Well yikes, that was ugly.
While the Eagles' best players watched from the sideline — Nelson Agholor, Zach Ertz, Brandon Graham, DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery, Malcolm Jenkins, Lane Johnson, Jason Kelce, Jason Peters, Isaac Seumalo, Darren Sproles, Carson Wentz — a collection of subs stunk up the joint.
The Eagles opened up the 2019 preseason with a 27-10 loss Thursday night to the Titans at the Linc.
Worse, they lost backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld to a wrist injury late in the second quarter. He left the field with an air cast on his left, non-throwing arm. Head coach Doug Pederson said Sudfeld suffered a break that will require surgery. However, it's not a season-ending injury (see story).
The good news? The game is over, and opening day is one day closer.
So let's get going with our 10 instant observations.
1. Terrible seeing Sudfeld get hurt late in the second quarter, especially happening on a cheap shot late hit by Titans rookie Isaiah Mack. Sudfeld was under a tremendous amount of scrutiny going into the season as the No. 2, and he played well — 10 for 18, 177 yards, 75-yard TD to Marken Michel. Losing him, the Eagles lose a veteran in his fourth year in this offense who’s smart, athletic, throws a strong deep ball and knows the offense as well as anybody.
No word yet on how long Sudfeld will be out, but considering Carson Wentz’s injury history, it’s a precarious situation. Cody Kessler has played in the league and had some success as a rookie with the Browns, but he’s still very new to the offense and certainly didn't look sharp Thursday night. Rookie fifth-round pick Clayton Thorson was horrendous against the Titans. And there's nobody else.
Depending on how long Sudfeld is out, the Eagles have to decide whether to go with Wentz and Kessler or bring somebody in. They're not going to sign Colin Kaepernick or Sam Bradford. Any QB who’s out on the street right now is out there for a reason. And what QB is going to come here knowing that once Sudfeld comes back, they’re probably the No. 3?
Whatever happens, it just emphasizes what we already know. Wentz has to stay healthy.
2. As for Kessler, he’s 26 and has made 12 starts in his career, eight with the Browns in 2016 and four last year with the Jaguars. He’s completed 64 percent of his passes with eight TDs and five interceptions. He’s not the worst backup in the world, but he’s still new in this offense, and he was shaky Thursday night, going 3 for 6 for just 12 yards and making a pretty bad decision to run on a 3rd-and-11. He got one yard. He’ll play a lot the next few weeks. He has to be better.
3. I absolutely, positively, without exception, do not want to see Carson Wentz play football until Sept. 8.
4. Didn’t like what I saw from the Eagles’ linebackers for the most part. Which is a problem because with Kamu Grugier-Hill out and Nigel Bradham not back yet, some of these guys are going to have to play. Zach Brown did some nice things, but Nate Gerry had a tough night, L.J. Fort was up and down and T.J. Edwards struggled. Not a good performance. The bottom-of-the-roster corners were even worse, but they won't be here.
5. Tough to really evaluate the running backs because neither Miles Sanders nor Jordan Howard had much room to navigate while they were in the game. Sanders was 3 for 3 rushing and Howard 3 for 8, but neither one had anywhere to go behind the second-team offensive line. Clearly, whatever slim chance Josh Adams has to make the team depends on his ability to hold onto the ball, so that fumble didn’t help. I’d like to see Sanders play a lot more next week behind the first O-line.
6. Josh Sweat is one guy I really wanted to see produce Thursday night, but I didn’t see a lot from the second-year defensive end, although to be fair he did go up against a pretty good tackle much of the night in three-time Pro Bowler Taylor Lewan. The Eagles seem really high on Sweat, a fourth-round pick last year, but really nothing is settled at D-end behind Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett and Vinny Curry. Interesting to note that another defensive end, one-time Panthers third-round pick Daeshon Hall, had a nice overall game with six tackles and a strip sack, and Penn State rookie Shareef Miller also had a sack and a tackle for loss. I think Sweat has the team made, but I’d like to see him get going soon.
7. One guy I was impressed with was Andre Dillard, the rookie first-round left tackle. He’s such a different kind of player than Jason Peters. He doesn’t have that massive stature and unlimited power that Peters has. But I liked his technique and footwork Thursday night and going up some veteran pass rushers he looked like he belonged. I still need to be convinced he can run block at a high level, but overall it was a promising start.
8. Don’t even know what to say about Thorson. I felt bad for the kid. That might have been the worst QB performance I’ve ever seen. The rookie fifth-round pick was 2 for 9 for seven yards and an interception for a 0.0 passer rating. He didn’t just miss guys, he was throwing the ball 10 yards over their heads. He’s been struggling at practice, but this was tough to watch. You always want to be patient with young quarterbacks, but this was brutal.
9. It was encouraging to see Jake Elliott make a 53-yard field goal in the first quarter … then he missed a 40-yarder in the second quarter. Elliott obviously has a huge leg, but I’m still not convinced he can be consistent enough to be the Eagles’ long-term answer. Elliott ranks 18th of 29 kickers at 84 percent over the last two years, and he’s also 18th of 29 from 50 yards and out at 64 percent.
10. This is not news, but, man, Dallas Goedert is so good and so much fun to watch. He played only a couple series but caught three passes for 50 yards from Sudfeld and just looks so athletic and fast, and he’s got those nice soft hands and catches the ball so effortlessly. The Eagles didn’t play a lot of their regulars, but Goedert just jumps out at you. I’m trying to not get carried away with all this, but last year Zach Ertz and Goedert combined for 149 catches (116, 33). They could do that again and have it split something like 83 and 66 and be a more dangerous offense because of it.
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