South Philly Review Intern Joseph Fontanazza gives his analysis of the Eagles first preseason game versus the Chicago Bears
The first live action since the Philadelphia Eagles post season loss to the New Orleans Saints showed an array of mental mistakes but also flashes of potential.
As the first team offense toke the field against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field, quarterback Nick Foles shook off a thick layer of rust. The third year player threw two interceptions during his three drive stint. His decision making lacked the precision he is known for while seeming apprehensive against the Bears’ pass rush. The mental debauchery began when Chicago safety Ryan Mundy ensnared a Foles floater after the defensive line hurried the Eagles’ field general.
Subsequent to a first drive three and out, the Chicago Bears’ offense looked sharp with every quarterback posting respectable numbers and flashing excellent passes. Jay Cutler led a 13 play, 69 yard stampede to the end zone as he made use of his assortment of skill position players. The drive ended with Cutler squeezing a seam route to Zach Miller beating the Eagles’ inside linebacker Demaco Ryans’ almost perfect man-coverage. Miller was a constant target for Bears’ quarterbacks as he also hauled in a touchdown from Jordan Palmer and ended the game with six catches for 68 yards. Jordan Palmer additionally performed well posting 104 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception.
During Nick Foles’ third and last drive, another errant pass found the eager hands of a Bears defensive backfield member. Philadelphia’s starting quarterback attempted to avoid a sack while being pressured by Trevor Scott but cost his team the possession as Bears’ cornerback Sherrick McManis stepped in front of the hurl. While being alarming, Nick Foles’ poor performance may steam more from the “vanilla” play calling that takes place in the preseason which hides the Eagles’ suspiring packages for the regular season.
An offensive turnaround for Philadelphia was manufactured through the help of newcomer quarterback Mark Sanchez and former Texas Christian running back Matt Tucker at the beginning of the second quarter. The offense appeared crisper on the backfield duo’s second drive as Sanchez found tight end Zach Ertz for two straight long gains and allowed Tucker to score one of his two touchdowns. Zach Ertz was the Eagles’ most formidable pass catcher throughout the game gaining 60 yards on four receptions.
Mark Sanchez showed a grasping of the Eagles offense early and accumulated 79 passing yards on 7-10 completions. Turner also added 40 yards rushing and an impressive 5.0 yards per carry to his touchdown. G.J. Kinne led all Eagles passers in yards through his late game ball movement ,but Matt Barkley was the only Philadelphia quarterback to reach the end zone. Barkley set up running back David Fluellen on a screen pass for a touchdown.
The Eagles’ offense could not keep up with former Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen nor could the defense contain him. Clausen threw for 150 passing yards and two touchdowns taking advantage of Eagles rookie cornerback Jaylen Watkins for a long score. The Bears’ backup identified the separation after receiver Chris Williams made a swim move against Watkins’ press attempt resulting in a 73 yard touchdown for Chicago.
Philadelphia’s rookies also had up and down showings. Highly-hyped wide receiver Jordan Matthews dropped several passes during his playing time. Jaylen Watkins was beaten badly on the aforementioned deep ball but also intercepted a pass with an extraordinary vertical leap. Although Josh Huff only had one catch for four yards, a 102 yard kick return put him in the forefront of the highlights which at the time give the Eagles a 21-14 lead that they would surrender eventually. Marcus Smith did not record a sack but did boast two tackles and displayed his athleticism by swatting down a screen pass.
While performing poorly as a unit on defense, some individuals all showed a flash of potential. Eagles’ safety Nate Allen recorded an interception while waiting over the top for a Jordan Palmer errand pass and helped gain an edge over Earl Wolff for the safety spot. Vinny Curry displayed explosiveness penetrating Chicago’s offensive line for a the Eagles only sack and Beau Allen made one of the most striking plays of the game as he pushed the Bears’ interior line into Jay Cutler to force an incompletion.
Although the Philadelphia Eagles could not generate a staple pass rush or cover Chicago’s receivers, the Eagles did contain the running game. They allowed only 92 yards on 32 attempts permitting an anemic 2.9 yards per carry. No cutback lanes or holes appeared for Bears’ backs as the front seven filled gaps adequately. Casey Matthews led the effort with four solo tackles and five overall before leaving the game with an injury.
Philadelphia will look to iron out several of the missteps from the Soldier Field contest and with the first preseason loss behind them, the Eagles will battle the New England Patriots for their second game of the preseason.