Foles struggles in Eagles' 27-20 loss to Jets

Eagles quarterback Nick Foles fumbles as he is sacked by Jets linebacker Ricky Sapp in the first quarter. Foles connected on 6 of 17 passes for 63 yards.
Eagles quarterback Nick Foles fumbles as he is sacked by Jets linebacker Ricky Sapp in the first quarter. Foles connected on 6 of 17 passes for 63 yards. (CLEM MURRAY / Staff)
Posted: August 31, 2013

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - In 11 days, the game will count. In the meantime, the Eagles needed to play the final preseason game - one reserved for the reserves, and one in which the only benefit is more tickets sold and more information about backup players.

One backup is Nick Foles, the second-year player who entered the summer in a quarterback competition and could not beat out Michael Vick. Foles struggled in the Eagles' 27-20 loss to the New York Jets to drop the Eagles to 2-2 in the preseason, although his offensive linemen and pass catchers did little to help.

"Way, way, way, way too many mistakes," coach Chip Kelly said. "Too many dropped balls for a fourth preseason game. Very shoddy in protection early."

Kelly cited the protection issues as the reason for Foles' inefficiency. He completed more than 80 percent of his passes in the first three preseason games before a sharp decline Thursday.

Foles finished 6 of 17 for 63 yards with one fumble, playing the entire first half. His preseason totals were 27 of 42 (64.2 percent) for 446 yards, one interception, one rushing touchdown, and two fumbles. Just like last season, Foles had more turnovers than touchdowns.

It did not help Foles that some of those incompletions were dropped passes, or that he sometimes operated in a collapsed pocket. Foles was sacked twice and needed to roll out other times. The command of the offense - and the quick release - that he showed in the first three games were absent Thursday.

"Just missed some throws," Foles said. "They were bringing some pressure, but I still got to deliver the throws."

The issues started during the offense's first drive, when Foles was sacked by former Eagles pass rusher Ricky Sapp, with help from former Eagles second-round pick Jaiquawn Jarrett. The combination of dismissed defenders knocked the ball from Foles' grasp, and the Jets recovered to soon take a 7-2 lead. Foles emphasized after the game that he must work on his ball security.

Foles did not even complete his first pass until the second quarter started. There is no reason to draw any conclusion about Foles' ability based on this preseason game, when the scheme was vanilla and many of his teammates who played will be unemployed Sunday morning. But if Foles had played this way earlier this summer, there wouldn't even have been a quarterback competition.

Foles was replaced in the second half by Matt Barkley, the fourth-round pick who started four years of high school football and four years of college football and will now be an NFL third-stringer. Unless injuries beset the top two quarterbacks - or inadequacy forces Kelly to experiment - Barkley will not play in a game until next preseason.

"Progressing on an upward slope," Barkley said of his development. "Hopefully, that's the case through the rest of the year."

Barkley finished 13 of 27 for 134 yards and one interception. He led the Eagles on a scoring drive finished by a 3-yard touchdown run by Matthew Tucker, and Tucker added another score in the game's final minute. But Barkley's fourth-quarter interception was returned by the Jets for a touchdown.

This continued Barkley's inconsistent summer. The preseason offered only a limited sample, but Barkley must show significant improvement to compete to start for the Eagles in the future.

"He's still up and down at times," Kelly said, "but I'm excited about Matt's future."

The Eagles had seven sacks, a safety, and forced three turnovers, although they also allowed Jets quarterback Matt Simms to complete 33 of 44 passes for 285 yards.

The loss concluded Kelly's first preseason. The Eagles offense appeared dynamic at times, yet left enough cloaked that much mystery surrounds the team entering the Sept. 9 opener against the Washington Redskins.

Before the game plan is installed for the Redskins, the Eagles will trim the roster from 75 to 53 players Saturday. They will likely make more moves on the waiver thereafter.

Thursday's game helped with the decisions on some of the deep reserves. Foles and Barkley will definitely be on the roster. Many of the players around them Thursday will not make the cut.

"We got a lot of film to watch on the bus ride home and we've got a lot of meetings tomorrow," Kelly said. "So then we'll make a decision on what we're going to do."


Contact Zach Berman at zberman@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @ZBerm.

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