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PIT 24, PHI 16 – Preseason Opener


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PIT 24, PHI 16 – Preseason Opener

Posted: August 13th, 2021 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles

The game started crisp. That was good. Then things turned sloppy. That was bad. Coach Nick Sirianni used crisp and sloppy to describe the first and second halves of his debut as Eagles coach. It didn’t take Bill Walsh or Vince Lombardi to see the problems in this game. Luckily, most of the problems involved the Eagles third stringers. They struggled to block and tackle and turned a 16-7 lead into a 24-16 loss.

The really good news is that the Eagles came out of this game with no major injuries. The team struggled in that area for all of 2020. We have to hope that luck will change this year. This roster isn’t good enough to overcome injuries.

Eagles starters played pretty well. Jalen Hurts finished 3 of 7, but there were two drops and he missed a 90-yard TD pass by about a foot. He made some good throws and played well from the pocket. This was a good start for him.

The offensive player who really stood out was Quez Watkins, building on an already strong summer. Watkins got behind the defense on a pass play and just missed a long TD. He then caught a short screen and turned that into a 79-yard TD. Forget about words. You need to see this speed to really appreciate the play.

Steelers DBs had the angle on him and Watkins just ran right by them. Wow. There was good blocking on the play, but his speed was the key. Watkins is definitely a player on the rise.

Jalen Reagor had a drop, but bounced back from that to catch 2 passes for 20 yards. It was good to see him handle some adversity and not get down on himself. Things aren’t always going to go smooth. You must be mentally and emotionally strong.

TE Tyree Jackson played well. He’s gone from talented project to legitimately fighting for a roster spot. Jackson was 2-32 as a receiver. Beyond that, he showed off his athleticism on those plays. Big guys like him aren’t supposed to move that well. And he looked natural catching the ball. I’m interested to see how he did as a blocker.

The RBs got shuffled in and out. Rookie Kenny Gainwell had some good moments. You could see his burst and agility. He also broke a tackle on one play. That level of strength and physicality caught me off guard.

Joe Flacco had a solid showing, going 10-17-178. He made some nice throws. Third stringer Nick Mullens was awful. He didn’t have a lot of talent around him, but he still threw two picks and just looked bad.

I can’t say much about the OL without watching the tape.

The Eagles were 0 for 8 on third downs. Not ideal.


As for the defense, they were up and down as well. The starters played well. The second stringers were okay. The third team was terrible. If a group is going to struggle, you want it to be the bottom of the roster.

Rookie Milton Williams played LDE. You could see his athleticism and power. He and DT T.Y. McGill collapsed the pocket for the Eagles only sack of the game. Josh Sweat came off the bench and forced a quick throw when he used a great dip move to beat the LT.

Rookie DT Marlon Tuipulotu played a terrible game. He was moved off the ball on multiple plays. Some of those were double-teams, but he’s supposed to be a strong, physical DT. Instead, he was a blocking sled that got pushed around the field.

LB Alex Singleton looked good. He was active and flew to the ball. That was great to see. T.J. Edwards had a good game. He was in on five tackles. Backup Rashad Smith really struggled. That matches with how he’s looked in camp. Shaun Bradley had some good moments.

Elijah Riley had the highlight play of the game for the DBs. He jumped a pass play over the middle and picked off the pass. That showed good eyes and anticipation.

Rookie corner Zech McPhearson flashed. He almost picked off a pass in the end zone, but was called for PI on the play. McPhearson tackled well and was aggressive, which matches the way he’s played in camp.

The run defense in the second half was awful. Game analyst Ross Tucker talked about how vanilla the scheme was and the fact the Eagles weren’t rotating fresh DL in. I think Jonathan Gannon kept it basic to get a feel for his players. Who could handle things? Who quit? Who got better?

Not many positive answers to those questions from the backups.


STs went pretty well. Jake Elliott was 3 for 3, including a 50-yard FG. It was great to see him get off to a good start since he’s coming off a down season.

New punter Arryn Siposs averaged 55.8 yards per punt. That was impressive.

Jason Huntley had a 35-yard KOR. He’s got legit speed, but has to win a RB job before he can be the KOR.


I thought Nick Sirianni and his staff did a good job overall. The game was well-managed and there didn’t seem to be confusion on who should be on the field or what play to call.

Some people wanted him to go for it instead of kicking FGs, but I think Sirianni wanted to see his STs group in action. Those guys need game reps just like everyone else.



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