Game Review: Eagles Offense Vs. Bears
Here’s a position-by-position breakdown of what we saw out of the Eagles’ offense Friday night, after having re-watched the first three quarters.
* Nick Foles was obviously shaky, going 6-for-9 for 44 yards and a couple interceptions. Early on, he felt pressure, stepped up in the pocket, but was careless with his throw and nearly got picked off by Lance Briggs. On the first INT, a defensive lineman hit either his arm or the ball at the line of scrimmage, causing the pass to float. On the second one, it looked like man coverage. Foles was targeting Ifeanyi Momah, but coverage was tight and the throw was poor.
Even a couple of Foles’ completions weren’t great. His throw to Momah early was low and caused the receiver to go to the ground. Later, he threw behind Brent Celek on a slant (the play was called back because of penalty).
The good? Foles did a nice job of stepping up and finding Celek for a 19-yard gain on a completion that was negated due to a penalty. He fired in between defenders for a 15-yard completion to Jeremy Maclin, probably his best throw of the game.
Seeing Foles play better vs. New England would be encouraging, but there’s no sense in overreacting to one bad quarter of preseason football.
* Regular readers know I have been skeptical about the prospects of Mark Sanchez adequately filling in for an injured Foles if necessary, but Sanchez really played well Friday night. He made a beautiful throw to Zach Ertz down the seam for a 34-yard completion and showed good patience, finding Ertz for an 18-yard gain in the red zone. Sanchez’s best throw of the game might have been an incompletion. He delivered a perfectly-placed ball to Jordan Matthews down the seam, but the rookie couldn’t hang on.
The Bears defended the zone read by crashing the edge defender at the running back every time. Sanchez handed off to Matthew Tucker anyway on a 3rd-and-3 that got stopped short. On a packaged play down by the goal line, he threw the screen to James Casey when Chip Kelly said he should have either handed it off or run it in himself (Sanchez would have walked in). Overall, 7-for-10 for 79 yards. Of the three incompletions, one was a miscommunication with Arrelious Benn; and the other two were catchable balls to Matthews and Josh Huff. Really encouraging performance overall.
* Matt Barkley went 7-for-16 for 73 yards, a touchdown and an interception in an up-and-down performance. He got into a nice rhythm at one point: finding Matthews for 5 yards on 3rd-and-4; delivering a nice ball to Casey on a deep crosser for 24 yards; and connecting with Will Murphy on a comeback route near the sideline. But his next ball was dropped by Matthews, and Barkley later missed a wide open Casey downfield. The INT looked like a miscommunication between Barkley and Huff. Huff was going deep, and Barkley was aiming for the back shoulder. Barring an upset, Barkley will be the Eagles’ third QB.
* LeSean McCoy had one carry for no yards (another was called back for a penalty). I’m not sure it’s necessary to put him out there again until Week 1.
* Darren Sproles had three carries for 11 yards. The highlight was a 9-yarder to the right side in the first. On another zone read play, the edge defender crashed and stopped Sproles after a 2-yard gain.
* Matthew Tucker carried eight times for 40 yards. Good effort on the 4-yard TD, and later he got outside, followed his blocking and picked up 24 yards. The one negative was a third-quarter fumble where he slipped, fell and lost control of the ball. Encouraging performance overall, though.
* David Fluellen had a nice showing too, carrying six times for 25 yards. He also had a 14-yard TD on a screen. Fluellen broke a tackle, spun around and got in the end zone. He did a good job in blitz pickup on that drive too. Henry Josey got into the game in the fourth quarter and did not have a carry.
* Jeremy Maclin got the start and had one catch for 15 yards. The reception was against zone coverage, as Maclin found a hole downfield. On the first play, he got open deep, but Foles opted for Ifeanyi Momah. Maclin was called for a 15-yard facemask penalty, but it looked like a phantom call.
* Speaking of Momah, he’s obviously built up some trust from the coaching staff, earning the start in place of Riley Cooper. Momah had a couple grabs for 15 yards. The first was a low pass from Foles, and he showed good hands coming back for the ball on a 3-yard hitch.
* Some good and not-so-good from Josh Huff. He obviously got everyone’s attention with the 102-yard TD return. Huff stiff-armed the kicker and showed he has finishing speed. As a receiver, he showed toughness, catching a slant from Sanchez in the end zone before getting sandwiched by a pair of defenders. Huff very well might have had a touchdown there, but the officials ruled he was down before the ball crossed the goal line. On the screen to Casey near the end zone, he did a poor job as a blocker, but Huff later did an excellent job on the cornerback on Tucker’s 24-yard run. He had a chance for a big play in the second, but couldn’t make the grab on a deep ball down the middle of the field. Not an easy catch, but one he should make.
* Not a memorable debut for Jordan Matthews. He didn’t show strong hands on a ball down the seam in the second. Matthews had it at first, but the DB broke it up. Later, he ran a wheel route down the sideline, but couldn’t hang on to the ball. Matthews leaped up, but it looked like the ball might have hit him in the helmet. In the third, he had a flat-out drop. The bright spots? Excellent job as a blocker on Tucker’s 24-yard run. And Matthews picked up 5 for a third-down conversion. Only one game, but this was one to forget for Matthews.
* Not much to say about others like Brad Smith and Benn. Smith had one catch for 4 yards. Benn did not have a catch.
* Brent Celek was in midseason form. It took six defenders to bring him down after a first-quarter catch that picked up 19 yards, but the play was called back because of an Evan Mathis holding penalty. Celek later made a nice grab on a throw behind him for 13 yards, but that play was called back too. He did a poor job as a blocker on Sproles’ run that was stopped for no gain.
* Zach Ertz looked the part. The Eagles started the game with him on the field in a two tight end set. In the second quarter, Ertz got behind the underneath defenders and in front of the safeties for 34 yards. He picked up 18 on the next play and nearly scored. I remembered Coach Flinn’s catch/tuck/knife mantra on the play. Ertz caught the ball looking back at the line of scrimmage, tucked it and turned upfield. Ertz showed he can be efficient as an in-line blocker, getting just enough of the defensive end on Tucker’s second TD run. Strong performance overall.
* Casey had three grabs for 33 yards. He made a nice grab on a 24-yard deep crosser in the third. Casey later converted a third down. He slipped on a screen down near the goal line.
* The first-team offensive line was sloppy. Jason Kelce gave up a pressure early on, forcing Foles to dance around and nearly throw an INT. In the run game, he did a good job getting to the LB on Sproles’ 9-yard run.
* Evan Mathis got beaten badly by Jeremiah Ratliff in pass pro on the first drive. He tried to recover, but was whistled for holding. Mathis later got called for another holding penalty on a McCoy run.
* Allen Barbre got beaten on Foles’ second INT. He ended up on the ground as the defender got his hand on Foles’ arm.
* The left side of the line did a poor job of picking up a twist on Foles’ first INT. It looked like Jason Peters was at fault for letting the defender get through. Peters was later beaten inside in pass protection and called for holding.
* Todd Herremans pulled, but couldn’t get to the linebacker on Sproles’ run that was stopped for no gain. Later he did a nice job pulling and taking out the DB on Sproles’ 9-yard run.
* The second-team offensive line (LT Andrew Gardner, LG Matt Tobin, C David Molk, RG Dennis Kelly; RT Lane Johnson) was a pleasant surprise. Tobin and Molk, specifically, stood out. Both guys flashed athleticism pulling on Tucker’s 24-yard run. Tobin manhandled a defender on Fluellen’s 15-yard run in the third. Molk did a nice job on the play too. Tucker’s 4-yard run went right behind Tobin and Molk. Molk threw the key block on Fluellen’s screen that scored.
* Gardner had ups and downs. He allowed the LB to slip right past him on Tucker’s’ run that picked up 1. Gardner and Tobin led the way on Tucker’s second TD.
* Kelly and Johnson seemed to hold up well also.