NFC East: 2014 NFL Preseason Week 2 Observation Deck

Throughout the offseason and the start of training camp, Nick Foles looked confident and ready to be the Philadelphia Eagles' No. 1 quarterback.

Friday night at Soldier Field, there was no sign of that Foles. It was only a few series in a preseason opener, but Foles' performance against the Chicago Bears couldn't have gone much worse. Foles threw two interceptions, matching his total in 317 attempts in 2013, as the first-team offense stumbled badly.

Mark Sanchez led two second-quarter scoring drives and rookie Josh Huff returned a kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown to jump-start the Eagles. They led 21-14 at halftime, but the Bears won the second half and the game, 34-28.

Foles' picks resulted from mistakes he rarely made last season. On the first, he faced a third-and-17 deep in Eagles territory. The Bears got some pressure in his face and Foles threw wildly over the middle. Safety Ryan Mundy made the easy interception.

On the second pick, it was hard to be sure who Foles was trying to hit. Ifeanyi Momah was running a crossing route. The throw was behind him, right in the hands of cornerback Sherrick McManis. But tight end Zach Ertz appeared to be in line for the ball. If it was for Ertz, it was underthrown.

Here are some other thoughts on the Eagles' first preseason game of the year:
  • Sanchez hit Ertz on consecutive plays after a Nate Allen interception gave the Eagles the ball at their own 48. The first went for 33 yards, the second for 18. After a throw to James Casey lost three yards, Matthew Tucker ran the ball in from the 4. Sanchez was at the controls for another touchdown drive. Tucker's 24-yard run helped set up a 1-yard touchdown run later in the quarter. Sanchez completed 7 of 10 passes for 79 yards.
  • After the Bears tied the game at 14, Huff raced through a huge hole on the left side of the field and never slowed down. The third-round pick was returning kicks in place of the injured Nolan Carroll. He just might get another shot at it. Huff is one of those players who just seem faster in a game than in practice.
  • Seventh-round pick Beau Allen, a nose tackle from Wisconsin, looked as good under game conditions as he has in camp practices. Allen pushed the Bears center back, forcing quarterback Jordan Palmer to stumble. Palmer lost the ball, but it was ruled an incomplete pass instead of a fumble. A few plays later, Allen disrupted a run play by tying up two blockers and allowing defensive end Brandon Bair to hold the runner to a 1-yard gain.
  • Jordan Matthews, who has looked really good in practices, had a rough first NFL game. Matthews dropped three passes and had trouble shaking the Bears defensive backs.
  • The Eagles made special teams a focus during the offseason and had to be happy with their first outing. Along with Huff's 102-yard kickoff return, Damion Square blocked a Chicago field-goal attempt in the first quarter. Alex Henery's kickoffs reached the end zone and the coverage squad was able to make tackles inside the Bears 20-yard line. Chris Maragos stood out on the coverage team.
  • The Eagles' first-team defense looked solid, if not spectacular. The backups had a little trouble. Cornerback Roc Carmichael was beaten by Josh Morgan for a 24-yard catch that set up the Bears' second touchdown. Rookie Jaylen Watkins, the fourth-round pick from Florida, got scorched on a 73-yard touchdown catch by Bears wideout Chris Morgan. Watkins later picked off a pass to give the Eagles the ball in the fourth quarter.

 
SAN DIEGO -- With Tony Romo sitting, quarterback Brandon Weeden got his first start with the Dallas Cowboys and showed some inexperience and some promise in the Cowboys' 27-7 loss to the San Diego Chargers.

In one half of work, Weeden completed 13 of 17 passes for 107 yards and had a 4-yard touchdown pass to tight end James Hanna in the second quarter.

First the inexperience. Weeden locked in on his first read early and did not see the whole field. An interception was overturned by a holding penalty but he was staring down Cole Beasley the entire time.

Second the promise. His touchdown showed three things: improvisation, arm strength and toughness. With some pressure, Weeden was forced to roll to his right. Without stopping to set his feet he was able to find Hanna through a maze of defenders in the back of the end zone. As he delivered the pass he was crunched by defensive end Lawrence Guy.

Here are some other thoughts on the Cowboys’ first preseason game of the year:
  • Judging any defense off the first preseason game always comes with hesitation. The Cowboys were without five projected opening day starters. But the same issues that plagued the Cowboys last season -- lack of pass rush, too many big plays -- hurt them Thursday. The Cowboys gave up five plays of 20 or more yards in the first half out of 27 snaps. In the second half they gave up a 70-yard touchdown (albeit with Korey Lindsey at corner and he has yet to practice with the team). The Chargers quarterbacks did not have an incomplete pass until 14:24 remained in the game, completing their first 12 passes.
  • In practicing during camp the run defense has been poor and it was shredded again by the Chargers. San Diego gained 111 yards on 20 carries in the first half on the ground. The defensive linemen have had difficulty all summer getting off blocks and that continued Thursday. The good news was the red zone work. They stopped the Chargers inside the 5-yard line twice, forcing a fumble and a field goal. Justin Durant popped the ball free from Ryan Mathews at the goal line, and Caesar Rayford stopped quarterback Kellen Clemens on a third-down keeper late in the second quarter.
  • Joseph Randle got the start at tailback with DeMarco Murray and Lance Dunbar sitting, and he was able to show good vision and speed to make up for missed blocks. He finished with 50 yards on 13 carries. Randle also did some decent work as a pass-blocker. His main competition, Ryan Williams, was overpowered on a blitz in the third quarter and gave up a sack. With the Cowboys emphasizing the ground game, they ran it 15 times in the first half for 65 yards. They had two games last year in which they did not run it 15 times.
  • The Cowboys came in with a number of banged up players but also chose to rest some of their regulars, like tight end Jason Witten, wide receiver, Dez Bryant, Murray, cornerback Orlando Scandrick, defensive tackle Henry Melton and Dunbar. Safety Barry Church has a minor ankle sprain and he was also kept out of action. Melton is coming back from a torn anterior cruciate ligament. He hasn’t missed a day of practice but the team wants to be cautious with his return. With the two days of practice scheduled against the Oakland Raiders next week, the Cowboys want to make sure they are ready for that and the Aug. 16 preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens.
LANDOVER, Md. – The Washington Redskins made it clear that they wanted to run the ball. It's just the preseason, but it should be evident that the coaches understand that the run game will be further ahead than the pass game. At least it appeared that way in Washington's 23-6 preseason opening win versus the New England Patriots. The Redskins rushed for 179 yards, gaining 389 overall -- and the line did a good job both in protection and run blocking. It's also evident the Patriots understand that this is still the preseason, sitting quarterback Tom Brady for the night.

Here are some other thoughts on the Redskins' first game of the year:
  • The Redskins' first offense did an excellent job running the ball, especially on outside zones to the left with back Alfred Morris. The blocking by left tackle Trent Williams and tight end Logan Paulsen to that side was good; Jordan Reed even had a good block to the inside on one run. The Redskins ran the ball effectively all night. It will be their calling card this season too. Fullback Darrel Young had a strong game blocking as well.
  • Quarterback Robert Griffin III was fine. He had one good checkdown, going through his progressions and dumping the ball to the right to Roy Helu for seven yards. Griffin also made a good throw to Aldrick Robinson in the end zone, giving him a chance. But Robinson came down in the end zone with one hand out of bounds. Griffin didn't do a whole lot flashy, but he was mostly in control and that's a start.
  • One thing that jumped out was Keenan Robinson's speed. It's not a revelation to say he's fast, but there were a couple times it helped Thursday night. As the Patriots ran to the left, Robinson approached the line and slowed and the back ran outside. But Robinson was able to change directions and make a leg tackle. Robinson also covered running back Shane Vereen split wide. Vereen gave him a stop and go and Robinson had him all the way.
  • Rookie Zach Hocker took the early lead in the kicking competition against incumbent Kai Forbath. Hocker had better kickoffs and was perfect on two field goals, from 39 and 29 yards. Forbath missed a 46-yard field goal short and wide to the right. He had shorter kickoffs and knocked one out of bounds as well. The two kickers were probably even through the first two weeks of camp too.
  • It's tough to gauge the first-team defense because Brady did not play. But that probably doesn't matter to linebacker Brian Orakpo, who drew a holding penalty on starting left tackle Nate Solder. Orakpo later bulled Solder to the inside for a sack of quarterback Ryan Mallett. Linebacker Ryan Kerrigan applied pressure from the other side.

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