As expected, the Eagles rested their starters and other key players in this game. Thursday night was an opportunity for some roster bubble players to make one case last to make the team. Read on for some observations.
FIRST HALF OBSERVATIONS
• Devon Allen was back to return the opening kickoff. He bobbled the ball but quickly recovered, broke a tackle, and reversed field to break a 73-yard return to the Colts’ 27-yard line. In case you forgot Allen was fast.
• The Eagles’ offense was up first. The starting lineup: QB Marcus Mariota, LT Fred Johnson, LG Julian Good-Jones, C Josh Andrews, RG Tyler Steen, RT Dennis Kelly, TE Dan Darnold, RB Trey Sermon, WR Deon Cain, WR Jadon Haselwood, WR Joseph Ngata.
• The refs missed what should’ve been a defensive pass interference on the Colts with an Indy defender hitting Dan Arnold early and forcing a Mariota incompletion. Mariota responded by making an accurate throw to Cain while on the move. Mariota has made some good throws while mobile in practice.
• Sermon scored the game’s first touchdown.
• Justin Evans and Terrell Edmunds started the game at safety. Reed Blankenship was the only safety to not suit up on Thursday night.
• Nicholas Morrow made a nice tackle for loss on a 3rd-and-22 coward’s draw by the Colts.
• Tanner McKee took over at quarterback on the Eagles’ second drive. McKee missed a 4th-and-2 throw to Ngata on a slant to bring up a turnover on downs. Still may have been catchable even though it was a bad ball.
• Anthony Richardson really showed the Eagles’ backups ...
Anthony Richardson with an Eagles taunt after a preseason Touchdown— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) August 25, 2023
I absolutely love it pic.twitter.com/uea8YVFFEd
• McKee made a nice play by rolling left to avoid an oncoming rusher and deliver an accurate short pass to Cain for 12 yards and a first down. For a QB not known for being fleet of foot, McKee has been able to do some nice things with his legs.
• Jake Elliott made a field goal from 59 yards out. Midseason form.
• Tyreek Maddox-Williams broke up a pass, nearly had an interception. He later got in good position for a TFL on Richardson. And then he nearly sacked Richardson on a blitz, instead forcing the QB into a tough throw that was ruled complete but overturned into an incompletion via Nick Sirianni’s challenge.
• That challenge from Sirianni was the quickest I’ve ever seen a coach throw a red flag in my life. Has to be a pretty embarrassing feeling for the ref.
Sirianni sassy af for no reason pic.twitter.com/pZPJXhMnaJ— Victor Williams (@ThePhillyPod) August 25, 2023
• McKee completed a pass to Ngata over the middle to convert a 4th-and-3.
• Kennedy Brooks got wide open on a wheel route ... and dropped a McKee pass that looked like it would’ve gone for a touchdown.
• Jake Elliott hit a 52-yard field goal.
• Tyreek Maddox-Williams with another splash play; he broke up a pass by instantly tackling the intended target.
• Ngata fumbled after making a catch in traffic that would’ve put the Eagles just outside of the red zone during a two-minute drill. Not a good night for Ngata.
• Eli Ricks broke up a throw over the middle right after having good coverage on a deep route.
SECOND HALF OBSERVATIONS
• Gardner Minshew started the second half for the Colts and led an 11-play, 75-yard touchdown drive.
• McKee remained in the game to start the second half.
• Brett Toth, playing at left tackle, got called for holding to wipe out a long Sermon run.
• Devon Allen had a nice special teams tackle as a gunner on the punt return unit. Allen also looked good in that area last preseason.
• Tristin McCollum failed to pick an overthrown Minshew pass that hit his hands.
• Janarius Robinson failed to make an open field tackle on a scrambling Sam Ehlinger that would’ve forced a turnover on downs.
• Tyreek Maddox-Williams picked off Ehlinger. Has TMW made more plays in this game than the rest of the Eagles’ LBs combined all summer long? Quite possibly.
• Ian Book entered the game with about eight minutes left.
• Janarius Robinson failed to sack Ehlinger to allow a deep passing play.
MARCUS MARIOTA: 1/2 (00.0%), 21 yards (10.5 average), 0 TD, 0 INT, 87.5 passer rating ... 0 runs
TANNER MCKEE: 19/34 (55.9%), 158 yards (4.6 average), 0 TD, 0 INT, 68.0 passer rating ... 1 run, 5 rushing yards
IAN BOOK: 11/15 (73.3%), 80 yards (5.7 average), 0 TD, 0 INT, 85.4 passer rating ... 1 run, 7 rushing yards
• Mariota only threw two passes. His incompletion should’ve been ruled pass interference on the Colts. His sole completion was a good ball while on the move.
• McKee was better than his numbers indicate. One must consider he was largely leading a third-string unit against the Colts’ starters. He also had to deal with multiple drops, including a potential touchdown that wasn’t caught. Evaluating him against reasonable expectation, this was a positive night for McKee’s development. The arrow is pointing up on the sixth-round rookie. He has not yet overtaken Mariota as QB2 but that could change down the road.
• Book looked better than he did in his last preseason outing, which isn’t saying much. Even so, it’s too little, too late for him.
• Eli Ricks got banged up late in the first quarter but quickly returned to the game.
PRESEASON IS OVER!
The Eagles have off this weekend but roster cuts are right around the corner. NFL teams must trim down from 90 to 53 players before 4:00 PM Eastern on Tuesday, August 29.
As always, stay tuned to BGN for complete coverage.