Even though the Eagles came out with a 27-17 win Monday night against the New England Patriots, the first-team offense continued to struggle with Michael Vick at the helm.
However, they improved when Nick Foles, the Eagles’ third-round pick in the 2012 Draft, came in to relieve him.
The first-team defense, though, riddled with penalties, continued to struggle against a Patriots’ offense that was resting its starters.
Mike Vick lasted two drives that consisted of six snaps for the second time this preseason before suffering a rib injury.
During the play, which occurred on the Patriots' second drive, Evan Mathis allowed inside pressure from the to overwhelm him, and then right tackle Todd Herremans missed a block that allowed Jermaine Cunningham to level Vick.
In total, Vick has four drives, 12 snaps, 11 passing plays in which he has gone a combined 4-for-7 for 11 yards, and two injuries this preseason, an underwhelming resume.
The latest rib injury came back negative, but the panic button in Philadelphia is held tentatively in hand as Vick continues to struggle to make it through a preseason game unscathed by injury, and the odds do not look favorable.
Vick could have gotten rid of the ball quickly after initially evading the pass rush, but he chose instead to wind up and throw a long pass to DeSean Jackson instead of hitting the hot receiver or simply ducking and taking the sack. It is only a preseason game.
Foles, coming in to relieve Michael Vick, threw an eight-yard pass to LeSean McCoy and a 15-yard pass to DeSean Jackson, who ended the night with four receptions for 82 yards, before throwing his first incomplete pass. The two passes combined tallied two more yards than Vick has thrown for in the entire preseason (11 yards).
On Foles’ second drive, he completed short passes to ClayHarbor and LeSean McCoy before missing on a deep pass to Jackson, forcing the Eagles to punt. Brandon Bolden muffed the punt return, though, and the Eagles were left on their own 24-yard line, where McCoy ran the ball in for a touchdown after being set up by a 14-yard run by Stanley Havili.
Havili’s performance on the drive, punctuated by a run that brought the ball to the New England one-yard line was especially notable because Havili, a standout player at USC before coming to the Eagles, is currently on the roster bubble, even though he started the season as the team’s first-team fullback.
He is currently battling Emil Igwenagu, whom some insiders have mentioned as having the inside track heading into the game because Igwenagu has the ability to play both fullback and tight end. Now, however, the competition will be more closely contested.
On the next drive, Phillip Hunt, a standout player who had two sacks in the Eagles' first contest against the Pittsburgh Steelers, was able to sack Brian Hoyer for an eight-yard loss while concurrently stripping him of the ball, which was recovered by Darryl Tapp 12 yards away from the Patriots’ end zone.
Nick Foles subsequently came into the game and threw an 11-yard pass to Jackson before finding Harbor on the back-right side of the end zone, giving the Eagles a 14-11 lead in the contest and earning Foles four more touchdowns than Michael Vick this season. His poise in the pocket and precision with passes easily bested Vick, who has one first down in 12 snaps so far.
Foles even displayed an ability to run the ball when, during the Eagles’ final drive of the first half, which started with 48 seconds on the clock, he scrambled left for 24 yards during a third-and-one situation. Afterwards, however, he threw his first interception of the season when he failed to account for a safety in the backfield during a throw to Jeremy Maclin.
On the Eagles’ next drive, Foles found ClayHarbor in the end zone after manufacturing an eight-play 81-yard drive. During the drive, he threw 16- and 40-yard passes to DeSean Jackson, along with a pair of 13-yard passes to tight ends Brent Celek and Clay Harbor, who had a pair of touchdowns Monday night, and a 15-yard catch-and-run by Jeremy Maclin.
On the drive, he displayed good decision making abilities combined with a rocket arm capable of completing long passes. Now, quarterback Mike Kafka has some serious competition as Foles appears to be the more competent player and has even outshined Vick.
Against the Steelers, Foles went 6-for-10 for 144 yards, two touchdowns, and a 143.8 passer rating. Last night, he completed 18 of 28 passes for 217 yards, two touchdowns, and a 96.9 passer rating. What he will do for an encore has now become a perpetually driving question for Eagles’ fans.
At Arizona University, he had a completion percentage higher than 63.6 percent in all three years, and, in 2011, when he threw for 4,334 yards with 28 touchdowns and a quarterback rating of 145.6, he had a 69.1 completion percentage.
On defense, the Eagles continued to struggle in the incipient stages of the contest, allowing the Patriots to convert on 7 of 11 first-half third downs. Penalties called on the defense were deflating and became the biggest culprit allowing the Patriots to extend their drives. In the first half alone, the referees called ten penalties on the Eagles for 91 yards, and, by the end of the game, the Eagles had 16 for 131 yards.
The defense held the Patriots well in the first drive of the night, capped by a nice stop by starting strong side linebacker Mychal Kendricks on Shane Vereen at the New England 16-yard line. On their second drive, though, the Patriots constructed an 11-play, 40-yard series ending with a field goal that was extended by an unnecessary roughness penalty on Darryl Tapp.
During the Patriots' third drive, a roughing-the-passer penalty on third and seven at the New England 23-yard line negated an ball hawking interception by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and allowed the Patriots to escape another third-down situation, moving them from a third and seven at the 23-yard line to a to a first and ten at the 38.
Then, after two more plays, the defense faced another third and seven, this time at the 41-yard line, and starting right defensive end Trent Cole was able to penetrate the Patriots’ offensive line, sacking Mallett for a nine-yard loss. However, a holding penalty called on Nnamdi Asomugha negated the play and set the Patriots up with a 1st and 10 on their 46-yard line.
At the end of the drive, which ended with a Patriots’ touchdown, the Eagles were called for an illegal-substitution penalty that allowed the Patriots to convert a two-point conversion instead of having to settle for one point.
Afterwards, Hoyer entered the game and the depth of the players on the Patriots’ squad diminished. Nonetheless, that the first-team defense was unable to stop a Patriots’ offense that was running without key players at the beginning of the contest does not paint a gratifying picture of the Eagles’ defense as they head into their next two preseason games, during which the first-team players are going to see infrequent playing time.
In last season’s Week 11 contest, Marty Mornhinweg and Jim Washburn got into a fight on the sidelines; this time, though, Andy Reid and Cullen Jenkins were mincing words. An argument broke out between second-year player Cullen Jenkins, whom the Eagles acquired in last season’s flurry of free agent signings, and Andy Reid after the Patriots scored a touchdown on the 13-play, 80-yard drive.
During the sideline spat, which was repeatedly telecasted, Andy Reid was yelling at Jenkins and waving his coach's card in his face, and Jenkins, in rebuttal, stood up and started talking back to Reid until defensive line coach Jim Washburn pulled between the two.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie left the game with a shoulder injury that occurred after the negated interception, and, if the injury is deemed serious, the Eagles could have considerable question marks at the cornerback position.
Rodgers-Cromartie has been the sharpest cornerback in preseason so far, so his loss would constitute a considerable subtraction for the Eagles’ defense. Curtis Marsh, an inexperienced 2011 third-round selection, is behind him on the depth chart, and he came in for Rodgers-Cromartie last night.
With the injury, Marsh is likely to play a significant amount of time against the Browns Friday night, so the Eagles will have an opportunity to appraise him further. Behind him, the depth at the corner back spot is questionable.
So, with Monday Night Football in the past, the Eagles will get set to play the Cleveland Browns in their second game in a 10-day series loaded with three contests. Vick will most likely not play, and the first-team offense and defense will play sparingly — if at all. The scheme will be extremely simplified because the Eagles play the Browns in a week one contest on September 9th. The Eagles have a lot to improve upon.