Eagles Get Blown Out By New England
In one of the weirdest games I can remember in recent memory, the Eagles were destroyed 35-0 against the New England Patriots at home. The Eagles move to 0-2 in the preseason and will play the Jets next week on Friday after two practices against them.
The biggest(and most unexpected) storyline of this game was Jalen Hurts. Hurts warmed up before the game and looked completely ok, dancing and vibing with his teammates. But when it was time for the Eagles offense to take the field, Joe Flacco trotted out and was announced to the crowd as the starting QB. Shortly after, the Eagles said that Hurts was ruled out because of an "illness". Nick Sirianni said postgame that Hurts wasn't feeling well when he arrived at the stadium, but wanted to go through warmups. Sirianni said that Hurts was taken to the hospital because of pain in the abdomen but he is "Ok". Adam Schefter reported that Hurts has been instructed to rest at home for at least two days, and we'll see how he progresses towards the open practices against NY next week.
In Hurts' place, Flacco looked awful. On his first drive he had a snap sky right over his head and end up being recovered by Jalen Mills of all people(PS- People were booing Mills when they announced the fumble. Why? Without him we don't get a Super Bowl). After that, it was just a lot of bad reads and not being able to move the offense down the field at all. Flacco will most likely be the QB2 for this team no matter what, considering how much the Eagles paid him. It is just not a great situation, because you cannot be confident if something unfortunate happens to Jalen Hurts. Nick Mullens left little to be desired as well.
One of the biggest positivities was that DeVonta Smith made his anticipated NFL debut, after recovering rather quickly from his injury. Smith seemed like he had to take a little to shake off the rust, making a few drops on some bad throws from Flacco. It didn't take him long to get into a rhythm though, making two catches for 19 yards quickly after his two drops. It also should be noted that Flacco didn't look Smith's way a lot, especially when he was open on a slant on 4th down in the Red Zone. Flacco threw into double coverage instead and the play wasn't made. Smith was not perfect, but showed off some of his impeccable route running. Honestly, it was just nice seeing him out there and looking almost completely healthy.
Another storyline of this game was the Eagles defense, which was missing basically every player that is expected to start Week 1 vs. Atlanta. Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Derek Barnett, Darius Slay and Javon Hargrave were among the starters that did not play. The defensive lineman sitting seemed especially prominent, with Mac Jones and Cam Newton both seemingly having years in the pocket to pass. Alex Singleton had a great game however, being all over the field and carrying the second-string defense. I was also impressed by Milton Williams again, who drew two penalties and brought good pressure whenever he was in there. TJ Edwards had a couple pass breakups as well, one of them he probably should have intercepted. I'm not really concerned about the performance of the defense, but it does say some things about the depth of this team on the defensive end.
Unsurprisingly, Zech McPhearson, who was in place of Slay, had a really poor game last night. I say it was not surprising because McPhearson was labeled as a corner that may take a while to develop, so throwing him at CB2 even in a preseason game is a recipe for disaster. He also works better as a slot corner in my opinion, although he's been playing outside sometimes in camp. Newton targeted him a lot in the drives that he played, and McPhearson just could not make a play. He did have a good PBU on a 2 point conversion later in the game however. I am not going to take much stock in this, but it was still disappointing.
Another rookie, Kenneth Gainwell, impressed. Gainwell was playing with lots of 3rd/4th team players aside him, and he still found a way to get involved in the game. Gainwell had 44 total yards and showcased his speed. In a crowded running back room, he has the chance to potentially help this team as a secret weapon later in the season.
For injury news, really the only big news was on Jason Croom. Croom had to be carted off the field after injuring his knee around midfield in the second quarter. It was really a sad scene, especially with a guy who has been bouncing around all his career and was fighting for a roster spot here. Unfortunately, according to Ian Rappoport, the team fears that Croom suffered a season-ending knee injury. That takes out another tight end for the Eagles, with Tyree Jackson being sidelined for 8-10 weeks with a back injury. Jack Stoll had a nice game today, so maybe he could sneak his way onto the roster pending a Zach Ertz trade?
So overall, I don't think fans should be all worried about this result, but it still isn't ideal. You know that Sirianni will be on the team about it, based on his comments about competition in every situation. I'm hoping that we see Hurts in next weeks open practices AND the game against the Jets, but the latter seems doubtful.
Also, it was great to be back at the Linc again. My first time in almost 2 years. The Eagles still pull very well even in a preseason game where they are getting blown out.