Game Recap: Eagles 22, Patriots 31

QB Michael Vick shines in two drives, but the Patriots rip the Eagles defense to shreds en route to a comfortable victory.

Chip Kelly’s offense looked sharp and included a sophisticated and effective passing game. QBs Michael Vick, Nick Foles, and Matt Barkley were all solid, but Vick stole the show with a 47-yard TD pass to DeSean Jackson. The Eagles didn’t show off any crazy wrinkles and huddled intermittently in their fast-paced offense.

While the offense showed some encouraging signs, the defense was simply terrible. The first team defense looked a lot like last year’s unit. The Eagles couldn’t tackle, hold the point of attack, or make plays on the football. The pass coverage was average at best, and while the pass rush got home several times, it was inconsistent.

Stock up

  • QB Michael Vick was fantastic in his first game under Chip Kelly. He was accurate, decisive, and comfortable in the pocket. Ironically, he was the only one of the Eagles’ top four quarterbacks not to attempt a rush. He delivered beautiful strikes to Jason Avant and DeSean Jackson for big gains, including the long touchdown to Jackson.
  • RB Bryce Brown was clearly the team’s best running back with LeSean McCoy sitting the preseason opener out. He showed considerably more burst than Chris Polk (who earned the start) and caught the ball naturally.
  • WR Jason Avant didn’t look like an aging veteran who could get pushed out of a job. He had a clearly defined role within the offense and is entrenched as one of the team’s top three receivers. It’s now clear that he’s a lock to make the roster.
  • TE Zach Ertz is well on his way to becoming the team’s top tight end. Brent Celek simply isn’t athletic enough to stretch the defense and Ertz is already playing more than James Casey with the first unit. He’s now the favorite to lead the team’s tight ends in terms of production.
  • C Jason Kelce had a beautiful seal block that sprung Bryce Brown on his touchdown run. He’s not showing any ill effects from last year’s devastating knee injury.
  • DE Vinny Curry was an absolute monster. Lining up as a 5 and 3-technique, he abused Patriots offensive linemen and got to the quarterback several times. I was sceptical that he would fit into Billy Davis’ 3-4 defense, but he showed tremendous explosion and hustle from his defensive end spot.
  • NT Isaac Sopoaga was one of the few bright spots on the first team defense. One one occasion, he took on a double team, shed both blocks without budging off the line of scrimmage, and made a tackle for no gain on third-and-short. He should be an effective run stuffer in base packages.
  • OLB Brandon Graham may not have mastered his new outside linebacker position, but he’s too good to rot on the bench. He is noticeably slimmer than he was last year and remains the team’s best pure pass rusher. He should be on the field in nickel and dime packages.
  • S Patrick Chung showed impressive athleticism and hitting ability from his safety spot. He was the team’s best defensive back against New England and has the versatility to drop into the box as an extra linebacker or nickel corner.

Neutral stock

  • QB Nick Foles showed impressive athletic ability on his drives, but never threatened the defense vertically with his arm. He lost a fumble early, but completed 5 of 6 passes and looked like a viable option for Chip Kelly.
  • QB Matt Barkley had a rocky start, but eventually settled in and completed his final 5 passes and marched the Eagles down the field for a touchdown. He’s clearly behind Vick and Foles in the quarterback competition, and rightfully so, but he remains an intriguing prospect.
  • DE Fletcher Cox was able to get a hit on Tom Brady, but was washed out of a running play that went for 62 yards. He has the potential to be the team’s best defensive player, but he must be consistently stout at the point of attack. It may be generous to list him here instead of under ‘stock down.’

Stock down

  • RB Chris Polk started at running back in LeSean McCoy’s absence, but showed nothing on his 4 carries. He’s not nearly the athlete that Bryce Brown is.
  • TE James Casey received very few reps with the first team. Instead of stepping into a slot receiver role, he ceded snaps to Jason Avant and Zach Ertz and played mostly with Matt Barkley and on special teams.
  • OG Todd Herremans was beaten badly once in pass protection and whiffed on a linebacker on a running play. Don’t overreact to a few mistakes from a proven veteran, but Herremans wasn’t sharp.
  • ILB Mychal Kendricks did not tackle well, and was flat out run over in one instance. He also gave up a touchdown pass, but had good coverage on the play. His speed is a serious asset, but he must be able to take on blocks and tackle as well.
  • S Nate Allen missed his customary handful of tackles. The Eagles have little choice but to keep him in the starting lineup given the dire state of the secondary.
  • CB Bradley Fletcher gave up a couple of catches and didn’t look particularly fast or active on the back end. The Eagles are counting on him to be the starter, so he must pick his play up.
  • CB Brandon Hughes was also picked on repeatedly. At this point in his career, it’s clear that he has no upside and is barely a backup level player. The Eagles should consider moving on from him.
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