The Eagles lost to the Patriots on Thursday night. Okay, that’s not entirely accurate. The Eagles got killed by the Patriots on Thursday night. There. Happy? No. No, probably not. But, enough stalling, time to run through W-L-IDK.
So, the Eagles’ 2021 first-round pick didn’t get off to the best start! His first three targets ended up incomplete.
1) He dropped a low throw on the first with a defender right on him.
2) He admittedly didn’t get his head turned around fast enough on the second.
3) He couldn’t hang on to a ball thrown a little behind him on the third.
But then Smith caught a 9-yard pass for the Eagles’ first third down conversion of the preseason (previously 0/10 at the time). He had another for a 10-yard gain.
The tape was more impressive than the box score. Smith’s sharp route-running was on full display:
There shouldn’t be much worry about him failing to separate in the NFL. And he’ll only look better as he shakes off the rust after missing multiple weeks with a knee injury. Playing with a better quarterback would also do him some favors.
DeVonta is going to be really good. It’s clear that he’s a special talent.
EVERYONE WHO RESTED
The Eagles sat out a number of key players, such as Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Darius Slay, Josh Sweat, etc. They avoided getting hurt, which is pretty important.
This entire position group deserves praise.
Alex Singleton was out there flying around like usual. He’s truly a tackling machine. Really liked how he split blockers to take down a running back on a screen play that could’ve gone for a much bigger gain. Of course, he missed an open field tackle right after that. Still, more good than bad.
T.J. Edwards was also pretty active. And not just on defense, where he almost had a diving pick, but on special teams as well. Solid role player.
Eric Wilson finished with four tackles. He’s looked good.
I heard Genard Avery showed some promise, though I didn’t catch much of it in person. I’m interested to look out for it when I get to watch the broadcast version.
Heck, even Rashad Smith, who is bound to be cut, had a nice tackle at one point.
It’s not often that the Eagles’ linebackers are viewed as a strength but that was the case on Thursday evening. Perhaps position coach Nick Rallis deserves a shout-out here.
He didn’t fill the box score, only logging one quarterback hit and no other stats. But Williams did force two holding penalties on one drive. The rookie third-round pick is showing some real potential as an edge rusher. Take that, Tom Donahoe.
Siposs has earned the Eagles’ punting job. After tonight’s performance, he’s up to nine preseason punts for a 52.5 average. For perspective, Corey Bojorquez led the NFL in punting average last year at 50.8. Siposs also kicked the ball into the end zone for a touchback on his sole kickoff attempt with Jake Elliott (day-to-day with an ankle injury) missing this game.
Second week in a row where the Eagles’ veteran safety forced an incompletion by hitting a pass catcher right as the ball arrived to him. There are some signs pointing to Harris bouncing back after a down year in 2020.
Nick Sirianni said he wanted to get Sanders some action after sitting him last week. Sanders looked as effective as ever as a runner with two carries for 13 yards. He’s a dynamic runner. Now, if only the passing game aspect would click for him.
Gainwell has looked better in preseason game action than he has during practice. The rookie running back had five carries for 21 yards (4.2 average) against the Pats. He also caught all three of his targets for 23 yards. I still don’t think Gainwell is going to have a huge role, especially out of the gate. But maybe he’ll find a way to overtake Boston Scott as the season goes along?
He led the Eagles in receiving with four catches for 33 yards (8.3 average). Lol. Seriously, though, he looked decent. Not sure that he’s worth rostering but the undrafted rookie is worth a practice squad spot.
He gave the Eagles a fighting chance at the end. Not really, that’s just a forced pun. But he did lead the Eagles in rushing with four carries for 31 yards (7.8 average). Of course, it probably doesn’t mean much, since he’ll probably be cut in about 11 days (if not sooner).
HALFTIME FRISBEE DOGS
Outside of DeVonta, the biggest highlight from Thursday night.
THE EAGLES IN PRACTICE EARLIER THIS WEEK
The Eagles were the better team in joint training camp practices leading up to Thursday’s game. Which might be more relevant since there were more starters involved in those sessions!
THE EAGLES IN SUPER BOWL LII
The Eagles beat the Patriots in Super Bowl LII by a score of 41 to 33. People forget that.
Okay, this is a stretch (not a tall joke), but hear me out. Burnham is a Massachusetts native and I found a picture of him wearing a Patriots hat, so he’s probably happy about tonight’s win. He actually probably doesn’t care at all. But I wanted a chance to mention his Inside special on Netflix so I’m shoehorning it in here. It’s good, you should watch it if you haven’t already. Also had to share that I saw Burnham walk right by me and into the New England Aquarium the day after I re-watched his special with my friends on vacation. Surreal coincidence. And, not that you care at all, but my trip to Boston was a fun time. I’ll never actually admit I like that city, though. Too much detestable Boston sports fandom.
ANYONE WHO WATCHED THE GAME
That felt like the worst preseason game I’ve ever watched. Pretty boring and bad. And I’m one of those who watched the entirety of it! Three hours of my life I’ll never get back.
The Birds have been outscored 52-0 in their last six quarters. Does this actually matter? It certainly doesn’t mean everything. They’re obviously not going to look as bad when they’re playing their starters and the coaching staff isn’t keeping things as vanilla as they are in the preseason. Still, not ideal that the Eagles’ depth players have struggled so much. You’d like to see some more competency than this.
Hurts had to miss tonight’s game to instead go to the hospital. And it turns out that he has stomach infection. Doesn’t sound fun! There’s a chance that Hurts won’t see game action again until Sunday, September 12. It would’ve been nice to see some more encouraging progress from his tonight. At the very least, seeing him play would’ve made the game more watchable, even if just for a drive or two. But we got nothing and that really hurts.
Flacco was certainly not very inspiring. He offensive line situation wasn’t ideal, no, but the veteran still missed a number of makeable throws. Trying to pick up the high snap that went over his head instead of just diving on it to retain possession was also a big mistake.
If you take out Flacco’s screen pass to Quez Watkins that went for a 79-yard touchdown (where the receiver did most of the work), his stats look like this: 19/33 (57.6%) for 182 yards (5.5 average), 0 TD, 1 INT, and a 60.4 passer rating. You might want to see more from a guy the Eagles gave $3.5 million guaranteed.
2020 OFFSEASON: Jets sign Joe Flacco to 1-year, $1.5M contract— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) March 23, 2021
2020 SEASON: Flacco goes 0-4 as a starter, 55.2% completion, 6 TD, 3 INT, 80.8 passer rating, PFF’s 2nd worst graded QB
2021 OFFSEASON: Eagles sign Flacco to 1-year, $3.5M contract worth $7.5M with incentives
Well, actually, you don’t want to see him at all after the third preseason game. God forbid Hurts get hurt and miss time.
After looking good in practice, ZMP has struggled in game action. The Pats certainly weren’t afraid to go after him time and time again. This isn’t the end of the world. These struggles could serve as a nice humbling experience and it’s not like ZMP is set to see meaningful playing time from the jump. Then again, he is one Darius Slay or Steve Nelson injury away from taking snaps on the outside. We could see some real rookie struggles in that event.
Fulgham didn’t play in the first half. He instead played late into a big blowout. Is Fulgham’s roster spot secure? Perhaps not. We recently wrote how he hasn’t had the kind of offseason the Eagles would’ve liked to see. And that he only has one preseason target for zero receptions isn’t a great look. Even if he does make the roster, Fulgham isn’t in line for a big role. He’s clearly behind the top three of DeVonta Smith, Quez Watkins, and Jalen Reagor.
Reagor caught just one of his three targets for five yards. To his credit, he got up quickly after getting absolutely sandwiched by two defenders. Nice to see that toughness. But we’re still waiting for Reagor to make an impact play during game action. It was discouraging to see Reagor get knocked off his route when Flacco threw to him on 4th-and-4. I saw some claim that Reagor was held on the play but 1) I didn’t think that was the case and 2) neither did he considering he didn’t look back to the ref for a flag or anything. Reagor’s success in 1-on-1s confirms that he has talent. But his lack of impact beyond those raises serious concerns about his reliability. Reagor also only logged an 18.5 average on two kick returns; he didn’t look threatening in that capacity.
Snapped the ball over Flacco’s head, which ultimately led to the Pats’ first touchdown.
When you think about it: how is Pryor still here? He’s been really bad for what feels like a long time now. He’s just a sieve and penalty machine out there.
Howard had a hole on a 3rd-and-1 run and it closed before he could get there. Short-yardage is supposed to be one of his strengths. The Eagles are seemingly going to keep Howard around but he hasn’t really shined in the preseason, gaining just 11 yards on four carries (2.75 average).
PATRIOTS BEAT WRITERS WHO USED A PRESEASON GAME TO TAUNT THE EAGLES
Not going to give them clout by embedding their tweets here but just trust me when I say there were some New England writers acting like the Pats got ‘revenge’ on the Eagles. Lol. It’s a preseason game. Relax.
Wallace seemingly got lost in coverage to allow a touchdown and also re-injured his groin. It remains to be seen how much more time he’ll miss. In the meantime, Marcus Epps has an opportunity to make his case to be ahead of Philly’s 2020 fourth-round pick. Also, there’s this:
Pats' QB Cam Newton called #Eagles' K'Von Wallace "Glitter" after hearing Wallace called him "Check-down King" in practice the other day.— Martin Frank (@Mfranknfl) August 20, 2021
Why "Glitter?" Newton says: “He was cheerleading a lot on the sidelines. You know, cheerleaders usually have glitter on, so.”
Croom must be seriously injured if the whole team came out to see him before he was carted off the field. Sucks for any player to have their season end in August. Also sucks for the Eagles to lose another tight end with Tyree Jackson already being hurt. With Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert not likely to play in the preseason finale, they’re down to just Richard Rodgers and Stoll as their healthy tight ends.
Are we sure we can’t get a look at Jamie Newman instead? Mullens’ preseason numbers: 6/11 (54.5% completion) for 31 yards (2.8 average), 0 TD, 3 INT, 20.5 passer rating. Mullens has lost as many yards on being sacked as he has passed for this summer. I really thought he was going to be better than other training camp fodder quarterbacks we’ve seen but he’s been so dreadful! And we’re probably gonna see a lot of him next Thursday. Ugh.
MICHAEL JACKSON SR.
This is the Patriots defender who got shook by that really nice DeVonta route. Jackson’s bad. Really, really bad.
I DON’T KNOWS
On one hand, the Eagles provided a great dinner:
Eagles press box spread includes mac, pulled pork, burnt ends, and cornbread.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) August 19, 2021
Birds gonna beat the Pats by 52 points. pic.twitter.com/aH55KESDEJ
On the other hand, my prediction was embarrassingly wrong. And now I’m up at 2:55 AM Eastern typing over 2,000 words about a 35-0 preseason loss. That’s not a complaint, to be clear. I love my job. But let’s just say there have been more fun games to write about.