Points by Ben Simmons during Game 3 victory over Nets

Eagles offense soars before early departure

Posted by Eric Fisher On August 24

The Eagles provided a tease of the potential explosiveness of their offense during Thursday’s 38-31 preseason victory over the Dolphins at Lincoln Financial Field, but it wasn’t a very long look.

The first-team offense, with the starting offensive line finally intact, displayed big-play capability and got into a rhythm while scoring a pair of touchdowns during the first quarter. Apparently, that was enough for head coach Doug Pederson, who removed his first-team offense after the first quarter instead of leaving it on the field for the entire first half.

One quarter was long enough for Wentz to connect on touchdown passes to Torrey Smith and Alshon Jeffery, the two veteran free-agent receivers signed by the Eagles during the offseason. On the Eagles’ third play from scrimmage, Wentz found Smith behind the coverage down the middle of the field for a 50-yard touchdown pass. After the Dolphins scored on a pair of 2-yard touchdown runs by Jay Ajayi 24 seconds apart – with the second one set up by an interception by 340-pound tackle Jordan Phillips – Wentz quickly drove the Eagles 93 yards, tying the game, 14-14, on a 15-yard slant to Jeffery with 1:14 remaining in the first quarter.

And that was it.

It’s unlikely that Wentz will step on the field next Thursday in the Eagles’ preseason finale against the Jets, so this is probably the last we’ll see of the complete first-team offense until the season opener against the Redskins on Sept. 10.

The first-team defense also had its moments, although it also gave up a 93-yard touchdown drive during the first quarter. The key play in that drive was a 72-yard pass from Jay Cutler to DeVante, who used his 6-foot-3, 209-pound frame to make the catch despite the defense of cornerback Ronald Darby. After a terrific debut last week against the Bills, his former team, Darby also committed a pass interference penalty after Kenny Stills got behind him, setting up the Dolphins on the 1-yard line, which they took advantage of with a go-ahead touchdown pass from Cutler to tight end Julius Thomas.

The first-team defense did have some positive plays, though.

  • Defensive end Vinny Curry, who has been largely invisible during the preseason, sacked Cutler on the Dolphins’ first possession, creating a fumble that was recovered by Fletcher Cox.
  • Mychal Kendricks, who remained in the game with the second team, made his third interception of the preseason, returning this one 31 yards for a touchdown.

There were also some highlights from the second and third units on offense and defense.

  • Cornerback C.J. Smith, although not on the first team, broke up the pass that resulted in Kendricks’ interception.
  • Jaylen Watkins intercepted a pass in the end zone, bailing out quarterback Matt McGloin after he threw an interception deep in Eagles territory, and returned it 50 yards. That set the Eagles up to tie the game at 21-21. They never trailed again.
  • McGloin, once again pressed into extended action due to Nick Foles’ elbow soreness, made the most of his opportunity. McGloin shook off an early interception by linebacker Lawrence Timmons at the 8-yard line and played his best game of the preseason, completing 22 of 26 passes for 155 yards and a touchdown.
  • Corey Clement continued to play well, rushing nine times for 42 yards and a touchdown. Clement is pushing for a roster spot, although it seems hard to believe that the Eagles would be able to sneak either Donnel Pumphrey or Clement on to the practice squad without another team claiming them. LeGarrette Blount, Wendell Smallwood and Darren Sproles are the top three running backs.
  • Pumphrey played his best game of the preseason, gaining 37 yards on 12 careers and catching five passes for 37 yards. He did, however, fumble a punt return that he shouldn’t have fielded, although he recovered the football.
  • Villanova product Don Cherry returned an interception 42 yards to the 5-yard line, setting up the winning touchdown, a 1-yard pass from McGloin to Marques Johnson in the back right former of the end zone with 11:08 remaining. With Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Nelson Agholor and Mack Hollins seemingly locks to make the team, Johnson is battling Bryce Treggs and fifth-round pick Shelton Gibson for the final one or two receiver spots on the 53-man roster.

Not everything went well for the Eagles.

  • Wentz was still under pressure too often. The offensive line did not protect him very well.
  • Safety Terrence Brooks and cornerback Rasul Douglas failed to tackle receiver Jakeem Grant, who broke away from them for a 69-yard touchdown pass.
  • Offensive tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai was called for three penalties on one series, although one was declined.
  • The Eagles were penalized 16 times for 147, with defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan setting the tone by jumping into the neutral zone before the first snap of the game.


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