Philadelphia Eagles vs. Cleveland Browns: Final Report Card and Analysis
Foles, who was making his starting debut in place of Michael Vick, showed flashes of brilliance, but also reminded us why he's still a rookie.
Let's recap Philadelphia's final postgame grades.
Starting Quarterback — B
Overall — B
As expected, Foles came out with some first-quarter jitters. It didn't help that the offensive line played poorly either.
However, he did throw for two short touchdowns and managed to collect himself before halftime to make some good pre-snap reads and engineered a few decent drives.
His first-quarter interception was picked off by Joe Haden, and seemed like nothing but more than a prayer. His big arm got him in trouble there, but later also got Damaris Johnson 45 yards down the field for a completion. The rookie needs to have more composure when faced with pressure in the pocket, but this was still a very encouraging start to his career.
Foles has really separated himself from Mike Kafka in the battle of the backups.
Qrt 3 —
Trent Edwards takes the field to open the third period—effectively ending Foles' starting debut.
Qrt 2 — B
Foles entered the second period firing. After misplacing a pass on a short slant to Marvin McNutt, he found Damaris Johnson in the corner for a touchdown that was later reviewed, and overturned. Still though, nice placement on that pass.
He also identified a blitz and called for max protection on a play where he found Johnson deep down the field.
The rookie also put together some nice drives, but was fooled once by the defense and was forced to call a timeout.
Qrt 1 — C+
Foles has thrown two short touchdown passes after inheriting excellent field position. The first strike to Brent Celek required him to hold onto the ball and face oncoming pressure on third down. His second one was over the middle to Dion Lewis.
So far, he's looked good, but has been bailing from the pocket too quickly.
Offense — B
Overall — B
The Eagles didn't exactly "light it up" against one of the worst defensive unit of 2011. At times, they struggled to move the chains and exhibited poor offensive line play.
The communication between the backup center and Trent Edwards needs to be better—whoever it may be. Philadelphia was lucky that their two botched snaps didn't lead to turnovers.
Chris Polk and Bryce Brown showed signs of strong running, but Brown needs to learn not to leave his feet when trying to break the plane of the goal line. Red-zone turnovers have been costly in the past, and that will not change in 2012.
Qrt 4 — B
There was poor communication between Edwards and his center, resulting in only three points after the defense came away with an interception.
Other than that, it was an uneventful final period. Chris Polk looked very good on his six carries and finished with 39 yards rushing.
Qrt 3 — A
Edwards' first pass was a pick-six negated due to penalty, but ended up leading the backups down the field for six points.
Bryce Brown is now getting the bulk of the carries and continues to be an explosive downhill runner. His one mistake though, was leaving his feet in an attempt to clear the goal line. Brown got hit in mid-air and lost the ball, but was able to recover his own fumble.
Qrt 2 — B
The offense looked much smoother during the second period, thanks in large part to their ability to give Nick Foles some time to throw. However, there were still some plays left on the field.
Even though they didn't score as many points as they did in the first, they were able to pick up a few first downs and maintain drives.
Damaris Johnson made a good adjustment in the middle of his route to pull in a 45-yard pass. He also displayed some shifty moves in the open field, and has made Browns' defenders look silly.
Qrt 1 — C
The Eagles scored twice after inheriting excellent field position, but the offensive line still looks like a mess. Whether it's because the wide receivers can't get open, or due to poor protection, Foles has been flushed out of the pocket way too often.
The offense didn't put together a very good drive, but there wasn't the need, especially with their starting position.
Overall — A-
Philadelphia's front four collected four sacks and recovered three forced fumbles. They were active and disruptive throughout the entire contest. Cleveland quarterbacks were flushed out of the pocket on numerous occasions and the running game was near useless.
The secondary gave up some big completions on the first drive, but settled down to play a solid game. Cliff Harris picked off a pass in near the Browns' red zone in the final period to set us up for our final score.
If Juan Castillo can get this kind of performance from his defense every week, there won't be a need to pour on the points.
Qrt 4 — B
The Browns finished their third quarter drive with a touchdown, but the Eagles defense remained solid thereafter. Cliff Harris picked off a pass that gave the offense great field position and added three points to the scoreboard.
Qrt 3 — B
The Birds are playing excellent coverage on short and intermediate routes, but are still getting excellent pressure on the quarterback. Colt McCoy has been flushed out of the pocket and forced to run on almost half of his drop-backs.
The period ends in the middle of Cleveland's drive.
Qrt 2 — A-
The Browns went to a "no-huddle" offense to open the period, and caught Philadelphia off guard. The defense recovered and surrendered three points, but have still been impressive as a whole.
Penalties remain a problem, but most of them have been a byproduct of their aggressive nature.
One thing I've noticed is that the Eagles are blitzing far more often than they did in their first two contests.
Qrt 1— A-
The Eagles have forced three fumbles already in the first quarter and attacked the quarterback.
The defensive line was incredible, while the secondary played solid coverage after an inconsistent first drive. This unit has been instrumental in getting the Eagles out to a quick 14-0 lead.
Special Teams— B
Overall — B
There was good and bad for the special teams unit.
Alex Henery converted on two of his three field goal attempts, but still missed one before halftime.
Curtis Marsh blocked a punt in the first period that set the Birds up for a short touchdown. Damaris Johnson proved why he's the team's top punt returner by being very difficult to tackle in the open field.
A second lesson for Bryce Brown: don't advance the ball from deep inside your end zone unless you're sure you can get it past the 20-yard line.
Qrt 4 — C
Bryce Brown takes a kickoff nine yards deep in the end zone and gets tackled at the 11. Although he isn't the primary return man, it's still a lesson that our other rookie returners must learn from.
Alex Henery made a 28-yard field goal to bring us to our final score.
Qrt 3 —
Nothing to note on special teams play.
Qrt 2 — B
Henery got off to a good start and drilled his first field goal attempt from 41 yards out without much trouble. However, he spoiled the good sentiment by missing a kick before halftime.
Mat McBriar pinned Cleveland down at their own 3-yard line after a great punt — Chas Henry better start updating his resume.
Qrt 1 — A
Curtis Marsh went through the line unblocked on the punt return team and came up with a beautiful block—setting the Eagles up with excellent field position. However, they had trouble lining up for the extra point after the ensuing touchdown.
Damaris Johnson has looked elusive and awfully shifty in the open field on punt returns.
Coaching — B+
Overall — B+
Andy Reid accomplished pretty much everything he wanted to in this game.
He split the snaps with his backup quarterbacks without getting them injured. He gave his second-year kicker three attempts against live action. And exposed his second-team offensive line to their Week 1 opponent.
Jim Washburn rotated his defensive line brilliantly and kept them fresh and productive all the way till the final period.
Not too shabby for a day's work.
Qrt 4 — B
Not much coaching needed in the fourth quarter of a blow out.
Qrt 3 — B+
The offense came out of the half and engineered a 13-play drive that ate up more than eight minutes of game time. Great job here.
Qrt 2 — B
Interestingly enough, Andy Reid pointed out a fourth-down miscall by the official in order to give Alex Henery a chance to kick the field goal after Damaris Johnson's touchdown was reversed.
It's clear that he wants to give his second-year kicker some more live reps as the preseason goes on.
Qrt 1 — B
The Eagles committed three penalties in the first quarter, but didn't suffer any consequences thanks to their timely forced turnovers. Reid doesn't have much to yell about this week, except for those yellow flags.