Game Recap: Eagles 14, Panthers 9

The first team offense shines, picking the Panthers defense apart. The defense still has a long way to go.

RB LeSean McCoy waltzing into the end zone

RB LeSean McCoy waltzing into the end zone

Chip Kelly’s offense continues to impress. Nick Foles completed his first six passes. Michael Vick completed his first nine. The first team offense marched right down the field on all four of its first half possessions. While Vick and Foles both led touchdown drives, Foles tossed a costly interception in the end zone and RB Chris Polk lost a fumble in Panthers territory. Turnovers cannot be acceptable in Philadelphia anymore.

Defensively, the Eagles woke up from the nightmare against New England, but nobody will mistake them for the 2000 Ravens. The defense doesn’t have enough good players, and it certainly doesn’t have any great ones. The tackling was better – but not perfect – and the pressure on Cam Newton was enough to rush him at times, but the coverage on the back end is embarrassingly leaky. Give the defense credit, though; the Eagles managed to keep Carolina out of the end zone entirely.

Here are the individual notes:

  • QB Nick Foles clearly has a good grasp of the offense. He moves the ball up and down the field and completes a high percentage of his throws. He is willing to take off and run if there is a play to be made with his feet. He looks much more comfortable than he did as a rookie, although he still can appear antsy in the pocket and has a bad habit of throwing off his back foot. He is hanging in the quarterback competition and looks like a competent starter in the league. His one notable blemish was his red zone interception. On a broken play, he tried to throw the ball out the back of the end zone, but did not throw the ball high enough and was picked off.
  • QB Michael Vick had an interception in the box score, but it came on a Hail Mary as time expired in the first half. Otherwise, he was flawless. He was 9-for-9. He challenged the defense down the field, made plays with his feet, and showed poise in the pocket. He remains the leader in the quarterback competition because of his composure, arm talent, and explosive athleticism. It often took him less than 15 seconds to run a play, and he truly looks like a different player than the Michael Vick of 2011 and 2012.
  • RB LeSean McCoy flashed some special ability out of the backfield. He made some dazzling cuts and could have some monster games in Chip Kelly’s wide open system. He didn’t miss OT Jason Peters’ presence in the slightest as he ran for 47 yards and a score on only 8 carries.
  • I thought that WR Jason Avant might get fazed out of the offense after Chip Kelly was hired. On the contrary, he has emerged as Nick Foles’s favorite target and is a good fit in a passing game that has retained west coast elements.
  • While Foles has great chemistry with Avant, Michael Vick’s favorite target is WR DeSean Jackson.
  • WR Damaris Johnson continues to make plays in the return game, breaking off an 18-yard punt return and a 30-yard kickoff return.
  • TE Zach Ertz made a really nice catch going to the ground. He should outperform Brent Celek and James Casey on the stat sheets.
  • OT Lane Johnson gave up a sack, but was otherwise solid.
  • OG Todd Herremans drew an unfortunate holding call. Looked like a nasty pancake block to me, but he has had trouble getting going this preseason.
  • C Jason Kelce has had the occasional issue with shotgun snaps, mostly with Nick Foles. The issue could be with Foles, but regardless, they two would be wise to spend extra time solidifying their connection.
  • The offensive line as a whole has been rock solid in both pass protection and the run game. When Jason Peters returns at left tackle, the unit could become elite.
  • DE Fletcher Cox generates good pass rush, but is still showing inconsistency against the run. The Eagles still aren’t as stout as they want to be up front.
  • DE Vinny Curry pretty much locked up a roster spot if he hadn’t already. He’s a terror in passing situations rushing as a 3-technique. He’s simply too quick for guards to hands.
  • DL Bennie Logan has impressed with his hustle and strength at the point of attack. He should be able to earn some snaps with the first team into the regular season.
  • S Patrick Chung might be the team’s best tackler. He flies to the ball and brings the wood. He’s the one player on the back end that opponents might be a little scared of.
  • Overall, the team’s pass coverage is terrible. Billy Davis likes to sit back in soft zone coverages, likely to keep his defensive backs out of one-on-one situations, but the execution isn’t there. Outside of CBs Brandon Boykin and Eddie Whitley, who were sticky in man coverage, no Eagles are striking fear into the hearts of opposing quarterbacks. Starting corners Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher have been shredded so far, which is a troubling sign for the defense.
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