Studs, duds, turning point and more from Eagles-Patriots preseason game

Studs, duds, turning point and more from Eagles-Patriots preseason game


FOXBORO, Mass. — It wasn’t a good night for Nick Foles.

Then he got hurt.

The Eagles’ quarterback, in his first action of this preseason, had his struggles early on Thursday night, and then thanks to an injury, never got to get things on track as the Eagles fell to the Patriots, 37-20, in a Super Bowl LII rematch.

Early in the second quarter, Adrian Clayborn hit Foles on his throwing arm on a strip sack. While the Patriots were returning the fumble for a touchdown, Foles was clutching at his arm in some pain.

After getting checked out in a pop-up tent on the sideline, the Eagles said Foles suffered a shoulder strain. He didn’t return to the game, but was able to stay on the sideline. That seemed like a good sign.

Foles completed just 3 of 9 passes for 44 yards and was sacked a few times. It wasn’t just Foles; the entire first-team offense (and second-team offense) struggled to get going.

Offensive struggles
Like we said, the offense really struggled to get going. Some of that was pass protection. Some of that is probably because of a lack of playmakers. Corey Clement, Nelson Agholor and Alshon Jeffery weren’t out there tonight. The offense is going to be different without those guys.

Suds dropping dimes
Nate Sudfeld had a great game in relief of Foles. He was making it rain all night (see 10 observations). His throw to Shelton Gibson on the early touchdown was perfect. He threw a great 28-yarder to Dallas Goedert in the first half.

In the second half, Suds threw a perfect fade to Goedert in the end zone but it was batted away. He came back on the next play with another perfect pass, this time to Richard Rodgers. He later threw another perfect pass to Gibson for a 57-yard gain. He threw another perfect touchdown pass to Rashard Davis.

Gibson flashes
For the second straight game, Gibson caught a touchdown pass. He didn’t catch a long bomb for a TD like he did last week, but he ran a great route in the red zone. The touchdown came after he got injured earlier in the same series. After going to the sideline to get checked out, Gibson returned and on his first play back, caught a TD. He also had a 57-yarder in the second half, showing off that speed.

And he also flashed on special teams.

He’s still learning the position with the new kickoff rules, but Gibson looks pretty good as a kick returner. He took one back 46 yards and was really close to turning the corner and possibly taking it all the way back. Gibson had four kick returns for 121 yards (30.3 per return).

Defense rebounds
The Eagles’ first-team defense didn’t get off to a good start against some guy named Tom Brady. Brady completed all five of his passes on the first drive of the game to get the Patriots in the end zone on eight plays over 63 yards.

From there, though, the Eagles’ first-team defense settled in some.

But after most of the Eagles’ starters were out, Brady moved the ball down the field easily on a last touchdown drive of the first half to put the Patriots up 27-7. Brady played the entire first half, throwing for 172 yards and two TD passes.

Catching issues
Three drops for Matt Jones. He’s trying to make the team, but that won’t help. He did make a few grabs too.

Faked out
Sidney Jones had good moments tonight, but he had a really bad one too. Cordarrelle Patterson caught a ball right in front of him, put his left foot in the dirt and cut back, leaving Jones in his dust. Patterson easily scored a touchdown. It was an ugly play from the Eagles’ talented young corner.

New penalties
The Eagles got called for three lowering-the-helmet calls. Rodney McLeod, Nigel Bradham and Jeremy Reaves got called for them.

Depth chart look
Jones got the start as the Eagles’ nickel, but rotated with Avonte Maddox with that first team. Kamu Grugier-Hill was the first-team WILL. Haloti Ngata started at DT next to Fletcher Cox; previously we have seen Destiny Vaeao there.

Missing in action
The following players didn’t play: Carson Wentz, Jalen Mills Agholor, Clement, Mack Hollins, Josh Adams, Donnel Pumphrey, Chandon Sullivan, Asantay Brown and Markus Wheaton.

Agholor and Clement are dealing with lower-body injuries. Pederson has said the team is resting them and getting them ready for Week 1.

Mills left practice early on Tuesday with an unknown injury. Rasul Douglas started in his place.

WR Bryce Treggs (hamstring), TE Rodgers (knee), S Stephen Roberts (ankle), OT Taylor Hart (cramping), WR Kamar Aiken (hamstring) left the game early. TE Josh Perkins left to be evaluated for a concussion.

Up next
The Eagles are on the road next week for their third preseason game. They’ll play the Browns in Cleveland next Thursday, which means we might see them on HBO’s "Hard Knocks." More importantly, the third preseason game is known as the dress rehearsal. That’s when we’ll likely see the starters play deeper into the game. 

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Saints plan against Eagles was to ‘put the game on Wentz’

Saints plan against Eagles was to ‘put the game on Wentz’

The Saints had a plan coming into Sunday’s game: Make Carson Wentz beat them. 

He obviously couldn’t. 

We know the Saints’ plan because NBC Sports’ Peter King was embedded with Sean Payton the Saints for their preparations Saturday night and he learned some fascinating things. One of the most fascinating things was how the Saints wanted the game to go. 

Here’s an excerpt from King’s Football Morning in America:

And then, a bit of a surprise. “We want to put the game on [Eagles quarterback Carson] Wentz,” Payton said. Payton likes Wentz as a player, but his player-personnel analyst, Ryan Herman, gives him trends and numbers every week, and Payton tells the group two interesting ones about Wentz, from Herman: The Eagles are 1-11 when Wentz plays and they allow more than 26 points. And he’s 0-9 when he passes for between 308 and 364 yards, the point being if he does that, the Eagles likely won’t be running the ball well, and the Saints feel they can beat a one-dimensional offense.

Wentz had what was probably the worst game of his professional career Sunday in New Orleans, passing for 156 yards and three interceptions (see story)

If nothing else, this is proof to Doug Pederson to avoid being one-dimensional. His lack of commitment to the run game, at times, can play right into what the opposition wants. As far as Wentz, I’m sure this is true to some extent with most quarterbacks. Most teams would rather face a one-dimensional offense. But it’s still worth noting the Saints were comfortable seeing if Wentz could beat them. 

The other telling part of King’s column was that the Saints wanted to attack Sidney Jones as he returned from a hamstring injury. 

“Our emphasis in this game is to run at 22 [cornerback Sidney Jones],” Payton said. “He’s coming off a hamstring, and we don’t think he can hold up.”

They were right. On the Saints’ first play from scrimmage, they ran right at Jones. Mark Ingram ran through an arm-tackle attempt from Jones and scurried for a gain of 38 yards. The Saints also wanted to throw at Jones and they did. 

Eventually, Jones might be a good player (I still think he will be), but Sunday, he was an inexperienced corner coming off a soft tissue injury. The Saints had a good plan to exploit him and, sure enough, Jones didn’t finish the game. He left with a hamstring injury again.

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Against Saints, Eagles see a Carson Wentz we've never seen before

Against Saints, Eagles see a Carson Wentz we've never seen before

NEW ORLEANS — This was a Carson Wentz we’ve never seen before.

Throwing balls up for grabs. Making poor decisions. Unable to get into a rhythm. Making mistake after mistake.

And never being able to fix it.

Wentz stumbled through the worst game of his three-year NFL career Sunday against the NFL’s 31st-ranked pass defense.

The 48 part of 48-7 wasn’t that surprising. The Saints have been doing this to everybody.

The 7 part was shocking, considering the Saints had been allowing nearly 30 points a game.

“I’ve played a lot of football games in my career and this is one of the worst losses I’ve ever been a part of, and yes, it’s frustrating,” Wentz said. “It’s frustrating all the way around. Offensively, defensively, special teams. We just got beat. We have to be better, and it starts with me.”

Until Sunday, Wentz had been able to overcome his slow starts with big finishes.

Against a Saints defense that had given up 19 touchdowns and had just six interceptions while allowing a monstrous 108.8 passer rating through nine games, Wentz was 19 for 33 for 156 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions.

“The last couple weeks, it’s (been) frustrating,” Wentz said. “I definitely take a lot of it on my plate, on my shoulders. I have to come out better.”

How bad was Wentz?

• He became the first Eagle to throw three interceptions and no touchdowns in a game since Matt Barkley against the Cowboys in 2013, the first starting QB to do it since Donovan McNabb against the Panthers in the 2003 playoffs and the first in a regular-season game since Ty Detmer against the Colts in 1996.

• Wentz’s 31.9 passer rating is lowest by an Eagles starting quarterback in 11 years, since A.J. Feeley had a 30.0 rating against the Seahawks in a 28-24 loss at the Linc.

• It’s also worst against the Saints since Mark Sanchez had a 27.0 rating in a 24-10 win over the Jets in 2009.

• Wentz saw his NFL-record streak of games with at least one TD pass and one or fewer interceptions end at 22.

• Wentz also saw his streak of consecutive games with a passer rating of at least 83 end at 21, three short of Peyton Manning’s record streak of 24.

The Eagles have now lost five of their last seven games after a 2-1 start, and Wentz, like everybody else, has no answers.

“We know what we’re capable of,” he said. “I know. The product that we’re putting out there is not up to our standards. I’m not playing up to my standards. I think you go down the list and everybody is saying that.

“But we know the guys we have. We know the talent we have. We know the chemistry we have. It just hasn’t clicked out there all together. At the end of the day, all that really matters is the guys in that building. The guys in that locker room. We all believe. That belief is never going to go anywhere. You’ll never see us quit.”

Wentz’s numbers until Sunday were exceptional, but the Eagles are a 4-6 team that’s won two games since Week 3.

Wentz needs to be better. He needs to start better. He needs to finish better. He needs to be more consistent. He needs to raise the level of the people around him.

Without Wentz playing at an elite level, this team has no chance.

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