Friday, August 9, 2013
Observation deck: Patriots-Eagles
By Ashley Fox
PHILADELPHIA -- A few thoughts on the New England Patriots-Philadelphia Eagles preseason game Friday night at Lincoln Financial Field, which New England won 31-22.
-- This was Tom Brady first game without Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez, Brandon Lloyd and, for now, Rob Gronkowski. The Patriots are missing approximately 85 percent of their offense from last season. How did Brady adjust?
He played only the first two series of the game, but on the first, he handed the ball off six times before Stevan Ridley ran in for a one-yard touchdown. On the second, Brady completed seven of eight passes for 65 yards to three different receivers and running back Shane Vereen. Brady hit Vereen, who was blanketed by Eagles linebacker Mychal Kendricks, in the back left corner of the end zone with a pass that was perfectly placed over Vereen’s left shoulder for a touchdown.
That was the end of Brady’s night. As he typically is, he was crisp, accurate and lethal with the short and mid-range passing game the Patriots employ.
-- This was Chip Kelly’s highly anticipated NFL debut. Yes, it’s the preseason. No, Kelly wasn’t going to unveil his entire offense. He wasn’t going to put his plans on tape for the rest of the league to see.
But there was one Nick Foles-led drive that offered a glimpse at what Kelly wants to see. Kelly has preached repetitive accuracy and decision making as the two things he is most looking to see out of his quarterbacks. The one who can move the chains and keep the offense rolling at a brisk clip will ultimately be the one whom Kelly chooses as the starter.
In the second quarter, Foles led a 10-play drive exclusively out of the shotgun. He was never under center. There were seven consecutive plays of no huddle. Foles completed five of six passes, none longer than 12 yards. He had one 10-yard scramble. And the Eagles scored on a 10-play, 66-yard drive to tie the game, 14-14.
-- This was another opportunity for Foles and Michael Vick to impress Kelly. Vick started the first two series of the game with the starting offense. Foles started the next two series with the starting offense. Each scored a touchdown. Vick led the Eagles on a five-play, 77-yard touchdown drive to start the game. It included two beautiful throws by Vick, the first over the middle to Jason Avant for 22 yards and the second to DeSean Jackson for 47 yards.
That’s what Vick does. He throws a beautiful long ball. Foles kept the offense moving.
Kelly has said that he has no timetable to make his decision. Foles will start the next preseason game Thursday night against Carolina, but Vick also will have a chance to play with the first-string offense.
-- Patriots backup quarterback Ryan Mallett left the game in the second quarter after absorbing a hit from Eagles third-string defensive end Damion Square. Mallett suffered an unspecified “head injury.” He did not return to the game and Tim Tebow replaced him.