Well, last night was certainly something. The Eagles lost a preseason clash to Cleveland 5-0 in what was one of the most offensively putrid and defensively excellent games of the preseason so far. But what did we learn?
The Elephant in the room:
I’ve already beaten this Drum soundly today, but in case you’ve missed it, here’s a column talking about the performance of Nick Foles last night.
Foles completed 13-17 of his passes, but two woeful interceptions and a poorly judged decision that led to a safety left Doug Pederson very frustrated going into halftime. The Elephant in the room here is trying to figure out exactly which version of Nick Foles would take the reins in week one? The Super Bowl 52 MVP, or the shadow of the superstar that took to the field last night? Of course, there’s plenty of variables including players on the field, the gameplanning and how the offense runs, but from a pure quarterbacking perspective, there was no excusing the form of Foles last night and it’s undoubtedly going to have a snowball effect moving into the next two weeks.
Running back numero 4:
My main takeaway from last night’s game was a very simple one. The Eagles should absolutely pursue the services of Charcandrick West.
UPDATE: That can no longer happen because the Jets have already signed him…oh well. The point remains the same.
Unsurprisingly, Wendell Smallwood underwhelmed for the third consecutive week, squandering yet another opportunity. The difference is that this time around, UDFA Josh Adams was on the field to make him pay, carrying the ball 4 times for 33 yards, as opposed to Smallwood’s 53 yards picked up on 3x as many carries.
Matt Jones predictably fumbled, Smallwood showed that he doesn’t do anything exceptionally well and there may be one too many injury concerns over Josh Adams to hang your hat on him as someone to step up should those concerns ever hit another back on the team. The fourth preseason game will be be crucial to the direction of this backfield.
Has Big V regressed?
Halapoulivaati Vaitai doesn’t look like the tackle he did during his sophomore season, that’s for sure. Whether he’s undergoing a fundamental change from a coach or just trying to learn something new, Vaitai has struggled massively for two consecutive weeks.
In 95 preseason snaps, Halapoulivaati Vaitai has allowed 2 sacks, 2 hits, and 9 hurries. His 13 pressures allowed is the most in the NFL (per PFF). #Eagles
— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) August 24, 2018
Vaitai did receive plenty of help during the postseason from his teammates, but it’s strange that after being thrown into the deep end two seasons in a row, he’s suddenly started regressing. It’s absolutely bizarre and there haven’t been signs of this regressions during Camp. This could carry huge repercussions for the offensive line depth as the season progresses.
Who took a step forward in nickel competition?
Sidney Jones was able to stand up against Jarvis Landry and hold his ground and Avonte Maddox picked off his first ever NFL pass. Are we a step closer to figuring out who the starting nickel cornerback is going to be? No. So, with that in mind, here’s a video I made earlier this week examining one potential solution that nobody has thought about.
I’ve been subtly sounding the bell when it comes to defensive tackle depth this season but for the first time all year, my concerns were silenced. Haloti Ngata exploded against the Browns, briefly showing exactly what he’s bringing to the table and that in itself should reassure those who have reservations over the Tim Jernigan injury. In terms of the depth behind him, Bruce Hector and Winston Craig have both performed admirably in recent weeks, more than likely displacing Elijah Qualls. As of right now, I’d assume it would be Bruce Hector who partners Destiny Vaeao, but a lot can change in the ‘backup bowl’ next week.
Don’t worry about the punter:
I don’t know what Cameron Johnston has for Breakfast, but I want it too. That man has a Leg made of Steel and punts the pigskin so far into the atmosphere than I’m pretty sure you can see it from the Rover trundling along Mars. Despite a Training Camp wobble, the Eagles have replaced Donnie Longball with Cameron Thunderkick.
Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports