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Points allowed during 1st quarter this season by Penn State

Stop Making Sense: Eagles fall to Patriots

Posted by Gordon Glantz On August 16

Sorry, Vincent Bugliosi.

Your theory about The Beatles inspiring Charles Manson and his “family” to commit mass murder with the song “Helter Skelter,” which legal experts have since said was a masterful tact to cover for lack of a coherent case, may be incorrect.

As the Los Angeles District Attorney, you were trying to make sense out the senselessness, but some things just make no sense.

Although Paul McCartney claims the 1968 heavy-metal precursor was written as an answer to The Who’s “I Can See For Miles,” with the fall of the Roman Empire as the lyrical muse, the real hidden meaning might have been a futuristic look at what NFL preseason games would look like 36 years later.

A case in point would have been Friday night’s chaotic clash between the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots in Foxborough, Mass.

At times, amid the frenetic action, the game marred by penalties and turnovers made little to no sense.

The Eagles twice trailed by two touchdowns and, despite never leading, clawed back from a litany of self-imposed miscues and missteps to forge deadlocks in each of the first three quarter.

In the end, being their own worst enemy resulted in a 42-35 loss that dropped their practice season record to 0-2 while raising the level of concern in certain key areas.

As was the case during the preseason opener, a 34-28 road loss to Chicago, the first team defense had a hard time getting off the field on third down against the Tom Brady-led first-team offense of the Patriots.

Midway through the second quarter, New England had not only dominated the time of possession by a ridiculous margin, but it converted the first seven of its third-down chances – even after rookie Jimmy Garappolo relieved Brady (even though the starting offensive line for the Patriots remained in the game and beat up a second-string Eagle front that had fared well against the Bears).

When the Patriots went up, 21-7, on a Garappolo to Brandon LaFell connection from 4 yards out, the only Eagle points had come by virtue of a 77-yard interception return of Brady pass by Cary Williams, who apparently tweaked his hamstring on his jaunt to paydirt and did not return.

One of the bright spots of the evening, receiver Arrelious Benn, blocked a punt to set up a Nick Foles touchdown pass to Zach Ertz from 6 yards out with 3:35 to go in the first half.

Benn then corralled a ricochet of the hands of teammate Ifeanyi Momah on a Mark Sanchez pass to forge a 21-21 by halftime.

Sanchez threw a bad interception early in the third quarter, allowing the Patriots to take a 28-21 lead but quickly got redemption by directing an 80-yard drive that ended with a 6-yard toss to Damaris Johnson.

New England used two touchdowns in a span of 1:08, a surge enhanced by a fumble by receiver Jeff Maehl, and the Eagles could only get back within a score after Henry Josey took a screen from Matt Barkley for a nifty 27-yard score.

All told, the Patriots turned four Eagles turnovers into 28 points.

“Overall, I’m disappointed with the turnovers,” said Kelly. “We have to clean that up, if we expect to win any ballgames.”

Penalty flags filled the New England summer night, with a grand total of 21 accepted penalties totaling 149 yards. While the penalties were evenly divided, the Eagles defense extended Patriot drives with penalties for infractions in the secondary and some illegal hands to the face calls that seem to work against the taller group of defensive linemen they have collected.

“Those are the rules,” said Kelly. “We’ve got to play by them. That’s what I told the guys in the locker room.

“We have to learn not to get our hands in people’s faces and that, after five yards, it’s illegal contact. If you can’t play by those rules, you can’t play in this league. You’re just handing people first downs, so we better figure it out.”

Even with the fluidity of game, and the coaching challenge of chasing down all the moving personnel pieces due to injuries, there were three days of work between the two teams to go on.

And even though a penalty or missed assignment by someone who isn’t going to make the team anyway, or any other comedic error one could possibly conceive of, there is enough film to isolate on the players in true battles for roster spots for film study and teachable moments.

For the Eagles, final score and preseason record aside, there were some clear-cut negatives and positives to weigh.

Making the glass half-full were the following:

  • Starting with Foles, whose shaky performance in the preseason opener brought his doubters out of their shallow graves, the quarterback play was solid. Foles was 8-for-10 for 81 yards and touchdown. Sanchez was 11-for-12, with his only incompletion being the interception. He threw for a pair of scores and his arm look alive while connecting for 117 yards.  Barkley was 9-for-12 for 132 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

“Obviously, Nick bounced back,” said Kelly. “It, obviously, was better than the Chicago game.”

Sanchez, who missed all of last season with the Jets due to an injury, said, “I thought all the quarterbacks showed some flashes of some really good plays. It’s really exciting. I’m just blessed to come back, feel 100 percent and get this thing rolling again.”

  • Rookie receiver Jordan Matthews, who looked out of place in the opener, gained confidence as the game wore on. He had 9 receptions on 9 targets, and showed decisive running ability after the catch while finishing with 104 yards.
  • Several other younger players continued to evolve. Backup guard Matt Tobin, in his second year, plowed holes in the running game while rookie nose tackle Beau Allen was again a force in the middle of the defense while splitting first-team reps with Bennie Logan. In addition to forcing the run, he got pressure on the passer.
  • Like Allen, third-year defensive end Vinnie Curry got first-team reps and continuing playing like a man possessed.
  • Second-year tight end Zach Ertz (2 catches, 26 yards) seems to be developing the type of symbiotic connection with Foles that Foles had last year with Riley Cooper, who sat out along with fellow projected starter Jeremy Maclin.
  • Josey (8 carries for a team-high 56 yards) looked like the real deal as a running back option. It will be interesting to see if he will get a look-see as a return man.

On the flip side, several of the players who struggled – save right tackle Alan Barbre, who gave up a sack on Foles – were on the bubble anyway, and merely played themselves out of jobs. With injuries at cornerback, Curtis Marsh got extended playing time and was promptly targeted by the Patriots. Though not listed on the injury report, it would not be surprising to learn that he was treated for first-degree burns, although Kelly believed the lack of a pass rush was the primary culprit.

“We have to get a better pass rush,” he said. “We used a lot of different combinations. We had a lot of different rotations going on, just to see if we could get some guys evaluated of film. But, we need to generate a better pass rush, especially against someone the caliber of (Brady).”

 

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