The Eagles started the preseason with a pair of games in which they gave up exorbitant amounts of points, but their past two games have been excellent defensively and have accomplished exactly what they were looking for: improvement. This shellacking of the local Jets was not exactly necessary, but it sure did prove a point. The Eagles have a ton of depth across the board. It’s going to be a very tough decision to cut the roster down to 53, but having too much depth is a better problem than not enough, which is what the Jets seem to be dealing with.
Matt Barkley made the start at QB and actually looked kind of good. That’s about the closest I’m going to get to complimenting Barkley. He was a little shaky in the first part of the game, but finished strong and led the offense to an insane 568 total yards. I never thought it’d be possible to accumulate that many yards in a preseason game with all backups. Barkley went 21/33 for 253 yards, a passing TD, an INT, and a 7 yard rushing TD in the fourth quarter. Granted, this whole game was against the sub-par depth players of the Jets, but at least it means he can play well against somebody. G.J. Kinne came in for a bit at the end and finished 3/3 for 39 yards and a passing TD. What more could you ask for? I don’t think any team has better QB depth than the Eagles.
In no way was Barkley the main reason they won this game though: it was the running game. The Eagles rushed for an astounding 276 yards last night led by Henry Josey, who’s fighting for that third RB slot on the roster. Josey carried the ball 22 times for 121 yards, a very solid 5.5 yards per carry. Matthew Tucker and Kenjon Barner got a lot less work in this game, suggesting that maybe they won’t be around on the main roster come week one. Tucker had 6 carries for 39 yards and Barner had 5 carries for 21 yards. Even Damaris Johnson was looking good at RB, including an impressive 46 yard bolt to the end zone. He’s got some serious speed and is probably my vote for most improved player from the beginning of the preseason to the end. The team finished with 44 carries and 6.3 YPC. I can’t wait to see what they can do with LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles in the mix too.
On the receiving end, Jeff Maehl led the team in yards after grabbing four catches for 84 yards (on only four targets as well). Arrelious Benn probably looked the most impressive among the WRs in this game, which was highlighted by a nice 43 yard TD catch to open the scoring in the 4th quarter. Other guys like Trey Burton, Quron Pratt, and Will Murphy contributed as well. Burton led the team in receptions for 6 for 45 yards and a TD. Ifeanyi Momah only had one catch for 12 yards and looks to be the most obvious cut at WR, even though he got first team reps in the preseason opener. I still think Benn is the guy for that 6th WR slot, although they could keep Damaris Johnson as well and cut Brad Smith, who didn’t play. It will be interesting to see what they do.
Defensively, the Eagles looked great for the second week in a row, giving up just 7 points. They finished the preseason giving up an average of 26 PPG, which certainly isn’t good, but they improved greatly in the last two weeks by only giving up an average of 14 PPG. But I expect the Eagles to score a ton of points and give up a lot this season…it’s just the way their team is. Even though they gave up an average of 26 PPG, they scored an average of almost 33 PPG. Scoring a touchdown more on average than your opponent will equate to wins.
In this game though, there wasn’t much defensively to talk about, which in this case was a good thing. That means they didn’t have any bad plays or overly bad players. Even Curtis Marsh had a really nice pass defensed late in the game. One thing I thought they did much better with this game was their pass rush. They only got two official sacks (Travis Long and Bryan Braman), but they had multiple other times when they had the QB scrambling and forced him to make a bad play. Taylor Hart and Casey Matthews, both Oregon products, led the team in tackles with five each. Hart also added a TFL. It was upsetting to see guys like Vinny Curry and Brandon Graham play in this game and still not get a lot of reps. These are guys that should already be locks for this team, but if you’re going to play them in the final game, at least give them some time. Both of them are solid depth players.
The biggest story of the night though is the likely reigning of a new starting kicker, Cody Parkey. After Alex Henery had another bad miss last week, Parkey started in front of him, nailing not one, not two, but three FGs in this game. The most impressive part was that two of them were from 50+ yards (53 and 54)! He couldn’t miss! After every kick, Henery probably sunk even deeper into despair as he watched him lose his job. They threw Henery a bone and let him kick a couple extra points towards the end of the game, but it felt like he was the backup coming in to relieve Parkey, not the other way around. It has already been decided that Philadelphia will riot if Parkey is cut.
So the Eagles finished 2-2 this preseason. I honestly could not care less, although it was nice to see their two wins coming at home and in the last two games, showing that they’re improving. Next comes the trimming of their roster to 53 guys, something that will be very tough to do. Either way, things are looking good for Philly.