STUDS: Phillip Hunt/Brandon Graham/Vinny Curry/Darryl Tapp (DE)
Between the quartet of ends not named Jason Babin or Trent Cole, there were 3.5 sacks and a forced fumble (at the hands of Hunt). That’s not even counting the amount of times Ben Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich were flushed out of the pocket with the onslaught coming.
Most impressive of the quartet was Hunt, whose two sacks came when he blew past a graying Flozell Adams, one of which he was clearly being held.
With two sacks in the nine games he played for the Eagles last season, the former CFL player figures to be a big part of Jim Washburn’s heavy rotation at end.
And speaking of that rotation, when Cole and Babin get healthy, one can imagine just how frightening the outside attack is going to be.
DUD: The third down defense
In the first half, Pittsburgh was 4 for 7 on third down. Of the four converted plays, one was an unnecessary personal foul by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on third and sixteen. The other three plays, with a total of 27 yards were needed to convert, Pittsburgh would gain 38 total yards on a dump off to David Johnson, a deep throw to Emmanuel Sanders, and middle run by Chris Rainey.
STUD: Mychal Kendricks (LB)
Was a little tentative on the first few plays of the opening drive, but soon demonstrated the chase-down tackling he’s known for. It may not seem like much, but on a team where consistent linebacker play has come at a premium, Kendricks looks like a virtual Godsend.
DUD: Jaiquawn Jarrett (S)
Geez, this deserves a column all its own.
Where do you begin? The soft zone on Sanders’ long third down catch? Running smack-dab into Vinny Curry, facilitating Jonathan Dwyer’s 33 yard run? Completely freezing on Sanders’ second quarter touchdown? Yeah, you can also blame Nnamdi Asomugha for that one, but Asomugha’s more likely to make up for it.
When Nate Allen’s healthy, you’ll have him, Kurt Coleman (who made a lot of key tackles that prevented some potentially unabated gains), OJ Atogwe, and, when he’s healthy, special teams ace Colt Anderson. Jarrett may find himself the odd man out if he continues to be unable to process the defense.
STUD: Derek Landri (DT)
Landri’s entering his sixth year as a pro, and he appears to be finding his niche with his bull rush in the Wide Nine. He spent more time tonight in Pittsburgh’s backfield than most of the running backs did.
Landri stated that Washburn has worked with him extensively to sand the rough edges off his overall technique, so perhaps his constant disruptions are a sign of things to come.
DUD: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (CB)
Having a green mohawk doesn’t offer immunity from stupid ‘lead-with-the-head’ penalties. Totally unnecessary, but DRC is certainly capable of playing better than that.
STUDS: Damaris Johnson/Brandon Boykin (WR and CB)
A strong case is being made by two rookies for who should be the return ace. Johnson stood out more as a receiver tonight, mostly on the speed shown during his 70 yard center-field catch-and-run from Nick Foles, while fourth rounder Boykin took a kickoff back 46 yards. The Eagles longest kick return in 2011 was 33 yards.
The best problems to have are when you’re deciding between dynamic and dynamic. It’s only one game, but having two potential returners will take way some of Bobby April’s restless nights.
DUD: Elvis Akpla (WR)
When a kick returner falls on the ball, you’re certainly allowed to tag him down. All it takes is two hands to end the play, but Akpla got a little too excited and went helmet to helmet with David Paulson. That fifteen yards gave Pittsburgh a chance to try and erase the feel-good victory. Thankfully, Akpla’s exuberance wasn’t costly.
STUD: Nick Foles (QB)
Talk about ideal circumstances. Michael Vick hurts his thumb, Mike Kafka has a bad night, and the third rounder out of Arizona comes in to make himself heard.
Foles’ rating for the night: 143.7. This including the aforementioned 70 yard rainbow to Johnson, plus a tight-window 44 yarder to Mardy Gilyard.
Before anointing him the savior, however, note that beyond those touchdown passes, Foles was 4 for 8 for 30 yards. Starting out, Foles had to get comfortable with little dinky passes, but the two scores went for 114 yards, so we know his ceiling can be rather high.
Also, not trying to rain on the Broad Street parade, but Foles’ torchings took place against a third string defense. Maybe the day will come when he does the same to starting secondaries, in which case the noise will have true justification.
DUD: Mike Kafka (QB)
5 for 9 for 31 yards and a laser of an interception thrown to defensive tackle Al Woods. If Foles didn’t have such a solid showcase (even fourth stringer Trent Edwards looked good leading the comeback drive), Kafka would have less to worry about.
As it stands, Foles has a realistic chance to unseat Kafka as No. 2 on the depth chart, although it may take some time before Andy Reid makes that switch-of-faith. With three preseason games left, Kafka needs to erase the memory of that horrid play.
STUD: Alex Henery (K)
51 yarder with 12 seconds left, dead center with space to spare. Letting David Akers walk wasn’t a popular decision, but I don’t think anyone in Philadelphia is crying too much over it now.
DUD: Howard Eskin (journalist)
Shaggy, unkempt hair, equally unkempt beard, and a pink and white checker-print shirt. He looked like a Geico caveman mated with a picnic table.