The Eagles fell 24-9 in their preseason opener to the Green Bay Packers, though the result on the scoreboard is of no importance. We'll come back with more in-depth analysis of the tape from the first exhibition game, but here is our instant analysis of how the team fared on Thursday.
Carson Wentz made a pair sensational plays, twice stepping out of sacks to complete third-down passes, the second of which wound up going for a 38-yard touchdown. Wentz connected on all four of his passes for 56 yards, though he sailed a two-point conversion attempt incomplete. Matt McGloin looked sharp -- when he got his feet set. The Penn State grad completed 28 of 42 for 205 yards with an interception, and failed to move the offense across the goal line.
Tough to evaluate the backs, as they were given very little room to run. Donnel Pumphrey had a rough NFL debut. Pumphrey appeared to fumble on his first carry, but was ruled down, and the fifth-round pick may have run the wrong route on an interception. Undrafted rookie provided a late spark in the passing game with 2 receptions for 31 yards.
Neither Alshon Jeffery nor Torrey Smith played, and the receivers were still phenomenal. Fourth-round rookie Mack Hollins stiff-armed two Packers defenders on his way to a 38-yard touchdown, part of a 4-catch, 64-yard debut. Bryce Treggs led all Eagles wideouts with 7 receptions for 91 yards. Jordan Matthews played for one series, hauling in three passes, including conversions on third and fourth down. This was a promising outing from top to bottom.
Not a good night for Eagles tight ends. Zach Ertz appeared to miss several blocking assignments. Trey Burton and Billy Brown each lost fumbles.
First and foremost, the Eagles were unable to mount any type of ground attack, finishing with 32 yards on 17 carries -- a 1.9 average. The unit's problems didn't end there, as the first-team O-line allowed a fair amount of pressure on Wentz as well, including a sack. To be fair, Green Bay was loading up the box and blitzing, but the offense still needs to be able to run the football and keep the quarterback upright. The reserves fared slightly better in protection, and no better at opening holes for ball carriers.
Tremendous debut for first-round pick Derek Barnett, who tormented Green Bay's second-string offensive linemen to the tune of 2.0 sacks. Brandon Graham stuffed a run in the backfield, and Fletcher Cox forced a fumble. But the surprise performance of the game goes to Alex McCalister. The 2016 seventh-round choice registered a sack and a pair of hurries after spending his rookie season on injured reserve. Good pressure throughout, not to mention Green Bay was limited to 45 yards on the ground.
Very active. Though he was not credited with a forced fumble, Jordan Hicks arrived on the scene to help jar a ball loose. Najee Goode had 3 tackles, including a stop in the backfield. Mychal Kendricks had 2 tackles and an interception. And rookie Nathan Gerry made 3 tackles as well, although he took a bad angle and missed one, too.
This was an uneven performance, as anybody following the team might expect. Jalen Mills was consistently tight in coverage. Terrence Brooks made 2 tackles for loss. Undrafted rookie Tre Sullivan was a physical presence. That was the good. Patrick Robinson got bailed out by a couple of dropped passes. C.J. Smith was less fortunate, getting torched for a 20-yard touchdown. Nobody made a case to win the starting cornerback job opposite Mills.
Uncharacteristically brutal. The Packers returned two punts for 94 yards, including a 68-yard touchdown. Pumphrey and Greg Ward each muffed a punt, though both were somehow able to recover. And Caleb Sturgis hit the upright on a 46-yard field goal to close out the first half. The kickoff coverage unit was solid, preventing this from being a total disaster.
It's preseason. About the only thing to evaluate here was the usage of key players, and it was what it needed to be. Wentz played one series. Cox and Hicks were in for two. Jeffery didn't play at all. In short, no real complaints here.