ReFo: Steelers @ Eagles, Preseason Week 3
Ben Stockwell highlights player performances from a night that saw the Eagles flying and the Steelers fighting to keep up.
ReFo: Steelers @ Eagles, Preseason Week 3
If the third week of preseason is viewed as the dress rehearsal for Week 1 then the Philadelphia Eagles are ready for the bright lights. The Pittsburgh Steelers, on the other hand, need to make plenty of last-minute adjustments if they are to be ready when the curtains rise in just over two weeks.
The starters saw their most extended action of the preseason and though this was not the flawless execution we’ve seen from the Eagles’ offense in the past, they still had more questions for the Pittsburgh defense than they could comfortably answer. On the ground and through the air the Steelers were found wanting against an offensive system that, at least on the evidence of last night, isn’t suddenly going to be found out in its second season.
Pittsburgh kept their starters in longer than the Eagles and Ben Roethlisberger was able to finish with a flourish on a perfectly placed touchdown pass to Heath Miller but there were plenty of struggles up to that point.
Pittsburgh Steelers – Performances of Note
Cortez Allen, CB, -4.2
Breakdown: The night started well for Allen with a pass defense on a post route to Jeremy Maclin midway through the first quarter but it went downhill rapidly from there. Whether he was surrendering completions, missing tackles or committing penalties there just wasn’t much in the way of positives to draw from Allen’s display.
Signature Stat: Surrendered four first downs in coverage whether by penalty or completion.
Antonio Brown, WR, +2.4
Breakdown: In a shaky night for the Steelers’ starters, their shining light was Antonio Brown, just like last season. Only three catches, but Brown gained at least 15 yards each time and evaded four tackles including his fourth catch which was nullified by a holding penalty.
Signature Play: Took a slant on third-and-four (2Q, 11:06) into Mychal Kendricks’ zone, bouncing off of the linebackers attempt at a hit to break outside for a 22-yard gain.
Ryan Shazier, ILB, -2.9
Breakdown: The mobile Shazier met the mobile Eagles’ offense and the rookie came off second best. Found out to the tune of 70 yards on six catches in coverage, he didn’t make any sort of an impact in run defense, either.
Signature Play: Stiff armed to the ground by Eagles’ WR Jeff Maehl at 2:44 in the third quarter for one of his two missed tackles on the night.
Philadelphia Eagles – Performances of Note
Nick Foles, QB, +0.9
Breakdown: After a shaky start, missing on a couple of early passes, Foles settled quickly into last season’s form. Whether you view this as a quarterback-friendly system or not, Foles clearly feels at home in it and quickly gets the ball where it needs to be to exploit the space that the offense creates.
Signature Stat: Foles was money between the numbers going 11-of-13 for 115 yards, earning a +3.0 grade on those 13 attempts.
Allen Barbre, RT, -1.1
Breakdown: Continuing to run with the first team in anticipation of Lane Johnson’s four-game suspension Barbre struggled in pass protection surrendering four pressures (one hit, three hurries) and was beaten once more on a nullified play. The rest of the Eagles’ starters on the line played well, but for the first month Barbre could be a weakness for opposing defenses to try and exploit.
Signature Play: At 7:14 in the first quarter, Jason Worilds drove through his outside shoulder, turning the corner to hit Foles’ arm as he threw to force an incompletion.
Kenjon Barner, RB, +1.6
Breakdown: Only acquired on Tuesday, Barner put his knowledge of Chip Kelly’s offense from his days at Oregon to immediate use. Coming in after the equally impressive Matthew Tucker (+1.1 rushing), Barner broke off two of his seven carries for more than 10 yards. A rare negative in his display was a muffed kickoff late in the game.
Signature Stat: Forced three missed tackles on only seven carries.
PFF Game Ball
Not shaken by a freak interception on a screen when Darren Sproles was tripped, Nick Foles calmly executed the offense and showed that he is ready to pick up where he left off a year ago.
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Ben Stockwell | Director of Analysis
Ben joined Pro Football Focus in 2007, and has since been in charge of the company’s analysis process. He also contributes to PFF’s weekly NFL podcast.