Patriots vs Eagles: What Stood Out

Joe Flacco looks foolish on first drive. Both Cam Newton and Mac Jones look really good. Devonta Smith debut was a dud. Patriots dominate on the ground as well as the scoreboard, winning 35-0.

Joe Flacco Looks Foolish

Flacco got the start for the Eagles following news that starter Jalen Hurts was out due to an illness, and things did not start well for the veteran quarterback. On the third play of the game the Eagles were lined up in shotgun when the snap floated over Flacco’s head and he frantically scrambled to retrieve it. Initially he was successful in recovering the fumble, however rather than falling on the ball Flacco inexplicably refuses to give up on the play as he attempts to make something out of it, but instead fumble immediately upon being hit by the defense.

Not an ideal way to start the day, but can’t blame Flacco for the bad snap. But everything beyond the bad snap is definitely on him, should’ve simply fallen on the ball to end the play.

Newton and Jones Both Played Well

This seems like a debate that will continue to heat up throughout the season, as Patriots fans have their eyes fixated on the future. Both players performed well during their time on the field last night. Take a look at this accuracy comparison:

It appears at least for now that the Patriots have the wonderful problem of having multiple quarterbacks that can successfully execute the offense. Multiple teams struggle to find one, so for any team to have more than one is definitely a distinct advantage.

Cam Newton

Considering the fact that Cam has dealt with a variety of injuries, including injuries to his throwing shoulder, it would not be surprising to see him begin to lose a bit of zip on the football when the throws. That does not appear to be the case however:

As evidenced in the video above, there is still plenty of throwing power left in Newton. One thing the former MVP quarterback has yet to master is throwing anything other than a fastball, which is helpful in the sense that it minimizes the defenders ability to close on the ball while it’s in flight. This could however work against him given the nature of the Patriots short passing offensive attack. While plenty of power and zip is necessary to fit the ball in tight windows or to push the ball deep, the ability to take something off and deliver catchable passes in the 3-5 yard range is crucial for success within the Patriots scheme.

Mac Jones

In the limited sample size available so far, all signs seem to point to success for Mac Jones. He’s looked both confident and competent while commanding the offense, delivering the ball on time and where it needs to be. He’s been consistently accurate and has not made many bad decisions. He’s played well during pressure moments, such as this 3rd & 13 play in which he completes a pass from his own end zone to pick up the first down.

The thing that immediately gets forgotten is the fact that on the previous play Jones nearly threw an interception as he failed to see the linebacker in underneath coverage who closed on the ball and dropped a somewhat easy interception. The 3rd down play was nice, just saying let’s not simply forget what could’ve been.

Devonta Smith Debut Was A Dud

Many people were excited to see the debut of Devonta Smith, myself included. Following the game many were disappointed with what they witnessed, myself included. First and foremost, the fact the Jalen Hurts did not play downgraded my expectations for the Smith debut. I figured Flacco would perhaps not be able to provide the same sort of opportunities for Smith to shine compared to if Hurts was playing. However what actually happened was that Devonta Smith dropped multiple passes that were very catchable, finishing with 2 catches on 4 targets for a total of 19 yards receiving.

The drops didn’t end there…

And Another One

Despite his struggles to hold on the ball, Devonta Smith did put on a clinic when it comes to route running:

Makes getting separation look so easy, just needs to work on hauling in those catchable passes and he’ll be just fine. Does look alarmingly small compared to other players on the field, but with the ongoing reduction in violence and big hits Smith should be able to achieve success at the NFL level.

Final Thoughts

The Patriots looked dominate, especially with the ground game as they were able to run the ball with ease. There is sure to be a QB controversy of sorts happening in New England as fans will continue to want Mac Jones to take over. Will Cam Newton start all 16 games for the Patriots if they’re winning games and in playoff contention? Or will the desire to move on the Jones take precedent regardless of Newton’s level of play?

The Eagles desperately need Hurts to be available in order to be successful, Flacco is not a viable option when it comes to winning games. Devonta Smith had a bit of a rocky start, but should be fine. He’s not historically known for dropping passes, so whether you want to blame first game jitters or Flacco being the one throwing the passes, either way I don’t expect that trend of dropped passes to continue for Devonta throughout the regular season.

About Drew

Sports fan sharing random thoughts and opinions. #Browns #LetEmKnow #Buckeyes #TarHeels

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