Here is some of the weirdness that happened in the Eagles’ preseason and, astonishingly, this is what the team wanted. They didn’t plan all of this, but it happened and no one seems distressed.
- Star receiver A.J. Brown had zero receptions.
- Emerging star receiver DeVonta Smith played zero minutes.
- Starting quarterback Jalen Hurts played 3 minutes, 47 seconds. Total.
- All-Pro center Jason Kelce played zero minutes.
- The Eagles allowed 48 points against the Dolphins and made Tua Tagovailoa look like a legitimate NFL quarterback.
Here’s what else happened: The Eagles got through camp without a devastating injury — presuming the “clean-out” surgery performed on Kelce will allow him to start the opener on Sept. 11.
Publicly, the coaches are pleased and confident going into the regular season. Coaches unanimously agree that Hurts has looked much better than last year. As Hurts goes, so go the Eagles.
Optimism is everywhere.
Coach Nick Sirianni has preached the importance of keeping his team healthy. He cut back on OTAs and practices and even tackling to the ground. Buddy Ryan would be embarrassed.
The difference in training camp philosophies came in full view Saturday night. The Dolphins played their starters and looked like they wanted blood. The Eagles mostly played the back-ups of the back-ups.
The result was predictable: Dolphins 48, Eagles 10. The Eagles finished a meaningless 1-2 in the preseason.
WAIT A SECOND
Before everyone pencils in a 15-2 season, there are some roster soft spots and question marks.
- Tight end looks weak behind Dallas Goedert.
- Safety looks like a potential problem.
- Running back looks unfinished.
- Jalen Alexander Hurts will be starting only his 20th NFL game Sept. 11 at Detroit.
- The Eagles aren’t going to sneak up on anyone.
The Eagles’ 80-man roster is about to take a serious trim. By Tuesday at 4 p.m., their roster must be reduced to 53 players.
That’s 27 players who will be gone, relegated to the practice squad or picked up by other teams.
“The thing is we don’t have to make a decision yet, but we feel good with the competition that’s going on right now,” Sirianni said.
“I think the more you have in the conversation, like ‘This guy or this guy or this guy or this guy,’ that’s better because you’re having a good competition throughout.
“And that’s what I feel like we’re having with the amount of talent that [general manager] Howie [Roseman] and his staff has brought in.”
- Will the Eagles keep three quarterbacks?
Reid Sinnett didn’t even look like a third-stringer. Highly regarded free-agent rookie Carson Strong hardly played. I think the Eagles keep only Hurts and Gardner Minshew.
- Will the Eagles keep Jalen Reagor?
Yes. Reagor has bounced back from two poor seasons with a strong camp.
- Will stellar special teams play help Olympic track star Devon Allen earn a roster spot?
Everyone loves Allen — except the Browns defensive back whom Allen torched on his 55-yard touchdown reception. I just don’t think the Eagles are going to keep him, despite his special teams prowess. Hope I’m wrong.
- Which wide receivers will be cut?
They’ll keep Brown, Smith, Quez Watkins and Zach Pascal and probably Reagor. If they keep a sixth receiver, it might be Allen or Deon Cain. The Eagles like Britain Covey, Greg Ward and John Hightower, but I think they’ll be cut.
- Will they trade suddenly productive offensive tackle Andre Dillard?
NFL linemen get hurt. It’s a fact of NFL life. Line depth is always needed. Keep Dillard. Might be the smartest move the Eagles don’t make.
- What will they do at running back?
Miles Sanders has missed time with a hamstring. Jason Huntley doesn’t move anyone. Rookie Kennedy Brooks didn’t show much. Eagles will cut Huntley and Brooks, go with Sanders, Boston Scott and Kenny Gainwell, and get help elsewhere.
- Will recently acquired veteran Jaquiski Tartt be cut?
Yes. Undrafted rookie Reid Blankenship looks roster-worthy and improves week by week. He might have been the team’s best undrafted free agent the summer. The cut might come down to Blankenship and K’Von Wallace.
- What about linebacker Davion Taylor, who started six games last season?
The Eagles upgraded their linebackers this offseason with Haason Reddick, Kyzir White and rookie Nakobe Dean. Taylor didn’t upgrade his game. Starter T.J. Edwards is safe. On the bubble: Shaun Bradley, rookie Kyron Johnson, Patrick Johnson, JaCoby Stevens, Christian Elliss. Bradley is a great on special teams. Johnson had a strong camp. Don’t think Stevens, Ellis and Taylor will make the cut.
- Who survives at tight end?
Behind Goedert is Jack Stoll, veteran Richard Rodgers, rookie Grant Calcaterra and Noah Togiai. They will keep Stoll and Calcaterra.
- On the defensive line?
If the Eagles keep nine, they have: Fletcher Cox, Derek Barnett, Brandon Graham, Tarron Jackson, Javon Hargrave, Josh Sweat, Milton Williams, Marlon Tuipulotu, Marvin Wilson, Matt Leo, Kobe Smith and Renell Wren. That’s 12 guys. Leo, Smith and Wren look like casualties.
So, the Eagles charge into the regular season with a solid roster while leaving some guys behind.
Such is life on a contender with a deep roster.