Nate Sudfeld

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

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

BOX SCORE 

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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Roob's 10 observations from Eagles-Steelers preseason game

Roob's 10 observations from Eagles-Steelers preseason game

BOX SCORE

The Eagles played football Thursday night for the first time since the Super Bowl, and like most preseason openers, there was a lot of ugliness, a lot of of mistakes, a lot of sloppy play but also plenty of encouraging signs (see breakdown).

Three more weeks of this and it’s time to do it for real. It can't come soon enough! 

Here are our 10 instant observations off the Eagles’ 31-14 loss to the Steelers at the Linc:

1. Honestly, I’m OK if the key guys on the starting defense don’t play again until Sept. 6. That won’t happen, but I just feel like this group is ready to go. I know the Steelers didn’t play several of their starters, including Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell, but the Eagles’ first defense held Pittsburgh to two yards on two drives and then Doug Pederson and Jim Schwartz correctly got it off the field just five minutes into the game. This front seven is lethal, and the secondary is stocked. The defense was very good last year, and it's even better now. There’s not much more I need to see before Sept. 6.

2. With 26- and 19-yard catches over the middle and a 15-yard catch and run for a touchdown, you guys all saw why I’ve been raving about Dallas Goedert all summer. He doesn’t carry himself like a rookie, and he doesn’t practice like a rookie, and he doesn’t play like a rookie. The drop was unfortunate, but it was also the first I’ve ever seen from Goedert, and he gets a Mulligan for a bad drop in his first pro game. The rookie tight end finished with four catches for 66 yards and a TD in his NFL debut despite playing only the first half. I like the way he runs routes, I like the way he secures the ball, I like the way he puts his head down and fights for extra yards, I like the way he blocks, I like everything about his game. I’ll keep saying this — Goedert is going to be a stud. Not next year, not sometime in the future. Now.

3. Nate Sudfeld was all over the place, but he did enough good things that overall I like what I saw. He did throw two interceptions, but it looked like on the second one Bryce Treggs ran the wrong route. Sudfeld was accurate (10 for 14, 71 percent), he got the ball in the end zone (TDs to Goedert and Shelton Gibson) and he showed great touch on a deep ball (63-yarder to Gibson). This is a kid who wasn’t even with the Eagles in training camp last summer and started the season on the practice squad. That first INT was bad, but I’m convinced he can play in the league, and nothing I saw Thursday night made me think otherwise. 

4. Sudfeld to Goedert for a touchdown has a nice ring to it, doesn't it? That's why I tweeted this late Thursday morning! 

5. Man, how about the way Gibson exploded on that deep ball? He separated easily from cornerback Dashaun Phillips and caught that bomb from Sudfeld cleanly and without breaking stride dashed into the end zone. Gibson has looked like a different guy than last year in practice, and it was really encouraging to see him carry that over onto the field on game night. Gibson’s longest catch in last year’s preseason went for 14 yards, and he actually had more yards on the TD (63) than all of last preseason (56) and then just one 11-yard catch all year. He just looks like a different guy. His confidence, shot last year, is sky high, and you saw it on that play. Gibson added a 14-yard catch from Joe Callahan late in the game, finishing 2 for 77. The Eagles have tremendous wide receiver depth this summer, and Gibson might be the most improved guy in the bunch.

6. I wasn’t crazy about Tre Sullivan’s effort on that JuJu Smith-Schuster touchdown. Sullivan was late getting over to help Rasul Douglas, and I watched the replay a bunch of times, and he just wasn’t running full tilt toward the play. And then Sullivan just kind of ran along with Smith-Schuster without at least trying to make a tackle. I like Sullivan, but you’re trying to make a 53-man roster and the Eagles just signed Corey Graham at your position, you need a little more effort than that.

7. Good night for Josh Adams. The undrafted rookie running back from Notre Dame was 6 for 30 rushing and caught two passes. Showed a nice burst, a good knack for finding the hole and fought through traffic. Wendell Smallwood had some nice runs but also a bad fumble (that the Eagles recovered). Donnel Pumphrey and Matt Jones didn't play, and they need to get healthy to get back in the mix because they lost ground to Adams Thursday night. The battle for that fourth running back spot behind Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement and Darren Sproles might go down to the wire, but safe to say that on a day when Smallwood fumbled and Pumphrey and Jones watched from the sidelines, Adams really helped himself.

8. Kamu Grugier-Hill has been almost exclusively a special teamer in his two seasons with the Eagles. He’s played 530 snaps on special teams and just 86 on defense — 53 of them in that meaningless season-ender last year against the Cowboys. But I’ll tell you what, he’s really active, instinctive and quick out there. I wonder about his size — he’s just 230 pounds — and how he can hold up over a full season, but right now he’s been the most impressive of the group in that competition for the weakside linebacker spot, and he showed up Thursday night. Nate Gerry didn’t do anything to hurt himself, but Grugier-Hill is just always around the football, and we saw that against the Steelers.

9. I wasn’t sure what to expect from Cameron Johnston, and the rookie from Ohio State has some big shoes to fill, but he crushed it Thursday night. The heir apparent to Donnie Jones averaged 44.0 yards on five punts, with three inside the 20. And that doesn’t even include an 81-yarder that was negated by a penalty on Richard Rodgers. The concern with Johnston isn’t his leg strength, it’s his consistency, but this was an auspicious debut.

10. It’s about time Clyde Simmons and Seth Joyner find their way into the Eagles' Hall of Fame. You’re talking about two of the greatest late-round picks in NFL history, eighth- and ninth-round picks in 1986 who went on to become flat-out studs. Those rounds don’t even exist anymore. Simmons' 121½ sacks ranked 10th in NFL history when he retired after the 2000 season, and Joyner remains the only player in NFL history with 50 sacks and 20 interceptions. Two all-time greats, and this is long overdue. Now we can work on getting Wes Hopkins and Andre Waters in. 

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

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

BOX SCORE

With Nick Foles and Carson Wentz watching on, the Eagles played their first game at Lincoln Financial Field since the NFC Championship Game.

This one wasn’t as fun.

Anyway, the Eagles’ first-team defense dominated, Dallas Goedert looked like a stud and Nate Sudfeld threw two touchdown passes, but the Eagles still lost Thursday, 31-14, to the Steelers at the Linc (see observations).

Not that the score matters any. Here are some things that matter more:

The Sudfeld Show
Good and bad from Sudfeld, which is kind of what we’ve seen all camp from him. A little too much inconsistency. He had a couple picks, although one looked like Bryce Treggs deserved the blame. And there are times he simply has to learn to get rid of the ball.

But he does that stuff and then tosses an absolute dime of a deep ball to Shelton Gibson for a long touchdown. Or he rolls right and fires in a touchdown pass to Goedert. The tools are there. And it's easy to see why the Eagles think so much of him. 

Sudfeld completed 10 of 14 passes for 140 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He played the entire first half before Joe Callahan took over.

Goedert looks good
There were a couple little hiccups along the way, but rookie tight end Goedert looks good. He had an uncharacteristic drop and missed a blocking assignment in the first half, but more than made up for it. He caught a touchdown pass in the first half, something we should get used to. He seems to have a knack for making plays in the red zone.

He finished with four catches for 66 yards and a touchdown. Solid NFL debut.

Dominating D
The Eagles’ first-team defense didn’t play long, but it was dominant. The unit got two sacks — one from Fletcher Cox, one from Malcolm Jenkins and Nigel Bradham. The group gave up just two yards on six plays.

The next drive, the second-team defense gave up 88 yards on four plays. The big one came when Landry Jones hit JuJu Smith-Schuster for a 71-yarder down the sideline. Rasul Douglas was in good position but didn’t get a good jump on the ball.

Up and down for Douglas
Douglas redeemed himself later, with a great read and interception late in the second quarter. Just got a great jump and got a pick.

But then a little bit later, he gave up a touchdown to Damoun Patterson on a brilliant throw from Josh Dobbs. The throw was great, but it’s still Douglas’ man.

A scary moment
With just under seven minutes left in the second quarter, there was a scary moment when Nate Gerry ran into Sidney Jones while trying to make a tackle. Jones had trouble getting up before making his way off the field and to the trainer’s table. Jones got his left foot checked out before getting it re-taped and rejoining his teammates on the sideline. He didn’t return, but that was probably just a precaution. Phew.

Speed kills
Gibson simply beat his man on that 63-yard touchdown in the second quarter. He showed his ability to separate from a corner. Gibson was so bad last year, but made the team after being a fifth-round draft pick. That patience is paying off. It seems like he’s going to earn his spot on the team this year.

Crazy defensive line
On third downs, we saw Chris Long, Michael Bennett, Cox and Derek Barnett on the field together. That’s scary. And they will eventually get Brandon Graham back. On one particular play, Cox simply walked back his interior lineman. Unfair.

New helmet rule
We saw our first lowering the helmet call and it was probably a pretty fair one. Jones came in when a Steeler was already wrapped up and lowered his helmet to tackle him. Flag immediately. It extended a touchdown drive for the Steelers. Richard Rodgers was called for one that crushed the Eagles on a crazy long punt. The Eagles have to be aware of this new rule.

WOAHHHH
Honest to God, the most amazing thing I saw all night was Cameron Johnston’s 81-yard punt that didn’t even count thanks to that penalty on Rodgers.

Johnston has been wildly inconsistent all training camp and even in this game, but he booted a freakin’ ball 81 yards on a punt. The returner looked amazed as it soared over his head.

Pump the brakes
Donnel Pumphrey, desperately trying to not be known as a draft bust, didn’t play for unknown reasons. Pump hadn’t missed practice time, so his being out is a surprise. After a terrible preseason as a rookie (he averaged 1.9 yards per carry), Pumphrey missed a chance to show something in a preseason game.

Turning some heads
With Pump out, undrafted rookie Josh Adams had a good showing. It’s worth remembering he was going against deep reserves, but gotta like what we saw. He broke off some good ones. He’s in the race for that fourth RB job.

Missing in action
Along with Pumphrey, Foles (neck spasms), Mike Wallace (tendinitis), Nelson Agholor, Markus Wheaton, Matt Jones, Ian Park and Asantay Brown all didn’t play. Neither did the guys on NFI/PUP: Graham, Alshon Jeffery, Chris Maragos, Tim Jernigan.

Up next
The Eagles are on the road next Thursday for a Super Bowl LII rematch against the Patriots in Foxboro. They kick off the regular season in four weeks at home against the Falcons. 

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