After completing the last of their four preseason contests, Chip Kelly and his staff have less than 48 hours to review game film and decide which players to cut. Each NFL team must reduce its roster from the current 75 to the mandated 53 by Saturday evening, which means Kelly will have to rid himself of 22 players who dressed in the final preseason game.
The 27-20 loss against the New York Jets won’t matter in a few days. Michael Vick and the starters didn’t even dress. It was more about the Philadelphia Eagles getting one last in-game experience, especially for those players on the bubble.
To say Nick Foles struggled in this contest is an understatement. The Philadelphia Eagles’ second-year quarterback played awful.
He fumbled the ball early on when he failed to tuck it in with the pocket collapsing, which resulted in a turnover. He made a poor decision to flip the ball into coverage on third down. And he began the game with six consecutive incompletions.
Foles was playing with a subpar group of receivers behind a patchwork offensive line. And there were several drops, notably by veteran tight end Clay Harbor. But there are no excuses for Foles’ anemic 35.3 completion percentage or 3.7 yards per attempt. He didn’t throw a touchdown pass in 42 preseason attempts, fumbled three times and did little to give the Eagles confidence in him should Michael Vick get injured.
In the first series, Chris McCoy was a man possessed. He dropped an early interception (although he was still credited with a pass knockdown). But then he recorded a sack, a tackle and a pressure on the safety that was officially given to Brandon Graham.
McCoy followed that up with a sack fumble later in the game, giving him a pair of sacks, a forced fumble, a QB hit, a tackle for a loss and three solo tackles. McCoy is buried on the depth chart behind Trent Cole, Connor Barwin and Graham. But tonight’s performance may have pushed him onto the 53-man roster.
The Philadelphia Eagles entered tonight with quite a logjam of linebackers fighting for the final spots. Trent Cole, Connor Barwin, Brandon Graham, Mychal Kendricks and DeMeco Ryans should all be considered locks.
That leaves seven other linebackers pushing for a handful of places on the roster. Four of them turned in fine performances tonight. Chris McCoy’s outing put him on the radar early. Jake Knott, Emmanuel Acho and Everette Brown all followed with forced fumbles of their own.
Acho finished with 11 tackles, a tackle for a loss, a sack and a quarterback hit. Knott was second among linebackers with eight tackles, including one for a loss. And Brown registered two tackles and two sacks of his own, plus a tackle for a loss and a quarterback hit.
That should make for an interesting decision by the coaching staff as to which players remain.
The Philadelphia Eagles acquired Jeff Maehl in a trade for offensive tackle Nate Menkin, giving the team another receiver to push for time.
Maehl made the most of his opportunities tonight, catching eight passes for 61 yards. He’s likely surpassed Russell Shepard on the depth chart, and Ifeanyi Momah has been a huge disappointment all summer.
It could come down to Maehl against Greg Salas for the fifth spot among receivers, and Maehl’s familiarity with the offense (having played for Chip Kelly at Oregon) may give him the edge.
It’s only preseason, and it was the Philadelphia Eagles’ backups who played all game. But the team couldn’t stop Matt Simms, a quarterback who likely won’t make the New York Jets' roster.
Simms completed 33 of 44 passes for 285 yards and no interceptions. He was noticeably more efficient as the game went on, directing a 74-yard drive en route to a field goal and then a 68-yard drive that led to a touchdown. Along the way, Simms completed a key fourth-down pass.
It wasn't a good sign for the Eagles. The secondary did rest starters, and at one point, Kurt Coleman was even filling in at corner for the injured Trevard Lindley. But it's looking inevitable that the secondary could prove costly in 2013, especially with the Birds set to play elite quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning, plus six difficult divisional matchups.