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10 thoughts on the Eagles’ first 2 preseason games

An imperfect 10

NFL: Preseason-Cleveland Browns at Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

After two preseason games and two days of joint practices, we are nearing conclusions on the preseason.

I hope I never see Marcus Mariota on the field again, even in a blow out.

That’s it. That’s the thought.

Tanner McKee on the other hand….

Every WR thinks they’re open. Tanner McKee believes them. He’s doing his teammates a favor, checkdowns in preseason games don’t help anyone but the QB in evaluation. McKee slinging the ball around and giving everyone else some good reps is the kind of selfless leadership you want in your QB. If Joseph Ngata makes the active roster (spoiler alert: he won’t), it’ll be in part due to McKee giving him some chances to make a play. And he hasn’t really had a “what the hell are you doing” moment (yet).

That said, let’s pump the brakes a little. He’s only played against backups, future practice squad members, and guys who won’t even be on a practice squad. McKee is clearly worth a roster spot, which is more than you can say for most day 3 QBs and many 3rd string QBs. He’s already shown more than Ian Book ever has. But QB2 he is not (yet), even with Mariota stinking up the place.

After roster cuts he needs to change his number, 10 is a terrible backup QB number. It is aesthetically unpleasing, and it was the number of Garner Minshew, Chase Daniel, Koy Detmer, and Mike Borla. You don’t want that company.

It’s only preseason but the defense looks like ass

There have been a few individual bright spots on defense. But as a whole, the level of concern has not lowered from the beginning of camp.

Zach Cunningham wasn’t on the team two weeks ago, on Thursday he both started and played in the second half, which says a little bit about him and a lot about the state of the Eagles linebackers. Myles Jack was with the first team on his first day of practice, spent the first half against the Browns on the bench, then retired. In three weeks Nicholas Morrow has gone from starter to bubble to top backup? Christian Elliss was always favored to make the team for special teams, now he’s got a real chance to start.

K’Von Wallace started and played into the fourth quarter, which is the kind of run you give a second year player or a guy on the bubble, not the 4th year 3rd safety in a defense that will be running some three safety personnel groupings. Wallace, Terrell Edmunds, Justin Evans, and Sydney Brown all rotated over the first eight possessions.

Howie Roseman has yet to make a trade in camp. That may need to change.

Great, Britain

If you had any doubt about Britain Covey’s roster security, the Eagles have put out Zech McPhearson and Justin Evans as punt returners. Neither have ever returned a punt in the NFL, Evans never did in college (though he did return some kickoffs), McPhearson had just four punt returns in college. If Covey gets hurt, Greg Ward will pick up the phone, along with several other punt returners who are available off the street in-season.

More Moro

As a 7th round pick the expectations for Moro Ojomo were and should have been low. Making the practice squad is pretty good for a 7th rounder. But I’m not shocked he has shown up in camp and preseason. He was getting doubled teamed by Alabama last year, they don’t give that level of attention to stiffs.

Finally! Sort of.

Sydney Brown is the guy we thought K’Von Wallace would be in 2020, the mid round safety who looks like he should get on the field—though not start—right away.

A log jam at... reciever?

Last year no team used their 4th+ WRs as little as the Eagles did. This year, they might have too much depth? Well, some depth.

Sometimes a team has a guy who looks pretty good in practice and they kind of hide him in preseason games to try to sneak him by waivers. And sometimes a guy just looks pretty good in practice to the media but not to the coaches (and it should be said that sometimes the media are right and the coaches are wrong).

I wonder which one Joseph Ngata is. He started off camp strong but was behind Tyrie Cleveland on the depth chart. He’s played decently, and now with Cleveland out he should get a bigger role in the final preseason game. If Britain Covey wasn’t occupying the 5th WR spot purely because he’s the punt returner, we might have a real bottom of the roster camp battle.

Speaking of depth...

I feel a lot better about backup OT, and all of the backup OL, than I did when camp began. Steen might be something. That he’s ahead of Dennis Kelly at left tackle gives you some confidence there, at least he’s had a legit veteran to earn it over rather than the collection of practice squaders the Eagles had before signing Kelly. We’ll find out if it’s real in the regular season, because he will almost certainly get a chance to play.

Lane Johnson has missed at least one game in each of the past six seasons. Jordan Mailata’s next full season will be his first. Jason Kelce is currently an iron man but he also turns 36 this season. Landon Dickerson missed a game in 2021 and left a game early in 2022 with injury. At some point someone on the offensive line will miss time, the depth here matters.

Jalen Carter is prepared

From the Ravens game:

This does not surprise me. In a 2021 45-0 win against Georgia Tech, he gave some of the most devastating trash talk I’ve ever heard.

Literally at one point in the game, this is the weirdest trash talk I’ve ever heard in my life, I wanna say it was No. 88 (Jalen Carter), he said the strangest thing to me. He just looked at me and was like, ‘Y’all are so unprepared.’ I was like, ‘Huh?’ Y’all are so unprepared? All the things he could have said at this point in the game, it’s like 45-0 and he’s like ‘Y’all are so unprepared.’ I was like, ‘What do you mean?’ He’s like, ‘Y’all just don’t like know what’s going on,’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, we don’t.’”

“You are not prepared. You do not know what is going on.” Ouch. There’s no comeback from that.

End the preseason, or scrimmages

The NFL is trending away from starters playing preseason games and towards replacing the playing time starters got in those with scrimmages against other teams. Only five teams this year did not do joint practices (the Chiefs, Bills, Steelers, Seahawks, and Cowboys). But the teams doing joint practices are also playing preseason games.

Pick one or the other.

Six Eagles got hurt on Thursday, and all of them participated in the two day joint practices against the Browns two days earlier. This is too much. You can’t ask guys to go full force in two days of scrimmages and then play most of a preseason game two days later. Players got the CBA to eliminate two-a-days, practicing in pads for multiple days and then a game two days later might have to be next.

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