Instant analysis: Dominant Defense sends Eagles to pre-season victory over Buffalo

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It wasn’t pretty, but the Eagles got the job done and sent the Bills home with a loss. Mitchell White secured the game-winning interception for the Birds on what was the deciding play of the matchup. There are plenty of takeaways from the victory and while we will break down many of them in the days to come, here’s some quick-hitters following the win.

 

Shades of DeMarco:
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. With many of his looks coming outside, it was clear after Clement came into the game and ran with similar sweeping plays that the savvy veteran doesn’t have the speed of Clement or the other backs on the roster. 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 for this, including the amount of blitzes that Blount faced which led the Eagles to counter, Blount has simply struggled when tasked with anything that’s not North-South. Are the Eagles trying to fit a circle into a square hole, or simply playing their cards close to their chest?

 

Darby’s dream debut:
Going into tonight’s game, there was a lot of intrigue surrounding the Eagles newest cornerback Ronald Darby. It didn’t take long for that intrigue to turn to excitement however. In his first showing as an Eagle, Darby picked off a pass from Tyrod Taylor and sent momentum careering back into the home team’s favor.

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Darby ended his night with one tackle and one interception. It’s safe to say the Eagles have a new starting cornerback in town…and a very talented one at that. For the first time in a long time, there’s a reason to be excited about the Eagles cornerback position.

 

 

Eagles have depth and dominance up front:
Whether it was Derek Barnett racking up his third sack in two games, or the team’s 8 tackles for a loss, the Eagles simply dominated defensively. Steven Means continued to flash his explosiveness by wreaking havoc in the backfield, as did Alex McCalister. The Eagles pass-rush lived up to the name. The attack was relentless. The walls of Buffalo’s pocket caved in throughout the game and it was in large part down to the efforts of the front four.

Tyrod Taylor ended a miserable night completing 8/18 passes for 53 yards and two picks for a passer rating of 12.0. If that doesn’t scream defensive pressure…I don’t know what will. If there is one positive we can take from this game, it’s that the Eagles are LOADED on the defensive line. From starters to backups, the Eagles looked ready for war.

 

Is Matt McGloin hurting the team?
Another pre-season game, another disappointing showing from Matt McGloin. Statistically, he isn’t bad…not bad at all. His 12/20 pass completions for 110 yards and an interception actually seem quite reasonable. The problem is that the flow of play just shows checkdown…after…checkdown…after checkdown…after terrible decision. The Eagles were 0/6 on third downs (we’ll get to that) by the time McGloin left the game and he simply doesn’t elevate any of the other playmakers on Offense.

I’m not saying that McGloin is going to be cut or that he deserves to be. But 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. The fix? More Dane Evans, less Matt McGloin.

 

Three and out:
Dane Evans converted on a third down shortly after entering the game. It was the 4th quarter with around 11 minutes to go. Why is that important? It was the Eagles’ first conversion of the game. Up to that point, the Eagles were 7/24 on third-down conversions during the pre-season. It simply isn’t good enough. Only two of those have came on the ground.

The Birds simply have to figure out how to convert on third downs. Yes, it’s only pre-season and the Eagles likely have a million tricks up their sleeve that they’re not willing to show just yet…but it’s a problem that haunted them last year and the signs are prominently there again this season.

 

Clement’s going down swinging:
It’s clear that Corey Clement wants a roster spot. 34-yards on 8 rushing attempts may not sound like much, but in comparison to Blount’s disappointing shift, it was explosive. Clement turned in a huge 24-yard run to start his stint and would put the icing on the cake with his first ever NFL touchdown just minutes later. In the absence of Wendell Smallwood, Clement is really going above and beyond to make a statement and prove himself worthy of a spot in the Eagles running back rotation.

 

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

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