This afternoon I fired up the DVR to re-watch the Eagles preseason opener against the Bears. Here are my notes, mostly focused on the first half.
Nick Foles was really bad on the first series. He had a pick dropped by Lance Briggs on an awful 2nd down throw only to be picked on yet another bad throw on 3rd and long. I thought at first he might have been hit as he threw, but the replay seemed to show only a panicked throw down the middle of the field. Those throws get picked in this league.
The following series was a lot of short stuff and checkdowns but the ball was moving until yet another really bad throw from Foles that went behind the intended receiver and got picked. Once again, he was facing pressure and just made a bad throw. Preseason or not, your QB making poor decisions under pressure and turning the ball over is concerning to see. Foles will no doubt be itching to get back out next week to fix some of those mistakes against the Patriots.
That said, Foles' stat line was made to look worse on the night by the fact that his two best throws were negated by penalties. Those constant flags were a theme for both teams all night.
Mark Sanchez really did do a good job with the second unit, though it is worth mentioning that the protection he had with the 2nd team was far better than what Foles had with the first team. It's no knock on Sanchez though, who ran the offense very efficiently and seemed quite comfortable with the tempo.
Sanchez's favorite target certainly seemed to be 2nd year TE Zach Ertz who built off a strong camp so far with a good showing last night. He absolutely looks poised to deliver that big sophomore year everyone seems to expect from him.
Shout out to Matthew Tucker's first TD run. Tucker was first contacted at about the 2nd yard line and really fought his way to the end zone from there. Really strong run and great effort on the play. His 2nd TD was considerably easier, but he had a few good gains both running and receiving on the drive that led to it. Of course, a lot of this was negated by his 3rd quarter fumble.
Bradley Fletcher and DeMeco Ryans both had tough nights in coverage.
Malcolm Jenkins had himself a good game. He seemed to always be around the ball and actually laid down some impressive hits.
Shout out to Brandon Graham, who I thought made some plays tonight. He beat his man on the Vinny Curry sack and would have hit the QB first had Curry's blocker not stumbled. He also hit the QB to cause the Nate Allen interception and made one of the key blocks on the Josh Huff kick return.
Speaking of Vinny Curry... Vinny Curry had a good night! His guy did stumble a bit on the first sack, but he really showed great explosion on the play and later appeared to get a strip sack that ended up being called an incomplete pass. A few plays later he hit Jordan Palmer to force a pass that Marcus Smith batted down.
Can I make a ridiculous comparison? Curry's powerful first step, the big body and the way he swats at balls with his long arms kind of makes me think of Michael Strahan.
Quick mention for Taylor Hart, who was also a part of the pressure on that near fumble Curry was involved in and was able to get good penetration on a few run plays.
Finally, I wanted to call out the difference between the two Bears' first half TDs. Both red zone throws to the TE for a TD. Jay Cutler's throw was a perfectly placed back shoulder toss between two defenders where Zach Miller made a really nice play to secure the ball and stay in bounds. I thought DeMeco Ryans could maybe have had better positioning, but really that was a very tough play to defend. Contrast that with the 2nd TD where Jason Phillips just flat out got lost and didn't know where the ball was coming. The degree of difficulty on that one, for the Bears at least, was far less.
The FG block came as a result of some great penetration by the pair of Damion Square and Brandon Bair. Square really got a great push up the middle which appeared to give the 6-6 Oregon man Bair the space he needed to get a hand on the ball.
I mentioned a good block from Brandon Graham on the Josh Huff return, but if there was an MVP of that particular play it was Najeeh Goode. He not only popped one of the Bears' coverage guys early in the return to knock him out of the exact lane Huff ran through, but he also pancaked another guy to help spring the return.
Preseason special teams are often a bit suspect and Huff had a giant hole to run through, but credit to him for accelerating through that hole and finishing the return. It was the highest degree of difficulty return you'll see, but he made the play. I'll say that I certainly liked the job he did as a return mad more than the one he did as a WR, where he never turned around for one pass, almost fumbled another and dropped a 3rd all in the 2nd quarter. In the 3rd, he was involved in a miscommunication with Matt Barkley that led to an interception.
...And one more thing
I heard during this game about how Chip Kelly hates turnovers and also how not turning the ball over is "the #1 necessity in a Mark Trestman offense." Could someone point out to me any coaches at any level of football who don't mind turnovers? Is it ok to turn the ball over as long as you aren't in a "Mark Trestman offense?"