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Eagles Evaluation: O-Line Struggles in Super Bowl LII Rematch

By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Staff

The Eagles visited the Patriots in a Super Bowl LII rematch for their second preseason game. The game saw quite a few players leave the field with injuries and a different outcome from the championship match played a few months ago.

The following are my drive by drive analyses:

First Quarter

Drive One (Offense)

  • The Eagles opened the game with a deep pass attempt. Smallwood beat his man and was open, but Lane Johnson and Big V were pushed around and nearly sandwiched Foles. It was a bad throw with poor protection from both tackles.
  • After Ajayi bobbled the pitch and lost a few yards, both Johnson and Big V were beat on another play and Foles tried to throw to Ajayi. The throw was high, but it was catchable. Instead it was knocked up and nearly intercepted. Not a good showing for Foles or the offensive line.

Drive Two (Defense)

    • After James White outran Derek Barnett for a six yard gain, the Eagles made a nice play on the run that was negated by a hands to the face penalty against Nigel Bradham.
    • Bradham made a solid play covering the running back in a pass play, although you would like to see him play a bit closer to the back as giving up five yards a play does no good.
    • Maddox was covering the back and it seemed like he would get a good tackle and minimize yardage until he pulled up and ran with him, allowing an additional six yards beyond where he could have made contact. Maddox needed to get in front of the back, not to his side.
    • The Patriots ran the ball again and ended up gaining 32 yards. The play should have lost yardage, but Jordan Hicks missed the tackle completely. Add on a lowering the head penalty from McLeod (something that we are likely to see quite a bit from his style of play) and what should have been a loss of a yard turns into a huge gain.
    • After a pair of nice plays in both pass and run coverage by Rasul Douglas, Avonte Maddox nearly fell over trying to cover Chris Hogan in the end zone leaving the wideout with a wide open lane to catch the ball for a Patriots touchdown.

Drive Three (Offense)

  • Shelton Gibson made a really nice cut on the return to gain 46 yards and set the Eagles up near mid-field. Gibson is really making an impression on special teams to warrant keeping him on this roster.
  • Ajayi had a really nice run straight up the middle, showing his ability to be a tough runner.
  • A false start penalty against Stefen Wisniewski set the Eagles back again. This team has really looked sloppy with penalties. They will need this cleaned up for the regular season.
  • Nick Foles had time on the next play but threw it behind Kamar Aiken who had plenty of room to run. Again, it was not a good throw, but it was catchable, especially for someone like Aiken who is entering his sixth year in the league.
  • A blitz found Nick Foles sacked, forcing a punt. Ertz was wide open on the play and Foles was trying to get it to him, but the line had collapsed the pocket and he did not have the room needed to throw. As Foles was moving to make the through, Jay Ajayi was absolutely blown up and thrown out of the way by Patrick Chung, doing very little in the way of delaying the blitz. Ajayi should not be getting blown up like that by a cornerback.

Drive Four (Defense)

  • The line (along with some support from Ronald Darby) made sure that the run play the Patriots opened with was going nowhere. This is what you want to see from the line with three Eagles attacking the ball carrier before they have crossed the line of scrimmage.
  • Brady made a nice pass to a wide-open Julian Edelman. Edelman was in motion and no one seemed to pick up coverage when he switched sides of the field. This will be something Jim Schwartz will be talking about.
  • The Pats picked up a first down on a run play that went for a little more than the yard they needed. It should have been blown up considering Bradham made contact behind the line of scrimmage and was unable to pull him down. It makes it even worse that Bradham grabbed the back’s facemask and could not bring him down. Luckily, the referees did not notice the facemask.
  • Brady threw a deep pass downfield to a Phillip Dorsett that Ronald Darby was all over. The ball went into his arms and then right out. That has to be an interception, especially from your top corner.
  • Malcolm Jenkins was called for unnecessary roughness, gifting the Pats a first down. The play was a solid hit, but Brady through an abhorrent pass that made the receiver defenseless. If the throw is halfway decent, there is no foul here.
  • After Bradham made a good play to stop the run, the defensive line brought pressure all around and forced Brady to throw the ball away.
  • Brady looked to Hogan to complete a deep pass, but Darby was once again in near perfect coverage. Darby was once again hit in the hands by the ball and should have come away with an interception. That is twice in one drive – he needs to clean that up for the regular season. The Eagles would get the ball on the punt, however.

Drive Five (Offense)

  • Big V was beat and forced a quick throw by Foles that was a bit too high for Mike Wallace to reach.
  • After another solid run up the middle by Ajayi, Foles, with some time to throw, hit Bryce Treggs for a first down. It was a nice route by Treggs to get some separation.
  • Foles threw a bullet right to Wallace who just blatantly dropped the ball. Not what you want to see from a starting receiver. At this point, Foles is 1/6 on passes, but five of the six were catchable balls.
  • After an errant throw by Foles intended for Wallace, Big V was beaten again. The third-year tackle actually clipped Foles trying to recover and forced the quarterback to step up into an area where Kelce and Brooks had just pushed away their defenders and obviously did not expect Foles to step up, resulting in a sack. Big V is having a bad game, especially for someone who handled players like Everson Griffen with ease in the postseason last year. Hopefully, he is just rusty.

Drive Six (Defense)

    • The Patriots started off with a seven-yard pass to Hogan. Hogan ran out of bounds, but there was no one on top of him. Honestly, I am not sure if Douglas or Rodney McLeod was supposed to be covering him but had Hogan turned up the field, he had an easy first down.
    • On the next play, Brady had all day to throw the ball, so Hogan got open. Luckily for the Eagles, he dropped the ball.
    • Not so lucky were the next two plays where Malcolm Jenkins allowed Edelman to get open and make a first down catch (although better coverage would have meant little considering Barnett was offsides). This was immediately followed by a dump pass to the running back with absolutely no Eagles around. The closest Eagle was Haloti Ngata who was probably five yards away and facing the wrong direction with Nigel Bradham being the next closest at nearly seven yards away with two blockers between he and the back. It was an ugly play for the Eagles.
    • Another catch across the middle of the field and Bradham is hit with a lowering the helmet penalty. This defense has just been atrocious. You cannot have all these penalties and expect to win games. Perhaps the only good thing from this play was that as Bradham was arguing the call, Fletcher Cox grabbed him and gave him an earful. It is good to see Cox fired up about it and making guys take responsibility.
    • Sidney Jones was in solid coverage of Hogan and made a nice tackle to allow only a couple yards. The good news for Jones is that he has been on the field in coverage quite a bit and we have not heard his name.
    • Jordan Hick showed his playmaking by blowing up a run and then a pass with the cleanest tackle you might see this year to force a field goal attempt.

Drive Seven (Offense)

    • The first big play of the quarter for the Eagles offense came on the last play as a dump pass to Jay Ajayi went for 16 yards. Even better was the excellent pass coverage that rookie tight end Dallas Goedert provided on the play.

Second Quarter

Drive Seven (Continued - Offense)

    • After Ajayi broke a tackle to turn no gain into a four-yard gain, Foles his Zach Ertz who was wide open in the middle of the field. The line is providing time reminiscent to what Eagles fans came to expect last season so far on this drive which has allowed Foles to look really good.
    • After Smallwood made a short gain, Big V was beaten worse than he has been all night. He was absolutely laid out and he did not seem to be getting up quickly even though a strip sack is what you should expect after being blown up like that. The defender got to Foles as he was trying to make a deep pass and knocked the ball lose resulting in a 54-yard fumble recovery touchdown and straining the throwing arm of Nick Foles who then exits the game. Not good at all.

Drive Eight (Offense)

  • Gibson made another nice return and Nate Sudfeld entered the game They handed the ball to Ajayi who got a hard-earned three yards up the middle.
  • Sudfeld looked to complete his first pass, but his arm was grabbed as he attempted the throw by a defender who was getting past Vaitai.
  • Sudfeld then hit Smallwood behind the line. It could have been a first down, but the pass was high and behind Smallwood and he had to adjust to make the catch before running and he could not get around the defender bearing down on him, meaning a punt was up for the Eagles.

Drive Nine (Defense)

  • The defensive line shut down any thoughts the Patriots had of a run play as Destiny Vaeao and Michael Bennett made the tackle two yards behind the line.
  • The next play, Nathan Gerry rushed straight up the middle untouched and Brady was forced to throw the ball away.
  • With third and long, the Eagles played prevent defense and certainly prevented the first down and forced a punt.

Drive 10 (Offense)

    • Sudfeld completed a nice pass to Shelton Gibson who nearly broke two tackles to get to open field. His extra effort gained him a few yards, but he was shaken up on the play. Luckily it was nothing too serious. It should be noted that Sudfeld was again hit on this play as Vaitai was beat.
    • Ajayi got a nice gain on a sweep and earned a first down.
    • Sudfeld threw a near perfect pass down the field that was well covered. If the throw had lead Treggs a little more and did not require Treggs to pull up, that would have been big yardage.
    • Sudfeld again looked down the field and was hit as he threw (this time Smallwood was beaten on the blitz), but he got the ball to where his receiver, DeAndre Carter, would have been had he not been blatantly interfered with.
    • Sudfeld was hit with huge pressure but avoided enough to get the ball away. On the next play, he had plenty of time and threw to Aiken in the end zone. Another interference put the ball at the one-yard line.
    • After his first run went nowhere, a poor block by Goedert let Smallwood get hit in the backfield for a loss.
    • On third down, a pass was in the works and a solid blocking pickup by Ajayi allowed time in the pocket for Sudfeld to hit a wide open Gibson in the end zone for the Eagles first score of the night.

Drive 11 (Defense)

  • Tre Sullivan made a solid tackle to stop the first play, but the Patriots busted out a 12-yard run that seemed like it would go for a touchdown had Corey Graham not stopped him.
  • After pressure was put on Brady, he fired a pass to the sideline that was caught with Rasul Douglas off guard. Had the receiver not stepped out of bounds, he would have outrun everyone. The only one who caught up to him was De'Vante Bausby who was coming from the other side of the field and got to him just as the runner dove for the goal line.
  • After the ball was placed where the receiver stepped out of bounds, Brady dropped back to find a lot of pressure. Nothing got to him, though as he completed a pass over the head of Sidney Jones for a first down.
  • Jones came back with a tackle for loss and on the following play, the Patriots had a dropped ball as the receiver was afraid of being hit by Tre Sullivan. The ball could have been intercepted by Corey Graham, but he was diving forward to assist with the tackle and did not see the ball.
  • With good coverage and a collapsing pocket, Brady threw the ball away and the Patriots kicked another field goal.

Drive 12 (Offense)

  • With pressure coming in, Sudfeld sort of lobbed a pass over to Carter so as to avoid his arm being hit and the throw being affected. Carter nearly broke a tackle but stepped backward out of bounds trying to keep himself upright.
  • Taylor Hart was beaten by the defender as Sudfeld went down with a sack. Immediately following that play, the whole line collapsed and Sudfeld was sacked for a huge loss and the Eagles elected to punt.

Drive 13 (Defense)

    • After a missed tackle by Steven Means allowed a small gain on a run play, Jacob Hollister of the Patriots made a huge catch downfield despite being hit hard by De'Vante Bausby as he made the catch. Not too much else to be done there.
    • When Bausby was beat on the next pass, he grabbed a facemask to avoid giving up more yardage and a facemask penalty gave the Patriots a first down.
    • Brady threw a screen the next play and the runner ran for a 20-yard touchdown and never came close to being touched by an Eagle.

Drive 13 (Offense)

  • Looking to retaliate, Nate Sudfeld aimed down the field and hit Dallas Goedert in stride for a 28-yard completion. He followed that up with a short pass to Gibson that left plenty of room to run for a 15 yard gain.
  • Sudfeld again turned down the field and hit Carter for a 24 yard gain to make it first and goal.
  • A defensive holding penalty allowed the Eagles six plays to put the ball in, but it was no help. Sudfeld threw the ball away in the face of pressure four times, Smallwood ran for two yards, and a pass hit Goedert’s hands in the corner of the end zone. That was a ball you would like to see him make, but Goedert is still a rookie.

Drive 14 (Defense)

  • The Patriots put in their second string for the first time this game to kneel and run out the clock.

Third Quarter

Drive 15 (Defense)

  • After a run stop by the defensive front, Sidney Jones made a nice play to stop a catch that could have been an interception if he had gotten a bit more of the ball.
  • On the next play, Avonte Maddox made a nice play to prevent another pass and forced a punt.

Drive 16 (Offense)

  • Matt Jones got the opening handoff and pushed for four yards up the middle. They ran Jones up the middle for another four yards on the next play. It was working, so they handed it to Jones again who rushed for a first down.
  • Sudfeld had a lot of time in the pocket to throw, but with no openings down the field, he looked for Jones who dropped the pass. He had plenty of room to run if he had caught that. The Eagles like how physical Jones is, but if he can not catch passes, he has a slim shot of making this offense.
  • Sudfeld went right back to Jones who made the catch this time and pounded a couple defenders for a six-yard gain.
  • The next pass did not work so well as Jones was open and looked to have room down the field, but the ball bounced off of his hands and into the hands of a defender adding another “interception” to Sudfeld’s preseason.

Drive 17 (Defense)

    • A roughing the passer penalty on Means and a lowering the head penalty on Reeves continued the sloppy play by the defense and kept the chains moving.
    • A nice stop by LaRoy Reynolds was erased by Sidney Jones selling out on a juke and missing a tackle allowing another Patriot to score a touchdown without contest.

Drive 18 (Offense)

    • A nice roll by Sudfeld allowed for a first down pass to Treggs.
    • On the next play, Jones pounded another run with Goedert doing a nice job of picking up the blitz.
    • Bryce Treggs burned everyone on the next play, but Sudfeld threw it just a bit too far. It was a catchable ball that Treggs should have had. He probably would have had it if he had not been injured on the play. If the ball is not slightly overthrown, though, Treggs runs in for a touchdown.
    • With a lane open in the pocket, Sudfeld stepped up and hit Carter who made a nice catch and gained a few extra yards after the catch.
    • Gibson made a six-yard catch but could not shake the defender, but it was Jones who caught a screen and ran for a first down and more behind solid blocks by Isaac Seumalo and Matt Pryor down the field.
    • After a throwaway pass, Sudfeld hit Goedert for what should have been a touchdown, but he allowed the ball to be punched out of his hands taking away what could have been his second touchdown of the night.
    • A pass rush forced Sudfeld to throw early, but the quarterback hit Richard Rogers for his first touchdown of the preseason.

QB Nate Sudfeld to TE Richard Rodgers (Thats Sudfelds 2nd TD pass of the night)

A post shared by #eagleszone (@eagleszone) on

Drive 19 (Defense)

  • A deep pass down the field looked to be trouble for the Eagles, but Sidney Jones kept his eye on the ball and knocked the ball out before it could be hauled in.
  • Bausby made a nice tackle and Eric Decker made an obvious drop for the Patriots and that forced a punt.

Drive 20 (Offense)

  • A poor return by Rashard Davis pinned the Eagles at their own two-yard line, but that did not seem to bother Sudfeld who dropped a dime on Shelton Gibson for 57 yards.
  • Greg Ward made his first catch for five yards, but one Matt Jones drop, a quarterback hit off of Big V and a scramble for zero yards forced a turnover on downs. It was a good series for Ward who made a catch and was open on the two plays Sudfeld did not get the chance to throw.

Drive 21 (Defense)

  • Tre Sullivan missed a tackle and cramped up on the first play of the drive following a false start penalty.
  • A huge hit by Jeremy Reaves and good coverage by Bausby forced a punt on a good defensive showing.

Drive 22 (Offense)

  • After an 11 yard pass to Greg Ward and a 28-yard pass to Goedert in stride, Sudfeld hit Rashard Davis for a 31-yard touchdown strike. It was an impressive drive by Sudfeld and Davis’ first catch.

Drive 23 (Defense)

  • The Eagles gave up 14 yards on two runs to end the quarter.

Fourth Quarter

Drive 23 (Continued - Defense)

  • After an incomplete pass, the Eagles allowed a 16, 10 and nine-yard run in a row. Eagles like Sullivan and Grugier-Hill had the chance to make tackles in the backfield but failed to do so. When it seemed they had finally made a stop, another hands to the face penalty was called against the Eagles.
  • The defense finally stopped a run and strong coverage by Sidney Jones forced an incompletion forcing a third and 10. An eight-yard pass was not enough for a first down and the Patriots kicked a field goal.

Drive 24 (Offense)

  • A desperation flip to Goedert gained a yard after Goedert turned nothing into a gain by outrunning defenders.
  • Sudfeld was hit as he threw and then forced out of the pocket by Big V getting beat yet again. This has been an awful game for the 2017 standout.

Drive 25 (Defense)

  • Despite a bad throw, the Patriots got a first down, but a nice stop from Joe Ostman followed by nice recognition by Aziz Shittu and quarterback pressure from Danny Ezechukwu forced another Patriot punt.

Drive 26 (Offense)

  • Matt Jones rushed for five yards on two carries and 11 yards on three passes, but it was all for naught. Two plays in a row, no one got open downfield and the line just collapsed. Jones seemed to try to use finesse here as opposed to his usual power running.

Drive 27 (Defense)

  • The Eagles seemed to have the third stringers in hand before allowing an eight-yard scramble and first down.
  • The Eagles responded with Shittu bursting through for a 10-yard sack and an eventual punt.

Drive 28 (Offense)

  • Joe Callahan came in to throw for what seems to be the last drive and he did nothing stellar with an incompletion, a sack and two completions (one for a loss of yardage).

Drive 29 (Defense)

  • The Patriots had this game well in hand and just ran out the clock.

Offensive MVP

Nate Sudfeld was stellar tonight showing why the Eagles believe he will be a good backup in the future The 22-year old completed 22 of 39 pass attempts for 312 yards and three touchdowns. He had quite a few drops from receivers (including one that could have been a fourth touchdown) and was under near-constant pressure from a failing offensive line. Additionally, he had only one turnover and it was an interception that was in no way his fault.

Defensive MVP

The box scores and stat sheets show very little for him, but Ronald Darby was the Defensive MVP of this game. He had two defensed passes and both should have been intercepted. They could not have been played better. Perhaps the most important statistic on him is that he had zero tackles this game. Normally that might be bad, but he had zero tackle not because he was missing tackles or in such poor coverage someone else made the tackles – he has no tackles because other than the two defended passes, Darby was in such good coverage that Brady never threw to anyone he was covering.

Preseason Game One Notes

  • Despite reports that we would see him, Christian Hackenberg did not appear in this game. Expect him to play in the game next week as long as the injury to Foles is not too serious and Sudfeld needs all the reps.
  • Despite a lot of talk about Dallas Goedert not being a blocker, he showed glimpses of being a decent blocker already. He needs to make some improvements, but he is already showing promise.
  • Speaking of Goedert, he noticeably took a step back in his receiving tonight with a few drops. If he is going to truly be a red zone target, he cannot allow the ball to hit his hands and not make the catch as he did tonight.
  • Halapoulivaati Vaitai had a terrible game tonight, but he was working with Jason Peters on the sidelines. They will be looking at the tape and improving on his blocking. He should not have to start the season as Jason Peters will be ready to go.
  • Sidney Jones showed a lot of improvement this week. He got burned on one missed tackle but was otherwise solid. He looks to be the frontrunner for the slot corner position.
  • Shelton Gibson had five receptions for 91 yards and four kick returns for 121 yards with solid blocking on other returns Expect him to make the 53-man roster as the fifth wideout.

Keywords: Eagles, Philadelphia, New England, Patriots, August 16, 2018 Excerpt: Read "Eagles Evaluation: Offensive Line Struggles in Super Bowl LII Rematch" and more at


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