Here are ten takeaways from last night’s Eagles/Packers game, penned by our Eagles writer, Anthony DiBona. Follow Anthony on Twitter (@Anthony_DiBona).
The third and most important preseason game for the Philadelphia Eagles is over after the Birds dominated the Green Bay Packers in a 39-26 victory at Lambeau Field. Although the score may make it appear like it was a close game, the Eagles controlled the action from the opening kickoff. While many people consider the third preseason game a “dress rehersel” for the regular season, the Packers weren’t really treating it as one.
Green Bay elected to rest their star quarterback Aaron Rodgers, which was disappointing since going up against the league’s best would have been a good test for the Eagles new-look secondary. But considering they just lost their best wide receiver, Jordy Nelson, to a season ending knee injury in their second preseason game, it’s understandable. That being said, there was still plenty that stood out during the Birds’ latest game. Here are ten takeaways from the Eagles impressive performance against one of the best team’s in the NFC:
1) Sam Bradford was perfect…literally
While he somehow failed to receive a perfect passer rating, Sam Bradford was perfect on the night. After a rusty performance against the Ravens, Bradford looked as good as he ever has in the NFL. Completing all 10 of his passes, Bradford racked up 121 passing yards and threw three touchdowns against the Packers’ first-team defense. That includes a unit that had Clay Matthews and Mike Neal make their preseason debuts. Bradford looked unstoppable and was spreading the ball all over.
Here’s a video recapping all 10 of Bradford’s passes on the night:
2) Three headed monster at RB on display once again
Saturday night marked another impressive showing by the Eagles’ stable of running backs. Chip Kelly elected to use all three running backs once again on the team’s opening drive. DeMarco Murray got a few carries and caught a couple of screen passes as well. Ryan Mathews came in following Murray’s touches and pounded the ball for a first down and then Darren Sproles came in to top it all off. Sproles ran a beautiful wheel route and Bradford lofted the ball perfectly to him for a touchdown. It’s awesome to see Kelly use all three of the dangerous weapons in his backfield.
3) Starting inside linebackers look rusty in preseason debut
While the offense was firing on all cylinders, the defense played well overall. There was nothing spectacular about their performance but one thing did stand out. In their preseason debuts, Mychal Kendricks and DeMeco Ryans certainly looked rusty. Especially Kendricks who whiffed on a tackle or two and got beat in coverage once. It’s a bit of a letdown for the team to extend Kendricks’ contract and then have him put on a performance like he did last night. That being said, it’s just preseason and they are knocking the rust off. Speaking of inside linebackers…
4) What in the world is going on with Kiko Alonso?
It seemed like everyone, including Kiko Alonso, believed he would make his Eagles’ debut last night. But that sadly didn’t happen. Kelly said Alonso was held out due to a “nagging leg issue” which certainly isn’t a good sign. I get scared whenever I hear of a nagging injury because those tend to linger and can impact a player for a prolonged period of time. It’ll be interesting to see if Alonso suits up for their final preseason game against the Jets, just to get some sort of game action prior to the start of the regular season. Either way, count me as one of Alonso’s skeptics.
Chip Kelly said Kiko Alonso has a nagging leg issue.
— Jeff McLane (@Jeff_McLane) August 30, 2015
5) Walter Thurmond continues to impress
Back in June, Walter Thurmond announced he would be making the transition from cornerback to safety. While Thurmond has spent most of his NFL career in the slot, he’s transitioned just fine to his new-found position. Thurmond has an interception in back to back games including a “pick-six” in last night’s game off rookie quarterback Brett Hundley. Thurmond has the length and athleticism the Eagles love in their secondary and he appears to be a perfect fit opposite fellow starting safety Malcolm Jenkins.
Here’s a look at Thurmond’s interception from last night’s game:
6) Second-team secondary struggles
Although the Eagles’ starting secondary had an impressive performance, their back-ups couldn’t say the same thing. Eric Rowe, E.J. Biggers and Ed Reynolds all struggled last night (maybe it’s something with the “E’s”?). While Rowe has continued to give up far too much separation in coverage, he also continues to show strong effort after the catch to make a play on the ball. He’s also a rookie that spent just one season in college playing cornerback and needs time to grow. Biggers finally returned to earth after a shockingly impressive start to his Eagles’ career, Reynolds also struggled after two solid performances to begin the preseason.
7) Najee Goode plays well, finally
After struggling badly during the Eagles’ preseason opener, Najee Goode has bounced back the past two weeks. Especially with his performance against the Packers, where he looked unstoppable at times. Goode was impressive as a blitzer and showed the potential that many saw prior to his injury last season. Sadly, Goode may be on the outside looking in when it comes to the Eagles’ final cuts. With Kendricks, Ryans, Alonso and Hicks all guaranteed a roster spot, it looks like Goode will lose out to veteran Brad Jones for the final spot due to Jones’ versatility. With another impressive performance against the Jets, Goode could make a case to make another team’s final roster though…which would be Goode for him. Too much? Okay, I’m sorry.
Another great hit by Najee Goode, though nullified by a penalty. His timing and penetration have been incredible tonight.
8) Matt Barkley and Tim Tebow stink up the place
It’s been a roller coaster ride for the Eagles’ duo of quarterbacks vying for the third spot on the depth chart. Except that roller coaster has been going downward for quite some time now. After an impressive opening performance to the preseason, both Matt Barkley and Tim Tebow have struggled. Many were hoping Barkley would boost his nonexistent trade value while Tebow would make the final roster. Except now it looks like neither one is really an NFL quarterback and the Eagles may be looking elsewhere for their third quarterback. Ouch!
9) Taylor Hart shines for the second consecutive week
Last week during my ten takeaways from the Eagles vs. Ravens game, I singled out defensive end Taylor Hart for his performance. This week, Hart stood out once again and it seems like that “redshirt” rookie season really helped him. With defensive end Vinny Curry spending some time at outside linebacker, Hart could be relied upon as the top reserve defensive linemen but he certainly looks ready for that time to come. Hart has put on weight but still held on to his athleticism and impressive quickness.
DE Taylor Hart has flashed on a few plays tonight. The light has really come on for him.
— Tommy Lawlor (@lawlornfl) August 30, 2015
10) All Kenjon Barner does is make big plays
Another week, another big play for running back Kenjon Barner. Although the last two weeks, Barner made a name for himself as an explosive punt returner, this week he changed it up a bit. Barner showed off his wheels once again, but this time it was as a pass catcher out of the backfield. Barner took a screen pass from Mark Sanchez 50 yards while cutting all the way across the field and flipping the field for the Birds. Just another impressive play as Barner continues to make a strong case for the Eagles to keep him in town.
Barner even received notoriety for the impressive catch and run from the NFL’s official Twitter account:
— NFL (@NFL) August 30, 2015
All in all, another dominant performance from the Eagles. Check back here next week when I have my ten takeaways from the Eagles/Jets game. And make sure you keep it at PhillyInfluencer.com for some of the best Eagles coverage around.