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Despite Win, Eagles Offense Struggles in Home Preseason Opener

Tonight was just not a good night for Donovan McNabb and company. The offense came out looking sharp on their opening drive, then something happened. They stalled and were forced to punt, and that was the theme from that point on. The game was delayed for 58 minutes due to lightning, after that first drive. McNabb forgot he was one of the best quarterbacks in the game while he was in the locker room.

McNabb went 11 for 24 and 98 yards. He was inconsistent all night. He looked good at times, and at others, just fell flat. He did show his burst again, as he ran towards a first down at one point. He had the first down with his legs; or at least he would have had he not thrown the ball for a 14 yard gain that was negated because he was past the line of scrimmage. I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt and guessing that the delay just put the starters in the mindset of “who cares.”

Special teams was horrible as well. Lorenzo Booker can not be our kick returner. They better figure out who is before September 7th. Booker muffed two kick offs tonight. Add in the one from last week, and you are looking at a bad situation. My vote is for Quintin Demps. Desean Jackson looked better. He had a big return, but then fumbled the ball. Luckily it was picked up by tight end Matt Schobel. David Akers missed a 43-yard field goal.

If he keeps missing attempts from 40+ yards, then I hate to say it, but its time for a new kicker. The biggest blunder of the night also goes to the field goal unit. The Eagles tried a field goal fake, where holder/punter Sav Rocca, took the snap and then pitched it to tight end Brent Celek. The only problem was that Panthers’ cornerback Richard Marshall jumped in front of the ball, and ran 78 yards for a touchdown. That gave the Panthers a 10-0 lead, and it should leave special teams coordinator, Rory Segrest, looking for a new job. (Seriously, after last year, that guy needs to be fired.)

Defense was much better though. On their first drive, the Eagles just shut down Carolina’s offense. The run defense was outstanding. The pass defense was great too, and we got to see why we gave Samuel all that money, (like we don’t remember him intercepting Feeley last year and taking it back for a touchdown) as he threw his hand in front of a pass to break it up. We also got to see Lito Sheppard pick off a tipped pass from Jake Delhomme, for the Eagles first turnover of the preseason. Quintin Mikell was all over the field, and Brian Dawkins looked great. His biggest play came in the end zone, where he hit Panthers’ wide receiver, Muhsin Muhammad, to force an incompletion. It was originally called a touchdown, but Reid had time to review the play, because Muhammad couldn’t get up after the Dawkins hit.

Our second team offense looked much better though. Kolb started off slow, throwing an interception in the third quarter, but picked up after that. He hit Greg Lewis in the end zone for a touchdown at the beginning of the fourth quarter. On the Panthers’ next drive, linebacker Andy Studebaker stripped the running back of the ball, and the Eagles recovered. The Eagles settled for a field goal, and cut the Panthers lead to13-10.

On the Eagles next drive, Tony Hunt made a spectacular play, taking the hand-off and running 51 yards for a touchdown, giving the Eagles a 17-13 lead. They never looked back after that. Our defense looked pathetic on the Panthers next drive, as they took the ball all the way down to the Eagles’ 18 yard line. On 3rd and 3, Quintin Demps came off the right side on a safety blitz, and tipped Carolina quarterback, Matt Moore’s pass, where linebacker, Justin Roland caught the tipped ball and raced 74 yards for the game sealing touchdown.

I guess we can take some positives out of this. Desean Jackson looked great again, as he hauled in 7 passes for 71 yards, and rookie safety Quinitin Demps looked great, and should be able to get some playing time this season. Both of these rookies are going to be playmakers. Trevor Laws looked good again tonight, as he was able to shed his blocks and get through the o-line.

The big question: Where is our offense? Last week the Eagles starting offense stalled in the red zone on its first drive. Tonight, they couldn’t even get to the red zone. Reggie Brown left the game, before it really even started, with a hamstring injury, and none of the other receivers really stepped up. Kevin Curtis looked bad as he dropped two “give-me” passes. You sure can’t credit Carolina’s defense.

They looked terrible, and seeing as we have their first round pick, here’s hoping they only get worse. If I had to make a judgment based on this game though, I would have to say our first round pick is going to be a higher choice than theirs. God I hope I’m wrong. Here’s hoping this team gets its act together, or it is going to be a really long, long season.

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