Philadelphia Eagles vs. Carolina Panthers: Instant Notes and Observations
It was Nick Foles' turn to take the first snap on offense for the Eagles, and he looked sharp at first. He threw the ball well, including on the run. It was possible he was catching up to Michael Vick—perhaps even passing him for the time being.
Unfortunately, Foles ended the drive with a poorly thrown ball inside the red zone, after being rushed and trying to throw the ball through the back of the end zone. He didn't quite get there, and the pass was intercepted by linebacker Josh Thomas.
Foles bounced back on his next drive—thanks in part to LeSean McCoy—and scored on a seven-yard run. He finished 6-of-8 for 53 yards, with one rushing touchdown and the ugly interception.
While Foles looked competent, Vick, on the other hand, looked fantastic.
He came in on the first drive of the second half and quickly hooked up with McCoy, completing his first two passes to the running back.
You could see that the offense seemed more exciting and more forceful with Vick under center, especially when the Eagles were going no-huddle, which Chip Kelly broke out more than he did last week.
Vick's first drive was ended abruptly by a Chris Polk fumble, when Polk didn't seem to have total control of the ball.
However, Vick's second drive, another no-huddle one, covered 74 yards on just seven plays and took just 2:07 off the clock, resulting in seven points. McCoy scored from one yard out.
Vick finished 9-of-10 for 105 yards and one interception, though you can't really count the interception because it was an attempted Hail Mary at the end of the first half.
He is definitely in the driver's seat heading into next week's all-important third preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Other than the fumble, I thought Polk ran hard and is doing everything he can to claim the No. 2 running back job from Bryce Brown, who did not play on Thursday.
Felix Jones is squarely on the roster bubble, and having a rib injury won't help at all.
The same holds true for fullback Emil Igwenagu. It was nice seeing him get first-team reps, but he suffered a concussion.
Allen Barbre has become a nice option behind Jason Peters. Barbre has started both preseason games at left tackle and is holding his own quite well.
The hope it that Peters is 100 percent come Week 1, and if he is, he and Lane Johnson should form a strong tackle combo with Barbre as a strong backup option.
On the defensive side of the ball, I am continued to be impressed by Fletcher Cox and Clifton Geathers.
The defense started pretty slow, not getting much pressure, but improvement could be seen as the game progressed.
Cox was constantly putting pressure on Cam Newton and DeAngelo Williams in the backfield. Geathers is getting nice movement upfield and will be a nice rotational player on this defensive line.
Vinny Curry, Bennie Logan and Cedric Thornton have also continued to play well on the defensive line. I would hope Curry and Logan get more first-team reps next week at Jacksonville. Curry has been a stud, and you can tell the weight gain has helped tremendously.
I enjoyed the play of Mychal Kendricks. He keeps showing his versatility on defense and did a nice job blitzing Newton. He is a guy who can play both outside and inside, blitz and drop back into coverage.
Brandon Boykin continues to be the best defensive back on this team, although Patrick Chung has played solidly as well. Boykin's ability to play both outside and in the slot will be a major help to this team, especially if Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams can't stay consistent.
Williams was picked on a bit. For the Eagles' sake, they hope it's just rust. This is Williams' first game action since Super Bowl XLVII.
I also found the practical four-tight end set by the Eagles interesting, which showed the pretty rare (at least to me) 14 personnel (one running back, four tight ends).
This was run out of the "stack" formation that Kelly introduced last week, in which two players line up at "X" receiver on the line of scrimmage and two others line up directly behind them.
Overall, Thursday was a good day for the Eagles. There were plenty of positives to take away—and certainly some negatives like Foles’ interception and Polk’s fumble, though these are correctable.
Next week at Jacksonville will be an interesting watch. Vick and Foles should go into the third quarter. And how much more will Kelly reveal? We’ll find out in nine days.
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