from Michael Vick right off the start. He fires a perfect, effortless 46 yard bomb to Riley Cooper to put them in the red zone. Just a great pass and catch.... But on the very next play Vick gets ball stripped by Derrick Harvey as he tried to step up in the pocket.
However, on the ensuing Jags drive, the Eagles defense would come up big. The Jags get to 4th down and decided to go for it. Brandon Graham pressures Garrard and actually hits him, but Garrard gets a nice pass off to Mike Sims-Walker for what would have been a first down, but rookie safety Kurt Coleman nails him to knock the ball loose. Coleman really played well all night on both defense and special teams.
Joselio Hanson had a terrible play around the 5:30 mark where he's matched up one on one with a WR, commits an illegal contact penalty and gets burned for a 70+ yard TD on the same play... ouch. Combine that with Ellis Hobbs playing well tonight and Hanson's chances at a starting job look slim.
Austin Howard was dominating as the second team LT. He pancaked a man on the key block of the Vick TD run and generally was just eating guys up night. Really promising start from the undrafted rookie.
We then would see more good and bad from Michael Vick. For one, his legs are back. It's hard to believe that the guy running around out there tonight was the same player we had here last year. He's way ahead of where he finished last season. He rushed 4 times for 45 yards and a TD. He also used his legs to escape pressure(usually coming from King Dunlap's side) on numerous occasions. He did end up throwing a pick toward the end of the half on a broken play where he'd rolled to the sidelines, but it was tough to say whether Vick made a bad throw or rookie Charles Scott rant the wrong route. It looked clearly like Vick thought he'd go one way and Scott went the other. So he ended with two turnovers, which you don't want to see ... but overall you'd have to happy with how good Vick looked physically out there tonight.
The Jaguars second TD came on what looked like a typical sloppy preseason play. The Jags went trips om the right side and it seemed like Brandon Graham of all people peeled off to try and cover the slot WR. Obviously that's a total mismatch and it was a pitch & catch type play to the end zone. Obviously someone just blew it on that play, but you just chalk that up to preseason.
It's not really worth getting too in depth for the rest of the game, but I figured it would be worth point out a few guys that did some good things.
Daniel Te'o-Nesheim got himself into the backfield a few times. Martell Mallett got a lot of work and did well in the second half getting himself into the end zone with a nice goal line run. If there was an offensive "star" of the second half for the Eagles, it was Mallet. He finished up with 60 yards on 15 carries. Geoffrey Pope got straight up beat on a fly route for a TD near the end of the 3rd quarter. Rookie CB Trevard Lindley had a pick in the second half overturned after he jumped a short out route but couldn't fully secure the ball before he went out of bounds. Either way though, it was good recognition and nice play from the rookie.
Chad Hall had a nice second half with the highlight being a 57 yard pass from Mike Kafka. He also had a 22 yard run when lined up as a RB. Speaking of Kafka, you'd have to say he was decent in his NFL debut. He continues to show off a bigger arm than anyone seemed to think he had. If anything, I'd say he looked to air out too often, but he didn't force throws and didn't turn the ball over. It was also great to see Kolb coaching up Kafka every time he came off the field. There's some real leadership qualities in the Eagles new starting QB.
Rookie LB Keenan Clayton fought off a double team for a sack late in the 4th quarter and just a play later rookie DT Jeff Owens forced a fumble. Clayton was active all game.
Oh and they won...