It was an exhibition of highs and lows…and the early part of the game that really mattered was a ball of confusion.
We went into this thing with a presumed mutual agreement of “All-Vanilla”— but Miami’s head coach Adam Gase went off the script.
Maybe he was trying to send a message to his guys on defense to get tough? We’ll never know for sure, but what we do know is Gase is trying to change the “country-club culture” of the Dolphins—especially on defense. And man, did the Eagles get a wake-up call from that man’s crusade to turn his allegedly soft defense into a bunch of raging bulls?
Suddenly our first-team offense was up against a Dolphins defense that consistently showed a front seven with five guys rushing the passer. They changed it up on every play. You never knew which five were coming. Wait a minute, Doug Pederson must have thought, is this a playoff game?
No way you game-plan for that kind of thing in a preseason game. What was Gase thinking? Where was the gentlemens’ agreement to play vanilla?
At one point I was worried the Dolphins were hell-bent for leather, i.e., trying to knock Carson Wentz out of the game…No head coach in the league would admit to that, but it looked and felt like Gase was willing to spur his troops on to that objective, as if he were sending some kind of weird psychic message that this is the sacrificial victim to be taken down now in order to set up the mindset of his defense for the rest of the regular season.
I don’t like that kind of mind game. Not in PS3, anyway.
Anyway, Wentz and the first-team offense survived, and Pederson pulled them out of the game after just one quarter to make sure they survived.
Here’s Tim McManus’ take, he of ESPN.com now:
“It was far from a perfect day for the Eagles’ offense. Wentz absorbed a number of shots in his quarter’s worth of work, the offensive line leaking for a third straight week.”
“Wentz ended 6-of-10 for 129 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He was under pressure on more than 60 percent of his throws Thursday, according to Pro Football Focus tracking. One of his most impressive snaps was also among the most chaotic, as he stumbled as he dropped back, regained his footing, spun to avoid contact and flung the ball across the field to Zach Ertz, who rumbled for a sizable gain.”
“One reason to be concerned: The O-line is expected to be a strength but has been shaky through three preseason games. Wentz took some shots, including one when he was bent backward by linebacker Lawrence Timmons during a pass attempt. His interception was forced by defensive end William Hayes, who got in deep on tackle Lane Johnson and tipped the ball as it was coming out of Wentz’s hands. This group needs to improve before the opener at Washington on Sept. 10.”
I agree the offensive line protection and the emergency pass-protection of the running backs must improve, but it was obvious to me the Eagles did not game-plan (nor should they have had to) for all-out blitz action by the Dolphins in a game played in August. I just don’t get the thinking behind that strategy by Miami.
Anyway, the Birds weathered the storm.
And give the devil his due, Jay Cutler looked fantastic in his dress rehearsal for the Dolphins.
Playing his second game since coming out of retirement to replace injured Dolphins starter Ryan Tannehill, Cutler was 5 of 8 for 105 yards and one TD . His surgically repaired right shoulder looked fine on a 72-yard pass to DeVante Parker.
Wentz was resilient. He connected with Torrey Smith on a 50-yard TD down the right side on a third-and-8 on Philadelphia’s opening series for a 7-0 lead.
Wentz then hit Alshon Jeffery for a 20-yard gain and found him again for a 15-yard TD pass over the middle on his fourth and final series.
“It seems like his pocket presence is coming back,” Dolphins coach Adam Gase said of Cutler. “It was a step in the right direction.”
“They got a good feel for us and they made a couple plays,” Dolphins cornerback Byron Maxwell said.
Mychal Kendricks then intercepted Matt Moore‘s tipped pass and returned it for a score to put Philadelphia ahead 28-21.
IMPRESSIVE RETURNS: Dolphins DT Jordan Phillips had a rumbling 18-yard return after he picked Wentz, setting up one of Ajayi’s TD runs. Eagles reserve LB Don Cherry had a nifty 42-yard return after intercepting Doughty’s pass.
Eagles CB Ronald Darby, who was acquired from Buffalo two weeks ago, struggled after an impressive debut with the Eagles. He allowed the long pass to Parker and had a 42-yard pass interference penalty in the end zone. Darby was left alone on an island the entire time he was in there, as if the Eagles were begging Jay Cutler to test him to the max. Cutler obliged. To be fair to Darby, he tried to jump the route on Parker and just was a hair off on his timing… and the PI he incurred was oh so close to being a great legit pass breakup.
I like aggressive cornerback play, so I ain’t ready to bury Darby now. It’s the preseason, the perfect time to work on stuff.
Dolphins: TE Thomas Duarte suffered a concussion.
Eagles: Rookie LB Nate Gerry left with a hamstring injury.
Torrey Smith 50 Yd pass from Carson Wentz (Caleb Sturgis Kick)
3 plays, 52 yards, 0:53
Jay Ajayi 2 Yd Run (Andrew Franks Kick)
5 plays, 93 yards, 2:04
Jay Ajayi 2 Yd Run (Andrew Franks Kick)
1 play, 2 yards, 0:06
Alshon Jeffery 15 Yd pass from Carson Wentz (Caleb Sturgis Kick)
9 plays, 93 yards, 3:35
Julius Thomas 1 Yd pass from Jay Cutler (Andrew Franks Kick)
4 plays, 75 yards, 1:26
Corey Clement 3 Yd Run (Caleb Sturgis Kick)
6 plays, 53 yards, 3:07
Mychal Kendricks 31 Yd Interception Return (Caleb Sturgis Kick)
3 plays, 8 yards, 1:23
Andrew Franks 56 Yd Field Goal
7 plays, 43 yards, 1:00
Caleb Sturgis 30 Yd Field Goal
13 plays, 65 yards, 7:32
Jakeem Grant 69 Yd pass from Brandon Doughty (Andrew Franks Kick)
1 play, 69 yards, 0:12
Marcus Johnson 1 Yd pass from Matt McGloin (Caleb Sturgis Kick)
4 plays, 5 yards, 2:10
|Passing 1st downs||8||14|
|Rushing 1st downs||5||9|
|1st downs from penalties||2||2|
|3rd down efficiency||2-11||10-17|
|4th down efficiency||0-0||0-0|
|Yards per Play||5.8||5.5|
|Yards per pass||6.9||7.4|
|Yards per rush||4.1||3.8|
|Red Zone (Made-Att)||3-4||3-4|
|Defensive / Special Teams TDs||0||1|
Yes, you read it correctly, the Eagles were penalized 16 times for a grand total of 147 yards. “Big V” got smacked three times for false starts. That garbage has got to get cleaned up in a hurry.
|Greg Ward Jr.||1||5||5.0||0||5||1|
Corey Clement had an exceptional outing at running back. He’s either going to force the Eagles to keep 5 running backs, or crash his way into the foursome they do end up keeping. He looks special.