Early Excitement In First Preseason Game

Early Excitement In First Preseason Game Bill Streicher - USA TODAY Sports

There are many reasons that Eagles fans may have tuned into tonight’s preseason game.

This was the debut for new Eagles like AJ Brown, who the team acquired via a draft-night trade, and Jordan Davis, the team’s first-round selection.

It also provided a glimpse of what this new hybrid defense, which has added strong linebacker depth and positional versatility to the front seven, could look like for the Birds in their quest to get back to the post season.

The defense looked, with some exceptions, great on both first and second teams. The offense, however saw more of a drop-off from first to second units. Still standouts from both side began stating their cases to be worthy of one of those 53-man rosters.

The Birds wound up losing this one after a special teams disaster where the Birds game up a 50-yard kick return with under two minutes left in the game. Luckily, this game doesn’t count in the standings, but special teams should be one of the things these guys do to help build their case for a roster spot and such an egregious error (that helps to lose the game, nonetheless) is not going to reflect well with the coaches.

Offensive Standout: Cam Jurgens

Fans could be forgiven if they were a bit upset when the Eagles used their second-round pick on another offensive lineman. It wasn’t the sexy pick and they didn’t necessarily need help at the position group this season. That said, it was a pick intended to build for the future and, with Kelce out, Jurgens is getting plenty of playing time now that he may not get later. He already looks like a monster. Perhaps what is most encouraging are his blocks well down field – very much similar to what Kelce himself has done throughout his career. It’s encouraging to see him be so successful so early on. He probably could have been highlighted more in this game if the Birds had used a running back with better vision that could see and use the holes he created rather than taking the play elsewhere.

Defensive Standout: Nakobe Dean

The broadcast was hyper focused on Jordan Davis, for good reason, but Dean was the most consistent player on the Eagles defense. It seemed like he was involved in any run play the Jets called. His snaps were limited, but he still ended with five tackles. The one thing I’d like to see more is for him to use his spot to jump routes. There were a few times that he probably could have broken sooner and been in line to either deflect or intercept a pass. That should be something he gets more comfortable doing as he gets more familiar with the defense and on this stage.

Game Notes

  • I would like to see Jalen Hurts hit Sanders in the chest rather than him needing to reach down on that screen, but good showing otherwise in the lone series with the starters. Uncalled false starts aside, Hurts had this team moving well. The level of competition makes it hard to tell if that will translate, but there’s reason to believe it could.
  • TJ Edwards remains underrated and was all over the field in the first series for the Birds’ defense. He was there for each run and was around in coverage, as well.
  • Things are not looking good for Josh Jobe. With a crowded cornerback room fighting for one, perhaps two spots on the 53-man, his allowing catches on plays the QB stares down his man the entire play and missing tackles in the open field would seem to put him on the bottom of the list for guys the Eagles will be looking to keep, even on the practice squad.
  • Jason Huntley got a lot of looks in this game, but showed nothing that popped out. Lots of short gains using the same style the Eagles already have in Boston Scott, but with far worse vision. He seemed to miss the holes repeatedly and would bail on a hole when this blocker actually made the block to try and find another blocker rather than using the hole that was created.
  • Conversely, Kennedy Brooks, who would seem to be the only other option for short-yardage back on the roster, got very few snaps and these came in either passing downs (he actually caught the game-winning TD) or outside runs, which did not seem to show the one aspect of his game that would make or break his case for a spot on the squad.
  • Jalen Reagor made quite a few catches in the contest. At times, it almost looked like Minshew was being asked just to look for him. Hopefully the showing was enough to convince a team like the Bears or Broncos to make a significant offer for the WR as the Eagles will be facing a roster crunch at the position and getting something back for someone on that bubble would be ideal.
  • The Eagles defensive line was pretty bad when they got down to the third string. That shouldn’t be a huge surprise given they had several starters not play and only have five defensive ends on the roster, but with eight DT’s, it’d be nice to see more out of that position group’s depth.
  • Of the young secondary guys, the most active would seem to be safety Reed Blankenship. He operated as a successful gunner and filled the free safety role well. His work at deep safety remains untested, however, as nearly all his deep coverage wound up being on runs. Statistically, he actually ended the game as the lead tackler with eight.
  • Rookie quarterback Carson Strong has yet to see the field, but Reid Sinnett, the favorite for the third-string quarterback hob, took quite some time to get going. He looked terrible until a 14-yard completion seemed to snap him out of the funk and the offense was able to maintain their first drive since the first quarter.
  • Tight end Noah Togiai, who originally joined the Eagles as a free agent, was claimed off waivers, then brought back when he was waived by the Colts, seemed to be the go-to guy for Sinnett. He hauled in every pass thrown his way.

New York Jets at Philadelphia Eagles – August 12, 2022

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