The Eagles defense led the way Thursday, securing a 17-0 shutout of the undermanned Pittsburgh Steelers. With no Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell or Antonio Brown, among other starters, the Steelers looked very different than they will in just a few weeks when the teams face off in a game that actually matters.
If you didn’t watch the game — too focused on Usain Bolt or skipping the preseason because Carson Wentz was the only reason to watch — we don’t blame you. We watched (again) so you didn’t have to.
But it was an Eagles game, so if you find yourself at the office water cooler, or in the #watercooler channel on Slack, and your co-workers are all squawking about the Birds, here are a few talking points. Feel free to copy, paste and sound like an Eagles genius.
‘Four picks, including a pick six! That’s like…nine picks!’
The Eagles secondary had four interceptions in the first half off Steelers backup quarterback Landry Jones, who was dreadful against the Eagles first-string defense. The secondary, which was a primary concern for the Birds in the off-season, not only looks better than last year, but looks like a unit that could be one of the strongest on the team.
Nolan Carroll started the pick-fest with a 40-yard touchdown return to open the scoring. After the Eagles allowed the Steelers to march down the field with a chance to tie the game late in the first quarter, the bending defense did not break.
The Eagles added two more picks, including Aaron Grymes nabbing a Jones pass in the end zone in the second quarter, while Jaylen Watkins punctuated the first half. After the game, Carroll gave credit to the pass rush helping the defensive backs.
“It makes our job easier,” Carroll told reporters after the game. ” You don’t have to cover as long and you know that the quarterback is thinking about the rush as well.” Carroll, who broke his ankle in Week 12 last season, is hell bent on proving people wrong. “They didn’t know if I could play at all…I’ve been ready,” Carroll said about the doubters. Now, his game is proving them wrong, too.
‘Brandon Graham is earning that Madden rating’
Brandon Graham was ranked third on the EA Sports list of defensive ends this season, given a 92 rating for the game. That’s good, especially for a guy whose production hasn’t yet lived up to that level. Last night, Graham had just two tackles in the box score, but he was extremely effective on the edge — save for one end around where he failed to contain — and had fans and football pundits excited about his play.
Of course, it helps when the opponent doesn’t block him.
‘May the Schwartz be with you.’
Okay, NOBODY is going to be putting that line in Slack today, but if you don’t have this gif in Slackbot, maybe re-evaluate your life choices:
The Eagles defense, under Jim Schwartz, looks really good through two games, forcing nine turnovers, including several in the first quarters of both preseason games, when the starters are still on the field.
‘The Eagles offense…not so much.’
While the defense has looked good, the offense wasn’t given a ton of time in the first game to show much of anything. Doug Pederson said Sam Bradford and the first unit would play the first quarter and part of the second, but with limited action in the first stanza, Bradford’s unit ended up playing the entire first half.
They needed the work.
Bradford went 14-for-19 for 115 yards, while Ryan Mathews ran the ball just five times for 18 yards. Darren Sproles got some action in the screen game and the receivers are still a work in progress, especially with Jordan Matthews out with a leg injury. Still, the five Eagles offensive drives in the first half ended like this:
- Field Goal
It’s not the end of the world, but it will be the end of any fan wanting Bradford to be the starter (if there are even any of them left). Pederson told reporters after the game that he felt okay with how the team moved the ball but “the penalties killed us. That was the worst thing.”
‘Poor Caleb Sturgis.’
Caleb Sturgis is locked in a kicking battle with Cody Parkey this preseason where one will get a job and the other will almost assuredly get cut. With a lot at stake, Sturgis did not have a great night on Thursday.
How is getting hit in the head with a ball #Sodisrespectful? Or is Travis here saying that Stephen A. Smith was being disrespectful, because that’s probably more likely without even knowing what he was talking about.
And speaking of media being disrespectful…
Come on, man! They’re making fun of you in Boise!
Not everyone is making fun of Sturgis, at least.
It would hurt. Also, wear your helmet when you are on the field, kickers. As for making fun of Tom Brady for missing a game after he cut his hand with scissors? Well…I couldn’t resist.
‘Nelson Agholor: A career in two plays’
Nelson Agholor made a fantastic catch in the first half Thursday night…
…and before the production crew could even cue up a replay, the second-year receiver dropped the next pass.
Sure, the ball was a little behind him, but it was an easy catch, and a bad drop, for an offense that needed more of a spark.
Agholor finished the game with just two catches for 30 yards, failing to make the most of an opportunity with Matthews still out, Rueben Randle being relatively unproductive and new Eagle Dorial Green-Beckham (more on him in a minute) just coming into the mix.
The best catch of the night went to Paul Turner, who led the Birds with three grabs for 44 yards, including this one-handed beauty.
‘DGB: Already a red-zone threat.’
Pederson said earlier in the week that Green-Beckham wasn’t going to play but would travel with the team to Pittsburgh. Then he dressed for the game. Then he played.
“My decision was to let him play and see what he could do and coach him up on a couple of routes,” Pederson explained to reporters after the game. “We had a chance to get one, a throw in the end zone, just a little underthrown. But I think it was a good start for him to get his feet wet. We have a long way for him to go learning our playbook.”
“I just wanted to get him in the game.”
(If you don’t love that Eskin is replying to people with 37 followers on Twitter at 3 o’clock in the morning then we totally do social media differently.)
DGB is a big receiver who should give Bradford a legit red zone threat this season. The question is how he can help the team on the rest of the field, and, still, why Tennessee was so eager to get rid of him. Time will tell.
With the win, the Eagles are now 2-0 in the preseason, which as we learned last year, means absolutely nothing.