Preseason football is usually nothing more than a mechanism that spurs excitement after the game has been gone for five months. Where people gear up for their fantasy football drafts, their Direct TV NFL package, and which late-round draft pick will break through, wow the coaches and make the starting squad.
Truthfully, there really isn’t much to take out of a preseason game. It’s the definition of vanilla playcalling, first-teamers playing limited snaps in order to avoid injury, and lackadaisical preparation compared to that of a Week 8 regular season game.
With that said, it is still an ominous sign to see your team get steamrolled during a preseason game. It’s human nature to not want to lose at anything, and the circumstances, regardless of how urgent they are, usually don’t change that notion.
Last night, the Eagles managed to put a cold towel on the explosive, frantic offseason they put together throughout the past month since the lockout ended. The defending AFC champion Pittsburgh Steelers reminded us all that games are won on the field, not with inking up a contract and dishing out millions of dollars to blue-chip free agents.
It’s imperative that the Eagles and their new players gel to ensure a smooth-sailing start to the season. They have a tremendous amount of expectations to adhere to, and it doesn’t help when the team’s backup quarterback Vince Young is throwing out the “dream team” reference.
Personally, I think that comment was blown out of proportion.
A lot of people wanted to compare it to a Miami Heat-esque comment, but get back to me when Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson and Nnamdi Asomugha are holding pep rallies with smoke machines, WWE style introductions, and fireworks.
Otherwise, it’s nothing more than an underachieving backup just running his mouth when he shouldn’t be.
The team’s biggest weakness going into the preseason definitely protruded like a sore thumb last night. Casey Matthews, along with the other linebackers Jamar Chaney and Moise Fokou struggled mightily against the run and intermediate routes. Asante Samuel also got caught gambling with no safety help on a first-quarter touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown.
A lot of people will point to safety Kurt Coleman leading the team with 11 tackles as a positive, but all that really means is that he was making plays 10-15 yards down the field. It’s all smoke and mirrors and nothing to get excited about. Rarely do you want your starting safety to be leading the team in tackles. Leave that to your linebackers and linemen keeping the play within a five-yard range.
Quarterback Michael Vick also looked rattled as well against Pittsburgh’s 3-4 front, having thrown three interceptions in a span of only one half. With errant throws intended for Riley Cooper, Chad Hall and Brent Celek, Vick looked more like the Michael Vick towards the end of the season last year, rather than his explosive self that he displayed in the first half of last year.
There really weren’t many positives to take away from the game last night.
Fifth-round rookie Dion Lewis looked exceptional catching out of the backfield, as well as on the ground. Third-stringer Mike Kafka also put forth a solid effort throwing for two late scores towards the end of the game.
The good news for the Eagles is that they don’t lose any ground with this loss. It doesn’t knock them down a game in the division and it doesn’t affect their playoff seeding.
However, they need to learn from this and make the proper, necessary corrections. Linebacker is still an issue for this team, and who knows if Lofa Tatupu may still be a viable free agent option. It certainly couldn’t hurt to bring in some veteran presence at the position, which is currently occupied by a rookie in Matthews.
Last night was humbling for a team that has been garnering a lot of preseason recognition and accolades. They are going to have to learn to take their lumps and move forward if they hope to make a deep playoff run.
Dealing with all of the controversy and detractors is essential to growing as a football team.