Instant analysis: Eagles soar in high-scoring preseason contest against Dolphins

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It’s not often that you see 69 points scored in a preseason game, but it happened at Lincoln Financial Field tonight as the Eagles rose above the traveling Miami Dolphins to secure a high-scoring but slightly scrappy victory. As with all preseason encounters, it’s not the score that matters here. With that in mind, here are some instant takeaways from the win.

 

Pumphrey finally flashes:
It may have taken a few weeks and a lot of unwarranted question marks, but Donnel Pumphrey finally made his presence felt both in the backfield and out of the slot. The SDSU product rushed for 37-yards on 12 carries and went on to receive for a further 37 yards on 5 receptions. Pumphrey was targeted more than any other Eagles wideout and it was clear the team had one goal in mind; getting their rookie running back plenty of experience as well as building some in-game confidence.

The Eagles experimented hugely with Pumphrey in what felt like a video game at one stage. Reception, after rushing attempt, after reception, after attempted punt return, Pumphrey was able to move the chains for the Eagles and showcase his versatility.

 

Linebacker competition is ripe:
Jordan Hicks may have been sidelined, but it didn’t stop the rest of the Animal Kingdom from running riot. Mychal Kendricks racked up his third interception in as many preseason games, while fellow linebacker Don Cherry earned himself an impressive pick-six. Kamu Grugier-Hill led the Eagles in tackles and Joe Walker made his presence felt in coverage situations. The Eagles have plenty to be decided at linebacker with every spot beyond Bradham and Hicks on the line. A strong game from just about every contender won’t narrow down the competition just yet. If anything, it’s enhanced the levels of intensity as the preseason finale looms.

 

Penalties, penalties, penalties:
The Eagles struggled with discipline yet again, this time accumulating 16 penalties that cost them 147 yards in total. It’s a problem that the team struggled with last season and while several of the penalties came from backups, there were others that could have and should have been prevented. The Birds’ struggled to get out of their own way last year and they can’t afford to let the same happen this season.

 

Offensive line struggles…kind of?
The night didn’t start prettily for the Eagles offensive front. Andre Branch stormed past Seumalo for a big sack on Carson Wentz, setting the tone for a string of drives that would see Carson Wentz being forced into plenty of acrobatic throws and pocket dances. The running game struggled to find a rhythm with Blount at the forefront and even though there was superior pass blocking, the starters made some rookie mistakes.

As the game went on however, fortunes started to shift. The Phins left their starting defensive unit out when the Eagles rotated to their second team, meaning it was backups against a physically imposing pass-rush. The unit held their own however, keeping McGloin upright all game and helping him on his way to complete all but four of his 26 pass attempts. The run game burst open in the second half with the Eagles setting a preseason high for single-game rushing yards this year.

All-in-all, we learned that the depth is beyond impressive and can handle one of the NFL’s most interesting Defenses…and the starters may, just may, not be completely invincible…yet.

 

Sloppy on Special teams:
To put it bluntly, the Eagles special teams unit has been anything but “special” in preseason so far. An abundance of penalties, fumbles, reckless tackles and simple mistakes can be seen in each game so far and tonight was no exception. While the specialists themselves (Yes Super Sturgis, that means you) were solid, those vying for roster spots and on the fringe of an NFL future were once again a little less inconsistent. Jim Schwartz alluded to the fact that especially at linebacker, many of the depth spots will be dependent on special teams play. As things stand, it’s going to take an impressive contribution next week if they’re to hold any weight.

Defensive end depth is ripe:
With Brandon Graham absent, the DE spot was very much like the linebacker position. Derek Barnett was called up to the forefront and the rookie did more than hold his own, but beyond the starting tandem where Vinny Curry was even able to puncture the backfield for a sack, things became even more explosive. One of last week’s most impressive performers shone brightly yet again as Steven Means registered another QB hit and a pair of tackles. Next to him, Alex McCalister was able to force some big incompletions from Brandon Doughty as well as adding 0.5 sacks himself. The Eagles are still searching for those all important depth spots on the outside, but just like linebacker…the Eagles are inundated with ferocious talent. It’s a shame that ultimately one of these players will lose out, but as things stand, the Eagles are very strong along the interior line.

 

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

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