The Philadelphia Eagles officially started their 2014 season, even though it was just a preseason contest against the Chicago Bears. Chip Kelly played his starters for just a quarter, and it was a rough night for many of the backups.
The Eagles surrendered 34 points and nearly 500 total yards to the Bears, falling by a 34-28 score. Still, there were some positive signs, namely the fact that there were no injuries of note on Philadelphia’s side. Here are some takeaways from the Eagles’ first preseason action of ’14.
1. Nick Foles did not play well. He threw two interceptions, which was as many as he threw all of last year. Fortunately, it’s the preseason, so it doesn’t matter. Foles didn’t play well in the 2013 exhibition games, and he ended up running the offense to near-efficiency during the regular season. He stayed healthy, and that’s really all that matters.
2. Starting at wide receiver, Ifeanyi Momah made two nice catches and didn’t drop any passes. The 6'7", 239-pound Momah has terrific size and runs a 4.39 40-yard dash. Those are impressive measurables. If Momah can continue playing well in preseason contests, he has a chance to sneak onto the 53-man roster.
3. The Philadelphia Eagles need some work on defense, as it gave up 34 points, including 20 in the second half. Philly turned the ball over four times and allowed 491 yards; since 1970, NFL teams to do that in the regular season are 3-68. Roc Carmichael looked awful in pass coverage. Jaylen Watkins had a nice interception but also got burned badly on a 73-yard touchdown pass. The Chicago Bears did have a high-powered offense in 2013, but Jimmy Clausen shouldn’t be looking like an All-Pro.
4. Did Nate Allen give himself an edge over Earl Wolff? Well, he was already listed as the first-team safety on the team’s official depth chart. But he came away with a nice interception and was second among all defensive players with five tackles. Credit should also go to Brandon Graham, a former first-round pick who may find himself fighting for a roster spot this fall. Graham pressured the quarterback on Allen’s interception, and then threw a key block on Josh Huff’s kick return touchdown.
5. Josh Huff definitely put himself strongly in the running for the kickoff return job, as the rookie wide receiver averaged 35.8 yards and took one back 102 yards for a score. He showed elite speed on that play, though he did have a disappointing return later.
6. Beau Allen made a very strong case to win a roster spot. He was a seventh-round pick, which suggests he’s on the bubble. But Allen looked really good tonight. He chased down a ball-carrier from behind. He pressured the quarterback and came very close to forcing a fumble. He has quick feet and plays much lighter than his 335-pound build—and he may need to invest in bigger jerseys—would suggest. Allen will likely beat out Damion Square (although Square did block a field goal), and he looks to be a future fan favorite.
7. Jordan Matthews looked overmatched. He caught four passes for just 14 yards and had two drops, including one that bounced right off his facemask. It was a frustrating night for the second-round receiver, and the Eagles will need more production out of him.
8. Matthew Tucker should win the fourth running back spot. His 26 carries led all Eagles backs in last year's preseason, and he got good work in tonight with Chris Polk inactive. Tucker ran the ball six times for 34 yards and two touchdowns. He did fumble once, but still, his performance could give him the edge over undrafted rookies Henry Josey and David Fluellen.
9. The battle between Matt Barkley and G.J. Kinne may get interesting. Barkley didn’t put up particularly good numbers, completing just 44 percent of his passes for fewer than five yards per attempt. He threw a touchdown, but also threw an interception and badly missed Zach Ertz on a key third-down play. Kinne was solid, going 8-for-10 for 88 yards and coming close to leading a game-winning drive at the end.
10. There were way too many penalties for the Eagles, especially early on. The team played sloppy. Evan Mathis got called for holding twice. In all, Philly committed nine penalties for 89 yards, held the ball for just 23:06 and turned it over four times. That’s not usually a recipe for success.
Fortunately, it was just the first preseason game, and there are still three more to go.