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August 11, 2016

Halftime observations: Eagles 14, Bucs 6

Eagles NFL

The Eagles kicked off their preseason schedule on Thursday night at The Linc, and for the most part, the first team has to feel pretty good about how it played. In a largely uneventful half after an action-packed first few minutes, we started to hear the "We Want Wentz!" chants from the crowd in the second quarter.

(They were just saying what everyone in the press box was thinking.)

We got Wentz for a drive, and the Eagles exited with a 14-6 lead. Here's what I saw from the first 24 minutes of Eagles football:

The good

• The special teams started things off with a bang. On the opening kickoff, Najee Goode stripped Bucs returner Kenny Bell, and Chris Maragos (who later added a huge hit in punt coverage) fell on the football. At that point, Dave Fipp's unit was pitching a perfect preseason.

• The first-team offense did exactly what you would hope with the excellent field position, as it only took three plays for them to punch it in. Ryan Mathews took two handoffs up the middle for 15 yards, including the touchdown. His night was done.

So was Sam Bradford's. His final stats: 1-1, 3 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT. Efficient, workhorse performance from the Eagles starting quarterback.

• The second era of Wide-9 football in Philly is off to a splendid start, as the first-team defense started off balling out against Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay first-team offense. On the first possession, the Bucs went three and out. On the second, Bennie Logan pressured Winston and forced a fumble that Fletcher Cox was able to fall on:

• Chase Daniel had a shaky first series, but like Bradford, he was able to convert with a short field, capping off the three-play drive with a scramble for a touchdown:

• Maragos also added an interception on a bad pass from Mike Glennon. The veteran special teamer had a fine half of football.

• Carson Wentz went 2-5 for 22 yards, but it was the finest 22 yards I have ever seen.

The bad

• Starting right guard Brandon Brooks suffered a right biceps injury and was forced back to the locker room. After missing a large chunk of time in training camp, that certainly isn't a great sign for the big (and I do mean "big") free-agent signing.

• That first-team defense (or most of it) struggled with screens on Tampa Bay's third drive, while backup safety Ed Reynolds took a very poor angle and whiffed on Russell Shepard's 26-yard touchdown reception.

• Rookie Jalen Mills, one of the stars of training camp, appeared to have some trouble in coverage on multiple occasions. On one play, he was beat clean by Mike Evans only to see Winston overthrow Evans. "The Green Goblin" later committed pass interference.

• Here is a look at Lincoln Financial Field during the coin toss. Plenty of good seats available! To be fair, they did fill out much more once the game started:


The ugly

• Josh Huff had a chance to extend a drive with a first-down catch, but he fumbled past the chains. Rueben Randle then had a chance to bail Huff out, but he illegally batted the ball out of bounds instead of simply catching it. Randle later had a bad drop on a third down.

• At the end of the first half, Chase Daniel finished 4-10 for 15 passing yards. He was also sacked four times for 19 yards.

• A good bit of that came with a backup line against the Bucs starting defense, but the Eagles also struggled to block the Tampa Bay backups with Daniel in the game. Dennis Kelly, who is projected to replace Lane Johnson (if Johnson is suspended), had trouble on a few plays at right tackle.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann

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