Eagles-Colts Recap: Rookies flash, Birds dominate in 36-10 win


The Philadelphia Eagles took on the Indianapolis Colts this afternoon, and there was certainly a lot to cover, so lets get to it.

The Eagles started off on defense today, so that’s where we’ll begin as well:

Brandon Graham isn’t the coverage-backer that Connor Barwin is, but he did a nice job today, keeping a play in front of him and wrapping up the ball carrier for a minimal gain after the catch. Graham closed very quickly, and he looked energized overall.

One play later, Graham sets the edge, and Bennie Logan stacks and sheds to make an impressive stop. Then, Logan trails Zuron Tipton and makes a very athletic play, dragging him down from the backside. Logan had himself a very active and productive day, looking very light on his feet. His athleticism really pops.

In other defensive line news, Fletcher Cox burst through the line to stuff Tipton early on, and Cedric Thornton threw his hat in the ring as well, stopping Tipton for a gain of 2. Beau Allen had a few nice plays today as well. The Eagles D-Line looked dominant today.

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Najee Goode is taking starters snaps with DeMeco Ryans, Kiko Alonso and Mychal Kendricks sidelined. Here he’s caught in poor position, stumbles and gives up a reception over he middle. Goode is facing an uphill battle for a roster spot. He’ll have to impress from here on out to have a shot, especially considering that his counterparts, Emmanuel Acho and Brad Jones, had pretty solid days.

Marcus Smith rotated in, and did a good job of using his hands and keeping his head up to find the ball carrier for a minimal gain. On the next play Smith sticks with Coby Fleener, leaving Hasselbeck with nowhere to throw. Good sequence for the 2nd year player. Later, Smith made a bad read on the option, but rebounded with good coverage in the end zone to force an incompletion. Smith was uneven against Indianapolis, but took a step in the right direction.

EJ Biggers does a good job of using the sideline to cover Dorsett downfield. Nice job. Biggers will have to continue to show well, but following Jacorey Shepherd’s injury, he has a solid chance of sticking.

Ed Reynolds, after having a pretty uninspiring start to his NFL career, put on a show today. Reynolds is a player that I liked quite a bit coming out of Stanford, but he hasn’t done much to distinguish himself to this point. Hopefully Reynolds can make a push for a roster spot. The team sorely needs a capable backup safety, and the present depth, Chris Prosinski and Chris Maragos, are primarily special teams players. At one point today, Reynolds had a pretty stunning sequence, making 4 consecutive plays:

1: Bryan Bennett unleashes a deep ball, but Marc Anthony has good coverage and Ed Reynolds — playing deep safety — comes up with the pick.

2: Reynolds makes a diving PBU.

3: Bryan Braman chases Bennett backwards and nearly secures the safety. Long play, but Reynolds stays with his man to force another incompletion.

3: Bryan Bennett tosses the ball downfield, but Reynolds jumps the route and comes up with the Interception.

Speaking of Braman, the OLB made a ferocious play today, getting to the quarterback, punching the ball out, and finishing with a WWE-esque suplex. Braman remains a roster-lock.

Rookie Eric Rowe sees his first action fairly early on, and misses a tackle on the perimeter — Chris Prosinski cleans up.

Rowe loses Dorsett in coverage but recovers and pops the ball out. Prosinski — who has had a productive day — recovers. Great job by Rowe finishing the play. Some young players might have given up, but Rowe stuck with it and was rewarded.

On the ensuing drive, Eric Rowe stays in his receivers hip pocket and breaks up a throw over the middle. Rowe has been up and down today, but has really flashed at times.

Mark Sanchez — playing in an absent Bradford’s stead — takes a snap, rolls to the right and fires for a wide open Trey Burton, but the pass is broken up. Sanchez was late to deliver the ball down the seam, allowing the DB to close and make a play on the ball. This was the norm for Sanchez’s today, as he was late to deliver several passes, and missed 2 easy touchdowns, one being to Jordan Matthews who didn’t have a Colt within 10 yards of him on a crosser. On one of Sanchez’s 3 completions, Matthews snagged a dangerous pass over the middle with a leaping effort. 

Staying true to form, Sanchez’s lone TD was an ugly pass to Nelson Agholor who bailed him out with a tremendous leaping grab, and then accelerated upfield, out-racing the defense 34 yards to the end zone. Speaking of Agholor, outside of an ugly drop on a come-backer, he was electric today. Agholor made guys miss and converted first downs on a couple of occasions, and at one point, drew interference on a play downfield. I would be surprised if Agholor doesn’t unseat Riley Cooper fairly early on — so long as he can eliminate the maddening drops, and continue to improve on the finer points.

Matt Barkley, on the other hand, had himself a pretty productive day, engineering a few scoring drives.

Barkley, who was up first in relief of Sanchez, dropped a nice ball right in the bucket for Matthews. Coverage was tight, but Barkley put the ball exactly where it had to be.

Barkley then hit Miles Austin deep down field to set up a goal to go situation. Austin makes a great adjustment on a ball that didn’t have quite enough on it. Nice job by the veteran. Then, the surprise of the day, Kenjon Barner, caps off the drive with a touchdown, showing vision and patience. More on Barner later.

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Barkley drops back, goes passes through all his progressions and dumps a short ball to Mostert in the flat. The defender makes a poor choice and dives at Mosterts ankles, as the RB turns up field and shows good vision en-route to a 34 yard gain. Mostert, by the way, had a few nice moments today, but has his work cut out for him making the final 53. The practice squad is a likely destination for Mostert. 

Barkley, however, had one huge miscue when his pass is tipped by Bjoern Werner, straight into the hands of a waiting Herrera for the INT. Mike Mayock tries to make an excuse for Barkley but I just don’t see it. That ball shouldn’t have been thrown.

Overall, Barkley showed well, exhibiting poise and a quick release. Barkley’s arm strength leaves a lot to be desired, but he showed today that he may be able to perform as a functional backup. 

After Barkley had his share of reps, Tim Tebow took the field and was as polarizing as ever, showing both good and bad Tebow.

At one point, during his opening drive, Tebow finds Eric Tomlinson 3 consecutive times for nice gains, one coming on a 3rd and long to move the sticks. The Tebow-Tomlinson connection is reminiscent of Peyton Manning and Dallas Clark.

Tebows opening drive is halted short of the goal line, however, and Parkey comes on to attempt the 34 yard field goal, which he misses… Not a banner day for Parkey, who was not in Pro Bowl form missing 2 attempts (1 FG, and 1 PAT) under 35 yards. Tebow ended up 4/5 for 43 yards on the drive.

A few plays later, Tebow makes a poor choice retreating backward and taking the sack for a big loss. Then, Tebow holds the ball and absorbs a sack on 3rd down. The defense bails him out when a linebacker lands a late hit on Tebow, drawing a personal foul and extending the drive. Still, Tebow once again exhibits the poor tendencies that have hindered him in the past.

During his final drive, Tebow took a keeper to the house.

Ryan Mathews showed off the skills that made him a first-round pick today, exhibiting an exciting blend of speed, power, and suddenness. Mathews only had a few carries, but he made an impression with limited opportunities, rumbling forward in traffic for a 5 yard pick-up, and then again when he hit his cut-back lane for 13 yards. If anything should happen to DeMarco Murray, the offense wouldn’t miss a beat with (a healthy) Mathews.

Special teams update for the day: Pat Mcafee hits an absolute bomb to the Eagles 7, but might have out-kicked his coverage. Kenjon Barner fields the punt, and spins through a tackle, bouncing the ball to the outside. With a burst and some good blocking, Barner streaks up the sideline and takes it all the way to the house. 23-3 Eagles. Awesome job by Barner who now has several good returns and 2 TDs on the day.

Final Thoughts:

– Of the quarterbacks, Barkley had the most impressive day (almost by default). Sanchez had a pretty bad go of it, and was consistently of his mark. Tebow — who unlike Sanchez didn’t get much help from his cast — looked similarly bad, holding the ball and making some poor decisions, although he did have a few OK moments. Mike Mayock remarked that Barkley did a much better job of getting the ball out than Tebow, and I don’t disagree. Holding onto the ball is always going to be an issue for Tebow, it’s just a question of whether or not that will be a deal breaker for the staff.

– The secondary looked improved. There were some miscues, but overall there weren’t any abhorrent mistakes. It was nice to see them come out against a prolific passer like Luck and not let up any big plays (granted, small sample size and no TY Hilton). There’s still a lot to prove, however, before we can definitively say the secondary won’t be a weakness moving forward.

– The 1st team offensive line looked very good, in my opinion. All eyes were on Andrew Gardner, and I thought he did a pretty good job. Gardner is definitely the front-runner to start week one, at this point.

– Kenjon Barner had himself a day. Right now he’s in the lead for #4 duties.

That’s it for today. Stay tuned for TC updates during the week, as the Eagles will be taking part in joint practices with the Baltimore Ravens leading up to their second game on Saturday.

Next: Eagles vs. Colts: Live news, notes and analysis

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