After losing to the New York Jets by a final score of 16-10, the Philadelphia Eagles finished the 2017 NFL preseason with a 2-2 record (recap here). But who cares about the outcome. Here’s a look at 10 takeaways from the game.
[Don’t forget to check out the BGN Radio recap show by clicking here or watching below.]
BGN Radio LIVE - Who makes the 53?Posted by Bleeding Green Nation: For Philadelphia Eagles Fans on Thursday, August 31, 2017
1 - Donnel Pumphrey does not look NFL ready
I just don’t see the appeal when it comes to Pumphrey. He’s not particularly fast, quick, explosive, elusive, agile, etc. I guess this shouldn’t come as a surprise considering he tested as one of the least athletic running backs in this year’s class.
Pumphrey’s defenders have argued that his blocking hasn’t been great. That’s not necessarily untrue, but he’s run behind the same offensive line as Corey Clement and Byron Marshall. Both of those players have outperformed Pumphrey this summer.
Eagles 2017 preseason— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) September 1, 2017
Marshall: 31 for 112 (3.6), 1 TD
Clement: 28 for 105 (3.75), 2 TD
Pumphrey: 26 for 49 (1.88), 0 TD, 1 FUM
The Pumphrey pick really isn’t looking so great. Thinking about it more now, it just didn’t make sense. The Eagles needed a potential full-time running back and instead they traded up for a guy who doesn’t even look like he belongs in the NFL. It seems like the Eagles relied too much on his college production and didn’t give enough weight to his lack of athleticism and diminutive size. The fact that he posted great numbers in school also works as a double-edged sword. It looks good on his resume, but it also means he’s had really extensive workloads.
I’m still projecting the Eagles to keep Pumphrey because I don’t think Philadelphia is going to give up on a fourth-round pick so quickly. Here’s an interesting thing:
Got sense opinions varied internally on Clement vs. Pumphrey heading into this game. Ultimately comes down to Roseman/Douglas evaluation.— Tim McManus (@Tim_McManus) September 1, 2017
My guess is that the opinions on Pumphrey are split between the coaches and the front office. The coaches probably aren’t going to be in favor of Pumphrey because he doesn’t look ready to play right away. The front office doesn’t care about that, though, because they’re keeping the long-term in mind.
For Pumphrey’s sake, I hope I’m wrong, but I’m not confident he’s ever going to get a whole lot better than what he is right now. I’m not sure how he’s suddenly going to become much more fast or explosive. Maybe he’ll play faster once he stops overthinking everything, but I’ll believe that when I see it first. Sometimes I think players just either have it or they don’t, and I just don’t see it with Pumphrey.
Injury update: Pumphrey left the game early to be evaluated for a concussion but told reporters after the game he cleared the protocol.
As a side note, I don’t think Marshall will make the roster despite looking much better than Pumphrey this summer. Sad!
2 - Corey Clement is probably making the roster
Rejoice, Clement fans.
Sense I get is Eagles are keeping Corey Clement. Pederson said it's realistic to carry 5 RBs. Can see them using Pumphrey as RB/slot hybrid— Zach Berman (@ZBerm) September 1, 2017
Clement had a nice summer for an undrafted free agent. He came in, worked hard, and put himself in a position to make the final roster. Always nice to see a local kid do well.
With that said, I still find it hard to get really excited about Clement. He’s just a guy. He’s not bad, he’s not great. He finished the preseason with 28 carries for 105 and a two touchdowns. That comes out to 3.8 yards per carry, which isn’t anything exceptional.
Don’t rule out the Eagles adding another running back via trade or waivers. If so, that could be the end of Clement (unless the Eagles put Pumphrey on IR or something).
3 - Nick Foles still isn’t 100%
Let’s recap the Foles injury situation real quick, shall we? He looked really bad in practice one Friday early in camp. The next day it was announced he had an elbow injury. Then he missed a month of camp. Then he returned and said he was 100% only to miss another week of practice and all the preseason games.
Foles went through a workout tonight prior to the game. Doug Pederson keeps insisting the quarterback will be ready to backup Carson Wentz in Week 1. Foles said the same.
I don’t doubt Foles can play if that’s what the Eagles are saying, but I do question his effectiveness. He’s clearly not 100% if he missed all this time and still couldn’t play tonight.
After Thursday night’s game, Foles told reporters his injury is a strained flexor tendon in his elbow. I couldn’t easily find any other quarterbacks who had the same injury, but I did notice that New York Mets pitcher Steven Matz had the same ailment this year. Football and baseball are obviously two different sports, but I found it interesting Matz missed some considerable time (like Foles), came back, struggled, and then had to be shut down for the year.
Foles might not be in the same boat as that pitcher, but based on how his injury has gone so far, I’m not inclined to believe the elbow is magically going to get better. It seems like the pain keeps acting up anytime he throws.
We’ll see how this situation shakes out but it’s hard to have complete confidence in Foles. And quite frankly, that’s a real disappointing thing to say when you consider how much cap space the Eagles have tied up in the backup quarterback position.
4 - We’ve probably seen the last of Matt McGloin!
McGloin finished preseason completing 69.7% of his passes for a 5.3 average. He threw one touchdown and three interceptions. His passer rating was 74.0. He also turned the ball over on a fumble.
He was truly hard to watch. There’s no way the Eagles can keep him around, even if Foles isn’t ready to play. McGloin does not belong on this roster. It’s nice to know we can enjoy watching Carson Wentz from here on out.
5 - The wide receivers are keeping it close until the end
We know Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Nelson Agholor, and Mack Hollins are making the Eagles’ final roster. Marcus Johnson seems like he’s going to be in. He had a nice touchdown reception tonight after failing to connect with McGloin on a few targets earlier in the game.
Do the Eagles keep a sixth receiver? Bryce Treggs finished the preseason as the team’s leader in receiving yards; he logged 12 receptions for 141 (11.8 average). There’s been speculation Philadelphia could trade him to a receiver-needy team. (Hey there, Chicago Bears, how about Treggs for Kyle Fuller?)
Shelton Gibson had a good game against the Jets. Despite one drop, he finished with four receptions for 40. Greg Ward also made some nice grabs.
The wide receiver picture is much, much different than a year ago. It was among the NFL’s worst last season. Now the Eagles have guys making the cuts tough on them, which is ideal.
I’d like to take a moment to mention that Hollins is definitely good. He finished the preseason with 13 receptions for 139 yards and a touchdown. I like how he catches the ball out there. He doesn’t even look like he’s trying, which isn’t a bad thing. He’s just a natural pass catcher and he makes it look effortless.
6 - Jaylen Watkins boosted his roster chances
I already had Watkins on the roster due to his safety/corner versatility. He had a good showing tonight with a big hit and an almost-pick-six. Would have been better if he didn’t drop that interception. Watkins almost had his night ruined by an ankle injury but fortunately for him he returned to the game.
7 - Dexter McDougle’s debut went well
McDougle had three tackles and a pass deflection against his former team. I liked what I saw out of him. He was physical in coverage within five yards of the line of scrimmage, which is legal. Patrick Robinson, who didn’t suit up tonight, will enter the season as the Eagles’ slot corner. He’ll hold onto that job if he plays well. But if he struggles, look for McDougle to get a shot at playing time in the slot. I think McDougle makes the roster.
8 - Joe Walker’s stock is up
Walker looked very active out there against the Jets. He finished with four tackles and two quarterback hits. One of those hits almost injured Jets starting quarterback Josh McCown. He could be the main backup to Jordan Hicks.
I also thought Kamu Grugier-Hill looked good out there. He had five tackles. Kamu led the Eagles in combined special teams tackles this preseason with three. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t make the team.
9 - Dillon Gordon’s stock is down
Woof. Gordon really struggled in pass protection. I still think his spot is safe, but I’m questioning myself more than ever. Maybe the Eagles will consider keeping Taylor Hart over him? I never thought I’d be saying that.
10 - The Eagles have an interesting decision at defensive tackle
Fletcher Cox and Tim Jernigan are locks as the starters. Beau Allen played really well tonight in his first game back from injury. The Eagles are high on Destiny Vaeao. So that’s four defensive tackles.
Then there’s Elijah Qualls, who entered this game as one of the top graded DTs this preseason. The sixth round rookie added to his impressive summer resume by notching five tackles, one tackle for loss, one quarterback hit, and half a sack. Qualls consistently showed great burst off the ball and was very disruptive as both a pass rusher and run defender. The Eagles have to keep him.
Where it gets interesting is that Justin Hamilton, who is only 24 years old, has also looked good this summer. Can the Eagles try to trade him? Or maybe they try to trade Allen, who’s heading into a contract year? Do the Eagles just keep six defensive tackles? Or do they just cut Hamilton despite knowing he’s a good player? I’m interested to see how this position shakes out.
While we’re on the topic of the d-line, I wanted to mention this could be another injured reserve year for defensive end Alex McCalister, who left the game early with a hamstring injury. McCalister finished the preseason with 3.5 sacks. He might get claimed on waivers if the Eagles try to cut him and put him on the practice squad. Maybe they try to stash him again.
Preseason is over. Final cuts are coming. The Eagles’ Week 1 game will be here before you know it.