(Besides the obvious: Eagles! Football is back! Beer!)
1. Run defense (starring Bennie Logan)
Smothering. Devastating. Relentless. Zurlon Tipton had a total of 10 yards on his first 7 carries and ended up 16-34. Even for a guy who was apparently named after a failed synthetic fabric, that's a tough day.
2. Offensive line play.
The Eagles ran well and there were no obvious protection failures, even against the first team defenders. Given two news starters at guard, that's great news.
3. Running game.
Ryan Mathews was punishing as the one-cut N/S running back Chip Kelly was hoping for. Kenjon Barner had a perfect 9 yard run for the Birds' first TD, in addition to his brilliant 93-yard punt return touchdown. He also showed creativity on his shorter returns. And Raheem Mostert showed surprising power as well as the speed he's known for. The competition between Barner and Mostert for the 4th RB position will be interesting.
4. Nelson Agholor.
Despite one bad drop on the sideline, the first round pick had a great first day at the office with 57 yards and a TD on 3 receptions. He also drew a long DPI call, and showed impressive yards-after-catch ability on all of his passes.
5. Developing players.
Chris Prosinski has quietly had an impressive training camp and extended that against the Colts, recovering a fumble and making several tackles. The Eagles could use some safety depth, so it's great to see him develop. Rookie Eric Rowe, redshirt rookie Taylor Hart and ST stud Bryan Braman showed the value of the Eagles' many special teams drills by punching out footballs. The Eagles led the league in forced fumbles last year.
TE Eric Tomlinson had an excellent game, 5 catches for 61 yards. EJ Biggers played Colts' receivers tough on several long passes.
Marcus Smith showed up on 3 consecutive plays in the red zone, stuffing a run, covering TE Coby Fleener well and then getting pressure on QB Matt Hasselback (putting the hassle on Hasselback? Sorry.) That's a great sign at a desperately thin position.
LB Brad Jones had a couple of nice solo tackles in the open field, one on a kick return. Rasheed Bailey pulled in a great one-handed catch on a high Tebow pass despite close coverage. Rookie UDFA DL Wade Keliikipi (Oregon) got a lot of pressure on the QB in his 4th quarter play, and big (6'9") DE Brian Mihalik had a nice sack, anticipating that mobile QB Bryan Bennett would move up in the pocked, shedding his blocker and getting there in time to smother the QB. And safety Ed Reynolds, the 2014 5th round pick who couldn't even make the roster last year, had two interceptions and showed impressive running ability after the catches.
(Besides the obvious: many starters not playing, vanilla defenses and offenses, and generally crappy play.)
The Eagles actually looked very good all around. The quarterback play was probably the low point, and it was still good enough to rack up 36 points.
1. Mark Sanchez.
He was terrible passing, 2 for 7 and many of those were hospital throws. Jordan Matthews took one big hit, and Agholor was fully exposed on his great TD catch and run.
2. Pass Defense
The defensive backs were fine actually; it was linebackers over the middle who struggled. Not too big of a concern since the Eagles' big 3 (DeMeco, Kiko and Mychal) were all out. Still, given all of the talk about how loaded the team is at ILB it would have been nice to see them shut down some of those passes.
3. Failed Auditions.
Jaylen Watkins, Travis Raciti and Jordan Hicks all whiffed on a red zone run, allowing a Josh Robinson a second half TD that was way easier than it should have been. Najee Goode looked like a great depth ILB last year before his injury, but he did his prospects no good in this game.
4. Tim Tebow.
Despite a tough 7-yard touchdown run and a couple of good passes when he first took the field, Tebow had a rough day. He held on to the ball too long, couldn't find open receivers and took several sacks.
4. Matt Barkley.
Barkley had a better day than Tebow, finishing 12/20 for 192 yards, and moved the team well. He had an INT which was more a bad decision to throw past the DE who deflected it than it was a bad pass.
He was really mixed more than bad, and started with two perfectly placed long balls -- one to Miles Austin -- but Barkley's throws remain floaty. These will be easy pickings for starting DBs. He showed nice speed escaping a sack, and a good slide. (Sanchez had a good scramble but dove forward instead of sliding.) Barkley is in the bad category mostly because there weren't too many other things to complain about.
5. Cody Parkey.
Parkey was a great pickup for the Birds last year, but he missed an extra point (now 33 yards of course) and a 34-yard field goal. He has missed two kicks in 2 of his last 3 games, going back to week 16 against Washington last year, which the Eagles lost by 3. So this could be a serious problem going forward.
The odd thing is distance is never the problem, and Parkey always misses wide right on his bad kicks. He also missed a 33 yarder in the National Championship Game for Auburn. Why is that not correctable? And why is 33 yards his hardest distance?
Good and bad, it was a fine start to the year. Perhaps best of all, there were no apparent big injuries, though OLB Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo left the game early.