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August 30, 2018

Final observations: Eagles 10, Jets 9

Eagles NFL
083018-GregWard-USAToday Bill Streicher/USA Today

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Greg Ward makes a catch against the New York Jets during the second quarter at Lincoln Financial Field.

We laughed, we cried, we all made it through to the other side. The Philadelphia Eagles have completed the preseason, and will begin the defense of their Super Bowl title a week from today. All is right in the world.

Now about that pesky game we all sat through in order to make it to the promised land.

The Good

• Christian Hackenberg was significantly better as a runner than as a passer on Thursday. Maybe he should convert to another position full-time, or do they only do that with... nevermind.

• Jake Elliott may still struggle with extra points, to the chagrin of Eagles fans everywhere, but boy can he make field goals from 50+ yards look effortless.

• Steven Means is probably relatively safe on roster cutdown day — at least as safe as you can be if you're playing during the second half of the fourth preseason game. But he's the sort of guy who is going to bring the same sort of effort and energy whether it's the fourth preseason game or the Super Bowl. 

His sack and strip early in the second half handed the ball to the Eagles' offense in enemy territory and is the exact sort of payoff his effort deserves. If he somehow doesn't make the roster, he won't remember the Jim Schwartz hug that followed as fondly.

• For a guy who looked (rightfully!) clueless in his first opportunity several weeks ago, Jordan Maliata sure looks like he has figured things out in a hurry. Yes, he was playing dreadful competition, and yes, there are still areas of his game that need to be cleaned up. It'll be a whole different ballgame if/when teams actively prepare for his strengths and weaknesses.

But people are buzzing about his improvement, and the physical talent is obvious. And while some praise has gone quite over the top this early...

...you can see what the Eagles like about this kid.

• Jeremy Reaves' performance in the fourth preseason game was pretty stellar, and even late into the fourth quarter he was showing off nice closeout speed in the process of breaking up passes. An unfortunate pass interference penalty also marred what was otherwise an excellent play on the ball earlier in the half.

He'll get a look with the practice squad.

• God bless Jake Elliott for making the extra point to give the Eagles the winning point, because overtime in the fourth preseason game would have been the most unnecessary nonsense ever.

• The Eagles did not go winless in the preseason. The time to panic is over.

• The preseason is over. Praise be to [insert your higher power of choice here].

The Bad

• RIP the Christian Hackenberg era in Philadelphia (2018-2018). He would struggle to hit water from a boat unless the ocean was playing prevent coverage.

• I take back what I said about Hackenberg as a runner since he fumbled it in the third quarter. Evidently, I did not learn my lesson about even thinking nice things about his performance. He was so bad that Joe Callahan actually came back in the game. Come on, man.

• At this point, we are all just waiting to find out who Philadelphia's starting quarterback will be in Week One. The signs seem to sugggest Nick Foles will be the guy, though the information will presumably remain private until the last possible moment according to Doug Pederson.

Foles has not looked great in the preseason, and it's less than ideal for the franchise quarterback to still be a medical doubt heading into the opening week. The only silver lining? The defense has looked good enough in the preseason to carry the offense for a few weeks as the quarterback(s) get their legs under them.

• Watching the fourth preseason game from start to finish. Anybody who joined me (and the rest of the media covering this game) in this feat of strength deserves a Purple Heart.

The Ugly

• LaRoy Reynolds had a bone-crunching tackle on the sideline late in the third quarter, and the jubilation he felt quickly turned into anguish when he got flagged for a penalty under the NFL's new helmet rule. In fact, the team's reaction on the field mirrored perfectly with Twitter, which is always fun.

The product of this new rule is pretty much this:

Not looking forward to this all season.

• A replay review on a catch with :40 left in the fourth preseason game is basically domestic terrorism. Having an elongated officials meeting with :11 left is absolutely domestic terrorism. These officials should be in jail.


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