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What we learned: Chip Kelly's Eagles are flying high

As Chip Kelly continues to build the Philadelphia Eagles' roster in his vision, the team looks better and better. Having everyone buy in is not a revolutionary concept, but what Kelly is doing in Philadelphia is revolutionary in terms of size, speed, height and weight requirements, as well as the way he directs all of it schematically.

Consider the following stat, courtesy of CSN Philly: Since 1970, the Eagles have scored 27 or more points in their first two preseason games twice -- 2014 and 2015. The Ravens did not score on Saturday until the 14:18 mark of the fourth quarter, and that is after three days of joint practice sessions together. His team has looked absolutely dominant thus far, picking off Joe Flacco twice, and we've only seen Sam Bradford for about six minutes of actual game time.

The preseason often sends us false flags and there's a chance Kelly's team is just that. The injury potential is high, as is the chance that Kelly's team is simply better conditioned than other clubs at this point in the season. There's always the chance that Bradford is simply not as good as we think he is.

But there has to be something to the fact that -- regardless of who is playing quarterback -- Kelly is finding ways to exploit mismatches on offense. On defense, especially up front, the Eagles look like a bully.

Might we be in for a shootout atop the NFC East?

  1. Speaking of Bradford, his snap to throw times on his only drive were between 1.70 and 2.76 seconds, which is pretty strong considering some of those plays involved run fakes. As we noted in our Eagles training camp preview, Bradford is hyper decisive, which should be rewarded in Kelly's offense. His main issue right now? Rust. This was the first time Bradford was seeing wide-open receivers in game situations in a long time. As long as he harnesses his fastball, he'll be just fine.
  1. One more note on the Eagles' presumptive starter: Perhaps the best part of the night was having him get hit hard -- twice -- by very good starting defensive players. Terrell Suggs came in very low, and was flagged, for a below-the-knee hit that Bradford bounced back from. Left tackle Jason Peters believed Suggs planned the hit on Bradford, according to NFL Media's Albert Breer. Bradford told that he believes Suggs went at his knees intentionally. On the same drive, defensive tackle Brandon Williams had a clear shot and pummeled Bradford right in the chest. Getting used to this kind of contact again will be important for Bradford's development, especially in an offense with a zone-read element. We'll see how he feels on Sunday.
  1. Assuming that Joe Flacco is somehow in trouble after his two interceptions is ludicrous. The Super Bowl champion might still be ascending, and he had a solid week of joint practices in Philadelphia.
  1. Kudos for John Harbaugh going for it on fourth down with his starters on the field. Not only is it a practical, pressure-packed situation to simulate, but it could be a sign of more aggressive coaching decisions to come. The fourth-down revolution has been stalling, and there's no good reason for it.

-- Conor Orr

  1. The Saints' starters clearly outplayed the Patriots' first string on both sides of the football. New Orleans jumped out to a 15-0 lead before the end of the first quarter. The Saints' offense had a nice balance with Drew Brees and Mark Ingramleading the way. Brees completed 8 of 10 passes for 159 yards passing with two touchdowns.
  1. Jimmy Garoppolo put together a very efficient performance. The Patriots backup QB was 28 of 33 for 269 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He looked tentative to throw down field early, but settled in nicely. The second-year quarterback had a Brett Favre-like touchdown throw just before halftime. Playing the entire second half, he spearheaded a Patriots comeback resulting in a Stephen Gostkowski 35-yard field goal to win the contest. Yet, Garoppolo put a lot of teachable moments on tape, including an overthrow resulting in an interception. The quarterback's performance, though, should have New England encouraged.

The Patriots star quarterback had a quick and forgettable night. Tom Brady and the Patriots' starters had a tough time moving the ball against the Saints' defense. Brady finished just 2 of 5 for 13 yards.

  1. The Patriots plan to use Devin McCourty all over the secondary. New England had McCourty starting at cornerback during their second preseason game. The versatile defensive back broke up a potential touchdown pass in the first quarter.

-- Tyler Dragon

  1. The Giants were a trendy pick to make the playoffs this season. I didn't understand it then and I still don't understand it now. This is a team with glaring holes from front to back, and on Saturday, one of their perceived strengths even began showing signs of weakness. Yes, the Giants spent this week working on the deep passing game, so it doesn't come as a surprise to anyone that Eli Manning would air it out to Odell Beckham. However, he didn't connect -- not once. Beckham also shoved Jaguars safety Sergio Brown after a routine play, apparently upset with the physicality -- and borderline illegality -- of the press man coverage Jacksonville was playing. If Beckham cannot get used to being a focal point in his offense, the Giants are in for a long, long season.
  1. Blake Bortles looks better, but did not dominate a Giants team missing just about every valuable member of their secondary. Bortles finished 8-of-16 for 98 yards, missing some of the touch-pass opportunities that the Jaguars were hoping to capitalize on this season. That being said, his mechanics have drastically improved and his confidence -- never truly a problem -- is more practical. There are fewer knuckleball throws flaming out of the pocket.
  1. The Giants lost linebacker Mark Herzlich to a concussion on Saturday, linebacker Jon Beason to a knee sprain and safety Justin Currie to what looks like a serious ankle injury. Over the past three seasons, the team has been incredibly unlucky -- or something else -- when it comes to injury issues. Heading into the night, they were already missing almost 20 percent of their preseason roster, not including Jason Pierre-Paul. This isn't exactly lining up for 2015 to be the dream season Tom Coughlin hoped it would.

-- Conor Orr

  1. The Texans' quarterback battle was a flop. We covered that here.
  1. Peyton Manning didn't fare much better in his first start of the preseason. The Broncos quarterback played four series -- into the second quarter - completing 8 of 14 passes for 52 yards. The Broncos were clearly trying to get Manning into a groove, passing well more than they ran the ball. However, the veteran still never appeared completely comfortable running the new offense. As Manning will likely say, however: that's what the preseason is for.
  1. Interesting that C.J. Anderson was given all but one of the carries when Manning ran the starting unit.
  1. None of the Texans running backs showed much oomph. Alfred Blue carried just four times for 10 yards, Jonathan Grimes went 5 for 23 and Kenny Hilliard 7 for 3 yards. Chris Polk showed the best in the second half with seven for 36 against Broncos backups. This offense is a mess.
  1. The Broncos pass rush continued to be studly, earning another five sacks. Rookie Shane Ray earned .5 sack and a batted pass. He also had a scary moment when he was rolled up on while taking Savage down, but walked the injury off on the sideline.

-- Kevin Patra

  1. Ryan Tannehill continues to hum along in Bill Lazor's offense. The Dolphins utilized a death-by-1,000-paper-cuts offense to slice through the Panthers' defense. Tannehill finished 12 of 15 for 102 yards and a touchdown. The quarterback made quick decisions and got the ball out of his hands quickly to help a shaky offensive line, which got beat early.
  1. Cam Newton, on the other hand struggled without Kelvin Benjamin (ACL) or Devin Funchess (hamstring) in the lineup. His receivers didn't help him much. After sailing his first pass high, he was victimized by drops. The inaccurate Newton finished 4 of 10 for 42 yards and a pick -- he had good protection on the interception. At one point, with his wideouts not helping him out, Newton morphed into 'screw it, I'm looking for Greg Olsen' mode. Fantasy footballers surely took note.
  1. Panthers rookie linebacker Shaq Thompson flashed playmaking ability. He came off his coverage to make a tackle short of the goal line early. Then he ran step-for-step with Dophins tight end Jordan Cameron 40-plus yards down the field in coverage, forcing an incompletion.
  1. Cameron Artis-Payne got the first shot behind Jonathan Stewart in the Panthers backfield. He showed some shiftiness between the tackles busting a 29-yard gain. He could earn the primary backup role behind injury-prone Stewart.

Two thoughts on the below play: 1) Oyyyy, Josh Freeman. 2) What a catch, big man!

-- Kevin Patra

  1. Adam Gase's plan for the Bears' offense is clear: get the ball out of Jay Cutler's hands quick and run the football. The quarterback managed the ball well, looking sharp on four drives and not forcing passes into coverage. Cutler finished 8-of-9 passing for 69 yards (7.7 average). The plan to manage the maligned quarterback was evident on two third-and-long plays in field goal range when Gase elected to run the ball. He wasn't letting Cutler sling it and make a mistake, even in the preseason.
  1. The Colts offensive line looked awful early. Andrew Luck was under siege by a Bears pass rush and the first-team line didn't create holes in the ground game. Pernell McPhee absolutely obliterated Luck on his first drop back. Jared Allenlooked vintage burning by left tackleAnthony Castonzo to hit Luck as he released it. (Note: Allen's hand was in the dirt on the play, where he's at his best.)
  1. T.Y. Hilton, however, has zero problems. He easily burned corner Kyle Fuller on a 45-yard bomb before exiting stage left. Good luck covering him, cornerbacks.

Two backup running backs looked good: For the Colts, Josh Robinson continues to impress, carrying 13 times for 61 yards. Meanwhile, Jeremy Langford made a strong push for reps behind Matt Forte, showing good vision between the tackles and tough running. Where can I board the Jeremy Langford train?

-- Kevin Patra

  1. Through two preseason games, Teddy Bridgewater has embodied the idea of gradual ascension better than any young quarterback we can think of. On a night where he went 10-of-14 for 89 yards and a touchdown, he displayed some of the field awareness we've seen at a higher level in quarterbacks like Tony Romo and Aaron Rodgers. The highlight was a pass at the end of the first quarter where he scrambled to the right side, reset his feet and fired a strike back to the left where an open Jerick McKinnon was waiting to take it 21 yards.
  1. Derek Carr and Amari Cooper continue to become fast friends in Oakland. The pair hooked up for a beautiful 40-yard gain down the right sideline on a pass that dropped right over Cooper's front shoulder. Should they be able to establish a vertical element in their passing game, don't be surprised if Jack Del Rio's club wins a few more games than we originally expected.
  1. Like the Ravens, Minnesota also put their players through a fourth down conversion scenario. Bridgewater converted the seven-yard distance without much trouble near midfield.
  1. Vikings kicker Blair Walsh became the latest kicker to miss an extra point. Though it may be nothing of interest to casual viewers in the preseason, the mental weight of these kicks could become heavier and heavier as the season draws closer. What seemed like a minute change in preseason rules could end up seriously impacting the NFL in 2015, especially in cold or poor weather games.

-- Conor Orr

  1. Carson Palmer and John Brown got acquainted early in the desert. The two connected twice in the first quarter, including on a 17-yard touchdown pass. Arizona fans should be excited about the speedy receiver going into his second season.
  1. Bruce Arians has to be a little concerned with his offensive line. Palmer, who had an injury riddled campaign last season, was sacked twice in the first quarter. Arizona's starting quarterback finished 3 of 7 for 88 yards with one touchdown.
  1. San Diego rested quarterback Philip Rivers and rookie running back Melvin Gordon, who is nursing a minor ankle injury. Chargers fans have to be thrilled that Rivers signed a long-term deal, because the team's quarterback situation after No. 17 isn't too impressive.
  1. While San Diego's offense was less than stellar, its defense did look good. The Chargers had a tough time generating a pass rush last season, but produced six sacks on Saturday. The Bolts expect big things from Melvin Ingram in 2015 and he totaled two sacks against the Cardinals.
  1. Kicker Josh Lambo was the MVP for the Chargers. Lambo connected on three field goals, including a 53-yarder and a game-winning field goal from 47 yards out.

-- Tyler Dragon

The latest Around The NFL Podcast caps the weeklong Fantasy Extravaganza by talking undervalued and overvalued QBs and everyone's draft philosophies.

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