Semi-coherent Philadelphia Eagles vs. Chicago Bears preview: The preseason kicks off in Chicago

The football season is upon us!

Perhaps I should qualify that a bit. The football preseason is upon us. While that’s still kind of exciting – because you know, FOOTBALL - it isn’t quite as thrilling as getting to see real games. But it’s better than nothing, right?

We probably won’t see too much of Nick Foles tonight. Image Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Eagles will travel to Chicago to take on the Bears, but it’s doubtful that we’ll see too much of the big names. Nick Foles and Jay Cutler will start the game at quarterback for their respective teams, but it would be a shock to see them still in the game past the first quarter.

What we’re much more likely to see is a bunch of guys fighting for roster spots. You’ll probably want to have your program handy so you can tell your Michael Bamiros from your Andrew Garners.

The last time they met

Heading into their week 16 game last season, it seemed like the Bears had a huge advantage. They could seal a playoff berth with a win, while the game was virtually meaningless for the Eagles.

Naturally, the Eagles jumped all over the Bears from the start and came away with a 54-11 victory.

What’s new with the Bears

The biggest move the Bears made in the offseason was to sign quarterback Jay Cutler to a massive contract extension. This extension has received mixed reviews around the league.

Yes, it’s clear that quarterbacks who have shown an ability to play at an above average level in the NFL are going to get paid. But if you’re going to pay a guy, shouldn’t you be convinced that he’s actually a better option than his much cheaper backup?

Some critics believe the team would have been better off sticking with backup Josh McCown. After all, McCown played remarkably well – arguably better than Cutler – in relief last season. While McCown is a journeyman, and at 34, he’s obviously not the long-term answer, he is also going to make $15 million less than Cutler this season.

It doesn’t help Cutler’s case that he hasn’t thrown more than 20 touchdowns in a season since 2010, and the Bears have missed the playoffs the past three seasons.

While most people fixated on Cutler’s deal, the Bears also brought in several defensive veterans to bolster a unit that struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness in 2014. The question is: Can big names like Adrian Wilson and Willie Young make the Bears defense into a feared unit once again?

The Bears’s backup quarterback battle

McCown’s departure shows why a good backup quarterback is the hardest thing to find in the NFL: As soon as a backup does anything productive, he often leaves to start somewhere else.

McCown is now a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (good luck with that MRSA, Josh!) and the Bears need to find a replacement. They have three candidates fighting for the job: Jordan Palmer, Jimmy Clausen, and David Fales.

Here’s a quick breakdown of all three:

Jordan Palmer

Why his name sounds familiar

Jordan Palmer hasn’t been as successful as his brother. Image Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

He’s the younger brother of Carson, and has floated around the periphery of the NFL since being drafted in 2007.

Why he’s only fighting for a backup spot

He’s bounced around the league, often signing with teams in the middle of the season after they suffer injuries to one of their other quarterbacks. Despite his relative longevity, he doesn’t have much game-time experience, having thrown only 15 career passes.

Jimmy Clausen

Why his name sounds familiar

He played at Notre Dame where he was named an All-American and actually led the team to a rare bowl win.

Why he’s only fighting for a backup spot

His college success didn’t transfer to the pros. He was drafted in the second round by the Carolina Panthers in 2010, and his rookie season didn’t convince the Panthers that he was the quarterback of the future. Instead, they used the #1 overall pick on Cam Newton the following season.

Since then, Clausen has been an afterthought. He hasn’t thrown a pass since 2010 and spent the entire 2013 season on injured reserve.

David Fales

Why his name sounds familiar

Honestly, his name shouldn’t sound familiar. Unless you’re a fan of San Diego State or a real “draftnik,” you probably have never heard of him

Why he’s only fighting for a backup spot

Guys who get drafted in the sixth round (as Fales was in 2013) typically don’t get starting spots handed to them.

I suppose it’s possible that one of those guys emerges as a legitimate option, but it seems like the Bears are REALLY hoping that Cutler can stay healthy this season.

Enough about the Bears, what’s going on with the Eagles?

The Eagles will have a backup quarterback battle of their own, as Mark Sanchez and Matt Barkley are competing for the second spot on the depth chart.

Barring a complete meltdown or an unexpectedly good showing from fourth stringer G.J. Kinne, both Barkley and Sanchez should make the team. But it will be interesting to see who gets called upon when Foles inevitably needs to leave a game at some point.

Enough about quarterbacks! Please talk about something else.

How about Jordan Matthews? The rookie wide receiver has been the big story of camp, and Philly.com’s Jimmy Kempski may be on the verge of proposing to the guy.

Jordan Matthews. Image Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Based on the reports I’ve read about Matthews, it seems shocking that he fell to the second round of the draft. I know it was supposedly a great crop of wide receivers in the draft, but if he’s as good as advertised, a lot of teams made a mistake.

It might be a TAD too much pressure to expect him to match DeSean Jackson‘s numbers, but judging by the raves, I think he could easily surpass what Jason Avant gave them last season. At the very least, unlike Avant, I’d expect Matthews to be able to catch a ball without immediately falling down.

Prediction

You really want a prediction for a preseason game? Let alone, the first preseason game? A contest in which 75% of the playing time will be taken by guys who’ll be bagging groceries come September?

Honestly, it doesn’t matter who wins the game. If the Eagles can avoid injury, then they should be considered winners.

If you really want a score, I’ll say the Eagles win 24-17, simply because the Eagles’ quarterback depth chart is superior to the Bears. I’ll guess that Kinne throws a touchdown to Jeff Maehl in the fourth quarter to provide the winning score.

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Tags: Philadelphia Eagles

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