Here's some notes and observations on the Philadelphia Eagles' first game under Chip Kelly, as they took on the New England Patriots at Lincoln Financial Field.
They Get an A: It's amazing how much more fluid Michael Vick looks with a healthy offensive line.
His strikes on the first two drives seemed comfortable and crisp. Other than a fumble that can hardly be blamed on him, Nick Foles looked superb running the up-tempo offense. Even against a second-team defense, Foles looked at home with the no-huddle and line calls.
Bryce Brown looked good in trying to overturn his demotion on the depth chart. Brian Baldinger noted his drops in camp, but he broke a couple of decent runs, and made a daring stretch diving for a first down.
DeSean Jackson burned Aqib Talib, hauling in his expertly-thrown 47-yarder from Vick for the score. Jason Avant also aided to the post-injured-receiver crisis, making some great third-down grabs.
Greg Salas looked most explosive of the borderline guys, particularly as he beat two guys on a bubble screen for a touchdown. Salas also hauled in an overthrown GJ Kinne throw in the final seconds, good for 35 yards.
Lane Johnson seems eager to pay off the faith Philly has in him. Johnson played aggressive and smart on the right side, equally in pass and in run.
On defense, Vinny Curry maintains his well-earned label of a high motor, chasing ballcarriers without any indication of being winded. He brought constant pressure throughout. Patrick Chung also played aggressively, making up for New England's long gains by constantly running over to make the tackle.
Among the obscure players, Jake Knott and Damion Square had good showings. Knott matched Curry's relentless motor by being in on many players, and Square had a number of backfield disruptions.
They Get a B: Riley Cooper made only one grab, good for 19 yards, but was probably relieved to hear more cheers than boos from the Philly crowd. Clay Harbor, the forgotten name in the crowded tight end drawer, caught some key passes from Barkley in the second half.
Damaris Johnson's 62-yard punt return could have gone all the way had he cut inside the punter, but alas he retains his home run potential. Matthew Tucker and Dennis Dixon had the most flashes of brilliance among borderline offensive players (outside of Salas). Admittedly, they came against third (maybe even fourth) stringers.
A healthy offensive line is a welcome change, as Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, and Todd Herremans provided Vick with great protection, and opened holes with ease for Brown.
Hard to fault Bradley Fletcher; he brought good coverage, but Tom Brady just kept making on-target throws his way. He also brought an end to Stevan Ridley's long run on the first play from scrimmage.
Despite the big gains given up on the run, a number of defenders had their strong points. Casey Matthews seemed to be less confused than he was in 2011, making plays in the flat. Brandon Boykin is adapting to his role well in the new defense.
Isaac Sopoaga had struggles here and there in his first game in green, but he and Connor Barwin showed a good baseline of the potential the defense has. It's just going to take time to gel, especially on the run side.
Among the other newcomers, Bennie Logan and Chris McCoy showed great presence working around the line, boxing in Tim Tebow. McCoy had a nice open-field sack on the usually nimble quarterback. Earl Wolff and Emmanuel Acho also showed solid work making plays downfield.
They Get a C: Matt Barkley got the most work among the quarterbacks, and could be generously described as 'inconsistent.' His aggression and confidence were there, but too many erratic throws. Finally got it together on the final drive of the third quarter, going 5/5, leading to a Greg Salas TD. Chris Polk didn't do much to pay off the faith that moved him up the depth chart. Then again, Philly was mostly throwing during his first-team reps.
Brent Celek and Zach Ertz didn't get to demonstrate the capabilities of the multi-tight end system. Ertz made a couple of catches with at least one drop, while Celek nearly coughed up a fumble. His rough night continued with a botched long snap, filling in for the injured Jon Dorenbos.
Russell Shepard's name has come up as a sleeper pick at receiver, but it was hard to gauge him, as he was on call during Barkley's erratic moments.
Brandon Graham looked comfortable as a linebacker forcing the tempo, but loses points for letting LeGarrette Blount run right past him on that ridiculous touchdown run. Phillip Hunt also seems be adapting fairly well to the linebacker role, but for the pressure he brought, he also struggled with the run.
They Get a D: I realize Barkley was erratic, but Felix Jones didn't help his case with several dropped passes, taking his eyes off the ball. A couple of decent runs, but against a taxi-squad defense.
They're merely back-ups, but I'll hold my breath with my fellows Eagles fans as we hope for no line injuries. Allen Barbre got manhandled en route to facilitating the Foles fumble, while Matt Kopa and Julian Vandervelde seemed generally undisciplined, drawing a few penalties.
Mychal Kendricks had a rough night, getting beat on Shane Vereen's touchdown grab. Cedric Thornton and DeMeco Ryans struggled with timing, overpursuing on several of New England's early runs.
Nate Allen still has tackling issues. I'll just be satisfied if he gets better at staying on his man. Jamar Chaney struggled before leaving with a shoulder injury.
Brandon Hughes mostly seemed lost out there, and Curtis Marsh wasn't much better. Marsh in particular allowed a couple of lengthy completions by playing too far off.
They Get an F: Danny Watkins, how the mighty have fallen. A holding penalty, and struggling with third-stringers doesn't bode well for him making the club.
Kurt Coleman continues his streak of taking bad angles and missing tackles. There's a reason he wasn't seen until later in the night.