It’s Baaaaack! For the first time since January 9th, there was Eagles Football played at the Linc in South Philly. The Ravens opened up their preseason in front of a bunch of pumped up Eagles fans. It was their first chance to see the 2011 group in live action. Fans did not leave disappointed as the home team won 13-6. Now let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. There’s a lot of football left to play, 19 games until the playoffs. I know, because I counted; But since there are a few more days before my next fix, here are my thoughts:
The first offense was crisp. If there was a 4 month lockout, the Eagles didn’t show any rust. An 8-play, 80-yard drive is impressive anytime, but when you consider that the Eagles played without their two starting receivers, it’s that much more. Riley Cooper took advantage of the opportunity, making an acrobatic catch above Ed Reed. Michael Vick put the ball on the money, even when he was blitzed. That’s something that was missing last year. And then there was the running game. They ran a lot of stretch plays Thursday Night. It’s new but new OL coach Howard Mudd ran plenty of that in Indy. It wasn’t a strong effort, but as the season goes on, it’s clear that LeSean McCoy and Ronnie Brown will be a strong 1-2 punch. I am assuming that Andy Reid will run the ball more this year. At least he will until the regular season begins. The offensive line was average, missing blocks in space, and opening almost no holes for the running backs.
On defense, there was a completely different vibe than in years past. The new era under Juan Castillo began with thunder. They went at Baltimore in waves. Linemen were rotating like an NHL line change. Trent Cole has to be jumping for joy at the chance to get a little breather during games. Darryl Tapp finished with 2 sacks. He spent as much time in the backfield as the Raven’s running backs. Rookie Jaiquan Jarrett wasted no time making his name known by picking off a pass on his 2nd series. He’ s going to be a gem. The defense was so active that neither Flacco, Tyrod Taylor, nor Hunter Caldwell were able to get comfortable. With the constant rotations, it should keep the defense fresh, and allow the rebuilt secondary to have a field day. It’ll be interesting to see how the whole Nnamdi, Asante, DRC dynamic plays out. As for now, DRC looks like the nickel corner which doesn’t bode well for Joselio Hanson’s future with the team.
At the end of the day… The Eagles are no doubt happy about their first contest, but they are MUCH happier that everyone came out of the game healthy. Next up is the cross state rivalry game with the Steelers. Desean Jackson should be back for that one. From all accounts, he’s ready to go. More good news for the squad, bad news for the league.