Nick Holes

Foles
Foles
Posted: August 12, 2014

THE STORY of Nick Foles' seriously underwhelming start to the 2014 preseason was a story of pass-rush pressure - something Foles handled well last season, but hadn't really seen all spring and summer until some Chicago Bears abruptly arrived in his face Friday night at Soldier Field.

The Eagles were not able to put Bears quarterback Jay Cutler under similar duress; Cutler enjoyed a secure perch as he picked apart the Birds' secondary on a 13-play, 79-yard, first-quarter touchdown drive.

Both ends of the equation were troubling. Foles is going to have to get back to resetting his feet and making better decisions under fire, and Bill Davis' defense is going to have to bring it a lot harder if the Eagles are going to defend their NFC East title this year.

Foles and other Eagles analyzed what they could have done differently yesterday, after watching film of their 34-28 loss.

"He didn't get a real good chance to set his feet" on the first interception, Eagles coach Chip Kelly said yesterday, following the Birds' final public session of training camp, at Franklin Field, with a number of the franchise's all-time greats and about 28,000 fans in attendance. "He was throwing off his back foot."

Kelly said Foles' second pick, in just three series played by the starters, occurred on a play that was supposed to be a rollout. Foles held the ball a while, then threw into a crowd as he was about to be hit.

"We didn't do a great job of sealing the end for him. And he didn't really get to the perimeter," Kelly said. "He just needs to learn in that situation to throw the ball away. It's second and 4. We're in field-goal territory. We always talk STP - no sacks, no turnovers, no penalties when you're in the red zone."

Foles said his review brought home the point that "if I feel like I have a first read open, I need to take it, and work from there. I wanted to come out here today and just have an efficient practice. We moved around well today . . . I'm going to improve from it . . . staying on time, moving in the pocket. It's just the little things you're getting back to, what I was doing last season - moving in the pocket, making good decisions."

Kelly noted yesterday that the Birds' best pass rushers against the Bears were reserves (working against other reserves, of course).

"I thought Brandon Graham's pass rushing in that second group caused some havoc in there. Vinny [Curry] was in the backfield a lot with that second group," Kelly said.

Seventh-round rookie nose tackle Beau Allen, who drew praise from Kelly for his play against the run, collapsed Jimmy Clausen's pocket and knocked a ball out of Clausen's hand that was ruled an incomplete pass.

"For a 330-pound guy, he does have some suddenness to him, has a feel and a knack, in terms of how to win the hand battle up front," Kelly said of Allen, who was bolstered in his first NFL appearance by a group of family members, some of whom drove down from Minnesota, others who made a longer journey.

"My parents were there, my uncle and aunt came out, a couple cousins, and then I actually had two third cousins from Germany that came over. It was their first time in the U.S. and the first football game they ever saw," Allen said yesterday. "It was sweet to hang out and talk to them for a while after the game . . . they liked it. They said it was cooler than the World Cup."

Allen has gotten a lot of action in camp because of starter Bennie Logan's hamstring injury, which has limited Logan from the start of camp. Logan returned to practice full speed yesterday. Logan gave Allen advice when he came to the sideline between series Friday.

"I wasn't able to play. The least I could do was help coach him up on things," Logan said. "Beau's a real good player, coming along, making great progress, great strides . . . just small things . . . looking at the formation, knowing what's coming his way . . . He's a great learner. He's a hard worker, he's strong at the point of attack, holding the point. He's really aggressive. That's me - that's my style of play, and that's what I like about him."

After Foles, the biggest disappointment Friday might have been second-round rookie receiver Jordan Matthews, the camp standout who dropped three passes and finished with four catches for just 14 yards.

"I definitely left something out there," Matthews said yesterday. "You work out here in practice so much, but sometimes when you go into the games, it kind of speeds you up. It's really just coming out here and working on it, slowing the game down in my head so that when I go out on the field, I can make the game look just like practice. It's a work in progress."

Jeremy Maclin caught just one pass for 15 yards against the Bears, and took a 15-yard facemask penalty, but was pretty happy, having tested his right ACL in its first game action since the end of the 2012 season.

"It felt good, man," Maclin said. "It felt good to catch a ball in a real game."

Maclin went down awkwardly after his lone catch, which he said was a good thing, ultimately.

"You need those types of plays. It just reassures that your knee is fine. It's probably stronger than it was before," Maclin said.

Fourth-round rookie corner Jaylen Watkins notched an interception against the Bears, but before that he was beaten badly for a 73-yard touchdown.

"I think I was maybe thinking too much," when he first went in, and didn't get a good jam off the line on receiver Chris Williams, Watkins said. "It's what we dream for. But once I was able to calm down and play the game that I know I can play, things started coming to me."


On Twitter: @LesBowen

Blog: ph.ly/Eagletarian

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