The Eagles and Bengals starters spent the first half locked in a generally sloppy defensive struggle. The Eagles' offensive line struggled mightily, the Bengals shot themselves in the foot with penalties, Carson Palmer was poor, and the Eagles defense forced two turnovers. Jeremy Maclin was the only notable injury for the Eagles, he left the game with that the team called a shoulder contusion. He did look to be in real pain though.
First Team Offense Review - The first team offense didn't move the ball nearly as easily as it did last week, but to be fair they were facing a much better defense in the Bengals who finished last year ranked #4 overall. The story will be probably the "continued red zone woes" but they only got in the red zone once. Kevin Kolb had a TD pass to Jason Avant callled back when the Eagles offensive line was called for its 3rd illegal formation penalty of the night(Jason Peters, Winston Justice, & Max Jean-Gilles were all flagged). The refs seemed to be cracking down on illegal formations as the Bengals were also flagged for it in the first half.
The story of the night isn't the red zone however ... it has to be the offensive line, particularly the interior. Mike McGlynn struggled at center, Max Jean-Gilles didn't look good, and Stacy Andrews got beat to the inside on a play resulted in a rushed pass and incompletion. I wouldn't say the tackles were anything special, but the problem was clearly the interior tonight. I suppose the silver lining is that the chief offenders, McGlynn & Max will hopefully not be starting come opening day. We know that Herremans will be back & Jamaal Jackson at least has a shot.
The struggles of the offensive line really made it tough to evaluate the rest of the offense. LeSean McCoy rarely had any room to move and Kevin Kolb was running for his life most of the first half. That said, you'd have to say Kolb handled the pressure well. He threw accurately on the run on a number of occasions, which is something we haven't really seen him have to do yet. He was 11 for 17 for 126 yards in a half where he was absolutely under siege. He moved out of the pocket, extended plays, and handled the pressure pretty well. Kolb said the offense was "stagnant" in the first quarter.
"We were a little stagnant on the first three drives there. We needed to pick the energy level up. We did it and we were better in the second quarter. We got our running game going a little bit and got a couple drives. Again, we just have to execute in the red zone. I missed a throw there in the end zone and we also had that penalty that cost us. I think we did some good things; it was a positive day, but we have to start fine-tuning those details."
Overall though, not a great night for the first team offense and it all started up front.
After the jump, the first team defense and a look at the backups.
The first team defense was much better than the offense. They allowed a touchdown after a somewhat fluky special teams play gave the Bengals good field position and Hanson got burnt by Owens for long gain, but otherwise they were generally strong. I will say that they were aided a bit by some really poor play by Carson Palmer, who was picked off twice. Palmer struggled with accuracy and threw a lot high passes that put his WRs in tough positions. Chad Ochocino even complained on twitter about getting hit hard on one play that ended up with an Eagles pick. Seven points allowed and two turnovers in a half is something you'll happily take from the first team defense. Quintin MIkell liked the takeaways.
"Yeah, anytime you get turnovers and big plays, that's what it's about on defense. No doubt about it, man. That's a good offense, they've got some good receivers and I think we had a pretty good game. We had a couple picks and made some plays. They had one play on us but we came back. So, that's what we want to see at this point in the year."
I wanted to make a quick note about Nate Allen. The rookie got run over by Cedric Benson early and looked pretty bad in the process. Later that quarter he came back and hit Benson so hard the RB was slow to get up. He also had some great coverage on a deep pass to Chad Ochocinco. It was nice to see the rookie out there fighting back.
Michael Vick threw two picks tonight. The first was just a terrible pass and completely his fault. He was hit as he threw on the second one so you could maybe say he wasn't totally at fault on that one. Plus, the second team offensive line was even worse than the first team. So while Vick's stat line was a very ugly 1 for 5 for 6 yards and 2 picks, his protection was laughable. Still turnovers are always inexcusable and he has four in two preseason games.
Backups - Brandon Graham was credited for his first sack on a play where he and Trevor Laws got nice pressure up the middle. Keenan Clayton had a real heads up pick on a pass that it seemed J.T. O'Sullivan was trying to throw away, but Clayton saw it and grabbed the INT at his feet. He also delivered a big hit to one of the Cincy backs midway through the 4th quarter on a 3rd down pass. On the previous play Geoffrey Pope laid a big hit that separated a WR from the ball. Mike Kafka threw two very rookie-like picks in the fourth quarter, but he did have the longest run of the night funny enough... 24 yards.