Pre-season games matter very little, but there are still a few things you can take away from the game against the Steelers. Except this play:
Hard work does not pay off. I have always said that process is more important than outcomes, so I focus a little more process than outcomes. You’re not going to a shut a team out, you’re not going to win every game. We all know you can play well and lose, you have to accept that as a fan. But unfortunately the flawed processes of last year’s defense were once again on display last night. The lack of communication by LBs and DBs (aka players not coached by Jim Washburn) was apparent, leading to a total gimmie of a TD when the 1s were on the field. It’s the pre-season, so giving up a TD isn’t a big deal. Letting players waltz right by you again is. Juan Castillo is somehow going to have work even harder to fix this. I hope he qualifies for OT.
The poor tackling doesn’t bother me as much as it does others. I think Eagles fans flip out about bad tackling too much. Look around the league, there is poor tacking everywhere. I’m not excusing players as a whole from being bad at fundamentals, just trying to put it in perspective. I think the Eagles were worse than average last year, but the addition of DeMeco Ryans and subtraction of Asante Samuel will help, and Nnamdi Asomugha had a horrendous season tackling last year, he did fine in limited playing time last night, which is encouraging. The blown tackles in last night’s game were by players you expect to blow them, most notably Jaiquan Jarrett. Why worry about that? If Jarrett woke up this morning and suddenly became the best tackler in the league, he’d obviously be a better player, but would he still be good enough to be on the roster despite his other flaws? He wouldn’t. I’m not worried about how bad Jarrett is, he is what he is. I’m worried that the Eagles will keep him on the roster.
Context matters! Nick Foles, Bryce Brown, Jamel Hamler and Trent Edwards looked good against the third and fourth stringers. Let’s just leave it at that please. They looked good against players who will be cut in two weeks, all that means is that they’ve earned playing time against the next level of competition: players who are on the bubble. In Trent Edwards’ case, if he didn’t look good you should cut him immediately. Edwards has started 32 games in the NFL, which is 32 more than the rest of the players on the field combined. That he drove the team down the field is indicative of very little beyond “he doesn’t completely suck.”
Bubble players came to play. Joselio Hanson vs Brandon Boykin; Darryl Tapp vs Phillip Hunt; Cedrick Thornton: they all ceded no ground in their roster fights. Hanson came out flying as the nickleback, and Boykin returned serve with a really nice kick return from deep in the end zone. Or course returning a kickoff has nothing to do with your ability to cover a slot receiver (or outside receiver since Asomugha was in the slot a few times last night) but when players make plays on special teams, coaches give them a shot to make plays elsewhere. Happens in every camp every year. Boykin wasn’t going to get a chance to play against the Steelers’ first team offense, so he made an impression where he could: against the first team special teams. And if he can hold down the nickle spot, then Hanson might be out of a job. At DE, Hunt got the spotlight with the sacks but Tapp played very well too. One might be cut before camps ends, but neither did anything to warrant it. Cedrick Thornton only helped himself to rise above the bubble. He might not make the team either, but so far so good.
My kingdom for a punter. I kid. Stating the obvious, but if the Eagles season hinges on a punter, then they aren’t good enough.
Hint: they aren’t.