August 10, 2017
The Eagles preseason schedule kicked off at Lambeau Field, as the Birds took on the Green Bay Packers Thursday night. And perhaps most importantly, Carson Wentz looked pretty sharp in what unsurprisingly amounted to a brief cameo for the Eagles starting quarterback.
The Eagles backups didn't fare quite as well as Wentz, and Green Bay leads 17-6 at halftime. Here's what we saw:
• With all due respect to Wentz, we have to highlight Dave Spadaro at the top. The Eagles sideline reporter said that Wentz would run a short bootleg pass to Jordan Matthews on the first series, and that is precisely what the Eagles did on the very first play. SPUDS!
• OK, let's get to Wentz. Outside of taking a sack on one play, the second-year QB showcased the type of precision we generally saw in training camp. Facing fairly consistent pressure — Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers was calling exotic blitzes that you would normally see in December, not August — Wentz looked very composed. This was entirely different from last season's preseason debut.
Wentz finished 4-4 for 56 yards, and on the Eagles' highlight of the night, he made Clay Matthews (who came free completely unblocked on a stunt) look silly on a 38-yard touchdown pass to Mack Hollins:
• Hollins deserves a lot of credit for that stiff arm, especially considering this came on his first professional drive. That said, let's describe the Packers' tackling on the play as "less than optimal." Jordan Matthews broke another tackle for a key first down earlier on the drive.
Here's a replay of that Mack Hollins catch and run, in case you missed it. pic.twitter.com/6cWaFom6Iv— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) August 11, 2017
• Fletcher Cox must not have been happy that the Eagles first-team defense had to take the field for a second series. So he forced a fumble on a running play and his night was over.
• I'm not sure I saw Derek Barnett do "The Move" like we expected, but he made a nice inside rush and sacked Brett Hundley in the second quarter. Then on the next play, veteran Chris Long pressured Hundley.
• Jalen Mills and Patrick Robinson... not too bad! The Eagles much maligned cornerbacks weren't out there all that long, but they held up pretty well in their debut.
• Playing deep into the first half, Mychal Kendricks made an excellent interception on a throw by Hundley over the middle.
• Nelson Agholor has been a major talking point all of training camp, but he dropped a catchable, if not particularly well-thrown pass from Wentz on a slant route when the Eagles went for a two-point conversion after their touchdown:
• The Eagles special teams gave up a long punt return touchdown, and Ron Brooks didn't give a particularly good effort as the first man down the field. That said, Chris Maragos was blocked in the back and Dave Fipp's special teams unit is probably the last thing that the Eagles should be worried about:
• Donnel Pumphrey didn't return kicks in college (as he did pretty much everything else for San Diego State). It sure looked like it in the first half, as Pumphrey muffed one punt and fielded in another one in some serious traffic. Pumphrey also fumbled on a running play, but the Eagles were able to recover.
• Caleb Sturgis has missed some kicks in practice, and he clanked a 46-yard attempt off the uprights right before the half.
• The Eagles offensive line struggled a lot, as we even saw on the touchdown pass. But as we mentioned earlier, the Packers were far from vanilla in terms of their defensive coverages.
And regardless of what the Packers ran, the Birds struggled like crazy to run the football. On 13 rushing attempts, the Eagles managed 20 yards. Pumphrey and LeGarrette Blount had defenders on them in the backfield all half.
• All fumbles are obviously bad, but Eagles tight ends had two particularly egregious turnovers. Trey Burton tried to run over a Packers defender holding the football like Walter Payton in the open field, and Billy Brown decided to fight for two extra yards when simply running out of bounds was the correct decision. That's not optimal.
• C.J. Smith had a poor series when the Packers offense scored their lone touchdown, and he was burnt pretty badly by Jeff Janis here:
Smith has been getting some first-team buzz in training camp, and this performance certainly didn't help his cause.
• Matt McGloin hasn't looked too impressive in training camp (well, according to Jimmy at least), and he threw a brutal interception that led to a Packers field goal.
Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann
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