In Roob’s Instant Observations: What the heck did we just see? originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
Let’s cut to the chase: Thank God the preseason is over.
Imagine if they still played four games and we had to spend another three hours of Reid Sinnett throwing 2-yard passes to Jason Huntley and Davion Taylor who were missing tackles?
Hey, as recently as the late 1970s, NFL teams played six preseason games. Imagine three more games than that?
Anyway, last we checked it was Dolphins 48, Eagles 10. Opening day is two weeks away. It can’t get here soon enough.
Here are 10 Instant Observations from the Eagles’ preseason finale:
1. I don’t want to get too carried away with an assortment of 2nd and 3rd team backs being torched by the Dolphins starting offense – I mean, K’Von Wallace to Tyreek Hill? Really? – but you’d like to see defensive guys competing for jobs and even playing time at a higher level than what we saw the last two weeks in Cleveland and Miami. That means wrapping when you tackle, keeping your hands off the receiver when in good coverage, being a sound commit… all the basics. I don’t care who you are or how far down the depth chart you are. You would think that after a month of training, this team would be beyond what we saw. Really disappointing. Now, look, my expectations for the defense don’t change. I still expect it to be a top-10 unit and dramatically improved from last year. None of the starters played and a handful of backups did. But some of the guys that played will have situational roles on this defense and other guys will probably have to play at some point due to injuries. And whoever survives the final cuts will have to play much better than they did tonight in Miami.
2. The Eagles have a safety problem, and if that wasn’t clear before the game, it certainly is now. K’Von Wallace looks lost out there, Jaquaski Tartt looks lost out there, and Andre Chachere has come back down to Earth after a fast start to camp, and let’s face it, he’s really best suited to be a special contributor and be a emergency safety specialist. Marcus Epps has been very good and Anthony Harris has been adequate, but Josiah Scott (who didn’t play Saturday night) and undrafted rookie Reed Blankenship might be the next best safeties on the roster. Honestly, I don’t think Wallace, Tartt, or Chachere deserve to be on the 53, though maybe Chachere’s ability on special teams makes him worth keeping. Maybe I’m crazy, but I’d keep Epps, Harris, Scott and Blankenship. But I’d also keep my eyes on the waiver wire because this team just isn’t good enough.
3. I like Blankenship a lot, and there’s no question he’s earned a roster spot. He is smart, physical and quite athletic. He plays the game the right way. If Wallace or Tartt go 53 over Blankenship, why bother playing the preseason? Blankenship consistently exceeds both.
4. Maybe I’m crazy but I thought Davion Taylor played well last year in his six starts. He was active, around the ball, generally in the right spot, a safe tackler. But, yes, he was awful on Saturday night, and he’s been awful for most of the last few weeks. He was a 3rd round pick two years ago, and I thought he made the team, but the way he’s been playing (and training)? I’m starting to have my doubts. Apparently, the Eagles have theirs, too, because Taylor was out there late in the fourth quarter, and he’s still getting reps. If it’s my call? Left. But it’s not my call. And I think he’s on the team.
5. Man, I just don’t get the Reid Sinnett thing. Not at all. Yeah, he’s got a big arm, but there’s no way this guy is ever going to help the Eagles win football games, so can we just move on? He can’t play. If it were up to me, Carson Strong would have played half the game in Cleveland and the whole game in Miami because you paid this man $320,000 to sign here so you don’t want to take a look at him? Maybe Strong stinks, but you don’t want to know? Strong finally entered the game Saturday night with 11 minutes remaining and threw three passes. He threw four all preseason. What the heck?
6. I really like the way Grant Calcaterra runs routes and catches the football. Considering he missed three weeks of training with a hamstring, he looked pretty good. I’m guessing concussions were the reason he fell to the 6th round, but his last concussion was almost three years ago and both the Eagles and Calcaterra and their doctors are confident he’s not at any additional risk. You still think Jack Stoll will get the bulk of the reps when the Eagles play 12-man, but Calcaterra is such a polished receiver — and he ran a 4.62 at 6-4, 245 pounds — that I think there will be a role for him. If I’m Howie Roseman, I’ll keep Calcaterra at 53.
7. I love everything I’ve seen from Jordan Davis in practice over the last month. You can’t help but notice his strength, speed, athleticism and effort every day in practice, but so far the production hasn’t carried over into games. And I guess that shouldn’t be too much of a concern at this point, but it’s something to keep an eye on because the Eagles need Davis to be a part of this d-line rotation, especially if Javon Hargrave isn’t ready for opening day . I don’t expect Fletcher Cox to be more than 50-60% of the snaps and Davis should play 25 to 30 snaps a game at a high level. The skill is there, he just needs to put it all together when it counts.
8. That 67-yard run was nice, but let’s be honest: How much will Jason Huntley help this team? He hasn’t caught the ball well this summer, he’s a hard runner but doesn’t find the hole very well and isn’t very quick. He’s a good returner but not special. Huntley was 53 all of last year, but I think the Eagles can do better if they choose to carry four running backs. Along with safety, running back is another position I’ll keep my eyes open for on Tuesday.
9. How about Devon Allen on special teams? Last week we saw his speed on that 55-yard touchdown and Saturday night he really shined getting down the field in coverage. It would take some time for Allen to get comfortable after not playing football for six years, but he looked much better each week. The amazing thing about Allen is that he is actually a natural player. He doesn’t mind mixing it up whether he’s running pass patterns or running down the field on special teams. Is it too late to make the roster? I’m not sure. There’s no doubt it makes special teams a better unit. And if he’s at this point just a few weeks into a six-year layoff, it looks to me like he has a chance to be a team specialist – and route specialist – very soon. He’s still probably a luxury on the roster, but I do know one thing: Allen would help this team more than Jalen Reagor.
10. Silly observation I would have noticed: Both Eagles No. 66 had recoveries. Matt Leo, who wears No. 66 on defense, recovered Lynn Bowden’s fumble on a 2nd quarter punt, and center Cameron Tom, who wears 66 on offense, recovered Reid Sinnett’s fumble when he was sacked by Channing Tindall in the fourth quarter.
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