The Eagles opened up their preseason slate against the Pittsburgh Steelers on August 9. Although they didn't win the game, the Eagles were lucky to see a lot of development from their rookies and those competing for roster spots. Many starters never stepped onto the field in favor of getting the game reps to those who are less experienced or need to show their skills to make the 53-man roster.
Below are my drive by drive analyses:
Drive One (Defense)
- After a solid tackle by Sidney Jones on the opening kickoff, the Eagles defensive line allowed an eight yard carry.
- That run must have gotten under the skin of Fletcher Cox as he retaliated with a sack to make it 3rd and 11 and then tackled the receiver to force a punt.
Drive Two (Offense)
- After a four yard carry by Jay Ajayi, Eagles third-string quarterback Nate Sudfeld throw a hurried incompletion and an interception. The interception was thrown directly to Steelers cornerback Coty Sensabaugh. Sudfeld will learn from this.
Drive Three (Defense)
- The Eagles defense blitzed and Malcolm Jenkins took his first chance at getting a sack, resulting in a nine yard loss for the Steelers.
- After solid tackles by Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby, the Steelers were forced to punt.
Drive Four (Offense)
- The Steelers pinned the Eagles in to their own two yard line to start the drive.
- That turned out not to be an issue as Richard Rodgers and Isaac Seumalo combined to open up a gaping hole on the left side that allowed Jay Ajayi to run for 22 yards.
- On the next play, Dallas Goedert ran a nice corner route allowing Nate Sudfeld to drop a dime on him for a 26 yard reception, the first of Goedert’s career.
- The Eagles picked up another first down after two solid rushes by Clement netted the birds 11 yards.
- On the next play, Dallas Goedert showed he is still a rookie dropping an easy catch trying to look up the field prior to making the catch. The preseason is the time for him to work that out.
- Following that, the Eagles O-line was blown up twice in a row to force a 4th and 16 and a punt.
Drive Five (Defense)
- Beginning at their own 12 yard line, the Steelers went for a run. It went for eight yards before Eagles safety Tre Sullivan dragged the runner down. That was followed by a seven yard run and first down.
- On a third straight run, Kamu Grugier-Hill missed the opportunity to wrap the runner up behind the line of scrimmage, but Nate Gerry made a solid stop on the outside.
- You never want to see the defense give up huge plays and this was no exception. A 71 yard pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster. Rasul Douglas made a leap to try and intercept the pass, but his timing was way off, leaving JuJu alone to run the rest of the way down the field. It may be worth noting that Elijah Qualls made an obvious offsides penalty on the play, so an interception would have gone back anyway.
Drive Six (Offense)
- After a re-kick and a nice return by Shelton Gibson, the Eagles started at their 36 yard line.
- Following a solid seven yard sweep and a nine yard cut up the middle by Clement, the second year back ran for an additional three yards.
- Sudfeld did not inspire confidence in his dump passes floating a late pass to Clement that lost three yards and one to a covered Wendell Smallwood that lost four yards, forcing a punt.
Drive Seven (Defense)
- Michael Bennett made his first tackle with the Eagles, stopping the rush for a short gain before the quarter expired.
Drive Seven (Continued - Defense)
- Two guys battling for roster spots made some nice stops on the following runs as Grugier-Hill and De'Vante Bausby forced a punt.
Drive Eight (Offense)
- Goedert clearly put his drop behind him making a nice 19 yard grab across the middle of the field. He and Ertz could create a major problem.
- With no one open, Sudfeld scrambled for a short gain. The fact that he dropped the ball just after going out of bounds is a bit concerning. He followed that up with another short scramble that was caused by pressure.
- Clement made a nice catch and broke a tackle to dive for a first down and keep the drive alive.
- Following a short run by Smallwood, Sudfeld did some nice scrambling in the pocket and hit Goedert up the middle of the field for his first career touchdown.
- After a penalty moved the line up, the Eagles handed the ball to Smallwood who ran it up through the middle for a two-point conversion.
Drive Nine (Defense)
- Rasul Douglas made a solid tackle to start off the drive ensuring no yards after the catch.
- Rookie Josh Sweat made his first tackle on a four yard run.
- Douglas made another well covered stop, but a the new contact penalty was called on Sidney Jones and so Pittsburgh got a first down.
- After giving up a few chunks of yardage, Jones was shaken up and walked off the field. The injury seemed not to be serious.
- Joe Ostman showed that he, too, was still a rookie as he dropped coverage of his man and allowed an 18 yard rush.
- One Qualls penalty put the Steelers at the three yard line, however Steven Means made a solid block to keep them from scoring again.
- Grugier-Hill made an amazing play by blowing up the run and forcing a third and goal.
- An incomplete pass thanks to solid coverage by Douglas seemed to signal a goal line stop, but Josh Sweat was called for roughing the passer. This set up another first down. The Steelers ran right in for a touchdown then a two point conversion.
Drive 10 (Offense)
- After a six yard completion to Goedert. Sudfeld threw his second interception of the game. The pass was a bit overthrown as Treggs was not completed his route.
Drive 11 (Defense)
- One play and the Eagles get the ball back as Douglas does a really nice job of reading the quarterback and jumping a route to intercept the pass.
Drive 12 (Offense)
- Starting in good field position, Smallwood used a nice Vatai block to rush for 13 yards.
- Following a six yard rush by Smallwood, Sudfeld hit Shelton Gibson in stride for a 63 yard touchdown pass.
- After another penalty, the Eagles went for another two-point conversion. They sent Smallwood up the middle again, but to no avail.
Drive 13 (Defense)
- After Bausby allowed a nine yard pass, Qualls was right on the receiver toc ause an incompletion on the next play.
- A short rush gave the Steel City a first down and, despite solid coverage by Bausby to cause an incompletion (and nearly interception), the Steelers converted again on a 13 yard screen where the running back was left wide open.
- Bausby nearly intercepted a second pass. Credit Steelers QB Joshua Dobbs for throwing that in a spot only his receiver had a chance at getting it.
- After so many solid plays, Bausby faltered by missing a tackle and instead tripping up teammate Nate Gerry to allow a 17 yard pass.
- Douglas allowed a 29 yard touchdown on the next play. It was a really nice catch and throw despite some solid coverage by Douglas. If Douglas make the tiniest bit of improvement over the offseason, there is no chance anyone other than him catches that ball in the regular season.
Drive 13 (Offense)
- Following a seven yard pass to Rashard Davis, Sudfeld was looking for a pass down the field to end the half. With nothing opening up, he took a sack and the half came to a close.
Drive 14 (Offense)
- Joe Callahan came in at QB for this drive and it was not a good debut. Following a 10 yard rush by Smallwood, he fumbled the ball. Luckily, Bryce Treggs was there to pick it up.
- After another Smallwood rush gained nothing, Callahan took a sack for a nine yard loss and fumbled the ball and the Steelers recovered. Callahan did nothing to avoid the small amount of pressure he faced and seemed to try and throw the ball once he felt himself being hit. Those are rookie moves that he will hopefully improve on.
Drive 15 (Defense)
- The Steelers tried a rush up the middle, but their offensive line could not hold the Eagles defense, so the running back nearly fell trying to change course before being met by Bausby off the edge of the line.
- On the next play, the same thing happened with Stephen Roberts being the Eagle to meet the running back on the edge.
- Although the Steelers got a field goal following a dropped pass, this was a big stop for the Eagles defense which, at that point, was made up of guy who are on the roster bubble. It was a strong showing by a defensive line made up of Qualls, Means, Sweat and Aziz Shittu.
Drive 16 (Offense)
- Joe Callahan threw two incomplete passes and Smallwood rushed for about one yard. The backup O-line did not look great with Isaac Seumalo snapping a ball way too high on the first pass. Interestingly enough, rookie and former Rugby player Jordan Mailata did not fare too well in the rush play, but did very well in pass protection following that.
Drive 17 (Defense)
- After giving up a 14 yard pass, Avonte Maddox stood his ground in coverage to force an incomplete pass.
- Following a seven yard run that ended the type of solid tackle that Eagles fans have become accustomed to from Tre Sullivan, he came bearing down on the receiver during the next play to force a punt.
Drive 18 (Offense)
- Josh Adams made a good first impression with fans, rushing for 15 yards down the sideline and then one yard up the middle.
- Callahan made a solid through to Bryce Treggs who ran a solid route. It went for 22 yards, but could have gone for more if Treggs hadn’t taken a seemingly unnecessary dive for the ball. It wasn’t the most accurate of passes, but it was there.
- Isaac Seumalo snapped another ball high, this time extremely so. Callahan did well to get on top of it, but it dug a 2nd and 27.
- Callahan made a nice pass to Rodgers that would have netted near 25 yards, but the ball just bounced in and out of the veteran tight end’s hands. After handling yet another bad snap from Seumalo, Callahan did some nice maneuvering to keep the play alive, but nothing opened up and he had to throw the ball away.
Drive 19 (Defense)
- Despite a nice stop by Grugier-Hill, another penalty on Qualls gave the Steelers a firstdown.
- This backup defensive line stepped up again with Shittu, Means and Grugier-Hill all getting penetration to for a three yard loss.
- After a 15 yard screen pass and another short stop by Grugier-Hill, Maddox got beat on a jump ball that went for 35 yards. He had poor positioning behind his receiver and his height, which was a concern of many throughout the draft process, did not help him out. Maddox is intelligent, though, and should improve.
- Some heavy pressure from Means and a near interception from Maddox forced a field goal.
Drive 20 (Offense)
- Callahan threw a ball over the head of Gibson and Adams gained seven yards on two carries before the Eagles punted.
Drive 21 (Defense)
- Despite stingy play and nice tackles, the Steelers converted a fourth down run and then burned DJ Killings for 18 yards.
- A false start moved the Steelers back and after a one yard run and a sack, the 11 yard reception was not enough to convert and forced a field goal.
Drive 22 (Offense)
- Two rushes by Adams for seven yards and a throwaway pass forced another Eagles punt.
Drive 23 (Defense)
- After stopping the first two runs, Bruce Hector got a strip sack on Mason Rudolph and forced a three and out.
Drive 24 (Offense)
- After completing nice passes to Josh Perkins, DeAndre Carter and Adams that went for seven, 20 and 10 yards respectively, Callahan showed some nice athleticism by evading tacklers and throwing a pass right to Adams as he was being taken to the ground. The pass only went for one yard, but it showcased why the Eagles chose him as their extra QB in camp.
- A 14 yard pass to Gibson showed what Callahan can do if he gets into a grove. Don’t be surprised if he makes an NFL roster this season. Not likely with the Eagles, but somewhere.
- Following two overthrown passes to Billy Brown and two passes to Treggs for 17 yards, Smallwood lost five yards on a rush. Mailata was rushed by two guys on the play and didn’t seem like he knew what to do, but that is to be expected having never played before. He had actually been really impressive.
- A few well covered passes led to a failed fourth down conversion.
Drive 25 (Defense)
- The Steelers had this game well in hand and just ran out the clock.
This has to go to Dallas Goedert. The rookie showed just why the Eagles traded up to pick him in the second round of the draft. He did have a blatant drop, but rebounded and caught every other pass thrown to him. He did what he was supposed to do as Sudfeld routinely used him as his safety blanket in the first quarter. In his first game, Goedert had four catches for 66 yards and a touchdown. If he continues to play like this, having Ertz on the field with him will create a tight end pairing no NFL team is prepared to face.
This one came down to De'Vante Bausby (six tackles, two passes defensed and near interceptions, and a quarterback hit) and Kamu Grugier-Hill (six tackles, two tackles for loss). I would give the edge to Grugier-Hill, however. While Kamu did miss a chance at a third tackle for loss, Bausby gave up big yardage on a missed tackle in the open field that took out a teammate. It is good news for the Eagles that the guys battling for the only starting positions not set in stone (WILL linebacker and slot corner) came to play and had very good showings.
Preseason Game One Notes