Instant analysis: Eagles came out sloppy and stale in loss to Patriots but it wasn’t all bad

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It wasn’t pretty, but it was never going to be. The Eagles fell mercifully at the hands of the team who surrendered in Super Bowl 52 to the beat of 20-37. Here are some quick takeaways from the matchup:

Offensively, it wasn’t as if the Eagles were out swinging for the fences. No Jason Peters, no Carson Wentz, no Nelson Agholor, no Alshon Jeffery, the list goes on. Nick Foles struggled to ignite anything of substance during his time in the huddle, but again, this was to be expected. The Super Bowl MVP hasn’t practiced much recently due to injury so rust was bound to be a factor. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for Tom Brady, who carved the Eagles apart with series after series that seemed to draw plenty of similarities to Pederson’s own.

The Patriots clearly had winning on their mind and wasted no time putting points on the board. Receivers ran riot and the Pats were able to tear through the eagles run defense time and time again, making life that much easier for Brady. Bizarrely, Avonte Maddox was listed as the starting nickel corner over Sidney Jones, who spent plenty of time outside. It didn’t take long for Brady to punish the rookie however, when Chris Hogan schooled him at the goalline for an early lead.

The defensive front terrorized the Eagles O-Line all game long, but Wisniewski and Vaitai seemed to get the short end of the stick, leaving Foles next to no time inside the pocket. With what minimal weapons he had left, Foles did inspire some hope with a big 20-yard pass to Ertz, but that was really the highlight of a poor evening.

On defense, the Eagles were ripped apart in the trenches. Giving up 140 yards on the ground, the Eagles run defense was almost invisible at times. One of my main concerns coming into this game was the amount of defensive tackle depth when it comes to stopping the run and unfortunately, that game validated such an opinion. There will be some big question marks looming over a position that relies so heavily on rotation to succeed.

That didn’t mean the game was without bright points however. Nate Sudfeld threw for three touchdowns in beautiful fashion, showing that his confidence is growing. This was a much improved performance over last week and Sudfeld really showed just how much he’s developed over the last 12 months or so. After a game of settling in, he threw for 312 yards, 3 touchdowns and an interception.

This is somewhat reassuring considering that Nick Foles sustained a shoulder injury, forcing him out of the game early. If the injury is anything that could keep him sidelined for more than a few weeks, there’s a very good chance that Sudfeld will be the man leading the Eagles offense. Talk about that for unpredictability.

Another key highlight was the stunning emergence of Shelton Gibson, who just can’t stop impressing.

A 57-yard catch went a long way in hitting the 90-yard mark that led the Eagles in receiving, but Gibson is beaming with confidence and it’s a delight to watch. Dallas Goedert had a strong outing, adding another 57-yards to his preseason tally, while Bryce Treggs flashed but was unable to really make the most of the situation.

At running back, it was a big ball of ‘meh.’ Wendell Smallwood carried the ball 4 times for….a single yard and Matt Jones was, well, doing Matt Jones things. Showing signs of promise one minute and making awful mental errors the next, this was a game that symbolizes his career so far. The worst part about that is there were THREE running backs sidelined due to injury, yet nobody could seize that moment and steal the show.

The Eagles let the Patriots do their thing all game long, but it wasn’t for the want of trying. Jeremy Reaves posted a hard-hitting 6-tackle game, while Sidney Jones battled playing too fast with playing too fantastically. Two key pass breakups saved the day (temporarily) before a howling missed tackle almost ruined it. That inconsistency ran across the board with this team.

At the end of the day, it just felt unpolished. Tackles were missed constantly, there were a flurry of flags thrown in direction of Philadelphia and there was an overall sense of disjointedness defensively. Offensively, the real winners were Sudfeld and Gibson who combated a bad situation and began rallying a comeback.

The score doesn’t matter in preseason, but the takeaways do. What’s worrying here is that there may be more bad than good, but we’ll touch on each of those in the coming days…

 

Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

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