Eagles lose preseason opener, and backup QB Nate Sudfeld, too
The Eagles 27-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans in Thursday night’s preseason opener at Lincoln Financial Field had some moments, probably more bad than good for the losing team.
It also had one play that could shape the Eagles season, and not in a positive way.
Backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld, who started the game after head coach Doug Pederson decided to sit Carson Wentz, fell awkwardly on his left wrist and was taken off the field on a cart and an air cast on his left arm with 19 seconds left in the half.
VIDEO: Doug Pederson updates injury to Nate Sudfeld in postgame press conference
Afterward, head coach Doug Pederson said an X-ray taken at halftime revealed a break in his left wrist, on his non-throwing hand, and will have surgery in the morning.
“It’s not season-ending so we’re excited about that and after surgery we’ll have more of an update for you, probably Saturday,” said Pederson. “We’re comfortable with Cody (Kessler) and obviously get Clayton (Thorson) more work.”
Pederson said there are no plans at this time to add another quarterback.
“Right now we’re just going to continue with who we got,” he said.
Until then, Sudfeld had been having an encouraging night in trying to show that he is up for the task of replacing Nick Foles as Wentz’s backup should another injury befell Wentz.
He had the play of the night, launching a perfect strike to a streaking Marken Michel, who had blown past 2018 first-round draft pick Adoree Jackson then hurried into the end zone for a 75-yard score that gave the Eagles their only touchdown of the night and a 10-6 lead with 11:24 to go in the second quarter.
Here’s more from the game:
Dallas Goedert (pictured above) played a bit and finished with three catches for 50 yards, including a long of 24 yards. His running mate, Zach Ertz, did not play.
Andre Dillard and Jordan Mailata. At first glance, the second-team offensive tackles seemed to hold up well. I didn’t watch them the entire game, but when I peeked in, they seemed to do well. Mailata played deep into the game and held up well.
Marken Michel. Any time you roast a first-round pick for a 75-yard touchdown, well, that is standing out. Problem is, the receiver position is a deep group, and Michel needs more flash plays like that to win a job here.
Daeshon Hall. The defensive end may have taken a big step up in the battle to be the fourth defensive end in Jim Schwartz’s defense. He had a sack and forced fumble early in the third quarter on third down.
Rookie defensive end Shareef Miller had a sack and held up against the run, but he is too one-dimensional on his pass rushes. A work in progress, but not ready to be a contributor yet.
Veteran safety Johnathan Cyprien made some nice plays, but some not so nice ones, too. He arrived just a few days ago, so that is probably to be expected. I wouldn’t count him out, yet.
Running back Josh Adams made a couple nice catches, but he also had a costly fumble near midfield with less than a minute to go in the first half. Not sure he has a spot on this roster locked up. Right now, I’m leaning toward not.
The Eagles will need to find another quarterback, despite what Pederson said. Sam Bradford, anyone? Cody Kessler (3-for-6, 12 yards) and Clayton Thorson (2-for-9, 7 yards, one interception) did little – very little – to inspire any confidence.
The defense couldn’t get off the field on third down (5-for-9 in the first half; 11-for19 for the game) and had a difficult time rushing any of the three passers Tennessee used, including starter Marcus Mariota who played one series, which was one more than the Eagles’ starting quarterback got. As bad as the Eagles defense was on third down, the offense may have been worse, converting just 1-for-10 of its third down tries.
The Eagles offense managed just 227 total yards and only 37 yards rushing. Not good, even from mostly second and third stringers. Meanwhile, the Titans piled up 125 yards rushing and 263 yards passing with Ryan Tannehill going 12-for-16 for 130 yards and two touchdowns.
A big 37-yard run by Jeremy McNichols in the first half exposed a potential linebacker weakness for the Eagles. Nate Gerry over-ran the play, and speaking of Gerry he seems to do well in coverage, but the former college safety still looks to be having trouble coming off blocks as his transition from the defensive backfield to NFL linebacker continues to be a work in progress. Meanwhile, L.J. Fort was on his knees during McNichols’ run and couldn’t even attempt a tackle as McNichol whizzed by him. Tight end Alex Ellis made a nice open-field tackle after an interception thrown by Thorson. Maybe the Eagles should think about making Ellis a linebacker.
Thorson’s first throw would’ve been a first down, but he threw it at the feet of an open Donnel Pumphrey in the flat. Actually, the ball never even reached Pumphrey’s feet. Just a terrible pitch. There were other wayward throws as well.
Speaking of Pumphrey, he had a fumble on one kickoff return. It appeared that Pumphrey’s elbow landed before the ball popped out, but still when you’re in an uphill fight to make the roster, you can’t do that. Pumphrey did have three carries for 11 yards, which was the same number of yards Wendell Smallwood had, though Smallwood had four rushes.
Cornerback Jeremiah McKinnon looked good in camp, but not so good under the bright lights. He allowed an easy touchdown throw in one-on-one coverage against a tight end midway through the fourth quarter that gave the Titans a 28-10 lead. Of course, the pass came on third down.
Guard Matt Pryor really struggled, he was slow to pull on one play then followed that up with a hands-to-the-face penalty. He needs to do better to make the roster, but do the Eagles have any better to be a backup at that spot?
Carlton Agudosi and Greg Ward. Both receivers are having strong camps. Agudosi was targeted once in the fourth quarter; Ward not at all. Frankly, I’m not even sure Ward played.
Josh Sweat. The second-year defensive end played a little. I think.