Nick Foles looked shaky, but I figured out a big reason why. The offensive line struggled in a big way on Friday night. I was surprised to see them play so sloppy. And it was “them”…as in the whole line. Actually, Todd Herremans is the one guy who I didn’t see get clearly beat or make a major mistake.
Jason Kelce got driven right back into Foles lap on one play. Evan Mathis had 2 holding penalties. Jason Peters had one holding penalty. Allen Barbre struggled in pass pro on a couple of plays. The line didn’t magically just start to suck. This isn’t about age or talent. They just played poorly. The one thing that stuck out to me with Mathis and Barbre is that they let defenders get into their body. Linemen need to get their hands on defenders quickly to try and control them. The guys were slow to do that and the rushers got the best of them.
Brian Baldinger went on and on about how the Eagles lack of hitting in camp was the problem. Maybe. But I sure remember plenty of very physical Andy Reid camps that produced poor preseason results as well. I just think the guys had a bad night and the Bears came out ready to play. Some games you can get by with sloppy play. That wasn’t the case on Friday night.
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There was no rhythm to the game. Part of that was due to penalties…on both sides. There was one play where the Eagles got 6 yards on a run by Shady. That set up 2nd and 4. But there was a penalty on the Bears. That stopped the flow. The Eagles got the Bears off balance early on and they called a timeout. That killed the momentum of that drive. The Eagles had a good pass play over the middle, but that was wiped out by a bizarre facemask call on Jeremy Maclin. That drive stalled.
The no-huddle needs some rhythm to really work. That didn’t happen for the starters.
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Vinny Curry loves summer football. He is unblockable in the month of August. Part of that is because he’s going against backup OL. Still, we’ve seen Curry give starters fits in real games. There is no doubting his explosive quickness and ability to be disruptive.
But we need to calm down on all the talk of him needing to start. Listen, I’m not a 3-4 guy. But Chip Kelly is. That scheme is here to stay and Curry will never be a 3-4 starter. I do agree that the coaches need to play him more. Curry is disruptive and that’s the number one quality I want in a defensive lineman. I hope they embrace him more and use him creatively.
Brandon Graham got his big pressure when he lined up at DE in a nickel look and then shot hard to the inside. The LG had no chance vs his quickness. Graham is really meant to play in a 4-3. Curry has a role in the current scheme, but Graham is awkward. He tried to cover a TE in the flat and got juked out of his shoes. I was really hoping Graham would look better in space this summer. That wasn’t the case on Friday.
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LT Andrew Gardner had a good game. He did a solid job in pass pro. He showed nimble feet and was active with his hands. I also was impressed by his physicality as a run blocker. He knocked the crap out of DE Trevor Scott on one run play. On Tucker’s second TD run, Gardner fired off the ball and got good movement, which created a running lane for Tucker.
I have yet to study the whole game thoroughly, but Gardner really caught my eye. Matt Tobin did some good things as well.
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Ifeanyi Momah started and caught 2 passes. I can’t believe how far this guy has come since last summer. It is probably too soon to start calling him Momahtron, but I’m so glad he’s showing real ability this year.
About Jordan Matthews and drops…this has been an issue for him for a long time. Some guys are born with great hands (Cris Carter). Others work to develop great hands (Jerry Rice). Then you have players that are good receivers, but drops are an issue for them. The prime example is Terrell Owens. He worked hard to develop good hands, but was among league leaders in drops plenty of times.
Matthews had a rough game, but there is no reason for concern. He’s just got to keep working on the hands. And I do think part of it was him trying to live up to the hype. Just go play and be yourself.