The first preseason game is really about knocking off the rust and starting the evaluation process of players. In the Philadelphia Eagles preseason opening 34-28 loss against the Chicago Bears, the team has several ups and downs. That's how it goes in the preseason.
Quarterback Nick Foles struggled in his first action of 2014. After tossing only two interceptions all of 2013, Foles threw two in the preseason opener. The first was a product of getting hit as he released the ball. That made the ball flutter and fall into the hands of Bears' safety Ryan Mundy. The second was far more egregious. Foles tried to side arm a throw into heavy traffic that ended up well behind the target and into a defender's grasp. The Eagles had three series with Foles and the first team offense that resulted in two interceptions and a punt. No reason to smash the panic button, but plenty of room for improvement.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Eagles first team defense gave up one touchdown on two drives. They were put into a bad position on their first series after a Foles interception. They responded by forcing a three and out. Damion Square then blocked the Robbie Gould field goal to preserve the scoreless game. On the second drive, the defense was hurt through the air. The Bears traveled 70 yards on 13 plays which ended with a touchdown pass to tight end Zach Miller. Linebacker DeMeco Ryans had tight coverage, but did not get his head around on the under thrown pass.
It was not all bad for Philly. Defensive lineman Vinny Curry and linebacker Brandon Graham both showed very well in the preseason opener. They both were very disruptive putting shots on the quarterback. Graham provided the pressure and a hit on Bears' quarterback Jordan Palmer that resulted in a Nate Allen interception. Curry finished with a sack and another hurry through the middle. Both players need to carry this solid play into the regular season.
On the offensive side of the ball, Philadelphia had strong performances from wide receiver Josh Huff, tight end Zach Ertz and running back Matthew Tucker. Ertz led the Eagles with four catches for 60 yards. He caught back to back receptions of 34 and 18 yards to set up the Eagles first touchdown. Tucker scored two touchdowns on the ground. He averaged five yards per carry and broke off a big 24 yard run. His only misstep was slipping and fumbling which the Bears recovered. Eagles 2014 third-round pick Josh Huff had a strong game for the Eagles. He returned a kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown in which he showed off tremendous burst and speed.
As far as the Eagles' rookies are concerned, they made an impact in the preseason opener. First-round pick Marcus Smith had two very nice plays. He swatted a pass at the line of scrimmage on third down to force a punt. Smith also showed some coverage ability, recognizing a wide receiver leaking out and making a tackle for loss. Second-round pick Jordan Matthews was heavily involved, being targeted a team-high seven times in the game. He had mixed results. He worked mostly out of the slot, catching four passes for 14 yards. He had a few drops and looked a bit slow at times, but his hands are solid. Fourth-round pick Jaylen Watkins has torched on a 73 yard touchdown, but responded later with an interception.
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