It’s not a Vince Lombardi Trophy yet, but the Philadelphia Eagles have won the 2012 pre-season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and that’s something.
The game actually had a surprising amount of suspense for something that won’t matter one way or the other, as Philly ended up winning on a late field goal by Alex Henery, knocking the final score to 24-23. Despite seeing very limited playing time from the starters, this game actually revealed quite a bit about this 2012 Eagles squad. Here are some quick thoughts from the game:
Mike Vick’s Thumb Update
For those who watched the game, Michael Vick hurt himself with in minutes of the start of the game. On a throw, he released a pass and his hand continued forward and hit the back of Jason Kelce’s helmet. After Vick’s hand made contact, he instantly began holding his left-thumb in pain. Luckily, it’s nothing serious. Vick went into the locker room at halftime and x-rays came back negative, leading one to believe that is nothing more than a bruise.
Philly’s Running Backs are Good
We didn’t see much of LeSean McCoy — but we already know how good he is — but the other running backs on the roster were all impressive. Dion Lewis looked sharp and showed flashes of being a baby-Shady, Bryce Brown (the biggest wildcard on the team) showed some serious moves and had excellent hustle and Chris Polk was Chris Polk and grinded for those tough yards. Overall, a very impressive opening showing on the ground, and I fully expect it to only get better.
In terms of who will make the team, Lewis is sure-fire and if Brown keeps it up, he could find a spot too. I love Polk, and his play was excellent, but if anyone is going to be left out in the cold, it’s going to be him.
The Defense Still Needs Work
Again, we saw an incredibly limited sample of the first-team defense before the starters took the rest of the day off. However, the Steelers’ offense was hustling and moving the ball. This was more true with the second and third team, and the depth at linebacker and safety are suspect at best. I have confidence that this starting unit will work out most of the flaws before the start of the regular season, but there were a few plays that brought back some no-so-fond memories of last season.
Best Defensive Line in Football?
Trent Cole and Jason Babin didn’t even play, and the Eagles still racked-up seven sacks (?!). Brandon Graham, someone who I pegged as a bust, is playing like a machine. Vinny Curry is a monster. And Derek Landri is still as good as ever. This defensive line has to be the best in football, especially when Cole and Babin are plugged-in next to Cullen Jenkins and Fletcher Cox. And as noted above, the depth is insane. This defensive line will be wrecking offenses all year.
Nick Foles Can Play
I had doubts. I didn’t like the selection. But Nick Foles looked good. Damn good. His performance was dead-on and he displayed some impressive deep throws and made excellent reads. This kid can play, and although he is still raw, I see glimpses of him being the long-term future in Philadelphia. Andy Reid works magic on quarterbacks, and I don’t expect Foles to be any kind of exception. I’m excited to see what else he can do in the next few pre-season games, and if he can stay consistent.
As I mentioned above, the Eagles have stunning depth at running back and on the defensive line. However, this tune remains the same for wide receivers, cornerbacks and about any skill position on the field. Philadelphia is young, talented and as Vick stated earlier this year, poised to go on a dynasty-esque run. This team has the pieces, and Philly should be set for the next five-years, and likely even beyond that.
Red Zone Score
The Eagles effectively scored in the red zone, on a fourth down conversion. I know. It’s a miracle. Enough said.
Play Calling is Much Improved
There’s not really much else to say other than the fact that Reid and Co. did an excellent job with play calling in this game. There were few mistakes, and when there were, the team rebounded. This is the sort of win, albeit a pre-season win, that Philadelphia would have lost last year. I was really impressed all the way around, and my hope is that this carries directly into the regular season.
Damarius Johnson, Steal Alert?
This undrafted free agent from Tulsa is doing big things. Like DeSean Jackson caliber big things. He’s small and compact, but quick as a bullet. Of all the players on offense, this kid impressed me the most. I expect him to make the roster, and excel in the Eagles’ offense.
It’s Still Early
It’s easy to get excited. Philly won their first game, and the team looked good closing it out. That’s something to be proud of. However, we don’t want to fall into the same trap as last season. Keep it cool, and let’s see how things shake out in the remainder of the pre-season, and then we can make an assessment. Don’t jump the gun.
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