The Eagles were able to come away with a pre-season victory last night, defeating the Buffalo Bills 20-16. After a rollercoaster game that saw the Defense steal the show, there were plenty of big performances that may see a depth chart shuffle. Here are the big winners and losers from last night’s game.
With Wendell Smallwood still sidelined with injury, the stage was set for Corey Clement. The Wisconsin badger ended his shift with 34-yards on 8 attempts and while that may not sound like much, it was an explosion of production in comparison to Blount’s disappointing start. Clement turned in a huge 24-yard run to start his night and would put the icing on the cake with his first ever NFL touchdown just minutes later. It’s been a strong pre-season for Clement so far and it continued last night with another sign of improvement. He may still be a dark-horse, but Clement’s stock is rising.
Three sacks in two pre-season games? Check. Barnett is making his case to become a regular on the Eagles Defense as soon as possible. Barnett added two quarterback hits to his name last night as well as constantly being a factor in the Buffalo backfield. It’s early days, but Doug Pederson sounded very complimentary on the production of his first-round pick after the game.
“It’s important. Obviously, better tackles, better competition is a sign of where you are in your development process.” Pederson told the media. “But you could see how quick he is off the ball. You could see how well he bends. There’s just a relentless finish. He plays to the whistle, and that’s exciting. So hopefully these next couple weeks, you know, with Miami coming up, we’ll give him a chance to roll in there with the first unit again and just continue to watch him grow.”
Vinny Curry and Brandon Graham are the starters heading into the season, but whether or not Barnett can throw the Cat among the Pigeons will be an extremely fun narrative to watch.
Another pass-rusher making a statement was the man who “means business”. Means was simply a force to be reckoned with in the fourth quarter. Although it was only against a third-team offensive line, Means stacked up the numbers. 3 tackles, 2 sacks and 3 QB hits saw the edge rusher simply explode onto the scene. His main competition at this stage is Alex McCalister, but in what’s rapidly becoming a game of “Anything you can do, I can do better”, Means has the edge.
Two picks in two weeks?! Mychal Kendricks is shining right now. If there was a pre-season MVP award, the Eagles linebacker would certainly be leading the charge for the crown. If that wasn’t enough, Kendricks added another sack as well as a tackle for a loss. The linebacker position is one of uncertainty, but if Kendricks continues to blow up screens and show value that has flown under the radar in Schwartz’s Defense, then perhaps he has a place on this team after all.
Another pre-season game, another disappointing showing from Matt McGloin. The Eagles third stringer completed 12/20 passes for 110 yards and an interception which out of context actually seems quite reasonable. The problem is that the flow of play just shows checkdown…after…checkdown…after checkdown…after terrible decision.
In a string of games where you’re trying to evaluate talent, a quarterback who is going to sling it (*Cough* Dane Evans *Cough*) at least gives the receivers a chance to show what they can do, as well as heightening the rest of the Offense.
The unit simply saw a spark when Evans took to the field. In nearly half the pass attempts, he threw for 92-yards. A deep-shot to Shelton Gibson had fans on the edge of their seat, while his daredevil inspired rushes turned heads. McGloin doesn’t provide that and the Offense almost sinks to a level of comfort where beside the odd Marcus Johnson catch, nobody is able to really show what they can do.
Sturgis isn’t exactly a HUGE cause for concern, but with two missed field goals in two games from just outside of 45-yards, one has to wonder whether or not Pederson will bring in some extra competition. Sturgis was money most of the time last season, but if he has another blip next week against the Dolphins, then it is only going to raise more question marks.
When LeGarrette Blount took to the field, many were hoping to see an improved performance from his showing just one week ago in Green Bay. Instead, Blount amassed just 8 yards on 5 carries. After Clement then exploded onto the scene running the same outside plays, it was clear Blount doesn’t have the speed that the former Badger flashes regularly. Too often were defenders meeting Blount head on and able to swarm around him as he desperately reached for the sideline, sending cold shivers of DeMarco Murray flashbacks down the backs of Eagles fans everywhere.
While there are several logical explanations that we will dive into over the coming days, the 30-year old is coming off of a career best year. It could be possible that the Tyre is simply starting to wear. But does he have enough left for one more workhorse campaign?
The Eagles Offensive Line has struggled opening the run consistently since preseason began, but it’s been Warmack’s topsy turvy pass protection that has hurt the unit just as much. The former Titan was flagged twice last night and if that trend is persistent yet again when the team face Miami, the looming threat of former Dolphins guard Dallas Thomas just behind or even Josh Andrews (who the team are extremely high on on the other side of the center) could be enough to force yet another competition along the Eagles offensive front.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports