We weren't able to catch the Eagles-Jaguars exhibition live in the Dallas area, but I stayed up for the replay. Kevin Kolb had a nice first outing and he showed a lot of poise. Sorry, I can't muster up much disappointment about the red-zone performance. Tight end Brent Celek will make that catch in the back of the end zone in the regular-season. The fact that the Eagles won, 28-27, is just a side note. Here are my observations from the game:
We were quickly reminded that DeSean Jackson is perhaps the most exciting player in the league on Kolb's first throw. He hit Jackson in stride on a quick slant, and the Jaguars linebacker never had a chance. Jackson's a matchup nightmare for any team, but the Jags seemed especially overmatched.
You might have been surprised to see how mobile Kolb was on Friday night. He does a really nice job of always keeping his eyes looking downfield as he escapes the pocket. He doesn't have a lot of speed, but he's actually pretty elusive. I didn't see any evidence of "happy feet" in the first quarter. Both Kolb and Michael Vick did a nice job using their legs.
Speaking of Vick, he looks like a completely different player than last season. That touchdown run was vintage Vick in that he broke containment and then turned on the afterburners down the sideline. The Jaguars defensive linemen had no chance when Vick decided to take off. He was so much more decisive in Friday's game than he was at this point last season.
Jeremy Maclin looks so much smoother in his route running. On that first pass from Kolb, he sort of lulled the Jags to sleep and then he exploded across the middle. He and Kolb seem to already have a nice rhythm. If Kolb's able to hit Jackson and Maclin in stride most of the time, this offense will put up huge numbers. The one thing Kolb can't do is stare down a receiver in the red zone. He did that with Jason Avant on that first drive. Fortunately, Avant was able to break up a possible interception.
Give cornerback Asante Samuel credit for popping big tight end Marcedes Lewis early in the game. He's normally averse to contact, but he made a really nice play on third down. The first-team defense didn't get a lot of reps, because they played too well. Two three-and-outs is a good way to begin the preseason.
Trevard Lindley prevented a long kick return early in the game with a really nice open-field tackle. I think general manager Howie Roseman has to feel pretty good about getting him in the fourth round. Lindley and free-agent rookie safety Kurt Coleman are both very aggressive players who play with a ton of confidence. Coleman's in the process of playing his way onto the 53-man roster.
I'd love to see Chad Hall make this team, but you have to put Jackson back there on punt returns during the regular season. I heard the Philadelphia broadcasters talking about letting someone else do it to prevent an injury to Jackson. That doesn't make sense to me. Jackson's gamebreaking ability makes it worth the risk.
You have to give it up for the first-team offensive line. Seemed like Kolb and Vick both had plenty of time in the pocket. By the way, Vick's pass to Riley Cooper was a thing of beauty. Cooper's acting like he belongs. It's going to be impossible to keep him out of the rotation once the regular-season begins. Three catches for 61 yards in his first preseason game. Just a very impressive rookie. He and Bengals' rookie Jordan Shipley have really stood out to me.
Surely the Jags will have a better plan against the Eagles in a game that counts. Giving Jackson a free release is like begging him to beat you. The 26-yard catch and run was pretty impressive, but the end-around was the play of the night. Jags cornerback Derek Cox is trying to have film of that play destroyed, because Jackson made him look silly with that little stutter-step.
LeSean McCoy did a nice job between the tackles. I thought he was a little too quick to bounce runs outside last season. On Friday, he lowered his shoulder and churned out yards in the first quarter. It wasn't a huge night or anything, but I saw some good signs. The huge night belonged to Martell Mallett. Some players just take it to the next level when the lights come on, and Mallett was that guy.
I know Joselio Hanson wants to be competing for a starting job, but he can't bite on those double moves. Luke McCown, who hails from Jacksonville, Texas, made Hanson look really bad on a long touchdown pass. And if Hanson's going to interfere, you better pull the guy to the ground. Really poor technique. Geoff Pope also got burned on a deep ball from McCown.
Left tackle Austin Howard basically took over the game in the second quarter. He had at least two pancake blocks in the game and his footwork was outstanding. I was amazed to see how technically sound he looked. And at 330 pounds, he was doing an excellent job of anchoring.
Akeem Jordan was ready to play. Loved seeing him knife through on what might have been a run blitz early in the game. It's hard to complain about anything the first-team defense did.