Chip Kelly said prior to the Eagles third preseason game against the Jaguars,”That while he couldn’t say the third pre-season game was the Superbowl, it kind of was.”
Essentially, Kelly was stressing the importance of the third pre-season game, which is typically where the starters see the most time of the pre-season, before playing little to not at all in the fourth game.
With the quarterback battle over, the third game of the preseason might not have featured the same intrigue as the first two pre-season games, but the Eagles were getting their first glimpse of Jason Peters in game action since his All-Pro season in 2011. Peters missed the entire 2012 season after rupturing his Achilles twice, but the Eagles hoped that tonight would be the start of Peters return to being an All-Pro tackle and solidifying the Eagles offensive line.
After a defensive improvement in Week two, the Eagles defense failed to carry over any momentum in the first series of Week three. Chad Henne, who has already been named the Jaguars backup quarterback, carved up the Eagles defense on the first series, including three completed passes to second-year receiver Justin Blackmon. Blackmon capped off the drive with a 17-yard touchdown reception, that reminded us how much of a work in progress this new Eagles 3-4 defense under Billy Davis is going to be.
One of the glaring holes on the Eagles rough first defensive drive was at the safety position, as Nate Allen got taken to school by Justin Blackmon. Allen, who is competing for a roster spot, was benched after the first drive, and NJ.com’s Jordan Raanan explained exactly what led to the benching of Allen.
Earl Wolff getting shot now. I followed Nate Allen every play on 1st drive. Total non-factor, even on plays to his side. Not physical at all
— Jordan Raanan (@JordanRaanan) August 25, 2013
The Eagles would improve in pass coverage the rest of the first-half, but Wolff took a terrible angle at Jaguars running-back Jordan Toddman that allowed him to turn a big gain into a 63 yard touchdown run.
After we saw just how fast-paced and exciting the Eagles offense could be the first two pre-season games, we got a different taste of Kelly’s offense tonight. We learned that Kelly’s offense is going to very momentum-based, meaning that the Eagles need to have good protection and complete open passes, to be able to run the offense at the lightning-fast pace that Chip Kelly envisions.
We also learned that as good as Jason Peters is, and the Eagles offensive line could be on paper, continuity is very important for an offensive line. You would think that by adding in a former All-Pro the Eagles offense could only improve. While Jason Peters wasn’t horrendous, he certainly wasn’t at his best form, and the Eagles offensive line as a whole struggled mightily.
I think Peters looked good in run protection, but he didn’t look at 100 percent in pass protection situations. I think we would assume that as Peters gets more playing time, his pass protection will improve, but there is no doubt that it was a positive sign to see him do well in blocking for Bryce Brown and LeSean McCoy considering how much the Eagles plan on running the ball this season.
CSN Philly’s Derrick Gunn seemed to agree with me on Peters performance.
— Derrick Gunn (@TheRealDGunnCSN) August 25, 2013
Peters and the offensive line’s performance played a key role in how Michael Vick played tonight as well. Chip Kelly seemed to be very open to airing out the ball with his new starting-quarterback tonight, but bad pass protection led Vick to making some poor choices. Notice how I said led and not forced. While Vick had a bullet touchdown pass to Riley Cooper and was able to extend some plays with his legs, he threw an interception while he try to throw the ball in DeSean Jackson’s direction rather than just taking a sack. Vick needs to learn how to accept that a play is dead, and just move on. It isn’t like by throwing the ball up he is avoiding getting hit, because he still got hit. But, instead of keeping the ball and losing five yards, Vick turned it over.
Vick finished the night with the following stats.
Bryce Brown would fumble the ball just a few feet away from the end-zone and if you couple that with Vick’s interception and a fumble from Damaris Johnson, the Eagles weren’t exactly efficient tonight. Les Bowen summed up the thoughts of the Delaware Valley with this tweet.
Huge, senseless turnovers are what I’m taking away from this game.
— Les Bowen (@LesBowen) August 25, 2013
And for the most part, I take away those turnovers from today’s game, and the fact that this Eagles defense is going to be wildly inconsistent. I also don’t like the fact that when the Eagles offense wasn’t able to run the face-paced no huddle offense, Michael Vick reverted to his old sloppy form. But it is just pre-season, and in two weeks on Monday Night Football, we will get to see what Kelly really has in store.
As for the game, it was long and had way too much down-time for a pre-season game. Fortunately there is only one more pre-season game left. Nick Foles and Bryce Brown led a comeback that ended with the Eagles winning 31-24, but still the turnovers and big plays allowed by the defense are what should and will be talked about tomorrow.