NFC East: Patriots-Eagles Preseason Week 1

Observation deck: Patriots-Eagles

August, 9, 2013

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.
PHILADELPHIA -- On the Philadelphia Eagles’ second offensive drive against New England, Michael Vick was in the shotgun with an empty backfield. He rolled right and then hit wide receiver Riley Cooper for a 19-yard gain. The crowd’s reaction: some boos, but more cheers.

This game at Lincoln Financial Field was the first real opportunity for Eagles fans to let Cooper know how they feel about him using a racial slur at a Kenny Chesney concert in June. The reaction from the less-than-capacity crowd was tame.

Cooper took the field on the Eagles’ opening possession. He stood to Vick’s right in the huddle. Vick did not target Cooper, but after Vick found DeSean Jackson in the end zone on a perfectly thrown 47-yard pass, Cooper celebrated with Jackson in the end zone. The two receivers jumped simultaneously into the air, turned their backs to each other and bumped backs. Later, after Vick had taken a seat on the Eagles' bench next to Jason Avant and Jackson, Cooper walked over and tapped Vick on the helmet.

Last week video emerged of Cooper using a racial slur. Several of his African-American teammates were offended. Cooper practiced the next day but was shunned by many teammates. He talked to no one. One day later, Eagles coach Chip Kelly announced that Cooper had taken a leave of absence to speak to a counselor to help him understand the impact of what he had said. Cooper also went to Florida to see his parents.

Cooper returned to the Eagles on Tuesday and participated in three joint practices with the Patriots leading up to Friday night’s game. Kelly has said that Cooper’s job is not in jeopardy because of the slur.