Instant Observations: Cowboys 38, Eagles 33

Here are my observations from the Eagles’ 38-33 loss to the Cowboys Sunday night.

OFFENSE

* Bryce Brown‘s performance was similar to last week’s. He picked up 169 yards on 24 carries (7.0 YPC), but had a costly fumble that was returned for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. He now has three fumbles in the last two games. Brown had a nice 24-yard carry on the Eagles’ second possession and then found the end zone from 10 yards out for the team’s first score. DeMarcus Ware got caught upfield, and Evan Mathis delivered a nice block on the play. Brown had a 39-yard run on the Eagles’ second scoring drive. He finished that one with a 5-yard scamper up the middle for the TD.

* Nick Foles looked better, completing 22 of 34 passes for 251 yards and a touchdown. He averaged 7.4 yards per attempt and connected with seven different receivers. Brent Celek had seven catches for 73 yards. Great effort by Celek early on, dragging Cowboys defenders with him on a third-down conversion. Damaris Johnson took a screen 13 yards. Riley Cooper picked up 16 on a slant and later made a great one-handed catch for a 15-yard touchdown against cornerback Brandon Carr.

* The Eagles’ offensive line from left to right: King Dunlap, Mathis, Dallas Reynolds, Jake Scott and Dennis Kelly. This group played one of its better games of the season, and Marty Mornhinweg put together an excellent game plan. The Eagles were balanced and often ran right at DeMarcus Ware or ran play-fakes at the talented pass-rusher to help neutralize him.

* The exception was when the Eagles asked Celek to block Ware one-on-one on the first play of the game, and Ware crushed Foles from his blind side.

* On third down in the red zone in the fourth, Foles forced one to Clay Harbor in the corner of the end zone. It looked like he probably could have run or hit Celek on the play. And on the 2-point conversion attempt, he missed a wide open Brown right in front of him, instead throwing incomplete to Jason Avant.

* Around the 4:51 mark of the fourth quarter is when we got the weekly “Even if Andy Reid is fired, he won’t be unemployed for long…” conversation from the broadcasting team.

* Johnson returned a punt 98 yards for a touchdown with under a minute left, but the Eagles couldn’t recover the onside kick.

DEFENSE

* The Eagles’ pass defense continued to look horrible. Tony Romo completed 22 of 27 passes for 303  yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. In the second half, he went 10-for-10 for 169 yards. The Birds’ run defense wasn’t much better, as the Cowboys, one of the worst rushing teams in the league, picked up 124 yards on the ground.

* Bad night for pretty much every member of the Eagles’ secondary, but let’s start with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. In the fourth quarter, Romo delivered a quick throw to Dez Bryant, and Rodgers-Cromartie looked helpless trying to tackle him as he scored a 6-yard touchdown. Earlier, Rodgers-Cromartie made a poor attempt at Miles Austin on a 27-yard score.

* Brandon Graham started for Jason Babin at left defensive end and beat Doug Free for a sack on third down early on. Graham later hit Romo and helped force an incompletion in the red zone. Graham and Trent Cole combined for a sack on third down to force a Cowboys field goal.

* Romo found Bryant for a 23-yard touchdown in the third. He rolled to his right and bought time before throwing across the field. DeMeco Ryans initially took a bad angle, but then a group of Eagles defenders, including Nate Allen, Kurt Coleman and Akeem Jordan, failed to bring him down. The Eagles safeties played poorly all night long.

* Cullen Jenkins had a chance for a sack in the first, but failed to bring Romo down, and he found a receiver for a first down. In the second quarter, Romo tried to get a play off before Reid could throw a challenge flag. Jenkins first was on the ground with an “apparent” ankle injury, and then, realizing he was supposed to be on the sideline, took off in a full sprint. Reid ended up throwing the flag, and the play was reversed.

* The Eagles’ defense gave up a 65-yard touchdown drive in the second. Romo hit Jason Witten for a 28-yard gain in the red zone to set up the score. The tight end was wide open, as there once again appeared to be confusion between Nnamdi Asomugha and Coleman. Please, stop me if you’ve heard that before.

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  • atlvickfan

    Foles was great for the first 3 quarters, when they were still in it and were able to call a 50/50 split game plan with plenty of quick slants and screens. Looked a little shakier on the last couple of drives when they needed him to make plays down the field, with the near pick TD, sack/fumble, and big miss on the 2 point conversion. He’s going to be fine. Like it has been all season, this team has way bigger problems than the QB position.

    • http://abigbuttandasmile.com/ A Big Butt and a Smile

      Agreed

    • aub32

      I have to disagree with you on Foles. He locked in on WRs and repeatedly failed to go through his progressions even when he had time. The missed pass to Celeck and BB are proof of that. Foles benefited greatly from having a 150+ yard rusher, and a good game plan by Marty. I really didn’t see Foles make any special throws. The Cooper TD wasn’t even a good decision, but Cooper made a great catch. I would love to see Vick in this offense where we actually run the ball and throw screen and misdirection passes. I think the team will struggle next year if Foles is the QB. I hope Vick can restructure, or we get a competent stopgap for a year or two while Foles or someone else develops.

      • bsn

        There were at least two passes that were special that I can’t think of off the top of my head. He wasn’t as good as the OP was saying but he sure as hell isn’t as bad as you’re trying to make him sound.

        • http://twitter.com/saunla L Saun

          Where did THIS O-line come from? They were blocking!!!!

        • Run Eagles Run

          if you cant recall them one bit, off the top of your head… well then they couldnt have been that special. he made a nice throw to avant. got out of the pocket, stepped up and made a nice throw. it wasnt special. it was a pro qb play. one of the few he made in the game. and cris colinsworth and al micheals nearly jizzed their pants, trying to make you think it was special. because the reality is two bad teams were playing on national tv, and they didnt want people to change the channel.

          • bsn

            The can’t was an auto correct.
            Don’t insult me please. You think I give a damn what Chris freaking Colinsworth says? The point to my post was to say he’s not as bad as the person was saying he was. Dude made him sound like Sanchez or Tebow was back there throwing the ball.

          • morgan c

            he floated a perfect pass to maclin at the end of the first half. and he fired a couple more strikes to him on out routes. and what about that bootleg, running to the left, throwing across the grain to avant?? he made two beautiful throws on the run across his body, that we have seen vick throw as int’s. just saying, the kid made some GREAT nfl throws; to say otherwise is simply not evidenced by the facts. sure, he wasn’t perfect by any means, but he looked pretty damn good. let’s see if he keeps improving, and if so, we may have something.

          • Run Eagles Run

            for a qb who’s starting running back had 170 yards rushing, and 2 tds… Im sorry, but the guy has done nothing to make me say, “ok, this is our guy. who needs alex smith or matt flynn, this foles kid is money!”. sorry. is dallas a good football team? no. they have been in high scoring affairs like this all year, and they usually come out on the losing end. yeah the D played bad, but the game was there for the taking, and foles should have found a way to win, rookie or not. a real nfl qb completes that 2 point conversion to a wide open avant or brown. and maybe our special teams gets fired up and maybe theirs start to sweat a little, and that onside kick goes differently. just like people said about vicks performances in the last 5 games last year, this is foles, I mean fools gold.

      • Run Eagles Run

        not only did cooper make a great one handed catch, he arm barred the CB preventing an INT cooper is a baller, and better be on this team next year. foles was average at best. I am fine with having him compete for a job next year, but if he doesnt have alex smith, mallet, flynn or someone of that ilk to push him, then I am gonna be really disappointed, and I think at the end of next season all eagles fans will be really disappointed.

      • atlvickfan

        Definitely the limited and run-heavy game plan worked in his favor, but the game plan was limited and run-heavy last week when he sucked too. Sure, most of his throws were short and simple throws, but he did have the pass to Celek over the middle when he got popped and the deep corner route to Avant that he threw on the money. If they have to rely on him to carry the offense, he probably will struggle, but he’s not a bum. He’s shown enough to prove that he belongs in the NFL.

        Whoever is the QB next year is going to have an easier time than whoever is the QB this year, because the offensive line (in particular Peters) will be healthy. The problems on offense this year are on the offensive line, not the QB.

        • fran35

          Well said. Definitely not a game where you think “wow, this guy is special”. In my opinion, he already has shown more than Kafka did in his 2-3 years here. But the most important part of the Foles experience is that he seems to be getting better and showing stuff each week that makes you think he belongs in the NFL.

      • atlvickfan

        Oh yeah, and it’s pretty amazing that it took THIS long for them to realize that their only 6’3″ receiver might be a good red zone target. Having tall guys who can jump to throw to in the red zone makes such a huge difference, especially for short QBs (see Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham, or Russell Wilson and Sidney Rice for example). Hard for me not to think that even a washed-up Plaxico Burress wouldn’t have solved a lot of this team’s red zone problems the last couple of seasons.

      • BlindChow

        The Cooper touchdown was hardly a bad decision. You hear it all the time: one on one coverage, you throw it up and let your big receiver make a play. Happens all the time on goal line plays.

        • aub32

          That’s true had he thrown a fade. That was not a jump ball, and had the CB turned around the result would’ve been different.

      • MAC

        Vick had a good o line last year buddy and plenty of talented WR, RB, and TE. Also last year McCoy had one of most all purpose yards in league so he had those benefits you are saying Foles had last night for an entire season. He didn,t get the job done! In 10 years 2 playoff victories. We have seen enough to know Vick is solid, but far from elite. If Vick would take like 4 million a year maybe bring him back, but why not work toward the future with a young guy either Foles or someone else. We and the rest of the league has seen Vick’s ceiling nd injury history. He is 32 years old. He is past his prime and even that was over rated. (Exciting but over rated). I am not one of these guys who hates Vick bc of dog thing. I like him as a person, but a a QB no thanks especially at this point.

        Also not sure if you watched game last night with Collinsworth showing Foles go through progressions on several plays and remember 3rd start in NFL so a little staring down and bad throws due to bad footwork is expected. Not sure if he is the future, but I know one thing that Vick is not and if he is we are foolish.

        • aub32

          The offense wasn’t bad last year under Vick. They lost 5 4th quarter leads late. In order to do that, you have to have the lead. We were one game away from the playoffs. I think Vick would have won in Seattle, but they thought Young could do the job while they gave Vick another week to heal. Vick also could’ve beat ATL if not for a freak head to O line collision which would’ve knocked out anyone. He also would’ve beaten SF if not for 2 missed FGs. Glad to hear you are not bashing for off the field issues, but in on the field play was good. He did have some costly TOs but so does Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, and Eli. You have to admit the play calling has been significantly different with Foles, and Vick was not being helped nearly as much by the play calling.

          As far as Collinsworth, what is he supposed to say. They have to make the game sound some what entertaining. I know what I saw. There were several times Foles had his decision made before the ball was snapped. Just look at the 2 pt conversion.

          • http://abigbuttandasmile.com/ A Big Butt and a Smile

            Yeah folk forget how bad the defense was last year in crunch time or all the other craziness that happened on offense that had nothing to with Vick. But it is what it is. I just think it’s gonna be a long slow painful road for Philly moving forward.

        • atlvickfan

          Vick had one horrible game last year against the Cardinals where he broke his ribs in the first quarter and played the rest of the game. Aside from that, he had 8.2 yards per attempt and a 90 QB rating, which would probably have been higher if not for Shady being the main goal line option last season and setting a career high in TDs. Vick’s season last year wasn’t a whole lot worse than his 2010 season. They missed the playoffs last year because their run defense was atrocious, Vick missed 3 games, Jackson spent the entire season trying not to get concussed, and Ronnie Brown decided it would be a good idea to throw a backwards pass on the goal line.

  • Robert Jentsch

    It just gets worse week after week. The offense has been looking better lately, even the maligned offensive line with all of their back ups. The defense, and secondary in particular have been embarrassingly awful, single handedly costing them this game tonight.

  • TXEaglesFan

    Wow what a terrible secondary. Hopefully the next coach brings with him 5,6 new defensive backs. How bad are the backups if they can’t hardly get on the field ahead of the starters? I actually miss Dmitri Patterson and Joselio Hanson.

  • http://www.facebook.com/xbcsmith Brett Smith

    Worst secondary in the league. Keystone Cops tackle better.

    • http://twitter.com/saunla L Saun

      I have been concussed since the Detroit game when the D lost a 10 pt lead with 5 min left. Two years this D fails late.

      • Kimbafuzz

        Those last 5 minutes really were the turning point. The defense has been incapable of stopping anyone since.

  • Docboy

    Observation… Looking a little better , but we still sucks…
    Time yours…

  • xlGmanlx

    There were more things to like from Foles in this game. Still made rookie mistakes though, but had some nice moments. I felt there was a spark on the field when he was out there, between him and brown. I also knew it was only a matter of time before brown coughed it up. I cringed every time he ran, but gasp in joy at the same time.

    • http://abigbuttandasmile.com/ A Big Butt and a Smile

      They are going to beat that into him. By the time they are done he’s gonna hold it close like it’s a newborn baby and be scared to let the ball go. lol

    • Run Eagles Run

      “felt there was a spark on the field” haha! thats funny to me.

    • Kimbafuzz

      The only spark I see is Bryce Brown… before he fumbles. Oy.

  • Haan

    Theres a bit of Adrian Peterson in Bryce Brown, including the fumbling problems

    • UncleCarm

      Fumbling problems can be overcome. Even AP is doing better with fumbles this year. They need to coach him up and he could be one of the best in the league.

  • Joe H

    As much as it pains me watching a 3 win team, this was exactly the game I hoped for. Win for most of the game, and cough it up late to keep working toward a high draft choice. Weeks ago I throw the pillow to the ground when a WR zig zags through the defensive backfield like when I played the LED mattel football handheld as a kid. Now I just shake my head and laugh at the patheticness of it all.

    Brown may be fumbling, but to me, he’s a sophomore in college when it comes to being a running back. I didn’t think the ball was that loose when he fumbled, but what does this armchair qb know… Learn this year, then come back next year with those lessons. It’s interesting seeing decisiveness as opposed to the dancing of McCoy, even if both can show impressive results when on their game.

    The game plan is definitely helping though. Nice to set up the pass with the run, instead of setting up the pass with the illusion that Mornhiweg might actually run the ball.. Funny how that makes the O-Line look better…

  • Kimbafuzz

    I wonder how Shady feels watching Bryce Brown run all over everyone these last 2 games…. You think he’s worried? Or are the fumbles easing his concern for his job? Or does it not matter cause of his contract?

    • Justin

      He actually commented on Brown during the game

      “B.brown still balled out tho he a GOOD PLAYER …”

      • Kimbafuzz

        Cool! I also saw this morning that he had called out where Bryce was wide open on that 2 pt conversion and Foles missed him (even though he was literally right in front of him).

  • mr. magee

    Kimbafuzz: great questions!

    RER: I think you’re wrong with regard to Foles, and I also believe you’re in the minority.

    Foles had a very nice game – easily his best so far. And while no one is proclaiming him to be a future star yet, he did some things tonight against a decent defense that he had not shown in the previous two outings (like deliver the ball with some zip when necessary, go through progressions, throw with accuracy, etc). He flashed some potential tonight, and it’s way to early to give up on this guy. And since the Eagles are now officially in rebuilding mode, he needs to keep playing!!

    • Bob A

      I don’t know what people expect from Foles , they got 33 points tonight, 27 from the offense; both were season highs. If the Eagles defense was even mediocre instead of historically horrendous, the guy would be 3-1. Sure, there are things he could improve on but his QB rating tonight was 97. Unfortunately, Romo’s was more than 150, so even if he were Joe Montana , they had no chance.

    • BlindChow

      Foles looked like a completely different QB from the last two games. That improvement in itself is encouraging.

  • BLUEDEV61

    It’s 100% on the Safeties for the lousy performance. A lack of confidence in their being the last line of defense affects the performance of every other D player, particularly the cornerbacks.

  • Ron Swanson

    Kurt Coleman might be the worst player in the NFL