Thursday’s preseason opener was hardly the game Eagles fans were hoping to see from the defending champions, though it can largely be taken with a grain of salt. As the bottom half of each 90 man roster battled it out in Lincoln Financial Field, many players proved their worth while others struggled throughout. Here are the standouts, both good and bad, from last night’s game:
Fletcher Cox – STUD
Fletcher Cox is one of, if not, the most disruptive force on defense in the NFL. It only took two plays in Thursday night’s game to prove that. Cox looked to be in mid-season form as he flattened Landry Jones and chased down a screen to prevent a first down. Fletcher stated he is gunning for Defensive Player of the Year and, by the looks of it, has a great chance to win.
Run Defense – DUD
(The Daily Courier)
Unfortunately, the one consistent aspect of the defense was its inability to effectively stop the run. Though the defense was able to hold the Steelers to under 100 yards rushing, it can be difficult to imagine the same would be true if Le’Veon Bell were to touch the ball. The loss of both Vinny Curry and Beau Allen in the offseason, as well as the absence of Timmy Jernigan, were on full display as the defense was repeatedly gashed by the Pittsburgh backfield.
Dallas Goedert – STUD
All aboard the hype train! Dallas Goedert is in the building. Despite a drop early in the game, Dallas was as advertised. Hauling in 4 receptions for 66 yards and a score, it is exciting to think about the prospect of both Goedert and Ertz on the field at the same time. The tight end even channeled his inner Brent Celek by providing some solid blocking in the run game, showing his utility in both aspects of the offense.
Tackling – DUD
Tackling is often at its worst during preseason, but in this game it was especially painful. Apart from a few open field tackles from Sidney Jones IV and LaRoy Reynolds, it largely looked as if the Steelers were covered in grease. Multiple crucial stops on 3rd down were not made due to poor tackling, both from a lack of effort and technique. Bausby laid a particularly nasty hit to the turf rather than the opposing running back, leaving a sour taste in many fan’s mouths.
Shelton Gibson – STUD
Shelton Gibson finally gave Eagles fans what they were looking for after being drafted in the fifth round in 2017. Sudfeld connected with Gibson on a 63 yard bomb for his first touchdown in the NFL. Shelton also took on the role of kick returner and was able to provide the offense some excellent field position. With his ability to fit on both special teams and provide viable depth at wide receiver, Gibson may very well prove too valuable to cut.
Rasul Douglas – DUD
Rasul Douglas had a rough game. After poorly timing a jump which allowed a 71 yard touchdown, he showed some athleticism by undercutting a route for an interception; a great recovery had it not been for another touchdown allowed prior to halftime and missed block on special teams to pin the Eagles deep in their own territory. With the depth at corner, Rasul will need to elevate his game and bounce back next week against the Patriots if he hopes to earn any semblance of playing time.
Corey Clement/Jay AJayi/Run Blocking- STUD
Jay Ajayi rumbled through tackles giving his best LeGarrette Blount impression. Corey Clement’s dynamic ability to line up at both running back and wide receiver continues to show why he should have been drafted, and drafted high. The O-Line was a virtual road grader throughout and the depth showed promise. This aspect of the Eagles could easily be the most exciting to watch this year.
Penalties – DUD
It’s no secret that preseason games are usually riddled with penalties. From referees enforcing ever-changing rules to the player a little too excited to prove themselves, the preseason can feel like a grind to watch (see the 3rd quarter). The Eagles amassed 11 penalties for 74 yards, many of which happened in crucial down and distance situations. Coach Pederson will no doubt address this throughout the week, but it is something to watch as the season gets closer.
Kamu Grugier-Hill – STUD
While stud may be a bit of a reach, it quickly became obvious who is leading the pack for the open LB position. Kamu Grugier-Hill finished with 6 tackles, including a beautiful read on an option play deep within their own territory. It remains to be seen how the rest of the linebackers will play throughout the preseason, but Kamu’s versatility as a Special Teams player gives him a great shot to land the starting OLB.
The Eagles travel to New England on August 16, 2018 for their second preseason game.