As far as preseason games go, Friday night's matchup with the Bears wasn't so fun. Whether it was the starting quarterback throw two picks in three possessions or third stringers making Roc Carmichael look like he was better off selling used cars, the game was just a complete mess from the jump. That said, there is a lot to talk about and we should just get right to it!
Failure From Foles
Nick Foles performance on Friday was not very good at all. He made three awful throws, whether it be placement or decision making. That said, the entire offense looked sloppy. The penalties by the offensive line did not allow for any momentum and Foles had some good throws erased from the books. He seemed to have "happy feet" throughout his snaps and failed to really plant his feet at times.
The first interception was a terrible throw and he was hit on the pass. That said, there was no one close to that throw, except for Ryan Mundy. The second interception looked to be a communication issue with Ifeanyi Momah and Zach Ertz. However, it was a bad decision to throw into that crowded area regardless.
The good news is that it's the preseason and that was just game one. If it had been a regular season game, Foles likely would have adjusted and would have probably made up for those interceptions. His performance is definitely correctable and I think a return of Riley Cooper will help. Cooper seems to be one of his better security blankets. Also, we need to credit the Bears defense, which seems marginally improved.
I was a big supporter of the signing of Mark Sanchez when it happened, but at times, I felt like I was trying to convince myself it was a good move. That said, I think we all need to realize that Sanchez had a very predictable offense with a lack of skill players in New York. Sanchez is not a bad quarterback, but he is limited when given little to work with. He is not the type of passer that is going to turn wide receivers into Pro Bowl players or carry an offense, but he can make NFL-caliber throws.
He is a smart player and made quality throws on Friday night. He led two scoring drives and seemed to vibe with Zach Ertz. He led the offense well and has to be the No. 2 passer on the team. Color me impressed by his performance. As several of our members noted, he didn't look bad at all. I don't think there is a controversy though.
I am starting to think that Michael Vick was on to something when he said Ertz could be "special." Ertz has greatly improved as a blocker and led the way for a large gain for Matthew Tucker on the ground. He had four catches for 60 yards and really seemed to connect with Sanchez. He also took some pretty big hits and held on to the ball. This kid is going to be somebody.
Starting O-Line Needs Work
Yikes! Evan Mathis had two holding penalties and Jason Peters added another. On top of that, Allen Barbre was abused by Willie Young. It was one game, but Barbre doesn't necessarily have a shining resume. Young is known for getting a lot of pressure, but Barbre looked very stiff. Hopefully it was just nerves and he'll improve with more practice. The offensive line also seemed to have issues opening up holes for running backs, but again, they were given a very small sample size.
Defensive Line Looks Dangerous
Well, it looks like the defensive line has improved with continuity. Vinny Curry and Cedric Thornton in particular stood out early. Curry got a sack and serious pressure consistently, while Thornton had a tackle for a loss and a pressure. Damion Square got some pressure as well. You'd like to write something about Fletcher Cox, but he really didn't stand out at all.
Beau Allen looks like he can play in the NFL. He got a push on a second team offensive lineman that was a thing of beauty and seemed to be active later on in the game. Taylor Hart looked solid and didn't really make any mistakes. I liked how active Joe Kruger was as he did get pressure at times, and helped force Jimmy Clausen to throw away the ball on a Jaylen Watkins blitz.
Here is Allen's awesomeness, brought to you by Draft Breakdown's Justis Mosqueda:
Another angle of that play from Allen. Nose tackles don't do this, sans Poe. https://t.co/r0ycwrQyD3— Justis Mosqueda (@JuMosq) August 9, 2014
Starting Safeties Will Be Active
Simply put, Malcolm Jenkins was everywhere on Friday night. He seemed to make tackle after tackle and nailed Dante Rosario (caught myself nearly writing Rosario Dawson) on a high ball. Nate Allen really seemed to tackle well and had a nice pick off a Brandon Graham pressure. These two seem like they will be the starters, which is fine because Earl Wolff will rotate in and be a nice backup at least early on.
The Matthew Tucker Show
Horrific fumble aside, Matthew Tucker played very well on Friday. He had two quality goal line touchdowns and had a big gain in the second quarter with the help of some quality blocking. He looks like a player that could be counted on if an injury were to occur. With Chris Polk out with injury, Tucker could steal his spot or push him down the depth chart.
Special Teams Improved
Really enjoyed special teams in the first half. Square got a nice blocked field goal, which will likely help him in securing a roster spot. Linebacker Emmaunel Acho was alert enough to recover a fumble on a muffed punt return. Then there was the beauty of the Josh Huff kick return touchdown. There was great blocking and Huff showed fantastic speed. Team work!
Backups Prove They Can Play
I was very concerned about the backup offensive line, but I must say Andrew Gardner, Matt Tobin and David Molk impressed me. Tobin and Gardner were terrific on Tucker's second touchdown (h/t @IgglesNest):
Tobin and Molk tag-teamed for the David Fluellen screen touchdown in the third quarter. The pair really made that work, while Fluellen showed really good burst.
Curtis Marsh is having a heck of a week. The guy has been doing well in training camp and played well against the Bears. He stopped a two-point conversion with great coverage. The Eagles may have to keep him if Watkins continues to look inconsistent. I also liked what I saw from Najee Goode on special teams and on defense. He was part of the blocking team for the Huff touchdown and looked active on defense on Friday night. Along with his fumble recovery, Acho also made his presence known on defense. He may stay on the roster this year.
Undrafted But Not Forgotten
I liked Kevin Graf blocking on the third team offensive line, as he seemed to hold his own. Quran Pratt made three catches for 39 yards and looked comfortable out there. He may push Momah, Maehl and Benn for a roster spot. Fluellen showed me what I saw on his college tape. He is much faster than his forty and has really good vision. He had a touchdown on a screen, where he showed solid burst and he also had a few quality runs.
The Draft Picks
- Marcus Smith: He showed the ability to cover tight ends and I believe had a pass breakup. He seemed active against the run and made a nice solo tackle in the second quarter. Still want to see the pass rushing skills, but it was a good first effort.
- Jordan Matthews: He had four catches that went for 14 yards and that was the bad news. The worse news was that he had three ridiculous drops on well placed balls. It could have been that he was overwhelmed, but he dropped balls in college. He needs to work on those hands if he's going to go first ballot in Canton.
- Josh Huff: He had the awesome kick return touchdown, but outside of that looked pedestrian. He had a couple of poor returns and had a drop near the endzone at one point. He looks to be mostly a gunner and returner early into his rookie year. His responsibilities will likely evolve down the road.
- Jaylen Watkins: Got burned badly for a long touchdown by a second stringer in the third quarter. He bounced back and had a nice blitz attempt that forced Clausen to throw the ball away. He then had an impressive interception of David Fales.
- Taylor Hart: Didn't notice him all that much but he came off as solid when I did see him. No mistakes.
- Ed Reynolds: He had a nice pass breakup in the endzone, but he got there really early and probably got lucky on not getting called for pass interference by the way the referees were calling the game.
- Beau Allen: See above. He was impressive.
- The Refs: We get that this is their preseason too, but this was some of the worst officiating we've seen in a while. Too many flags equal boredom and annoyed fans and coaches. Not to say the Eagles didn't earn most of them, but the phantom facemask call was a joke.
- Roc Carmichael: Unfortunately, I'd be concerned if Roc coughed, because I am not sure he could even cover his mouth. He was beat silly on Friday. Poor guy.
- Bears Commentary: Unfortunately, I was unable to watch the game live due to a prior commitment so I had to watch the game on Saturday. That came with the awful Bears commentary. I love Jim Miller on Sirius XM but he was embarrassing as a propaganda spewer during the telecast.
- Matt Barkley was getting some Twitter love on Friday. He didn't look very good at all in the game, so I am confused about that. The Fluellen screen touchdown was made possible by everyone but Barkley really and he just didn't seem to throw good balls on Friday. His interception, regardless of communication, was on him. There was no way Huff was catching that fade with tight coverage, nor would he have made the catch on a comeback route. It was a bad decision and throw.
- Momah had a nice catch on the first play of the game. That was nice to see. He also had a mean tackle after one of Foles' interceptions.
- Arrelious Benn was nowhere to be found on Friday night. That's not a good look for a veteran that is fighting essentially for a sixth receiver spot.
- I have been a harsh critic of Alex Henery, but he has definitely improved his leg strength. If he can keep it up, he will have my trust.
- Brandon Graham is solid at rushing the passer, but he just really doesn't belong in space.
- We have learned from DeSean Jackson that Josh Huff needs to hold on to the ball all the way through the endzone. I watched the kick return about 25 times and still can't tell if it really crossed the plain.