After watching the first quarter of play, I felt miserable. The Eagles’ starters looked awful against the Steelers’ starters in every way possible. They scored no points at all in the first half, and starters DeSean Jackson, Michael Vick, and LeSean “Shady” McCoy were nowhere to be found. Yes, while it was clear that none of those players were supposed to play much, it felt like they didn’t play at all.
Now I know that they were without some of their best players last night such as Jeremy Maclin, Brent Celek, Jason Babin, and Trent Cole, they still need to show a better effort than that. I mean, they seemed in “lazy mode” for the whole first half after not producing much yardage at all. Vick went 3/4, 6 yards with no picks and no TDs, and Kafka went 5/9, 31 yards and an interception. Combined, those stats are not going to cut it if these are their top two guys. While Vick got hurt early and didn’t return, it was most likely also due to the fact that it was Kafka’s turn to play anyway. So he really has no excuse. And Kafka looked awful as usual, almost throwing a pick 6 on a screen pass. Yes, on a screen pass! He wasn’t even looking, and the 300 pound Al Woods, a defensive end nonetheless, took it over fifty yards down the field. And if you were still wondering, that’s not good.
McCoy and Jackson combined for a putrid 0 yards overall, which can’t happen ever in the regular season under any circumstances. These are supposed to be our two top offensive stars, and they don’t do anything. That for me was a real head-scratcher.
The Eagles did end up looking good overall on defense beyond their terrible effort to tackle Steelers Wide Receiver Chris Rainey, who took it more than halfway down the field for a touchdown. We also had six sacks, which is definitely something to stand out. And besides a 33 yard run from Jonathan Dwyer, the Eagles did really well stopping the Steelers to minimal rushing yards. Some guys that looked great on defense were DE Vinny Curry, DE Philip Hunt, and LB Mychal Kendricks.
Offensively, many of the backups stood out to me. RBs Bryce Brown and Dion Lewis both had respectable days running the ball, which was hard considering they only ran the ball 12 times on the night. WRs Mardy Gilyard and Jamel Hamler both also looked good. They both also had TDs on the night. And QB Trent Edwards, who I had been counting out for this whole offseason, put together a wonderful 2-minute offense to end the game and get the Eagles into FG range.
But this brings me to my three stars of the night, all who have not been mentioned thus far. The third star of the night goes to Alex Henery, who nailed an excellent 51-yard FG to win the game. Although he didn’t do much else, a game-winning FG is good enough in my mind to give him the nod as third star. The second star has to go to WR Damaris Johnson, who put together an excellent string of catches throughout the night and proved just how good he is. He definitely proved he deserved to win a roster spot with his 4 receptions for 85 yards and a TD. Plus, he returned a few punts including one that got called back because of a penalty.
The first star in my mind is definitely QB Nick Foles, who had a perfect game overall. He went 6/10, 144 yards and 2 TDs, plus wasn’t sacked at all. He gave the Eagles a much-needed spark in that game and looked as if he’d been doing that forever. But that was obviously his first NFL game since he’s a rookie. At six and a half feet, he towers over everyone out there. Well, maybe except T King Dunlap.
Overall, the starters didn’t do a thing and the backups did all the work, getting a victory over a high-caliber team. They sacked all three Pittsburgh QBs two times each and some new guys really stepped up. But, most of the guys that got the Eagles this win will probably not play in their matchup against the Steelers in the regular season, so I remain skeptical as to what this means for the team. But again, this is only the first preseason game, so anything can happen.