The Eagles fell, 27-13, to the visiting Indianapolis Colts at Lincoln Financial Field on Thursday night to wrap up the preseason winless.
Marcus Mariota completed a pass and was pulled, while deep subs were looking for that last gasp to impress or generate good film for other teams that may be interested in them.
Though the 0-2-1 preseason record is meaningless, there were little glitches that the Eagles will need to address before the regular season begins. One glaring problem has been communication gaps on defense, none more blatant on Thursday night than in the blown coverage on Kenyan Drake’s third-quarter reception.
There was some good, mostly bad, and some touches of ugly in the Eagles’ 27-13 loss to the Colts.
Linebacker Tyreek Maddox-Williams’ fourth-quarter interception at the Eagles’ 11 thwarting a Colts’ drive on a first-and-10. The only stumble was Maddox-Williams’ getting caught by Colts’ back-up quarterback Sam Ehlinger, when he could have returned it for a pick-six.
It doesn’t get any better than Devon Allen’s 73-yard return with the opening kickoff. The two-time Olympian obviously has world-class speed, though in his time with the Eagles that has not always translated on to the field. This time, it did. Allen bobbled the ball at the goal line and took off at the 20, changing direction and outracing the Colts’ special teams to set up the Eagles’ only touchdown.
Marcus Mariota has been roughed up a bit during this preseason, and deservedly so. His passes have been inaccurate, his reads have been dubious, and the NFL veteran has looked more skittish in the pocket than rookie sixth-round draft pick Tanner McKee. But against the Colts’ threes and fours, Mariota did look solid on a third-and-nine play at the Colts’ 26. He escaped the pocket when he sensed danger, moved left and found Deon Cain down field for a 21-yard completion. Three plays later, Trey Sermon tried to make a case for himself to make the team by plunging into the end zone from a yard out. That was it for Mariota.
Linebacker Nicholas Morrow coming up and making the hit on Colts’ running back Deon Jackson on the Colts’ first drive for a two-yard loss on a third-and-22 at the Indianapolis eight. Morrow read draw and filled the hole nicely, which will be the type of linebacker play the Eagles will need from him this season. Just one question: If the Eagles were resting their significant players for a meaningless third preseason game, why was Morrow even on the field if they are looking at him as one of the defensive starters?
Kicker Jake Elliott looked great, making 59- and 52-yard field goals in the first half.
McKee had another strong showing, once again displaying his accuracy and ability to complete throws in tight windows. He completed 15 of 27 for 139 yards, averaging 5.1 yard a completion in the first half. He was sacked twice, one that was not his fault and a second time that was, when he was pulled down from behind.
The holding call on Brett Toth, who was playing left tackle, on Sermon’s 16-yard gain on a first-and-10 at the Eagles’ 38 on their first drive of the second half.
The Eagles three penalties for 15 yards in the first quarter and five flags for 35 yards in the half.
Safety Sydney Brown getting bowled over by the Colts’ Evan Hull at the Eagles’ three on the Colts’ third drive. Brown, who’s proven to be a reliable tackler so far at the NFL level, could have and should stopped Hull at the point of impact, but didn’t. Two plays later, Hull scored.
On the Colts’ fourth drive, Colts’ quarterback Anthony Richardson spinning away from linebacker Ben VanSumeren on a third-and-11 at the Eagles’ 28. VanSumeren should have had Richardson, and slipped off, which had as much to do with Richardson’s ability as it did VanSumeren’s inability to take him down. VanSumeren was later burned by tight end Will Mallory on a third-and-eight on the Colts’ second drive of the second half for 22 yards.
It apparently was not VanSumeren’s night. With just under 13:00 left to play, Drake pulled in a 14-yard pass on a third-and-13 at the Colts’ 39. VanSumeren was left in no-man’s land struggling to take Drake down. VanSumeren was flagged for an interference call in the fourth, but was declined when Jason Huntley still caught the ball with VanSumeren draped over him.
On the Eagles’ fifth drive, receiver Kennedy Brooks dropping a wide-open pass from McKee on a second-and-six at the Colts’ 34. It was not a great ball thrown by McKee, but very catchable and should have been caught for a touchdown. The ball was a little low and bounced off Brooks’ hands. It’s not the way to make an NFL team.
The Eagles’ first half defense, allowing rookie Richardson to lead the Colts to 17 points, scoring on three of the Colts’ first four drives.
Rookie cornerback Kelee Ringo getting beat inside for 12 yards on a second-and-eight at the Eagles’ 19 on the Colts’ first drive in the second half.
Defensive end Janarius Robinson needs to turn his No. 59 in (Seth Joyner’s former number) after allowing Ehlinger to escape his grasp on a third-and-two at the Colts’ 32. Ehlinger slipped free to complete a 34-yard pass, which set up an Indianapolis field goal with 1:59 left to play.
The busted coverage that led to Kenyan Drake’s third-quarter eight-yard touchdown pass from former Eagles’ back-up Gardner Minshew. It looked like linebacker Patrick Johnson was supposed to cover the Colts’ Pharaoh Brown inside on the play, while Kelee Ringo was supposed to slide out in the open flat to pick up Drake swinging out of the backfield. Instead, both Ringo and Johnson went with Brown in the end zone, leaving Drake open for the touchdown. The Eagles have had communication problems throughout the preseason. It is something that will have to be corrected quickly with the regular season approaching.
Deep sub defensive lineman Caleb Sanders getting blown off the ball on the Colts’ left side on Jackson’s three-yard score in the first quarter. Colts’ starting left tackle Bernhard Raimann made Sanders into a human turnstyle.
On the Eagles’ fourth drive, deep sub left guard Julian Good-Jones getting beat inside by McTelvin Agim for a seven-yard sack back at the Eagles’ three.
In the same series, McKee was sacked a second time for another seven-yard loss by Dayo Odeyingbo, who showed great energy in getting by Eagles’ veteran right tackle Dennis Kelly. Odeyingbo did not give up, and Kelly failed to push him out.
Receiver Joseph Ngata fumbling near the end of the half at the Colts’ 17, after he made a nine-yard catch on a first-and-10. No ball protection.
Ugly was anytime Ian Book had the ball in his hands.
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter based in the Philadelphia area who has written feature stories for SI.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com, MLB.com, Deadspin and The Philadelphia Daily News. In 2006, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for a special project piece for ESPN.com called “Love at First Beep.” He is most noted for his award-winning ESPN.com feature on high school wrestler A.J. Detwiler in February 2006, which appeared on SportsCenter. In 2015, he was elected president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.