That was fun, but let’s never do it again. The Philadelphia Eagles played host to the New England Patriots on Thursday night in what turned out to be one of the most disappointing events since that Batman vs Superman movie. The Eagles suffered a 35-0 blowout and the game was every bit as ugly as the score suggests. Here are five things we learned.
Verging on the side of caution
Despite being seen bouncing around with his teammates before the game, the Eagles opted not to play Jalen Hurts tonight because of an “illness”. Whether or not that illness is legitimate matters not, the team decided to play it safe and keep their QB1 out of harms way.
He wasn’t the only one, either. In fact, the majority of the starters played no more than a few short drives, if any, before being yanked. It was the second and third stringers lining up against the Patriots, who took full advantage with their starters and second stringers to absolutely embarrass the team.
It should also be noted that Jake Elliott missed tonight’s game with a minor ankle injury. While it’s not a major one, it was enough to keep him sidelined. Without another kicker on the roster, punter Arryn Siposs took the reins…kinda. The Eagles didn’t attempt a single field goal all game and might well have schemed their offense around not having a kicker, which basically backed them even further into a corner than they were before.
It wasn’t a great night for the team, but the majority of the players that Nick Sirianni will be counting on in the regular season were away from the action and that has to be noted.
DeVonta Smith is going to be really good
DeVonta Smith made his preseason debut tonight and looked as lethal as we all knew he could be. Joe Flacco targeted him early on, but the ball was thrown behind his back. What felt like a human JUGS machine then kicked off as Flacco went to town targeting Smith in a bid to get the ball in his hands, several of these being misplaced.
When Flacco did finally connect with his WR, Smith was off to the races. He flashed some great YAC potential with the ball in his hands, but it was what he did beforehand that stood out the most. The Heisman winner separated with ease and put Pats DB’s on skates with almost every rep before having to adjust for his QB.
It was a small sample size and should be worth noting that he obviously missed a week of practice due to a minor injury, so was bound to grow into the game as it progressed due to the first team rep he’s played in over eight days being in his first NFL live-game scenario. Even with that in the picture, he still found a way to stand out.
Kenny Gainwell has wheels
Smith wasn’t the only rookie to stand out. Fourth round selection, Kenny Gainwell, enjoyed a flurry of carries, rushing for 21 yards on 5 attempts. Falling forward and looking elusive with the ball in his hands, the Memphis product brought a burst of production to an otherwise ailing offense. It just so happened that Nick Sirianni decided to run the ball 4 times in a row and then rarely look his way again.
In the small window we did see, there was a lot to like.
Milton Williams is going to be a problem
Drafted as a DT, Milton Williams brings EDGE-like athleticism to the table and has flashed it in two consecutive weeks. With constant pressure off the edge, he’s going to be a valuable weapon who can line up all across the line of scrimmage, causing mismatch nightmares. It’s really rare to see a mid-round pick looking so good, so soon, but this is beyond encouraging.
Zech McPhearson should stay in the nickel
While one rookie shined, another struggled. McPhearson was targeted early and often as he lined up on the outside, presenting a clear size mismatch for Patriots wideouts to absolutely rinse. The 5’10 cornerback was bullied into submission on the night and outside of a PBU in the endzone, had very little to show for his efforts. If there’s ever a sign that playing him outside could lead to Avonte Maddox 2.0…this was it.
No Jalen Hurts meant that fans were treated to a strong dose of Joe Flacco and Nick Mullens. After a dismal first half of boring and innacurate QB play, it was hard to imagine things getting much worse…but they did. Big time.
For as bad as Joe Flacco was, he had some element of spatial awareness. Nick Mullens turned back into an oncoming defender that led to a sack at one point, just minutes after spending approximately 29 minutes in the pocket before flailing around and being sacked.
In fact, the play lasted so long that I worked out you could physically sing the entire Alphabet between the time the ball was snapped and Mullens was sacked.
At least there’s only one more week of this…the Eagles will be back in action next week against the Jets. Buckle up!
Thanks to everyone who tuned into our live watchalong of the game, we had an absolute blast!
Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire