Thursday, August 15, 2013

Eagles - Panthers preview

PHILADELPHIA - Second-year man Nick Foles will get his chance on Thursday night as Chip Kelly continues his game of musical chairs at the quarterback position when the Philadelphia Eagles play host to the Carolina Panthers in preseason action.

Veteran Michael Vick started in the preseason opener for the Eagles, a 31-22 setback to the New England Patriots,  and did the most with "his turn in the rotation," first tossing a 22-yard strike to Jason Avant during the team's first drive of the game before hitting DeSeam Jackson in stride for a 47-yard scoring pass two play later.

Vick wrapped up his night 4-of-5 for 94 yards and the score with a perfect 158.3 passer rating.

"Mike had a great read based on the coverage," Kelly said when talking about the TD pass to Jackson. "Usually when you're throwing deep, not everyone is running deep. You have check-downs and you have people running underneath. You have to read the coverage. It was a great play by Mike and DeSean, and
obviously [DeSean] is a great weapon to use at our disposal. I thought Mike did a great job of reading the coverage and throwing it on time."

Vick, however, didn't really separate himself as much as you would think in his quarterback duel with Foles. The veteran really didn't run much read-option or misdirection and Kelly didn't feel comfortable enough to run his up-tempo stuff until Foles, the second-year signal caller from Arizona, entered. Foles finished 5-of-6 for 43 yards, largely against the Pats' second-team defense.

"We're going to pull the trigger before we game plan for the (season opener against the) Washington Redskins," Kelly said after the game when queried about the QB competition. "We have to have a quarterback in place when we're really getting ready and getting into the meat and potatoes of what our game plan is going to be.  That quarterback will be named."

Perhaps Kelly's bigger concern, however, should be a defense which allowed Stevan Ridley to pile up 92 rushing yards on just eight carries while LeGarrett Blount, who once starred under Kelly at Oregon, was even better for the Pats, biting his old coach with 101 yards on 11 carries, including a brilliant zig-zagging 51-yard TD run. New England finished the game with an imposing 248 rushing yards on 31 attempts.

"I think there were a couple of missed tackles out there," Kelly understated. "I've seen LeGarrett do that a couple of times when I coached him. He's a big strong physical back and you have to get a lot of guys to the ball. We missed a gap on the first long run to start the game. We'll watch the film and make sure we understand exactly what happened and try to correct those mistakes."

Chris Polk got the start at running back for the Birds against the Pats but was unimpressive, gaining just seven yards on four carries. Matthew Tucker led Philadelphia with 33 yards rushing on 10 carries, while Greg Salas was the top receiver, snaring three balls for 54 yards and a TD. Embattled receiver Riley
Cooper was largely a non-factor, being targeted two times and catching one for 19 yards.

The Panthers, on the other hand, won their preseason opener as Cam Newton threw a touchdown pass on Carolina's second possession and the Panthers upended the Chicago Bears,  24-17.

Cornerback Josh Norman had a pair of interceptions, one on Chicago's first offensive play and the other a 60-yard return for a TD in the third quarter.

Newton, who played the first three series, completed 3-of-6 passes for 16 yards. That included a 3-yard score to Brandon LaFell. Derek Anderson connected on 8-of-15 throws for 133 yards and was picked off once for the Panthers, who finished 7-9 last season and missed the playoffs for a fourth straight year. Jimmy Clausen was 5-of-9 for 51 yards.

"I was really pleased with some things that happened, especially with the defense," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. "I thought they were very active and made some things happen in a couple tough situations. Offensively, I liked the way we moved the ball, but we have to be more consistent and protect the ball

The Panthers and Eagles will be meeting for just the third time in the preseason.

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