ReFo: PHI @ JAX, Preseason Wk 3
With the Eagles and Jaguars both among the teams picking the pace up on offense, this game had the makings of a shootout. The two teams did not disappoint, with the starters for each team – minus Blaine Gabbert – playing most of the first half or even well into the third quarter. For most of these starters, this third game served as their final tune-up for the regular season. For the non-starters, this was a chance to push for more playing time, or even that elusive roster spot with cuts right around the corner. Who made the most of this opportunity and who appeared to have one foot out of the door already? Let’s take a look.
Philadelphia – Three Performances of Note
Pushing For Playing Time
During his entire rookie season, Vinny Curry saw the field in only a handful of games, playing 89 snaps in total. He’ll surpass that number in the first quarter of the upcoming season if he can sustain the level of play he’s shown this preseason. Through three games, the second year DE has graded at +9.2, and has only been negatively graded on a single play. He took over in the third quarter of Saturday’s game, as on three consecutive plays (starting at 10:11) he beat Uche Nwaneri for a pressure and hit, followed by a clean-up sack as Chad Henne attempted to escape the pocket. Later in the quarter, Curry forced a fumble after standing up his blocker.
Tough Game for Mathis
PFF’s top rated guard two seasons running did not have a single game in which he graded negatively during that time. His -2.5 effort against the Jaguars marks the second such outing for Evan Mathis this preseason. While he did make a positive play in the running game, sealing Sen’Derrick Marks to the outside, Mathis was beaten on multiple occasions in pass protection. By the time he left the game in the third quarter, he had allowed a sack, hurry, and pair of hits on Michael Vick. That line could’ve easily been even worse, if not for the holding penalty Mathis picked up after he was beaten to the outside by Jeremy Mincey.
The Eagles will hope their star LG is just getting these struggles out of his system before the real season starts and that these last two games are not a sign of things to come.
Speaking of Vick (-0.8), to no one’s surprise he received the bulk of the work at QB after being named the starter this week. Unfortunately for the Eagles, those 46 snaps didn’t go as well as the team might have hoped.
He started out strong, making plays with both his arm and his legs to lead a FG drive followed by a short TD drive after a Henne interception. Things went downhill from there, however, as Vick returned the favor when an ill-advised throw off his back foot fell far short of his intended target and easily into the arms of a Jaguar defender (Q2, 5:51). He then started the team’s next possession by mishandling a snap, one which his teammate fortunately recovered.
Ultimately his numbers look solid; 15-of-23 for 184 yards passing to go along with seven carries for 53 yards rushing. But as has often been the case with Vick, all of the positive plays can be easily tarnished by poor ball security.
Jacksonville – Three Performances of Note
This week, no quarterback who dropped back to pass at least 20 times was under pressure more often than Chad Henne, who was pressured on 46% of his drop backs against the Eagles. Though he performed admirably on those snaps, including throwing one of his two TD passes under pressure, Jacksonville surely would like that number to be lower.
Among the primary culprits were starters Luke Joeckel, who allowed two hurries in his fairly limited action, and Nwaneri, who, as noted above, was abused by Curry for a pair of pressures. That group could also include Mike Brewster if starting LG Will Rackley, who went down after one play with a leg injury, is out for an extended period. Brewster (-1.5 in pass protection) was beaten three times to allow pressure, including the hit at 12:30 of the second quarter when Trent Cole exploded past him nearly untouched.
On the positive side, Eugene Monroe (+3.7) looked as good as ever, as he kept a clean sheet in 25 snaps in pass protection.
Though he only carried the ball eight times Jordon Todman (+1.6) made quite the impression; highlighted by his spectacular 63-yard touchdown run midway through the second quarter. On that run, he showed good patience and vision to get into the open field before finishing the run with an impressive burst. That wasn’t his only good run on the day, as he turned two of his other carries into a pair of 14-yard gains. If he doesn’t end up making the Jacksonville roster, this performance should at least put him on the radars of other teams throughout the league.
Denard Robinson will almost certainly make the cut, and though the numbers won’t blow anyone away – seven carries for 33 yards, with a long of 5 – he showed off his impressive cutting ability on several runs. Robinson will have to work on his hands going forward – he dropped the only pass thrown his way – but he looks to be the perfect change-of-pace back to spell Maurice Jones-Drew a few times a game.
While the other two backs made pushes, Jonathan Grimes (–1.6), hurt his already slim chances of making the roster when he put the ball on the ground midway through the third quarter, though he at least recovered his own fumble.
Breakdowns in Coverage
Rookie Johnathan Cyprien (-2.7) had a rough start to his NFL career a week ago, and while he improved this week, going from awful to just bad isn’t necessarily the leap the Jaguars are hoping for from their young safety. He certainly wasn’t alone, however, as FS Josh Evans, corners Marcus Trufant, Demetrius McCray, and Mike Harris, along with LB Brandon Marshall all graded in the red for their efforts in coverage. Not surprisingly, many of the breakdowns throughout the night involved multiple defenders in zone coverage, where Eagle receivers were allowed to run free through the secondary. Two such examples of these breakdowns were Desean Jackson getting loose for a 22-yard reception at 1:57 in the first quarter, and Vick’s TD pass to Riley Cooper at 13:47 of the second. The problems didn’t end with the catch, unfortunately; the group also combined to miss six tackles.
– Everette Brown is trying to make a comeback and make Philadelphia’s roster. The 26 year old DE/OLB and former second round pick has only played in 3 games since 2010, but showed no rust on this occasion, as he picked up four QB disruptions (1 sack, 1 hit, 2 hurries) in 22 snaps to earn a +2.6 grade.
-Jaguars LT Mark Asper (-1.7) all but cut himself, allowing two sacks in his five snaps on the field.
-Jeremey Mincey is second among all 4-3 DEs to play at least 10 snaps with a Pass Rush Productivity rating of 20.0 this preseason. Mincey notched three pressures in 11 rushes against Philadelphia.
Vinny Curry gets the nod after his dominating third quarter.
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