Eagles vs. Dolphins: 9 winners, 7 losers, 4 IDKs

The Eagles got absolutely destroyed by the Dolphins on Saturday night. Of course, that would be much more troublesome if the Birds were playing their starters and the game actually counted. Instead, the Dolphins’ starters feasted on the Eagles’ backups.

While there might not be a tone of meaning to take away from that game, let’s sort through some winners, losers, and I don’t know anyway.

TEAM HEALTH

The Eagles made it through the entire preseason without any of their key players getting knocked out for the year. That’s a pretty big deal. Much is made of the Eagles taking a ‘softer’ approach to the summer … but it mostly worked out for them in terms of staying healthy. Assuming the likes of Miles Sanders, Jason Kelce, and Javon Hargrave will be back soon (which seems to be the case), the Birds won’t be missing any projected starters entering Week 1. That’s ideal!

DEVON ALLEN

I typed the following in my August 18 practice notes:

Devon Allen hurdled a Browns special teams player after knocking him to the ground on a punt coverage drill. The Browns player certainly did not enjoy that. It’s the most notable thing Allen has done for the Eagles this summer.

Indeed, it was a pretty quiet summer for the Olympian.

That is, until he flashed his deep speed with a 55-yard touchdown reception in Cleveland. And then showed off that speed again as a gunner on punt coverage in Miami.

Did Allen do enough to earn a roster spot? It’s a tough call. He’s definitely given the Eagles reason to think about keeping him.

I tend to think Allen won’t be claimed if the Eagles waive him. Is another team opening up a roster spot for a wide receiver who hasn’t played football since 2016 and is entering his age 28 season? The Eagles could probably bring him back on the practice squad.

But does Allen have interest in being on the practice squad? Is that worth his time or would he just want to go back to primarily focusing on his track career?

If I were Howie Roseman, I’d like to find a way to trade Jalen Reagor for basically whatever I can get and keep Allen on the roster. Allen is a more useful player as a WR5 from the standpoint that he can contribute positive value on special teams.

It’ll be pretty interesting to see what happens with Allen as NFL roster cuts approach. Credit to him for putting himself in the conversation to make the roster.

REED BLANKENSHIP

I certainly didn’t enjoy leaving Blankenship off my final 53-player roster prediction. He’s done everything in his power to make the team. He’s made plays in coverage and in run support in practices and preseason games. Blankenship came up in the flat to basically put a WWE spinebuster on a Dolphins ball carrier. He also ran over to prevent a touchdown by knocking another ball carrier out of bounds along the left sideline after the first lines of defense broke down. He’s shown more promise this summer than K’Von Wallace ever has since being drafted by the Eagles in 2020. I’d keep Blankenship if I were the Eagles. I’m not saying it didn’t happen but I can’t recall him having a bad moment all summer long. The good certainly outweighed the bad by a lot.

JASON HUNTLEY

The phrase “too little, too late” definitely applies here. On the whole, Huntley didn’t have a good summer and doesn’t deserve to be on the roster.

Idol!

But my guy’s 67-yard touchdown run proved that he does indeed have home run speed. There’s enough there with him to keep him around on the practice squad.

If I were the Eagles, I’d consider using the practice squad elevation rules to bump Huntley up once or twice this year. Not so much for an offensive role, though, as much as hoping he might be able to provide a spark as a kick returner in a big game.

(They won’t do this. But I can dream, can’t I?)

GRANT CALCATERRA

Calcaterra was targeted four times and had two grabs for 30 catches in his first NFL preseason game. Not the flashiest stat line for the rookie tight end but he easily could’ve had more production if Reid Sinnett didn’t overthrow him when he was wide open on a crossing pattern.

Calcaterra flashed quality receiving ability early in camp before suffering a hamstring that knocked him out for a long stretch. But he returned in time to show his early camp production wasn’t just a fluke. He’s put himself in a spot to make the roster as TE3 behind Dallas Goedert and Jack Stoll.

Calcaterra taste have a bad holding penalty that wiped out a touchdown run by Kennedy Brooks. He certainly hasn’t mastered being an in-line tight end.

PATRICK JOHNSON

Johnson beat Dolphins starting right tackle Austin Jackson for a big sack on Tua Tagovailoa. Pretty nice play for the 2021 seventh-round pick. Johnson came on as camp went along and solidified his spot as the backup SAM behind Haason Reddick.

KYRON JOHNSON

Johnson led the Eagles in tackles with seven total (five solo). He was active out there, hustling all night long. He forced Skylar Thompson, who has had a good summer for the Dolphins, into a red zone throwaway after failing to fall for a fake and getting up in his face to cause pressure. Johnson did enough to earn his roster spot. It wasn’t likely that the 2022 fifth-round pick was going to be waived, especially in a year when the team only made five picks. That said, the Eagles did part ways with Clayton Thorson in the same situation back in 2019. You can get cut in that situation if you’re a total disaster and Johnson very much avoided that.

ARRYN SIPOSS

The Eagles are probably sticking with Siposs as their punter. He had a good night against the Dolphins with five of his six punts downed in the 20 and a long of 62.

MATT LEO

Leo out-hustled and out-muscled the Dolphins to recover their muffed punt. He also logged two quarterback hits and three tackles. As a 30-year-old first-year player, Leo is probably never going to play a meaningful snap for the Eagles. So, here’s to celebrating his effort in the limited opportunities that we can.

Leo’s going to be on the exempt list again all season, making him ineligible to play. But hey soul positively contribute as a Steven Means-type who goes hard in practice against the starting offensive linemen to help get them ready for game day. That’s not nothing.

REID SINNETT

The Eagles probably wanted to keep him around but they just can’t now. He played his way out of a roster spot. The negatives (see: inaccuracy, poor decision-making, slow release, etc.) outweigh the positives (see: arm strength).

CARSON STRONG

He played just 16 preseason snaps and attempted just four preseason passes. The coaching staff clearly didn’t trust him. Disappointing summer for the UDFA QB.

DEON CAIN

He caught just two of his eight targets for 26 yards. He dropped too many passes and committed an offensive pass interference penalty at one point. The Eagles should be able to bring him back on the practice squad.

K’VON WALLACE

How many positive plays from Wallace can you recall during his Eagles tenure? Any?

The Eagles’ 2020 fourth-round pick has failed to hold up in coverage. While it’s true that Tyreek Hill is very tough for even the league’s best players to stop, Wallace looked so slow as he was blown by. Wallace is not exactly a good tackler, either. Pro Football Focus marked Wallace down for three misses on Saturday night.

There was a lot of excitement when the Eagles drafted Wallace a few years ago; many thought he would be a steal. He hasn’t been. And the bad has outweighed any good from him this summer. Roseman might keep him around anyway … but he shouldn’t.

JACOBY STEVENS

Stevens was PFF’s worst graded Eagles player from the finale. He missed two tackles and allowed a 141.7 passer rating when targeted. Safe to say the conversion from safety to linebacker isn’t working out. Based on merit, he shouldn’t be considered a lock for the practice squad.

CARY VINCENT JR.

Was the Eagles trading a 2022 sixth-round pick in exchange for Kary Vincent Jr. ahead of last year’s trade deadline the biggest misstep ever? Was it a truly crippling mistake?

No.

But … was it completely nonsensical? Yes. Yes, it was. And that’s why I’m going to harp on it for a moment here. Because I’d like for someone to make any sense of a deal where the Eagles lit a draft pick on fire for no real good reason.

Here’s what we wrote when the Eagles traded for KVJ last year:

KVJ was a seventh-round pick out of LSU in the 2021 NFL Draft. The Eagles must like something about his potential to give up a selection higher than the round he was taken in. Kind of reminiscent of Howie Roseman surrendering a 2021 fourth-round pick to acquire Genard Avery, originally a fifth-round selection, right before the 2019 trade deadline. (And we all know how that was a sensational acquisition.)

In defense of the Avery trade (words I thought I would never type!!!!!!!!), which was still a bad deal, he at least showed some level of promise as a rookie. Avery logged 4.5 sacks and one forced fumble with the Browns in 2018 before the Eagles traded for him in 2019.

What exactly did KVJ do to warrant the Eagles giving up what they did to get him? It’s not like he put anything on tape to draw interest; he didn’t even play!

Also, there’s this:

At the same time, the Eagles clearly did not like KVJ — who went No. 237 overall — enough to take him with one of their nearby picks at No. 224 (Jacoby Stevens) or No. 234 (Patrick Johnson).

I imagine I’ll get accused of making a mountain out of a mole hill here. I do recognize it’s not the most egregious mistake ever. But it would be nice if Roseman, who’s certainly done more good than bad recently, could avoid these nonsensical moves where he wastes draft picks for no good reason.

Did the Eagles really need to add another developmental corner when they already had young guys like Andre Chachere, Josiah Scott, Ty Gowan, AND Mac McCain under team control?

Anyway, KVJ wasn’t any good this summer. He was abused in coverage.

MARIO GOODRICH

More like Wario Badpoor.

If you thought that was a bad whiff, Goodrich had one that was arguably worse on Saturday night.

JAQUISKY TARTT

On one hand, a player of his first playing at all in a final preseason game is not a good sign. But he didn’t play late in the game, which is a more positive development. Hard to get a good read on if the Eagles are going to keep him or not. To me, there isn’t a ton of risk in cutting the veteran safety and bringing him back at a later point. Perhaps after the Eagles put some of the injured players on their original 53-player roster on IR (designated to return).

[UPDATE: The Eagles reportedly cut Tartt. Right move.]

THAI GOWAN

Of the roster bubble players at cornerback, Josh Jobe stood out the most as roster-worthy. Of course, he’s dealing with an upper body injury. The extent of which is currently unclear to the public. After Jobe, I’d argue Gowan showed the most promise. He was a little too handsy in coverage, drawing flags during preseason action and practice sessions. But he also used his size and length to break up passes. Also thought he had some good moments on special teams. Gowan at least deserves a practice squad spot, assuming he clears waivers.

JOHN HIGHTOWER

Saturday night was one of Hightower’s best as an Eagle. He caught five of his six targets for 52 yards, making a difficult contested grab along the way. But the Eagles are already loaded at WR. And he doesn’t provide special teams value (just one snap played). And he turned 26 in May so it’s not like there’s still a ton of upside here despite the fact he’s entering Year 3.

GREG WARD JR.

Ward suffered a toe injury in early August and has not been able to suit up since. Assuming the Eagles don’t end up keeping him, which would be strange, it’s gonna be a little sad to see G-Ward go. His contributions to the Eagles’ late season success in 2019 — including his game-winning touchdown catch in Washington — were fun. He’s been an easy guy to root for as a long shot who worked his way up into eventually becoming a starting receiver. But it is time to move on.

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