Thanks to the heroics of new Philadelphia Eagles fan favorite Dane Evans, the Eagles defeated the Buffalo Bills in their preseason home opener. It was a sloppy performance from the offense, as more preseason games are, but there was a lot of positives to take away from this one.
The defense was the real story in this one as they held Buffalo to 16 points and were in the face of the quarterback on just about every single drop back. It’s crazy to think just a week ago some of us were wondering how many points Carson Wentz would have to put up each week to bail out this defense, but no we are pretty confident that it’s the defense that will carry this team.
5 Quick Observations
1) The first team defensive line was dominant and pushed the entire offensive line back on three consecutive plays. We got our first look of Vinny Curry, Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox and Tim Jernigan together and that unit looked dominant. Derek Barnett also flashed a ton tonight, and will be a star on third and longs all season long.
This group is going to alter gameplans all season long. Offenses will have to shorten their drop backs and generate an attack that allows the quarterback to get the ball out quicker. Long drop backs will be the death of quarterbacks against this front. This is exactly what Jim Schwartz wanted to build here and it’s going to be exciting to see how he fully utilizes it as the season goes on.
2) Ronald Darby is the real deal. He’s an aggressive corner with outstanding feet and elite recovery speed and it was all on display against Buffalo as he had one interception and dropped another on a few short series. He’s picked up the defense very quickly in less than a week and his impact has turned a questionable secondary into a really good one.
3) Mychal Kendricks is here to stay. He’s the third best linebacker on this roster and will be off the field for about 60% of the snaps this season, but he’ll be a solid 4-3 outside linebacker and a key depth player if either Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham go down.
He had another interception this week and was active as a blitzer and in coverage. With so many unproven players in the linebacker depth chart(Joe Walker, Don Cherry, Nate Gerry) it’s important to have an experienced and versatile veteran backing up two important players that don’t have a clean injury history.
4) Billy Brown should make this roster. He’s a tight end/hybrid receiver with outstanding hands and that’s enough for me. So many players on this roster had have issues with drops that keeping a guy on the roster with incredibly reliable hands, but also good separation ability seems like a no-brainer. Keep in mind Brent Celek probaby has 1-2 years left, Trey Burton is a free agent after the season and the incoming tight end draft class is pretty thin. Keeping Brown on the 53 man roster makes too much sense not to happen.
5) Corey Clement had several good runs against Buffalo, but his hype is largely aided by the talent he’s facing and the lack of a healthy Wendell Smallwood. Smallwood is dealing with a hamstring injury right now, but as long as he can get healthy before Week 1 he will make the roster over Clement.
I honestly think the Eagles are looking for a committee that can hold the fort down this season before they draft a pure feature back next season. The incoming running back class is loaded, so don’t stress too much over this group. Help is on the way and the Eagles have a good variety of backs to compliment the passing game this season.