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August 24, 2017

First half observations: Eagles 28, Dolphins 24

Eagles NFL

The first half of the Eagles' third preseason game was full of ups and downs – and didn't feature nearly as much Carson Wentz as was expected.

It did, however, feature some wildlife on the field.

Eventually, though, even he looked bored.

Ah, preseason football!

The Birds took at 28-24 lead into halftime, and here are some observations from the first 30 minutes of the game:

•  Vinny Curry and rookie Derek Barnett got the start at defensive end and wasted no time making their presence felt.

Curry sacked Jay Cutler and forced a fumble that was recovered by Fletcher Cox.

• Three plays later, Eagles fans got something they've been waiting all preseason to see: a 50 yard TD pass to Torrey Smith. Not only was it his first catch of the preseason, but also the first time he was targeted.

In fact, they've been waiting considerably longer than that... 

And in case you couldn't tell, it was a familiar face in coverage on that Smith TD:

I think we all know what Eleven has planned for after the game... 

•  Cornerback Ronald Darby made a big play on third and 8 on the following possession, forcing the Dolphins to punt.

But, overall, it wasn't his best night. (More on that in a minute)

•  The Eagles second drive didn’t go nearly as well as the first, with Wentz getting hit twice and taking a sack on third and long. That one’s on the offensive line however, as the Dolphins had three guys in Wentz’s face … and only rushed four – maybe only three.

Ok, on second viewing, Wendell Smallwood got BLOWN UP on this play, so some of the blame has to be put on him, even if he didn’t stand a chance against a much larger defensive lineman.

https://twitter.com/MiamiDolphins/status/900862358477692928

•  It wasn’t all bad on the Birds' second drive, however. Zach Ertz was making plays, with two of his catches coming on this possession.

The first was not only a great throw from Wentz, who put it where only Ertz could make a play on it, but was also a great grab by Ertz, who doesn’t get nearly enough credit for making plays like this.

And then there’s this one, that started with Wentz tripping and nearly dropping the ball and ended with a cross-field through to a wide open Ertz in space.

YAC!

•  Turns out Ronald Darby isn’t perfect, but at least on this play – a perfect pass from Jay Cutler to DeVantae Parker – his biggest mistake was being too short.

I mean, he was right there the whole time and just mistimed the jump.

Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi then ran it in for a two-yard score.

Unfortunately, this isn't the last time we'll talk about Darby... 

•  The Eagles’ third possession of the night was their shortest of the night – and also their worst to that point.

On the first play, Wentz’s pass was deflected by Williams Hayes and intercepted by Jordan Phillips. At first, it looked like he had run it in for a touchdown, but was eventually ruled out. Also, what was Carson Wentz doing trying to tackle a defensive tackle?

No, Carson. No.

After a review, the ball would be spotted on the three-yard line. And, again, Ajayi took it in for the score.

•  If this is about the time you’re starting to panic about the offensive line, the Eagles fourth drive should calm your nerves. The Eagles went 90 yards on eight plays. The drive featured two catches by Alshon Jeffery, including a 15-yard touchdown grab, and the longest run of the preseason by LeGarrette Blount.

That would be the last time we'd see Carson Wentz and the first-team offense in this one. And with the way he was getting hit, it was probably the right move.

Wentz finished 6-of-10 for 129 yards, two TDs, an interception and a 104.2 passer rating.

•  The celebration didn't last long following Jeffery's first touchdown in an Eagles uniform. The following Dolphins' drive resulted in yet another touchdown for Miami – and was a bad series for Darby. On one play, he tried to jump a route to the inside and got burnt by Jarvis Landry to the outside. 

On another, the biggest play of the drive, Darby was called for pass interference on Kenny Stills in the end zone. It was a questionable call, but definitely not egregious.

It was different than the play to Parker on the Dolphins' first scoring drive, but the result was the same: first and goal from the Eagles' two-yard line – and a touchdown on the very next play. This time, Cutler connected with Julius Thomas for a two-yard score. It was also the last time we'd see Miami's first-team offense.

•  After a punt on Matt McGloin's first drive, his second drive ended on the first play on another interception by a defensive lineman.

•  The Dolphins returned the favor on the very next play, as Matt Moore threw an interception of his own to Jaylen Mills in the corner of the end zone. 

A few plays later, Corey Clement punched it in for his second TD in as many weeks.

•  Have a preseason, Mychal Kendricks. He picked up his third interception in as many games and returned this one for a touchdown.

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