Post Game Snapshot – Eagles vs Steelers

GAME STATS

PASSING YARDS – PHI 207 PITT 157

RUSHING YARDS – PHI 91 PITT 50

TIME OF POSSESSION – PHI 30:29 PITT 29:31

TURNOVERS LOST – PHI 1 PITT 4

3RD DOWN PERCENTAGE – PHI 52.9% PITT 46.7%

We finally saw a little bit of flash from Nelson Agholor and this WR core:

This WR core has been much maligned throughout training camp, and rightfully so.  Thursday was a step in the right direction.  Agholor in particular flashed and jumped off the screen.  We saw the kind of talent that made him a 1st round selection.  He only finished with 2 catches for 30 yards but it was more than that.  I knew his attitude was different on the first series of the game.  Last week he made a poor effort during WR screen where he was assigned to block.  This week he held the block and allowed Josh Huff to gain 6-8 yards.  I know it’s not much but it’s a start.  Lets see next week if he can build off of this.  Paul Turner deserves to make this team and Josh Huff does not.  He’s been the most consistent WR during camp and only added to his resume with a highlight real 1 handed catch Thursday.

This offense has lacked explosiveness:

It’s no secret the game plan has been vanilla during the 1st 2 games and will continue to be so during the rest of the preseason.  The Eagles really struggled moving the ball downfield.   This is a trend that will most likely continue into the regular season.  The addition of DGB will only help but he needs to get up to speed with the verbiage of the west coast offense.  Until this happens the offense will be tested.  I expect a lot of 8 and 9 man fronts until these skill players can prove they can get open.

Kenjon Barner continues to impress:

Kenjon Barner brought his A game this camp and preseason.  This dude is balling out and deserves all the praise coming his way.  He’s making an impact in the run and pass game as well as special teams by returning punts.  He’s proving to be very valuable to Doug Pederson and the Eagles.  It’s clear he’s ahead of Wendell Smallwood on the depth chart and I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility Smallwood doesn’t make this team.  Ultimately I think he makes it but he needs to turn heads.  He’s shown nothing so far.  Being a 5th round he’s guaranteed nothing.  If/when Ryan Mathews gets hurt I have total confidence in Barner to step in and share the work load.  Question now becomes how many running backs will the Eagles keep.  At the start of camp I said 3. That number may have ballooned to 4.

Isaac Seumalo gets taste of 1st unit football:

The OL play on Thursday was much better than last week.  That includes all 3 units.  Isaac Seumalo got his first start a held his own to a degree.  He got beat inside once or twice and forced Sam Bradford off his spot.  The one thing Seumalo can’t do is get beat inside.  He will learn as he continues to play.  He had a few penalties but all in all I came away impressed.  He played much better than Wizniewski did last week and it’s clear he’s the leader in the club house for the starting LG spot.  The Steelers have an active DL line with twists and stunts so this was a good test.

The ups and downs of the Defensive Line:

I was not overly impressed by the starting defensive line on Thursday night, and their ability to generate pressure on Landry Jones. In order for the Eagles to be a successful defense this season they’ll need the front four to generate consistent pressure. I’m not concerned with Bennie Logan or Fletcher Cox, but the trio of ends will need to prove they can get the job done. Connor Barwin had a few nice plays while Brandon Graham was caught out of position on a few occasions. Steven Means flashed again as he created pressure off the edge forcing an errant throw which was intercepted by Jaylen Watkins. Means has a decided edge over Marcus Smith as it stands right now. Rookie free agent tackle, Destiny Vaeao, had a superb pass rush where he made great use of his hands to beat the guard right off the snap. Vaeao and Aziz Shittu also combined for another sack later in the game. During the telecast, Mike Mayock mentioned Fletcher Cox was most excited about Vaeao in terms of players on the defensive line. That’s always nice to hear from arguably the best player on the team. Vaeao and Means improved their stock on Thursday with Means almost certainly a lock to make the roster at this point barring injury.

LB injury tests depth:

The unfortunate news from Thursday came when rookie linebacker, Joe Walker, left with a knee injury in the first half. It’s now being reported by several media outlets that the Eagles fear Walker tore his ACL and will be lost for the season. The 7th round pick from Oregon was turning heads during camp, and had a nice performance against the Bucs as well. The potential season-ending injury is magnified by the position Walker plays, and the lack of depth there. Veteran linebacker, Stephen Tulloch, was previously linked to the Eagles and those talks might resume following the injury to Walker. Deontae Skinner didn’t show much on Thursday again, but he might need to be kept based on Mychal Kendricks constantly battling injuries. Local Villanova product, Don Cherry, made the most of his opportunity with increased reps while Walker was out. Cherry had a few nice open field tackles, including one on special teams, and possesses many of the same characteristics as Walker does. At the very least, Cherry will be a practice squad player that the coaches can work with and develop throughout the season.

Carroll is clearly the top corner in camp:

Nolan Carroll was one of the players we mentioned during our questions leading into the Steelers game. He resoundingly answered the question as to whether or not he would solidify himself as the other starting corner. Carroll jumped a curl route ran by Steelers receiver, Sammie Coates, and picked off Landry Jones for six the other way. He mentioned during his sideline interview with Dave Spadaro he picked up the way Coates aligned during film study, and that was a key to how he read the play correctly. That’s the type of commitment which will build this secondary. Carroll also showed great deep cover skills on two sideline attempts to Coates where he used the boundary as another defender. Aaron Grymes left with a shoulder injury, but had an incredible interception in the end zone during the first half. Grymes basically ran the route for Coates then made a tremendous catch in the back of the endzone to halt the Steelers drive. Hopefully Grymes can shake off the shoulder injury and play in the Colts game next Saturday. Elsewhere, Eric Rowe looked solid in coverage not getting burned on any deep balls. Second year corner, Denzel Rice, struggled all night on special teams as Mike Mayock pointed out consistently getting shoved out of bounds as a gunner. Rice is a longshot to make the team at this point especially if he can’t contribute on special teams.

Depth at the safety position:

Jaylen Watkins had another solid performance to fortify his role as the third safety on the depth chart. Watkins was aggressive coming up to make tackles in the run game which he did last week as well. I said this previously his confidence just appears to be much higher than at any point in the past when he was playing corner under Billy Davis. Blake Countess surprisingly received more snaps at safety than Ed Reynolds. I rarely saw Reynolds on the field including special teams which is not a good sign for him. Countess didn’t look great on special teams as a gunner which is where he would be asked to contribute primarily. Watkins and Chris Maragos are likely going to be the other two safeties carried on this roster.

Offense written by Ryan/Defense written by Brian

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Photo Credit – Philadelphia Eagles

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