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August 22, 2019

First half observations: Ravens 26, Eagles 0

It was a half to forget for the Eagles, who were unable to get anything going on offense and were shut out by the Ravens through the first 30 minutes of their penultimate preseason game. And it wasn't much better for the defense, who allowed 26 points to Baltimore. 

There was again no Carson Wentz for the Eagles, but we did get a look at some players we hadn't seen yet this preseason. Needless to say, that wasn't enough for the Birds, who entered the half down 26-0. 

As always, here's a look at the good, bad and ugly from the first half of Eagles vs. Ravens...


•  Several Eagles starters made their preseason debuts against the Ravens, including Zach Ertz, Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson. Lane Johnson and Brandon Brooks remained sidelined, but Jason Peters made his first appearance, as well as Corey Clement, who hasn't played since injuring his knee last season but got the start at running back with Jordan Howard getting the night off.

Unfortunately, with the exception of Clement, who finished with seven carries for 25 yards, none of those guts really made a huge impact in the game. Ertz finished with one catch for 13 yards, while Nelson Agholor finished with just one catch for three yards. DeSean Jackson was targeted once, but didn't have a chance at making a catch. He did, however, get flagged for a false start in the first quarter. 

That, however, might've been a different story if Carson Wentz was starting with them, but after seeing Cam Newton go down in the Panthers preseason game, it's obvious why the Eagles are keeping him sidelined.

•  Also returning from injury was safety Rodney McLeod, who tore his MCL last season. He got the start across from Malcolm Jenkins, and just seeing him suit up, regardless of how he played was a great sign for the Eagles defense heading into the regular season. 

•  After the Eagles offense gave the Ravens great field position for their first drive, the defense stepped up. After surrendering a first down to Trace McSorley, who got the start in place of Lamar Jackson, and the Baltimore offense, Brandon Graham snuffed out a jet sweep with a one-armed tackle for a four-yard loss. 

That put the Ravens way behind the sticks and forced them to settle for a 49-yard Justin Tucker field goal.

•  On the second defensive series, the Eagles picked up right where they left off. After a nice tackle for loss from L.J. Fort on first down, Jim Schwartz's unit forced a three-and-out from the Baltimore offense, who were pinned deep in their own territory thanks to a holding penalty on a nice punt by Cam Johnston. 

•  The first-team offensive line looked really good. With their most in-tact starting unit of the preseason, they looked incredibly powerful, even without a pair of Pro Bowlers on the right side in Brooks and Johnson. They were creating holes for Clement to burst through, and reminding us why they're going to be a nightmare for the opposition this season.

•  Late in the first quarter, Rodney McLeod tackled McSorley for a loss on second and long. He locked great out there considering he's coming back from knee surgery. Just a few plays earlier, McLeod prevented a tackle when he chased down Ravens rookie Miles Boykin, who had nothing but green grass between him and the end zone (more on that play later). The Ravens again had to settle for a field goal from Tucker.

•  Overall, the first-team defense played very well, with a couple of tackles for loss and a sack in one quarter of action. They held Baltimore to just six points, three of which were gifted to the Ravens when Pederson opted to go for it on fourth down from the Eagles' side of the field. 

•  Rookie J.J. Arcega-Whiteside had a solid showing for Eagles, finding a rapport with Josh McCown in the second quarter. JJAW finished the first half with four receptions for 39 yards on five targets.

•  McCown didn't have the best showing early, but given that he just joined the team earlier in the week, it's hard to say much was expected from him. In fact, him simply playing was a step in the right direction considering he was retired this time last week.

McCown started 2-of-5 for just nine yards, but finished 8-of-11 for 70 yards in the half and actually looked better and better as the game went on. That's definitely a good sign for the Eagles. Some of his best looks came on the Eagles final drive before the half, and included this this throw to Greg Ward, which was followed by another first-down pass to Carlton Agudosi. 

He looked poised to lead a scoring drive before before back-to-back false start penalties backed the Birds up and forced them to settle for a field goal attempt that Jake Elliot pushed wide left, leaving the Eagles scoreless through the first 30 minutes.

MORE: Eagles stock up/stock down at the conclusion of training camp


•  Despite all those starters seeing their first action of the preseason, the first-team offense didn't look great behind Cody Kessler, who got the start in place of Carson Wentz. After picking up one first down on the opening series behind two nice runs from Clement, the offense, hindered by a false start on DeSean Jackson, stalled before reaching midfield.  Pederson tried going for it on 4th and 4, but Kessler was sacked, giving the Ravens the ball inside the Eagles' 40 for their first possession of the game. 

I think it's safe to say that Pederson wouldn't be making that call if it was the regular season — or, at least the results would've been better if it was Wentz and not Kessler with the ball in his hands. The backup quarterback, like he did last week on the play that knocked him out of the game, simply held the ball too long when he should've gotten rid of it.

•  Overall, this was not the game Cody Kessler was hoping for as he tries to earn a spot on the Eagles roster. He lasted just two series (most of the first quarter) and finished 3-of-5 for 38 yards with a fumble. Josh McCown followed, and presumably some of the reason Kessler's night was so short was that Pederson wanted to get a look at the Eagles' newly-signed quarterback playing with the first-team offense. 

•  Rasul Douglas got turned around in zone coverage on Miles Boykin and then collided with Malcolm Jenkins, allowing Boykin to break free for a 44-yard gain to open the Ravens' third offensive drive.

That's not what you want to see out of your starting secondary, especially against Baltimore's backup quarterback, but the silver lining here is that McLeod closed nicely on Boykin to prevent a touchdown. Overall, however, the first-team defense looked very good again on Thursday night. 

•  The second-team defense didn't get off to a great start after taking over in the second quarter. After a personal foul penalty on the punt allowed the Ravens to start at the Eagles' 35-yard line, the Birds' second unit allowed the Ravens to march down the remainder of the field, including a 25-yard reception by Mark Andrews that saw the Baltimore tight end carrying a few Eagles on his back. 

McSorley capped off that drive with a four-yard touchdown run to increase the Ravens' first-half lead. 

•  Their next drive didn't go much better, as McSorley again led the Ravens offense down the field, this time using his arm to get the ball in the end zone with a beautiful touch pass to Michael Floyd, who beat Jeremiah McKinnon for a 28-yard touchdown. On that drive alone, Floyd had three catches for 54 yards. 

•  The Ravens finished off the first half with a 10-play, 69-yard touchdown drive, capped off by a seven-yard touchdown pass from McSorley to Jaleel Scott.


•  Whatever the hell this is...

That ultimately led to a 4th and 17 for the Eagles on their second possession. They punted.

•  Dave Fipp can not be happy after that first half. It seemed like there was special teams penalty on nearly every play, and one of them proved to be costly as it led to the Ravens first touchdown of the night. In fact, there were penalties all over the place. The two teams combined for 17 penalties for 143 yards, including 12 for 90 by the Eagles. In a half.

But, hey, that's the preseason!

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