The Eagles' defense looked stout Thursday night.
The offense might have a little ways to go.
First, though, the good: Tyrod Taylor and the Bills just couldn’t get anything going against Jim Schwartz's first and second units.
Eventually, fourth-string quarterback Dane Evans led the Eagles to a late touchdown drive and the defense held up to pull off a 20-16 win at the Linc (see 10 observations).
The Eagles are now 1-1 in the 2017 preseason. Not that it matters.
What does matter is the Eagles' defense held Taylor and the Bills to just three points in the first half; Taylor and his offensive line came out with about three minutes left in the second quarter. Taylor and the Bills' offense had just 86 yards on 29 plays against the Eagles' first and second units. It won't show up in the box score, but Fletcher Cox was dominant. Mychal Kendricks was everywhere. And the new guy picked off a pass.
While the Eagles' defense looked great, Carson Wentz and the offense struggled, going three-and-out on their first three drives.
Alshon Jeffery and Ronald Darby made their debuts with the Eagles against the Bills.
Tough start on offense
Doug Pederson planned to have his offense on the field for just a series or two, but it couldn't get anything going. On the first three drives, Wentz and the offense had just five yards on nine plays. Pederson clearly didn't want them to leave the game on that note.
So on the fourth drive, the offense came out using hurry-up tempo and it worked (see story). The Eagles went 55 yards before LeGarrette Blount fumbled the ball away after a catch.
Wentz finished the game going 6 for 9 for 56 yards and a passer rating of 83.6.
Wentz and Jeffery
The Eagles' quarterback had his big offseason acquisition in a game with him for the first time this preseason. Things didn't get off to a great start. The first two times Wentz went Jeffery's way, Wentz soared the ball way over his head. Eventually, on that hurry-up drive, Wentz hit his new target on two passes for 23 yards.
Hello, Ronald Darby
Darby had a pretty good Eagles debut. He knocked down a ball that could have been a pick-six early in the game. He showed his recovery speed on that one but didn't have the hands to bring it in. A little later in the first quarter, Darby picked off a pass attempted for Anquan Boldin and then showed off his speed again, returning it 48 yards to put the Eagles in field goal range (see Grading the Win).
Trying to get traded?
Kendricks had himself a nice game. He picked off a pass for the second consecutive game and provided the pressure on the play in which Darby picked off the pass. Kendricks had two tackles, a sack, a QB hit, two tackles for loss, an interception and a pass defensed. His value hasn't been higher in a long time, but the team might be better off keeping him.
Out of action
Jason Peters missed Thursday night's game for personal reasons. In his absence, Lane Johnson slid from right to left tackle and Matt Tobin played right tackle. If nothing else, it was good practice if Johnson ever needs to play on the left side later this season. Although things didn't go to plan.
Lane to blame
Without Peters, Johnson really struggled. He gave up an easy sack to Jerry Hughes on a spin move. A little later, he was hit with a holding call. Johnson has said he has something to prove this season; he didn't look good Thursday.
Blount didn't have a very good game. He fumbled away the one drive the offense had something cooking on and before that, couldn’t get much going on the ground. For whatever reason, Pederson seemed determined to run with him outside the tackles and Blount couldn't. He had five carries for eight yards. His long was an eight-yard carry.
In the first two preseason games, Blount has nine carries for 17 yards. Yikes.
Barnett just produces
For the second straight game, Derek Barnett put a quarterback on the ground. He used a quick inside-outside counter move to sack Nathan Peterman in the third quarter. Barnett is working with the second-team defense, but he's going to play a lot as a rookie. The Eagles are going to have a hard time keeping him off the field.
Back and balling
After missing the first preseason game with a hamstring injury, Marcus Johnson was back Thursday night and played well. He had two catches for 45 yards and looked explosive. With Bryce Treggs out with leg soreness, Johnson made a good push for a roster spot. The back end of the roster at the receiver position is something to watch.
Clement making a push
Maybe Wendell Smallwood's roster spot is cemented. But Corey Clement is at least making a push. The undrafted running back out of Wisconsin (and Glassboro, New Jersey) has been running hard and getting a ton of playing time in the preseason. Smallwood, who has been out with a hamstring injury, might want to get back on the field soon.
Halapoulivaati Vaitai (knee), Nick Foles (elbow), Treggs (sore legs), Paul Turner (shoulder), Smallwood (hamstring), Ron Brooks (hamstring), Josh Andrews (hand) and Anthony Denham (calf) sat out Thursday's game.
The Eagles will host the Dolphins for joint practices next week before Thursday's preseason game against them at the Linc. It will be the return of Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso.