SEVERAL EAGLES HAVE BREAKOUT NIGHTS IN PRESEASON WIN OVER MIAMI, 38-31
The Eagles starting offense finally showed a little of what it is capable of doing, scoring 14 first quarter points, setting the tone for what turned out to be a 38-31 shootout win over the Miami Dolphins at Lincoln Financial Field.
In a bit of a surprise move, head coach Doug Pederson pulled quarterback Carson Wentz and the rest fo the starting offense after the first quarter. It was believed the starters would play well into the third quarter.
Pederson said because his starters had scrimmaged so much, with hitting, against Miami on Monday and Tuesday he felt the team had played the equivalent of a full game and did not want to push it too far Thursday night.
“Yeah, they got a lot of great work for two days,” Pederson said. “You think about it, we really don’t play full football games on 48 hours rest, and Monday and Tuesday was pretty intense for both teams. I felt like we got some good work, so that was part of the reason why I was able to pull them out sooner.”
Wentz finished 6 of 10 for 129 yards and two touchdown passes. He was sacked once (was hit a few more times) and threw and interception.
Torrey Smith caught one of those touchdown passes, a 50-yard bomb on the Eagles opening drive. Alshon Jeffery caught his first TD pass in an Eagles uniform, a 15-yard crossing route from Wentz with 1:14 left in the first quarter.
While those are solid numbers and certainly making Eagles fans breathe a sigh of relief now that they’ve seen their core offensive players perform at an elite level, it was the play of a free agent rookie running back and a much maligned linebacker that stole the show last night.
Mychal Kendricks was listed as the starting outside linebacker for the Eagles yet he played just 27 percent of the snaps in 2016.
Great players want to play. Kendricks was not shy in letting the team know he was not happy and would welcome a trade. That did not happen.
So Kendricks channeled his anger into his performance this year. In three preseason games he has three interceptions including a 31-yard pick-six in the second quarter that put the Eagles up 28-21.
He also had a quarterback hurry and a defended pass.
Kendricks admits he has a chip on his shoulder this preseason:
“Every game is an audition in the league and that’s just how it goes,” Kendricks said. “Coaches, players, we all go so fast. It’s a cycle, it’s crazy and it’s not like any other job occupation I know. Like I said it’s just about taking the opportunities given. It’s simple and people try to make it so complicated but it’s just simple.”
He was asked about playing in the NFL.
“This is the league, man,” Kendricks said. “There are people out there that can play this game. It’s about taking advantage of the opportunities given. Whatever opportunity is given to me I plan on making the most of it.”
Despite giving up 31 points, 24 in the first half, Kendricks said the defense is playing well.
“I am really liking the defense,” he said. “I think that we’re coming together really nice. It’s the second year for everyone in this defense and I think that we are really able to focus on the details of our techniques and then our play, so it’s nice to see people out there doing their thing. We need to work on a couple things but I think we are coming together.”
On the other side of the ball local product Corey Clement had his best night as a pro.
The Glassboro graduate who went on to star at Wisconsin, rushed nine times for 42 yards and a touchdown, caught two passes for 11 yards and returned two punts for a total of 32 yards.
He hope he has done enough.
“This is going to be a crucial seven days. This is the last showcase we have to prove to the staff that I should be a part of this 53-man roster. But I can’t think about that at all. If I am my best self that day, I go back in the mirror as I go to sleep just knowing I gave it my all. I shouldn’t have anything to worry about if I gave it my all each day.”
When asked if playing in the Big 10 helps him, he deferred to his offensive line and coaches.
“I’d like to change the direction of that question,” Clement said. “I think the guys around me helped [get me to] this moment. The guys up front really make it that much easier for me and [Offensive Line] Coach [Jeff] Stout[land] prepares those guys very well. Duce prepares us, so as we go out there we’re all in tandem. When we approach each down, it’s all about who wants it more. Each guy is trying to get it done better than the next guy, so it’s creates that competitive edge that everybody wants.”
Follow Al Thompson on Twitter @thompsoniii