Eagles Index: Stock Up, Stock Down after Preseason Game One
The Eagles’ first real action of 2021 defined the term “tale of two halves.” The starters and backups performed admirably in their roles, while the third/fourth string units struggled in the second half. That’s to be expected during this time of year as guys have to get back into actual football shape and adjust to NFL speed in one month. These games are for working out situations or packages where teams struggle while fine-tuning aspects they will rely on throughout the season.
Stock Up: WR Quez Watkins
We’ll get the obvious one out of the way. Holy afterburners, Mr. Watkins! After finding open turf on the screen, Quez made Steelers’ safety Tre Norwood look stuck in quicksand on his way to the endzone. If you take that screen plus Watkins’ receiving totals from last year, 60% of his receiving yards have come from last night’s screen and the screen touchdown against Arizona in 2020.
Stock Down: DE Tarron Jackson, DT Marlon Tuipulotu, DT Raequan Williams, DE JaQuan Bailey
Otherwise known as the third-string defensive line. I can’t honestly rag on these rookies/second-year players too harshly. They played the whole second half and did not appear to be in the best game shape just yet. However, they still battled other third-string players and got steamrolled for an entire half. Of the Steelers’ 152 total rushing yards, 117 came in the second half with this unit primarily on the field.
The group combined for only four solo tackles, zero sacks, zero QB hits, and one lone QB hurry from Tarron Jackson. Again, these guys were not facing elite competition and barely showed up on tape. The rookie tandem of Tarron Jackson and Marlon Tuipulotu have a lot of work ahead of them.
Stock Up: Marcus Epps
The third-year safety made up for the backup defensive line’s lack of productivity. The late first half/second half could have gotten out of control if it wasn’t for Epps, TJ Edwards, Shaun Bradley, and Elijah Riley.
Epps totaled seven solo tackles, missing only one, and gave up one reception for six yards. The Wyoming product stepped up into a crucial role with the absence of Rodney McLeod and proved that he could be the guy next to Anthony Harris to start the season.
Stock Down: QB Nick Mullens
If you watched Nick Mullens’ performance, you’d know why this man’s stock is way, way, down. His abysmal box score reads 1/5, 4 yards, 2 INT. That’s 0.8 yards per attempt and 0.0 NFL Passer Rating, which is historically awful even for preseason action.
Furthermore, he added one more turnover-worthy play to his arsenal of misery, meaning 50% of his dropbacks ended in or almost ended in a turnover. This position will be an emergency-only scenario, so just bring back Jamie Newman and at least try to develop him.
Stock Up: Josiah Scott
In a sneaky trade during May of this year, Howie sent CB Jameson Houston and a 2023 sixth-round pick to the Jaguars for second-year CB Josiah Scott. At 5-foot-9, 185 pounds, Scott ran a 4.42 forty-yard dash and immediately fought for playing time.
Now running at the team’s 2nd string nickel, the former Michigan State Spartan was the most targeted Eagles defender against the Steelers, and he held his own. On the six throws his way, Scott did allow five catches but made up for it with efficient tackling. He allowed 35 receiving yards but only 8 yards after the catch and had a terrific pass breakup to top it off.
Stop Up: TJ Edwards, Shaun Bradley
Stock Down: Rashad Smith
Smith’s falling stock goes hand-in-hand with an honorable mention stock up of Shaun Bradley and TJ Edwards. Bradley held down the third-string defense in the second half, helping out on seven tackles after the Steelers’ backs burst through the line. He even recorded three defensive stops (tackles that constitute a “failure” for the offense).
TJ Edwards was all over the field last night. From stellar punt return coverage (PFF graded 78.6) to his overall leadership of the 2nd team defense. Edwards continued to showcase his run-thumping ability with five solo tackles and two STOPS of his own. On top of that, he showed much-improved technique and awareness in pass coverage, allowing two catches for 16 yards.
Back to the stock down, Rashad Smith’s performance compared to these two leaves him on the outside looking in at the Eagles 53-man roster. He managed to come up with five solo tackles but also had two brutal missed attempts, a 15-yard lowering the head penalty, and wasn’t steadfast in coverage. Eric Wilson, Alex Singleton, TJ Edwards, and even Davion Taylor seem to be locks for the final 53, so Shaun Bradley’s destiny appears to be in his own hands.
Finally, here is my 53-man roster prediction after the Steelers Game. Not much has changed other than Iosua Opeta, TY McGill, and Shaun Bradley making the squad, Patrick Johnson and JaCoby Stevens joining the practice squad, and Lavert Hill beating out Michael Jacquett for the final CB spot.
Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY