The Philadelphia Eagles are now 3-0 in the 2015 NFL preseason schedule after beating the Green Bay Packers by a final score of 39-26. It was another dominant performance from the Birds. Here are 10 things we learned from this game. There is a lot to discuss, so let's get right to it.
1) Sam Bradford looks like the real deal
What a performance. Let's look at the numbers again: 10 for 10 (100%), 121 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT, 156.7 rating. And that was only through one quarter!
The Packers defense had no chance of stopping Bradford. The way he carved up Green Bay was surgical. He looked in complete control of the offense. It wasn't like he was just throwing to wide open receivers all the time, either. He made some great throws in tight spaces to contested wide receivers. While his protection was mostly clean, he did stand in the pocket and take a hit on his touchdown pass to Trey Burton. Bradford has looked great in training camp practice and now his success has carried over to real game action. This was the most encouraging performance possible from Bradford.
2) Eagles are dominating their opponents
Yeah, yeah. "It's only preseason." And it's true. None of this "success" matters if it doesn't carry over to the regular season. But there's ample reason to be excited about this Eagles team. They're flat out dominating their opponents when the starters have been in. The Eagles have outscored opponents in the first half of three preseason games by 86 to 17, which is an average of 29 to 6. The Birds lead the NFL in points per game and yards per game. It's OK to feel good about this squad.
3) No major injuries
Most important thing of all. Chip Kelly explained that Kiko Alonso and Cody Parkey were held out for precautionary reasons. Lane Johnson left the game early but is expected to be ready for the regular season opener. The Eagles still have over two weeks until they play the Atlanta Falcons on Sept. 14, so there is plenty of time for key players to rest up.
4) DeMarco Murray’s downhill style is effective
While Bradford (rightfully) got a lot of attention for his stellar performance, he owes some credit to his college roommate for his success. Murray really set the tempo early with his physical running style. He didn't bust out any big plays; his longest run went for eight yards. But he consistently got positive yardage and helped move the chains. He's really good at falling forward. Murray finished with six carries for 28 yards (4.7 average) along with two receptions for 12 yards.
5) "You cannot cover Darren Sproles."
That's a direct quote from Mike Mayock during the Eagles' broadcast. It's true; the shifty veteran had two receptions for 41 yards and one score against the Packers. His touchdown catch came on a wheel route where the linebacker had zero chance of being able to cover him. Sproles may not be a full-time player but he's still a very dangerous weapon in this offense.
Side note: Kenjon Barner, who is Sproles' understudy, made another big play. It wasn't a punt return for a touchdown, but it was a nice 50-yard gain on a screen play. The former Ducks running back continues to look like a roster lock.
6) Tim Tebow’s two-point conversion attempts didn’t work
Yikes. It's only preseason, so the Eagles might as well experiment when they get a chance, but these attempts did not go well. Tebow got stuffed on the first play and then almost got picked off on the second attempt. To Tebow's credit, the snap was very low on the second play and that might have thrown the timing off because it was designed to be a quick throw. Still, not good.
Despite the failure, the fact that the Eagles used Tebow in this capacity might suggest he's still the favorite in the battle for the third quarterback spot.
7) Eric Rowe needs some polish
Eric Rowe seemed to struggle in coverage this game. The Eagles were using him at outside cornerback with Nolan Carroll working as the nickel cornerback. Carroll is clearly the favorite to start across from Byron Maxwell at this point. Rowe has shown potential and deserves some playing time but he's not starting material just yet. Keep in mind the former safety is still relatively new to the cornerback position. This preseason is all about him getting experience and building on that.
8) Trey Burton is stepping up with Zach Ertz out
Hard not to be impressed with how Burton has performed. He made two tough catches in the red zone for touchdowns on Saturday evening. He's obviously no Ertz, but he's capable of contributing on offense. The Eagles have good depth at tight end.
9) Bad E.J. Biggers still exists
Woof. Biggers was having a pretty good summer up until this point. Against Green Bay, he looked like the Biggers who really struggled in Washington. The bad news for him and the Eagles is that he was struggling against backups, too. Jeff Janis simply ran right by him on the play where he caught a deep touchdown pass. Biggers has shown more good than bad this summer, so it's not the end of the world, but this was a reminder he's still a flawed player.
10) Walter Thurmond can’t stop making plays
The Eagles have to be really happy with how Thurmond has looked at safety. Heading into spring practices, it wasn't even clear (to outsiders, at least) who would line up next to Malcolm Jenkins. Thurmond has consistently made plays in practice and in games. Thurmond's pick six against the Packers was the most recent example. His Deion Sanders dance celebration as he ran into the end zone was a nice touch.
The regular season can't get here soon enough, as Eagles players would tell you. Just one more preseason game to go.