Posted on August 25, 2017, by Travis Pulver
The Miami Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles were both hoping to see the same thing in Thursday night’s all-important third preseason game. They needed to see their offenses click. Both teams wanted to see their quarterbacks play well, their skill position guys make plays, and their offensive lines move mountains.
Since the final score was 38 (Eagles) to 31 (Dolphins), you could say ‘mission accomplished.’
As with any preseason game, any and all observations have to be taken with a grain of salt, even ones made in the third game. Yes, most teams will play their starters (or most of them) for at least a half, but teams keep the play calls as vanilla as they can.
So, even though the stars may be out there, that does not mean we get to see their ‘A’ game. With that in mind, there are a few things we can say about both teams:
- Jay Cutler (5-8 for 105 yards and a touchdown) is already back to being the guy fans love to hate. He made some great throws, and he made some not so great throws. You have to love plays like the 72-yard bomb to DeVante Parker and the deep pass that resulted in a 42-yard pass interference call. But the late throws sure make those plays shine a little less.
“It seems like his pocket presence is coming back,” Dolphins coach Adam Gase said of Cutler (ESPN). “It was a step in the right direction.”
- But, to be fair, it would be unfair to expect his timing to be down with his receivers. He’s been with the team for what? A couple of weeks? It would be stranger if he didn’t make any late throws.
- Furniture was probably thrown in a few Miami living rooms when Cutler was sacked on the opening drive of the game and fumbled. At that moment, Dolphins fans everywhere understood what it has been like for Bears fans for years.
- Jay Ajayi looked like the guy fans think he’ll be this season (nine carries for 53 yards and two touchdowns). Miami is going to need him do more than run for 200+ yards in three games this season. They need him to take the pressure off Cutler. If he can run like this more often than not—he just might do that.
- Jakeem Grant is a small guy (5’7” and 169 pounds), but the man can fly! If teams let him get into the open field, he is gone (like he was on his 69-yard touchdown catch)!
- LeGarrette Blount was expected by many to be the man in the backfield this season for the Eagles, but he simply hasn’t looked good (Bill Belichick know when to let guys go). He had four carries for 19 yards (with 16 yards on one carry). If he’s healthy, Wendell Smallwood will probably get more work (four carries for 28 yards) as will rookie Corey Clement (nine carries for 42 yards and a touchdown).
- The problem will not be the wide receivers in Philadelphia this season. Torrey Smith’s 50-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter was beautiful. Wentz also made a couple of great throws to Alshon Jeffrey as well (two catches for 35 yards and a touchdown).
“I felt really confident in our chemistry going back to the spring, but it was nice to do it in a game here in front of the fans,” Wentz said after the game.
- Wentz looked as good as the Eagles could have hoped for (6-10 for 129 yards and two touchdowns and an interception). He’s still a work in progress, but with better receivers this season, watching that work may not be as painful for fans.
- Ronald Darby may not be the savior in the secondary after all. He had a great debut with the Eagles last week. This week he got burned on the 72-yard play by Parker and was guilty on a 42-yard pass interference penalty.
- Eagles linebacker Mychal Kendricks has certainly been in the right spots at the right time during the preseason. He made his third interception of the preseason off a Matt Moore tipped pass (which he returned for a touchdown.
- Certain things should happen when you record over 400 yards of offense and possess the ball for 39+ minutes. You should win by more than a touchdown. Turning the ball over three times (like the Eagles did) doesn’t help. But causing four turnovers helps.
Miami will wrap up the preseason with a trip to Minnesota next Thursday night (8 PM ET). Philadelphia will head to the Big Apple to take on the New York Jets (at 7 PM ET).