The lone NFL game that was being played Sunday was between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Indianapolis Colts. I was at the game yesterday so I feel like I am an actual beat writer for the team writing this. I am just going to soak in this moment. Now back to business here. Since it was the first game there were many players who were sitting out. The big names for the Eagles that were inactive were Sam Bradford, DeMarco Murray, Kiko Alonso, Mychal Kendricks, and DeMeco Ryans. The Colts were without T.Y. Hilton and former Eagle (kinda) Frank Gore. Although the entirety of the Eagles offense and defense were not on display, you could get a feel of how things could go this year based off of the 36-10 drubbing of the Colts. Here are some things I noticed from Sunday’s contest.
Let’s start with Chip Kelly’s forte, the offense. The majority of the first quarter was taken by Mark Sanchez who was getting the first team reps with Bradford out. If this was truly an open competition for quarterback like Kelly said back in July, Sanchez did himself no favors. He completed two out of seven of his passes and even his touchdown to Nelson Agholor was a terrible pass. The play before Agholor’s explosive touchdown catch and run, Sanchez missed a wide open Jordan Matthews across the middle of the field. This was on a play that Kelly had much success with a year ago. It was a play showcased against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving day.
Sanchez with a play fake, rolls to his left, and Matthews is wide open over the middle of the field. Yesterday, Sanchez just flat out missed him. Matthews did finish with 2 receptions for 44 yards, a guy I expect to breakout after his big rookie campaign. Nelson Agholor stood out to me yesterday as well. He had a touchdown where he showcased his speed and finished with 3 catches for 57 yards. He wasn’t perfect as he did have a drop, but he looked good in his first game. The first string offensive line is one of the biggest question marks but looked good when they were out there. Sanchez was not sacked and did not face much pressure. Andrew Gardner and Allen Barbre seemed to play well as they are trying to fill in the guard spots vacated by Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans.
The third string quarterback battle that I mentioned in my Tebow article was on display yesterday as well. Matt Barkley was the second quarterback to play for the Eagles. He looked good going 12-20 for 192 yards but did have an interception.
This is just a throw that Matt Barkley has to make if he wants to separate himself from Tebow. The receiver is wide open across the thrity yard line and Barkley gets the ball tipped and intercepted at the line of scrimmage. Other than this play, Barkley looked sharp and was the best of the three quarterbacks. One of the most fun parts of the game was when Tim Tebow entered the game in the third quarter. He got an ovation and made a motion to quiet the crowd down. It was great. He even started out 2-2 but went 4-10 passing the rest of the way. He took some bad sacks as he was not making quick enough decisions but did run for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Now it is time for the defense. I firmly believe that the greatest strength of this team is their defensive line. The first string Colts offense could not run the ball yesterday. Bennie Logan and Fletcher Cox were continually wrecking havoc in the backfield. Second round pick Eric Rowe had a nice game yesterday. His best play was a fumble he forced on Phillip Dorsett in the second quarter. But the Eagles biggest question mark, the secondary, did little to stop Andrew Luck in his limited action. Although there were no big plays, Luck had his way with the defense going 5-6 for 43 yards. He was moving the team effortlessly until he was taken out mid-drive for Matt Hasselbeck. The player that stood out the most was backup safety Ed Reynolds. A fifth round pick in 2014 and a practice squad player last season, Reynolds had two interceptions late in the ball game. He made a great case to make the 53 man roster, especially with the weak safety play on the team.
The special teams was once again very special for the Eagles. Kenjon Barner took back a 92 yard punt for a touchdown to end the first half yesterday. There was also a huge negative from the special teams. Cody Parkey missed the “new” extra point and missed a field goal in the game which is concerning even though he had a good season last year. That is an issue that will be closely monitored next Saturday against the Ravens.
Overall, there were many things to take away from this game that can be built on and improved. Now we get a chance to see Sam Bradford in live action.