Opening Drive Cause For Concern?: The Steelers took the field on the opening drive, and ran the ball down the Eagles throats. Actually runs to the outside seemed to really hurt the Eagles the most. With two undersized defensive ends, I guess it makes sense to run the ball to the edges. Seeing that worried me some, and I wonder if this will be a problem all season.
This might sound crazy, but maybe with Victor Abiamiri out, the Eagles should consider starting Darren Howard or maybe even Jerome McDougle at left end. Not that these two have great size, but both would be a better option against the run than Juqua Parker. Parker also wore down some last year as a starter, and this would give him the ability to go back to being a pass rushing specialist.
Lito Sheppard gave up a pretty big pass play to Hines Ward on this drive. Looks like his his YPA is already poor! If Lito wants to be a starter, and wants a new contract he needs to stop giving up big plays.
The play that really was troubling was the touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes. On this play the Eagles blitzed the CB covering Holmes, and Brian Dawkins was then responsible for Santonio. It is a tough match up for most safeties, but in the past Dawkins has thrived in pass coverage. Big Ben saw the corner blitz pre snap, and got the ball quickly to Holmes. Dawk took an awful angle on the play, and Holmes easily ran in for the score. It was a very poorly executed play by Dawkins.
Was this just 1 bad play, or is Brian Dawkins losing it? For this to be a successful season, Eagles fans better pray it was just Brian shaking off some rust.
McNabb Sharp In His Debut: Donovan McNabb looked very good. His passes were crisp, and he was able to spread the ball around well. Number Five was 10-13, for 97 yards, and a 1 TD. He made a pretty amazing off balance throw to tight end L.J. Smith, and had a perfectly thrown rocket pass to WR Greg Lewis. Another pass to Lewis was fired in to a spot where only GLew had a chance to get it.
McNabb did a throw a fade pass in the red zone to WR Jason Avant, but Avant was unable to land his feet in bounds. A new rule put in place this year allows for push outs, and I don’t like it. Under the old rules that would have been a touchdown.
Mikell Impressive: Quintin made a big hit on rookie RB Rashard Mendenhall. Mikell actually knocked the wind out of himself on the play, but it was a good hit and he is fine. Mikell also broke up two passes with big hits. I liked Mikell last year, and I think he will be even better this year.
Winston Justice Struggled: If you watched the entire game, you saw Steelers defenders flying around Winston Justice in the 2nd half. While no calls were made against him, it also appeared like he was getting an early jump into his stance. This was troubling, because I felt he could play well at his natural position of RT, but he looked very bad.
DJax Was Impressive: The rookie WR caught 5 passes for 51 yards, and overall did well. The one catch he hauled was really sweet. The ball was behind Jackson, but he was able to turn, jump, and twist in mid air to bring it in with his hands. You can see this catch around the 1 minute mark of this highlight video. The replay they have really shows how good of an adjustment DeSean had to make. It is very early, but a good showing for DeSean Jackson.
Joe Mays Looked Pretty Good: The small kid from the small school really can lay a hit on someone. He flipped Steelers big WR Limas Sweed over the middle of the field. Coverage was supposed to be to be one of his weaknesses, but he did well there. Mays lead the team in tackles with 6 tackles. He is well ahead of Pago Tagafau in the battle for the backup MLB spot.
Max Filled In Well: I thought Max Jean-Gilles played very well in place of Pro Bowl guard Shawn Andrews. He made some really nice blocks in the run game, and stood his ground in pass protection. I think if called upon during the regular season Max could fill in at either guard spot in a pinch, and the Eagles would not have much of a drop off. They may even have to consider him possibly starting at left guard if Todd Herremans struggles during the season.
Buck Ran Hard: Correll Buckhalter looks to be in great shape. He hit the hole hard, and runs angry. Buck looks to be faster than he has been the past few years, and had some burst in his step. Despite trading for Lorenzo Booker, Buckhalter is going to be the primary backup RB. He looks better now than he ever has in his career. I think Andy Reid should give him a lot more carries this year to spell Brian Westbrook more.
Buck is a great story of courage and determination. To be able to go through 3 knee repairs in your career, and still battle back is amazing. Buck is a fighter, and he has a place with the Eagles. Maybe they should consider signing him for another 2 years if he has a good year?
News and Notes:
- Shawn Andrews has finally shown up to play football. I hope all is well with his depression issues.
- Asante Samuel has returned to practice from his hamstring injury. Great news! Now just stay healthy Asante.
- Reggie Brown is still hurt with a strained Achilles. Don’t expect to see him in this Thursday’s pre season match up with the Carolina Panthers.
Tags: Andy Reid Asante Samuel Ben Roethlisberger Brian Dawkins Carolina Panthers Correll Buckhalter Darren Howard DeSean Jackson Donovan McNabb Greg Lewis Hines Ward Iggles Jason Avant Jerome McDougle Joe Mays Juqua Parker L.J. Smith Limas Sweed Lito Sheppard Lorenzo Booker Max Jean-Gilles Pago Tagafau Philadelphia Eagles Pittsburgh Steelers Quintin Mikell Rashard Mendenhall Reggie Brown Santonio Holmes Shawn Andrews Stillers Victor Abiamiri Winston Justice