Philadelphia Eagles vs. Indianapolis Colts Semi-Coherent Preview

Aug 16, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Bryan Bennett (7) avoids a sack from Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Bryan Braman (56) during the second half of a preseason NFL football game at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles won 36-10. Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 16, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Bryan Bennett (7) avoids a sack from Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Bryan Braman (56) during the second half of a preseason NFL football game at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles won 36-10. Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /

A preview of the Philadelphia Eagles vs. Indianapolis Colts preseason matchup

The Philadelphia Eagles are 2-0! Sure, it may only be preseason, but as I said to my Pittsburgh Steelers-loving co-worker as I mercilessly taunted him last Friday, I’ll take wins, no matter how meaningless they may be.

But was last week’s win truly meaningless? Preseason games should be used to learn things about a team, and we certainly learned (or re-learned) a few things:

  • The Eagles’ first-team defense is definitively better than the Steelers’ second-team offense.
  • The Eagles’ first-team offense doesn’t appear ready for the season.
  • Sam Bradford loves to throw check-down passes.

That brings us to the third preseason game which is usually considered somewhat of a dress rehearsal for the regular season. The starters are expected to play the entire first half, so hopefully the Eagles’ offense shows a little more spark than last week.

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What’s the deal with the Colts

At first glance, most people consider the Colts to be playoff contenders, mostly because they have Andrew Luck at quarterback. Typically, if a team has a star behind center, they’re going to be contenders no matter how weak the rest of the team is. But this raises the question whether Luck truly deserves star status.

Since he entered the league with an immense amount of hype in 2012, Luck has had a good career. However, he hasn’t lived up to the “next great quarterback” title that was bestowed upon him. Perhaps he would have taken another step in that direction last year, but he missed over half the season with an injury. I’m not saying that Luck isn’t still destined for a great career, only that it feels presumptive to declare him in the upper echelon of QBs right now.

He will pretty much need to be at that level for the Colts to make the playoffs since they don’t seem to have an especially strong team around him. There is some young talent on the offensive line, and they have one of the fastest receiving groups in the league. But the defense doesn’t seem fearsome, especially when you consider they’re relying on aged pass rushers Robert Mathis and old friend Trent Cole.

Reason to hate the Colts

Eagles fans will never forget the saga of Frank Gore. During the team’s 2015 free agent spending spree, there were reports that they had agreed to terms with running back Frank Gore.

A couple of days later, Gore – possibly due to concerns over the Eagles’ unorthodox head coach – changed his mind and signed with the Colts. The Eagles panicked decided to instead sign the top player at the position: DeMarco Murray.

Very little of that exchange went in favor of the Eagles. But maybe it turned out for the best. If not for Murray, do they have enough ammunition to trade up for Carson Wentz?

Token discussion of the Colts’ backup quarterback

Once the starters leave the game, Luck will be replaced by backup Scott Tolzien. Last year, the Colts’ backup duties were handled by the ancient Matt Hasselbeck, but Hasselbeck retired in the offseason, so the Colts turned to the mostly unproven Tolzien.

Tolzien spent the past three years in Green Bay. Unfortunately for him (and fortunately for Packers fans), Aaron Rodgers doesn’t get hurt very often. Tolzien has thrown only one regular season pass in the past two seasons, although Eagles fans might remember when he faced them in a 2013 game.

Catching up with Trent Cole

Philadelphia Eagles
Aug 16, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Indianapolis Colts linebacker Trent Cole (58) acknowledges the crowd against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first quarter in a preseason NFL football game at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /

Trent Cole had an excellent ten-year career with the Eagles and has the second most sacks in team history. Following the 2014 season, like many veterans who predated the Chip Kelly regime, he was sent packing. Honestly, I can’t really fault Kelly for cutting Cole loose. His production was no longer matching his paycheck, and the Eagles had some internal options to replace him. (Unfortunately, Marcus Smith was one of those options.)

Cole quickly caught on with the Colts, and had a decent season in a part-time role last year. Playing as part of a defensive end rotation, Cole chipped in three sacks in 14 games. However, he may be nearing the end of the line. He’s 33 years old and had to take a pay cut just to return to the Colts.

Key Eagles storyline

Heading into the preseason, most fans were concerned about the quality of the Eagles’ receivers. After two preseason games, those concerns have not exactly eased. Jordan Matthews is a fine receiver, but compared to the rest of the guys on the roster, he looks like Julio Jones, and his absence has been glaring.

It’s still too early to tell, but Nelson Agholor is starting to give off a bust vibe, and Josh Huff is running out of chances to produce. Rueben Randle and Dorial Green-Beckham have talent and have put up decent numbers with their former teams, but they’ve also shown why those teams were willing to give up on them.

In Matthews, Zach Ertz, and Darren Sproles, the Eagles should have some decent targets in the short and intermediate passing game. But at some point, they’ll need one of the outside receivers to make some plays, and it isn’t clear if they’re capable of that.

Catching up with the Chipper

Eagles fans might be curious about former head coach Chip Kelly now that he’s moved on to San Francisco. Every so often, I’ll take a look at what Kelly is up to on the West Coast.

The scene: Kelly and offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins are reviewing film from the 49ers’ preseason game last week.

Modkins: I was really disappointed in [running back Mike] Davis.

Kelly: What are you talking about? He was great!

Modkins: Great? He fumbled. Twice!

Kelly: See, that’s your problem: You’re not looking at the right thing.

Modkins: The right thing?

Kelly: Yes. You’re focusing on those fumbles, but let me show you something. (Rewinds tape) Now watch this. What do you see?

Modkins: (Watches a play where Davis is stopped for no gain) Okay…there was no gain on the play.

Kelly: And?

Modkins: …and what?

Kelly: And he handed the ball right to the ref and got lined up again. THAT’S how you establish tempo on offense! And that’s how you win football games!

Modkins: So you don’t care that he fumbled twice? You only care that he got lined up quickly?

Kelly: Tempo wins games, Curtis. Fumbles and all that stuff will work themselves out as long as we play at the right speed.

Modkins: That doesn’t seem right.

Kelly: And that’s why I’m the man in charge!

Next: Philadelphia Eagles are Shopping Taylor Hart


The Eagles are on a roll, and the good times aren’t going to stop this week. The starting offense will show a little more than they did last week, and while the defense may not look quite as dominant, they’ll have another solid game.

Eagles 24 – Colts 13