Tonight's preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars was the first time the Chip Kelly Eagles entered a game with Michael Vick officially named as the starting QB. Naturally, all eyes were on Vick tonight. The results were mixed.
The Eagles got off to a slow start on their first drive. They converted for a first down once thanks to a difficult Jason Avant catch along the sideline (routine, for the sure-handed veteran Avant) but didn't do much after that. The offensive line didn't offer much in terms of protection. A sloppy start for the offense led to a Donnie Jones punt.
The defense took over and didn't get off to the best start either. The Eagles didn't allow big plays, but the Jags marched down the field on a 12 play, 90 yard TD drive with Chad Henne leading the way at QB. Yeah, that Chad Henne. WR Justin Blackmon capped off the drive with a 17 yard TD. 7-0, Jaguars.
The Eagles second drive on offense didn't produce much in the way of success either. It was another shaky performance for the Eagles OL.
Earl Wolff subbed in for Nate Allen the next time the Eagles defense took the field. The defense looked much better this time (call it a coincidence) and they forced a 3 and out.
The Eagles third drive had some more success. Vick showed he still has wheels on a 16 yard run (and "SLIDE"!). The offense moved the team into field goal range before the end of the quarter.
The Eagles failed to convert a 3rd down and Alex Henery nailed a 30 yard field goal to start the second. 7-3, Jaguars.
TURNOVER! The Jags took over after the Eagles FG and Henne threw a pass that OLB Connor Barwin tipped and then picked off. It was a great effort by Barwin who really showed his athleticism and coverage skills on the play.
Vick capitalized on the Jaguar's mistake and threw a great pass over the middle to Riley Cooper in the endzone for a 9 yard score. The throw was an absolute bullet. Credit also goes to the Eagles OL for settling down after a shaky start. 10-7 Eagles.
Another stop for the Eagles starting defense, but Damaris Johnson fumbled on a punt return. Ugly. It feels like this has been something said way too often, but this team really needs to cut down on turnovers if they want to be successful. Thankfully for the Eagles, their defense held again. Mychal Kendricks was very active on defense, and Barwin notched a sack to force a Jags 4th down.
A Josh Scobee field goal tied the game at 10-10.
Vick threw a horrible interception on the next drive. With pressure in his face, he threw the ball off his back foot towards DeSean Jackson, but it wasn't even close. A Jacksonville defender (Gratz) picked off the pass with ease.
The Jaguars capitalized with a big play from a 63 yard TD run from Todman. Both Eagles safeties, Patrick Chung and Wolff, looked lost on the play. 17-10 Jaguars.
Damaris redeemed himself with a nice return on the kickoff this time. You can see where he lacks long speed, as he couldn't finish the run despite getting past everyone. But he can still be very shift and dangerous. An amazing one handed Jason Avant catch (yawn) on a screen pass highlighted a Vick drive that resulted in a 31 yard field goal from Henery. 17-13 Jaguars.
The Eagles forced another stop which led to a Jags punt. Damaris showed great return ability yet again with a 37 yard return. He doesn't always make the best decisions, but there's no denying Damaris had nice return ability. The Eagles moved into field goal range and Henery hit yet another FG (45 yards) to end the half down one point, 17-16.
The Eagles started continued into the 3rd quarter. Some of the backups and rotation guys were mixed in, however.
The Jags offense moved down the field yet again, despite DE Vinny Curry delivering consistent pressure on the drive. Curry's had a great preseason and it continued tonight. He's just so fast off the ball. Despite Curry's efforts, the Jags punched it in with a TD throw to TE Reisner. 24-16, Jags.
The first team offense took the field and moved down the field. A Bryce Brown run was looking like a TD until... well... he fumbled. Near the goalline. Into the endzone. Touchback. Yeah. That's 2012 Eagles material right there, folks. Fumbling was obviously a huge issue last year for Bryce. There's no denying his talent, but he simply has to stop fumbling.
Matt Scott took over at QB for the Jags. There was a point where Curry forced a fumble, but the Eagles couldn't jump on it. A few plays later Scott threw a pass that was tipped and almost intercepted by three different Eagles. Close, but no cigar. The Jags managed to get a first down two plays later on a 4th and inches conversion. That's a costly non-turnover for the Eagles. The Jags bailed the Birds out by missing a field goal.
Nick Foles took over with 3 seconds left in the 3rd.
Nick Foles took over with the backups. Russell Shepard, who's been quiet besides for some special teams plays, showed up with a couple of nice receptions. The Eagles marched into scoring territory and punched the ball in with a 4 yard Bryce Brown TD run. Good drive. The Eagles lined up for the 2 point conversion after the play but a false start led to the Eagles kicking a PAT. 24-23, Jaguars.
The Eagles scored on another strong Foles drive coupled with a strong rushing attack from Bryce Brown and Matthew Tucker. A 99 yard drive (!) was capped off by a Chris Polk TD run. A Polk run converted a two point conversion attempt after the TD run. 31-24, Eagles. Foles would finish the night 10/11 for 112 yards, 0 TDs/0 INTs.
Former Eagles QB MIKE KAFKA (!!!!!!) took over for the Jags late in the game. (Obligatory link to 5000+ word post on with video breakdowns on Mike Kafka.)
The final score was 31-24, in favor of the Eagles. That leaves the Eagles with a 2-1 preseason record. The Eagles will play the Jets in their final preseason game on Thursday the 29th.
Before everyone overreacts, relax. Take a breath. It's still preseason. When I say "it's only preseason", I'm not saying you can disregard all the mistakes the Eagles make. No. There are definitely legitimate concerns with this team. All I'm saying is that there's still a little time before the season starts for the Eagles to work on some of their mistakes.
Now that that's out of the way... yeah, the Eagles performance tonight wasn't very encouraging. The starting offense was flat out erratic. As a number of others noted, though, the offense just didn't look like it did the first two weeks. It really looked like Chip dialed his offense back and played it very vanilla out there. Credit goes to Jacksonville too who played with a lot of energy at their home stadium.
Vick's performance wasn't as impressive as the first two weeks. By the numbers: 15-for-23, 184 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT. 7 carries for 53 yards. He made some bad plays and questionable decisions at times. There's no absolving him for that. It should be noted that the offensive line, who looked shoddy against a strong Jags defensive line, wasn't doing Vick many favors. There seemed to be too many missed assignments or bad blocks. I don't think it's unfair to say the play-calling wasn't anything special tonight either.
The defense is still a work in progress, but did show some signs of encouragement. Forcing a turnover was much needed. Turnovers are going to go a long way for this defense.
We'll have even more in-depth coverage of tonight's Eagles-Jaguars game on BGN tomorrow morning. Stay tuned.
Left game and did not return - CB Brandon Hughes (fractured left hand), CB Eddie Whitley (knee).