The Eagles played their starting defense against a motley crew of Patriots on Monday night and they were not as effective as you might have thought going into the game.
Perhaps that’s why head coach Andy Reid and defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins got into a shouting match on the sideline during the first half of the game. Defensive line coach Jim Washburn and other Eagles defenders stepped between the men to separate them after they nearly got close enough for Jenkins to brush up against Reid’s mustache.
The altercation came just after a drive that ended with Ryan Mallett hitting defensive end turned tight end Alex Silvestro for a touchdown. The drive was extended twice by penalties — a roughing the passer call on Fletcher Cox wiped out an interception by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a holding call on Nnamdi Asomugha erased a Trent Cole sack — which accounted for two of New England’s three third-down conversions.
The sloppiness extended throughout the half. Defensive end Darryl Tapp was flagged once for unnecessary roughness and once for roughing the passer and the Eagles generally looked more flustered than you might imagine against a mostly second-string group of Patriots offensive players. They were able to rush Mallett, especially over the left tackle spot occupied by Nate Solder, but when the second-year quarterback got the ball out quickly he mostly found success. And the Patriots converted seven third downs in the half to keep the ball moving.
The one player who stood out positively for the Eagles defensively was rookie linebacker Mychal Kendricks. He blew up running plays in the backfield, rushed the passer and tackled well in a more dynamic performance than we’re used to seeing from an Eagles linebacker.
Reid has to hope that there will be better days ahead for the unit. There are already bluer skies over his relationship with Jenkins as the two were seen conversing in more measured tones shortly after their blowup by the bench.