After their first offensive play of the Chip Kelly era, the Philadelphia Eagles huddled up and took their time before the second play of the drive.
After all the attention on Kelly and his uptempo style as a coach this offseason, it seemed like a pretty good inside joke. The Eagles picked up the pace at times after that, and there were two major themes from their anticipated opener against the Patriots: Quarterback Michael Vick played pretty well, and the defense did not.
The Eagles gave up a staggering 334 yards and 24 points in the first half. The Patriots had 167 yards rushing and 167 yards passing, so the run defense and pass defense was equally bad for Philadelphia.
Shane Vereen scores on a 13-yard touchdown (USA Today Sports Images)
The next drive, New England threw eight times on 10 plays. Tom Brady completed seven for 65 yards and a touchdown on a great 13-yard catch by running back Shane Vereen.
With all the attention given to Philadelphia's offense under Kelly, perhaps not enough was made of how bad the defense might be. There might be a reason Brady looked so good in joint practices with the Eagles this week.
Offensively, however, Vick was a bright spot. He was really sharp on back-to-back throws, hitting Jason Avant over the middle for 22 yards, then hitting DeSean Jackson for a nice 47-yard score after Jackson got inside Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib and beat him deep. Vick finished 4-of-5 for 94 yards.
Nick Foles also played well after Vick, completing 5-of-6 passes for 43 yards, making sure he didn't give up too much ground in the quarterback competition. But, it really was Vick's night to shine.
The Eagles' offense did OK in the 31-22 loss to New England, which was expected under Kelly. The defense needs a lot of work.
Throughout the offseason, as many times as the Patriots offense was discussed, LeGarrette Blount's name almost never came up. He is a former 1,000-yard rusher but an afterthought.
Maybe he'll get some more attention after his fantastic night against the Eagles.
Yes, as mentioned above, the Eagles defense looked awful, but Blount looked like he did during his impressive 2010 rookie season with the Buccaneers. He ran hard and had a run that will end up being one of the best we'll see during the NFL season.
Blount started left, was hemmed in, spun back and tried to go right. When he was caught there too, he went left again, and found a seam. He got into the open field and rumbled down to the goal line, where he leaped into the end zone over an Eagles defender for a 51-yard score. It was a tremendous play, and not the only one he made.
Blount rushed for 102 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries.
Ridley is still the top option in the running game. Shane Vereen, who might have a huge impact as a versatile piece of the backfield and also split wide, will be a big part of the offense. But Blount got the first carries after Ridley on Friday night. After his 100-yard game against the Eagles, the Patriots should feel pretty good about what Blount can do if they need to use him.
Kansas City Chiefs fans, coming off that horrible 2012 season that included a shockingly awful coaching job, had to be thrilled with their quick glimpse of the starters in the preseason opener.
The Chiefs used a lot of different formations. They sped up the tempo and went without a huddle at times. They actually used long-forgotten weapon Dexter McCluster. They used Jamaal Charles a lot, especially as a receiver out of the backfield (and even as a goal-line option, and he scored a 1-yard touchdown). It looked like a very creative offense designed to take advantage of its players' strengths.
That's especially true for Smith. Smith threw everything in rhythm. There were quick, crisp passes designed to get the ball out fast. He went 7-of-8 for 68 yards. He looked so much better than Matt Cassel, which has to make Chiefs fans happy.
Kansas City's starting defense also looked good in its one series, although a bad drop by Saints receiver Kenny Stills on a great deep pass by Drew Brees helped. On a third down against the Chiefs' starters, Brees found himself under extreme pressure and had to throw the ball away, and the Saints had to punt.
Even Reid getting the Chiefs' starters off the field after one series was smart. Each side of the ball had a lot to feel good about after the preseason opener, which the Saints won 17-13. Kansas City is expected to make a big improvement from last year, and it showed on Friday.
Miami 27, Jacksonville 3: Shocking news, but Jacksonville quarterback Blaine Gabbert struggled. He attempted 10 passes and had 19 yards. That's not a good average. He had five incompletions, including an interception, although that wasn't totally his fault because it went through the hands of fullback Will Ta'ufo'ou. On the other side, Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill played well, completing 5-of-9 passes for 75 yards. He had a 22-yard touchdown, a nice pitch and catch to tight end Dustin Keller, who could have a very nice season now that he's away from the Jets.
Detroit 26, New York Jets 17: The most impressive play for Lions defensive end Ziggy Ansah, the fifth pick of April's draft, wasn't even his pick six on the Jets' first series. On the next series, he blew back left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson, disengaged and made a tackle for loss in the backfield on a run his way. It was a surprising show of explosiveness from a rookie against a veteran tackle. Ansah looks like he should make a big impact right away.
Carolina 24, Chicago 17: Bears quarterback Jay Cutler threw a first-quarter interception that led to a Panthers touchdown, but it looked like receiver Alshon Jeffery stopped on a slant route when Cutler thought he'd keep running. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton threw an interception later in the quarter that was far less excusable. He locked in on tight end Greg Olsen and never saw Bears rookie linebacker Jon Bostic underneath. Bostic read the play easily, jumped the pass and returned it for a 51-yard touchdown. It was a really bad play for a quarterback in his third year, as Newton is.
Arizona 17, Green Bay 0: Aaron Rodgers hit James Jones for a 50-yard gain on his only series, but Green Bay couldn't score on that drive. And the Packers didn't score at all, which isn't a good sign for backup Graham Harrell. Vince Young came on late and completed a pass for 7 yards and rushed twice for 12 yards. For the Cardinals, rookie safety Tyrann Mathieu had a sack in his first game since the end of the 2011 season.
Houston 27, Minnesota 13: DeAndre Hopkins, the receiver chosen by the Texans in the first round to take coverage off Andre Johnson, made a great leaping 31-yard touchdown catch over Vikings cornerback Bobby Felder. Fellow first-round rookie receiver Cordarrelle Patterson of Minnesota had four catches for 54 yards and also a 50-yard kickoff return on the first play of the game.
Oakland 19, Dallas 17: Oakland quarterback Matt Flynn, who lost the starting job in Seattle last preseason, had to feel good about getting the start and playing well. Flynn moved around pretty well in the pocket, completed 4-of-5 passes for 37 yards. He has a big lead in the battle to be the team's starting quarterback for Week 1. Terrelle Pryor did some good things in relief of Flynn, but also threw an awful interception into the end zone.
• New York Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith completed 6-of-7 passes for 47 yards. He also rolled his ankle and had to leave the game. Any missed time would obviously be a big setback in his battle with Mark Sanchez for the starting job.
• Calvin Johnson played two series for the Lions and had three catches for 58 yards. Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant had three catches for 55 yards in the first quarter. Good luck to the NFL trying to defend those two this season.
• Vereen's 13-yard touchdown catch for New England was a preview of how the Patriots might use him as they try to replace Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez. Vereen split out wide, was matched up against linebacker Mychal Kendricks, and beat him on a nice move. Vereen made a circus catch in the end zone, getting both feet down, and it was upheld after review. Vereen has been used in a few ways during the offseason, as the Patriots get creative with the third-year running back. His touchdown catch will further encourage the Patriots to use him in as many ways as possible.
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