The Good, Bad & Ugly From Eagles Preseason Opener
The Philadelphia Eagles enter the 2014 season with some high expectations. Through two weeks of training camp, the coaches and the fans finally got to see the team play in a game. There were certainly some good, some bad and some ugly in the game against the Chicago Bears.
Mark Sanchez – Sanchez looked solid and comfortable in his first game as an Eagle. He engineered two touchdown drives. The first went 53 yards on four plays in 1:17. The next possession he took the birds 51 yards on seven plays in 2:17. His throws were crisp and on target. He completed 7 of 10 passes for 79 yards and played a little more than one quarter of the game.
Josh Huff – Huff showed why the Eagles took him in the third round of the draft. The rookie displayed a burst of speed on a second quarter kickoff return and took it 102 yards for a touchdown. His speed has looked great during camp. He needs to get more comfortable as a receiver and show his speed bursts on offense as well. However, a great start to his NFL career.
Zach Ertz – Eagles Head Coach Chip Kelly has been high on Ertz explaining that he is a lot more comfortable in the offense this year having spent the entire offseason with the team. He missed some of the offseason workouts last year and tried to play catch up throughout the season. Ertz looked good working over the middle of the field and led the team in receiving catching four passes for 60 yards.
Matthew Tucker – Tucker took full advantage of extra snaps due to Chris Polk’s absence from the game because of injury. Tucker displayed a power running style combined with speed to carry the ball eight times for 40 yards and two touchdowns. It was not a perfect night for Tucker because he fumbled the ball early in the third quarter. He was not hit, just tripped up and coughed it up as he went to the ground.
Vinny Curry – Curry has looked good in camp and carried that over onto the field in the preseason opener. He was very active on the defensive line creating a good pass rush and when he couldn’t get to the quarterback displayed active arms and batted down some passes at the line of scrimmage.
Brandon Graham – Graham is a former first round pick and looked solid with the second team. He combined with Vinny Curry for a sack and also got in on a great pass rush that forced a wild throw by Bears Quarterback Jordan Palmer and picked off by Nate Allen.
Marcus Smith II – The first round pick looked comfortable in his first NFL action. He was active, and moved well in the run and pass game. He covered the flat well and even got a tackle for a loss. Smith was on the field for nearly three quarters of the game. The Eagles obviously want to get him as much experience as possible to be ready for the regular season.
Run Defense – Eagles fans should feel pretty good about the run defense in the preseason opener. It looked good holding the Bears to just nine yards in the first half. However, the defense did give up 14 points anyway and allowed 491 total yards in the game. A lot of work to do, but a good start in trying to stop the run.
Nate Allen – Allen is competing for a starting job and was definitely flying around on defense. He made a total of five tackles in the game and caught an interception. Allen has looked good in training camp so far and built on that in the preseason opener.
Jordan Matthews – The second round pick has been very impressive in camp and may have fallen victim to nerves in his first NFL action. Matthews got open but dropped several passes. It was not a great game for Matthews, but there is plenty to be excited about and I would not expect to see many games like that from him in the future.
Matt Barkley – Barkley displayed in the game what has been evident in training camp, inconsistency. He led the Eagles on a 12 play, 94 yard touchdown drive in 4:14. Barkley completed 5 of 8 passes for 61 yards and a touchdown pass to David Fluellen on the drive. He later threw an interception and finished the game completing 7 of 16 passes for 73 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
Pass Defense – The pass defense did not look good. There were times that the Eagles showed solid coverage, but also several times when the starters were in that the birds brought a blitz that was picked up and Bears quarterback Jay Cutler found open receivers to move the sticks.
Roc Carmichael – Carmichael appeared to get picked on by the Bears. His coverage looked shaky. Carmichael has done well in camp and just looked to be a little less confident in the game. Film should show him his mistakes in coverage. Look for him to bounce back and play better against New England next week.
Evan Mathis – The starting offensive line is getting a lot of attention in camp due to Lane Johnson’s suspension for the first four games due to using an illegal substance. Allen Barbre is doing well in his spot on the starting line. However, Evan Mathis single-handedly stalled out the starting offense. He was called for two holding penalties on the Eagles’ first two possessions. One of those penalties negated a 20 yard gain from Foles to Brent Celek.
Nick Foles – It was not a good game for Foles. He threw two interceptions all of last season and threw two in the first three possessions of the first preseason game. Keep in mind, quarterbacks don’t see live bullets regarding a pass rush during training camp. He appeared to be a little bothered by the pocket closing on him that led to both interceptions. If you want stats, Foles compelted 6 of 9 passes for 44 yards and those two interceptions.
Starting Offense – The starting offense racked up a net total of eight yards and turned it over twice in three possessions. Penalties (See Below) took any rhythm away from the offense building any momentum.
Penalties – The Eagles were called for nine penalties totaling 89 yards. That included four penalties on their first two possessions of the game. Chicago chipped in with 14 penalties for 103 yards. Way too many yellow hankies on the field for both teams.
I did not feel like we got a great read on the starting offense. Penalties prevented them from getting anything going and put the Eagles in situations that the Bears could blitz and cause problems. LeSean McCoy did not get a chance to get going and Foles has to get used to pressure once again. I am not concerned about Foles or the starting offense. It will get rolling as the preseason continues.
I liked what Darren Sproles brought to the offense in his appearances. He added a spark and what we did not see in the game that we have seen in camp is any of McCoy and Sproles on the field at the same time. That will be fun to see.
Special teams looked solid. A blocked Field Goal, successful punts, kickoff coverage and a 102 yard kickoff return made for a good special teams night.
I have felt the backup quarterback job is clearly Mark Sanchez’ to lose. I believe Sanchez grabbed an even firmer hold of that job after the preseason opener. Barkley needs to get more consistent in practice and in his opportunities in the games if he is going to push Sanchez for that job.
I like the depth at Linebacker and on the defensive line. Damion Square and Vinny Curry are doing a solid job with the second team. Beau Allen looked good as well on the defensive line. I have liked what I have seen out of free agent safety Malcolm Jenkins. He is doing some really good things in camp and carried that over onto the field against the Bears.
Coaches are undoubtedly pouring over game film and evaluating the players based on what they saw. The Eagles return to the practice field Sunday afternoon in their final open practice. It will be at Franklin Field and is already sold out.