NFL News & Analysis

NFL Preseason Week 2 Game Recap: New England Patriots 35, Philadelphia Eagles 0

Aug 19, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton (1) passes the ball against Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Milton Williams (93) during the first quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

All eyes were on the quarterback competition for the New England Patriots, and the Philadelphia Eagles made both Cam Newton and Mac Jones look like worthy starters tonight. The two quarterbacks led a New England offense that moved the ball at will in a 35-0 victory over the Eagles, who will likely be in trouble if Jalen Hurts misses any time during the regular season.

Quinn Nordin’s 3-for-6 night in the kicking game, including two missed extra points, was the only blemish on an impressive night for the Patriots.


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New England Patriots 

Quarterbacks
Quarterback Dropbacks Avg. depth of target Avg. time to throw Yards per dropback Adjusted comp. %
Cam Newton 9 7.4 3.2s 11.4 89%
Mac Jones 20 8.8 2.8s 7.3 89%

Newton was sharp as a passer, getting the ball out accurately on two 50-plus-yard drives in the first quarter. His average time to throw of 3.2 seconds reflected the time New England’s starting offensive line gave him in the pocket.

Jones was nearly intercepted on his first pass of the game, but he rebounded nicely with another efficient outing. For the second straight week, he saw one of his best passes of the night fall incomplete, this time on a catchable deep ball targeting N’Keal Harry.

Newton and Jones combined to go 9-of-11 on passes thrown past the first-down marker. The only two incompletions were drops.

Brian Hoyer (not included in the table above) went 2-for-3 for 30 yards in cleanup duty.

Running backs

Outside of a late fumble, it was another impressive night for Rhamondre Stevenson following his 91-yard touchdown in his first preseason game. He forced 10 missed tackles as a rusher, pending review.

Sony Michel was targeted on four of his seven routes in the game, and he turned those four targets into four receptions for 37 yards. Michel’s single-season career-high in receptions came in 2019 (12).

New England featured its running backs heavily in the passing game. They registered a combined 10 receptions on 12 targets for 76 yards.

Wide receivers
Receiver Routes run Targets Receptions Rec. Yards
Kristian Wilkerson 17 3 3 36
Gunner Olszewski 16 4 4 57
Kendrick Bourne 14 2 1 23
Devin Ross 13 1 9 0
N’Keal Harry 12 2 1 19
Jakobi Meyers 9 3 3 56
Isaiah Zuber 9 1 1 12
Nelson Agholor 9 0 0 0

Jakobi Meyers was Newton’s top target in the early going. He ran nine routes and brought in all three of his targets, including a 28-yard touchdown on a first-quarter crossing route where he made a defender miss after the catch.

Meyers split time out wide (five routes) and in the slot (four snaps). All nine of Nelson Agholor’s snaps came out wide, while five of Kendrick Bourne’s six routes with Newton at QB came from the slot. The only other wide receiver to play with the first team was N’Keal Harry, who ran four routes.

Gunner Olszewski led the way on the second unit with a game-high 57 receiving yards on four receptions. Two of those receptions (38 yards) came out wide.

Tight ends

Devin Asiasi was New England’s lone healthy tight end and the only tight end to receive snaps in this game (52).

Despite that opportunity, Asiasi was targeted just once on 17 routes without any receptions.

Offensive line

New England’s starting offensive line — Isaiah Wynn (LT), Michael Onwenu (LG), David Andrews ( C ), Shaq Mason (RG) and Trent Brown (RT) — played the first three drives with the starters. Justin Herron also saw three snaps as a sixth offensive lineman.

The offensive line created 2.2 rushing yards before contact per attempt in the game.

On initial review, no Patriots offensive lineman was charged with a quarterback hit or sack tonight.

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Defensive line

Matthew Judon and Deatrich Wise started the game on the edge, with Christian Barmore and Davon Godchaux on the interior.

Judon was one of the best players on the field for the second week in a row. He got to quarterback Joe Flacco after he briefly recovered an errant snap early in the game, and he added some more pressure later on.

Chase Winovich got home with several pressures, including a sack.

Linebackers

Eleven of Kyle Van Noy’s 15 defensive snaps in the game came off-ball, similar to how he was used in New England’s first preseason game. In 2019, his career year, nearly all of Van Noy's snaps came on the edge.

Cassh Maluia and Harvey Langi led the Patriots in snaps at linebacker (31), and both recorded a sack. Langi also picked up an interception in the game. 

Secondary

Kyle Dugger: snaps by alignment

Alignment Snaps
Line of scrimmage 2
Box 7
Slot 2
Free safety (deep) 9

Kyle Dugger made a strong play in coverage on a fourth down in the second quarter, reading Flacco and breaking on a pass to make a play on the ball. Dugger started the game with Devin McCourty at safety.

Jalen Mills was the primary slot defender early in the game and played 12 slot snaps in Philadelphia’s first four drives. No other Patriots defender played more than four.

Philadelphia Eagles 

Quarterbacks
Quarterback Dropbacks Yards per dropback Turnover-worthy plays
Joe Flacco 19 3.6 2
Nick Mullens 13 -0.5 1

Flacco wasn’t helped by his receivers (three drops), but that wasn’t the only thing holding him back. He took a pair of sacks and registered multiple turnover-worthy plays in a forgettable performance. 

Mullens’ night wasn’t any better. He actually managed to average negative yards per pass play on his 13 dropbacks, thanks in large part to the three sacks he took. This performance comes just one week after he posted a 31.5 passing grade vs. the Steelers, as well. 

Mullens and Flacco combined to go 1-for-4 for 10 yards on passes thrown 10 or more yards downfield. 

Running backs

Miles Sanders started the game, and the Eagles gave him a few carries to ease his way back into game action.

Kenneth Gainwell, the rookie out of Memphis, led Philadelphia’s backfield with 15 snaps. He previewed what he can bring to this offense as a receiver with two first-down conversions on three catches.

Elijah Holyfield broke off a pair of 10-plus-yard runs late in the game. His 31 rushing yards led the team.

Wide receivers
Receiver Routes run Targets Receptions Rec. yards
Quez Watkins 19 1 0 0
DeVonta Smith 19 4 2 19
Jalen Reagor 16 3 1 5
Travis Fulgham 8 0 0 0
John Hightower 7 0 0 0

DeVonta Smith had little trouble creating separation with crisp routes, just as he did at Alabama. It was far from a perfect night for Smith, though. He brought in just 2-of-5 catchable passes when including a drop on a play nullified by a penalty.

No other Eagles receiver was much of a factor in the passing game. Reagor was the only other Philadelphia wideout to catch a pass in the game.

Tight ends

Dallas Goedert and Zach Ertz saw action in the first two drives before exiting. Neither player was targeted in the contest.

Richard Rodgers and Jason Croom both dropped passes in the game. Croom was later carted off the field with an injury.

Nine of Jack Stoll’s 17 routes came lined up in the slot. His seven targets led all players in the game (four receptions, 33 yards).

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Offensive line

Isaac Seumalo (LG) and Jordan Mailata (LT) were the only expected starters on Philadelphia’s offensive line to play in this game. Both played two drives before exiting. 

Nate Herbig started the game at center (30 snaps) before moving to right guard (23 snaps). An errant snap that resulted in a turnover was an unfortunate highlight of his night. 

Left guard Iosua Opeta wasn’t charged with a pressure allowed on 23 pass-blocking snaps, pending review. 

Defensive line

Philadelphia’s starting defensive line did not make an appearance in this game. Instead, Milton Williams, Tarron Jackson, Hassan Ridgeway and T.Y. McGill started the game.

The rookie Williams played almost exclusively on the edge again tonight. Thirty-seven of his 38 snaps came lined up outside the tackle.

The Eagles’ defensive front struggled to generate pressure as a unit. On initial count, they managed just an 18.8% pressure rate.

Linebackers

Genard Avery saw his first action in his new Sam linebacker role in Philadelphia’s defense. All eight of his defensive snaps came off-ball, where he made several impressive plays against the run. 

Alex Singleton was active early in the game, knifing into the backfield for a tackle for loss on an outside run and making plays on several screens. He was listed as the first-contact defender on five of his 17 defensive snaps. 

It was a strong showing for T.J. Edwards in coverage, who was a factor in several incompletions during the game. 

Secondary

K’Von Wallace: snaps by alignment

Alignment Snaps
Line of scrimmage 0
Box 8
Slot 1
Free safety (deep) 13

Philadelphia’s secondary was picked apart in zone coverage all night.

Per PFF's first-run analysis, rookie fourth-round cornerback Zech McPhearson allowed a game-high 73 receiving yards into his coverage on seven targets.

McPhearson, Steven Nelson, Anthony Harris and K’Von Wallace started the game for the Eagles with Avonte Maddox in the slot.

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