Game Review: Eagles Offense Vs. Cowboys

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Here’s a position-by-position review of how the Eagles’ offense performed vs. the Cowboys.

QUARTERBACKS




* What's left to say about Nick Folesperformance? That's probably as bad as you'll see this year. Foles finished 11-for-29 for 80 yards. In most cases, the QB gets too much blame when things go wrong. But in this one, receivers were open for much of the game, protection held up well for the most part, and Foles just couldn't make the throws. He's not as bad a player as he showed vs. Dallas, and he's not as good a player as he showed vs. Tampa. He's somewhere in between.

* In the following instances, Foles targeted an open receiver and misfired: He was off-target on a throw to Zach Ertz across the middle in the first. He missed Bryce Brown on a wheel route down the sideline on third down in the first. He threw behind Jeff Maehl on 3rd-and-5 in the second. He missed Brent Celek on a corner route in the second. He threw behind Jason Avant on 3rd-and-5 in the second. He led DeSean Jackson out of bounds on a deep ball late in the first half. He missed a wide-open Maehl in the third, throwing low and behind him after executing a nice play-fake. He was late on a deep ball to Jackson in the end zone (or as Troy Aikman suggested, he should have led Jackson more towards the pylon). The worst throw of the day was the miss to Avant in the end zone in the third.

* And there were plenty of instances where Foles just failed to pull the trigger. We'll get a better look at those with the All-22, but he had time before being sacked in the first. He left the pocket early and was called for intentional grounding in the first. He had plenty of time, but couldn't find a receiver and scrambled for 12 on third down in the first. He didn't trust LeSean McCoy's blitz pickup and left the pocket right into pressure before throwing incomplete to Avant on the run in the first. He took off for a gain of 8 on third down in the first even though he had good protection. He held the ball forever in the fourth, and Evan Mathis was called for holding. Even on the play where he suffered a concussion, Foles had time before scrambling to the right sideline.

* The Eagles called 34 passes and 19 runs with Foles in the game. The Cowboys rarely blitzed (just four times on 34 dropbacks). But he was just out of sorts all day. Foles suffered a concussion in the fourth and will undergo the necessary rehab procedures throughout the week.

* Matt Barkley entered the game in a tough spot, but with the Eagles still having a chance to stage a comeback. He went 11-for-20 for 129 yards and three interceptions. He didn't see linebacker Sean Lee dropping on the first pick. He looked like he was trying to throw the ball away on the second one. And he didn't expect the corner to drop on the third INT. There were actually two more balls that could have been picked. One was negated because of an offsides call. The other was a near turnover on a pass over the middle where Barkley was looking for Avant.

* Barkley made a few nice throws. He stood in the pocket, faced pressure and delivered to Riley Cooper for a 17-yard gain in the fourth. His arm seemed stronger than we saw in the preseason. And he didn't panic when facing pressure. Overall, though, it was obviously a struggle.

RUNNING BACKS

* Really looking forward to seeing the run game with the All-22. Based on TV footage, it seemed like McCoy was a bit off and left some yards on the field. He finished with 55 yards on 18 carries. McCoy himself said afterwards that this was one of the worst games he's played since he was a rookie. Credit the Cowboys safeties too, specifically Barry Church. He brought McCoy down one-on-one on multiple occasions. You usually don't see that.

* Chip Kelly wanted to get his running backs matched up against the Cowboys' linebackers in pass routes. McCoy took a swing pass for 11 yards on the first play of the game. He later drew a holding penalty. McCoy had six catches for 26 yards. Once again, good job in blitz pickup. Also, give McCoy credit for trying to keep Foles' head up. The cameras showed Foles on the sideline after he suffered the concussion, and McCoy was clapping, trying to encourage the struggling QB.

* Bryce Brown has been a disappointment. He had two carries for 4 yards and slipped on one where it appeared he had a big hole.

WIDE RECEIVERS

* The wide receivers got open plenty, but Foles failed to get them the ball. DeSean Jackson had three catches for 21 yards on eight targets and was visibly frustrated throughout. There were two specific big-play opportunities (mentioned above) where Foles missed him. It looked like Jackson had a drop on a pass from Barkley in the fourth.

* Riley Cooper had a second straight good outing with six grabs on seven targets for 88 yards. He had a 14-ayrd catch in the first and did a nice job of breaking a tackle and picking up 9 on 3rd-and-7 in the second. Up and down as a blocker. Nice job on McCoy's 11-yard catch, but poor job on a screen to Jackson that lost a yard.

* Jason Avant had three catches for 32 yards on 12 targets. He ran an excellent route on what should have been a touchdown in the third, but Foles missed him. Up and down as a blocker as well. Nice job on McCoy's 11-yard catch and run. Poor job on McCoy's 5-yard run in the first that could have been a bigger gain.

* Jeff Maehl dropped a screen in the first, but it probably would have lost yardage anyway. He had a chance to haul in a 3rd-and-5 pass in the second even though the ball was thrown behind him.

TIGHT ENDS

* Blame for the issues in the run game can be spread around, and that includes Brent Celek. He had a couple tough assignments that he failed to execute. On one, he couldn't block the safety on a 2-yard McCoy run in the second. And later in the red zone, he couldn't get to Lee on a sweep that was stopped for no gain. Celek was wide-open on a corner route in the second, but Foles overthrew him. He dropped a pass from Barkley in the fourth. Celek finished with one catch for 9 yards.

* Zach Ertz had three catches for 33 yards, but wasn't much of a factor.

* Overall, the Eagles were in '11' personnel (1-RB, 1-TE, 3-WR) on 67 of 75 plays, or 89.3 percent of the time. They were in '12' personnel (1-RB, 2-TE, 2-WR) on just three plays. The Eagles used '10' personnel (1-RB, 0-TE, 4-WR) twice and '20' personnel (2-RB, 0-TE, 3-WR) three times.

* James Casey did not play an offensive snap.

OFFENSIVE LINE

* The biggest surprise when re-watching was how well the protection held up for Foles and Barkley. There were minor issues here and there, but overall, both quarterbacks had plenty of time to set up in the pocket. Foles showed poor pocket presence and often made the pressure look worse than it was. Barkley did a good job of hanging in the pocket and trusting his blocking.

* Good game from Jason Peters. He held up well in protection and got the job done in the run game too. As far as I could tell, none of the issues on the ground were his fault.

* Evan Mathis was solid for the most part, but had some issues. Even though Foles held the ball, Mathis had trouble in pass protection on the first sack. He couldn't get to the linebacker on McCoy's 4-yard run in the first. He missed a block on the safety, who slipped past him on a screen attempt to Maehl in the second. And he failed to pick up the defensive end, who hit Foles on a stunt in the second. Mathis did a good job pulling on McCoy's 6-yard run in the third. He executed well on another McCoy 6-yard run and a 4-yard run in the fourth.

* This was one of Jason Kelce's best games of the season. He held up well in protection and made nice blocks on both of McCoy's 6-yard runs in the third. Kelce pulled out in front on McCoy's 10-yard run and also did a good job on his 4-yard scamper. One issue in the second: Both he and Mathis blocked the same player at the second level, leaving the safety free to tackle McCoy. Like I said, the issues in the run game were spread out among several different players.

* The pattern with Todd Herremans continues: He's run-blocking perhaps as well as he ever has. But he's going to have some issues in protection. Herremans got beat for a sack in the second and was pushed back on a bull-rush in the third. He also gave up a hit on Barkley on his first INT. In the run game, Herremans pulled out in front on McCoy's 10-yard scamper. He did a great job on McCoy's 4th-and-1 conversion. And he made nice blocks on both of McCoy's 6-yard runs. In the first, Herremans had no shot of catching up to Lee on an outside zone play that lost 3 yards.

* Lane Johnson was solid. Technically, he gave up the first sack, but Foles held on to the ball for awhile. Johnson did a good job of picking up a stunting defender to give Foles time on a 14-yard completion to Cooper in the third. He'll sometimes let rushers get upfield, but generally does a good job of giving the QB space to step up in the pocket. Johnson didn't finish his block on Lee in the third on a McCoy 4-yard run. But overall, he held up well.

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  • Token

    I think its time for Chip to get in Luries ear about the field. The Linc, in addition to being a terrible stadium, offers up one of the worst fields in the league on a consistent basis.

    Its time for field turf. It could only help this team. If anything our current field is another disadvantage to being at home.

    Oregon switched to field turf the 2nd year Chip was HC there.

    • Chali

      Yeah. . . . It just doesn’t seem we have a 12th man at the Linc. Our team is fast so I do see your point in going to turf. I miss the Vet, the Linc doesn’t capture sound as good as other stadiums it seems with that big gap and how open the Linc is.

    • theycallmerob

      been over this all summer. there are far too many other sports and events that the Linc hosts on grass. Lurie won’t lose that $.

      • Token

        #1… Football is the cash cow. It comes first

        #2… Field Turf has this barrier/field protector you buy. You can have anything short of a monster truck rally on the field and not damage it. You can actually have MORE events per year than on grass.

        Do you really believe all these tons of stadiums with turf dont have events?

    • nicksaenz1

      Our current stadium is a disadvantage to being at home. All inclusive. I miss the Vet, as bad as the field was. They were playing a clip on 97.5 on Sunday from 96 when Barry Switzer blew the game for Dallas at the Vet, and the crowd noise was incredible. Constant and intense. Fearsome for opponents. These days, opponents love playing at the Linc. It’s like a neutral site.

    • RIP illa

      Best comment from you EVER!!!

      EDIT: Besides your Howie bashing, which I’m all for.

  • Chali

    Vick is your starter, Foles is a good backup, Neither is the future but you have to stick with Vick as an Eagles fan and stop with the hate and the making of excuses. It is what it is. Live with the fact that Vick is the starter for the remainder of your season and MAYBE next year as insurance until we get our franchise QB. Even if we get our franchise QB, he may have to transition to the NFL and learn behind Vick. Nothing more, nothing less. . . Simple logic. End the Vick love and hate and end the Foles love and hate now and support the damn team and stop dividing as fans and unite. End of story. You saw them two at the podium together, why can’t fans cheer together. Enough. Point the hatred towards the hordes of Cowboy fans in Philly who deserve it more.

    • Chali

      Oh and lastly, Chip Kelly can get experience with his offense more with Vick this year, being his style of QB, until he gets HIS QB of choice. He can see the flaws in his offensive system this year and experiment and know what to run next year with his QB.

    • #7

      It will never happen on here. Unfortunately. Even when I pulled for Foles, I was supposedly faking it. You have to understand that the hate for Vick on here is personal for some people and I’m not just talking about his past. The “just want something different” and “want to see the unknown” even though we all saw that the “unknown” is a backup at best yet he’s “puffed up and forced on people” on here to pretend that he’s a franchise QB. I pulled for Foles to do well, but not surprised that he flopped

      • Nah__Roots

        I love all the we-hate-to-admit-you-were-right down votes you’ve been getting since the Dallas game. Oh well, they mad.

        • #7

          Happens all the time lol. It’s all good. The truth is right in their faces, but the truth hurts sometimes

      • Chali

        Seems to be the case. Sad but true. Really don’t understand it.

  • Kevin

    Hey Sheil, turns out it is the second worst QB performance this year… Thank you Josh Freeman. MNF was painful tonight….

    Should be an interesting game against the Giants next week… no running game and Eli is still making faces…

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

      That was a lose lose situation for Freeman. He’s been there two weeks. I’m surprised they put him in that fast. They must have NO faith in the other QBs.

      • nicksaenz1

        He’s been there for two weeks and he’s a terrible QB to begin with. A lack of faith certainly, but I’m trying to figure out how their brain trust ever came to the conclusion that he was a significant upgrade over their current QBs that they’d sign him after not only losing his starting job, but subsequently being cut. Moreover, why in the hell would they throw the ball 53 times when you have the best RB on the planet. If they’re stacking the box and the line’s not blocking well, you find other ways to get AP involved. It’s hard to excuse that.
        Disclaimer: I have AP in a fantasy league, his lack of usage cost me the game, and I 100% needed to get some of that out. I have more, but I’ll hold back.

        • Andy124

          Yeah, 53 in his first game and only been there 2 weeks. You’d think Andy and Marty got back together for one last fling.

          That was so bad the NFLPA should file a complaint.

        • #7

          Wow. What a dropoff for Freeman. Some of those throws was just sailing 5yds over people’s heads while being wide open smh.

          Poor AP is being wasted up there in Minny. They need to try and pull off some type of Herchel Walker type trade and give this guys a chance to compete. RB careers are over in a second

          • nicksaenz1

            In no way am I trying to boost Foles, because he sucked Sunday, but Freeman definitely made it look not nearly as bad or unheard of, and this is from a veteran, former first round pick.

          • #7

            Yep you’re right about that. I would take Foles over Freeman anyday.

          • aub32

            Yes but Foles didn’t just join the team a week ago. Josh Freeman was pathetic, but Foles really doesn’t have an excuse for his horrid performance.

          • nicksaenz1

            I never said that he did have an excuse.

          • aub32

            I didn’t say you did sir.

          • LeClaw

            I don’t care when you join a team…you don’t miss some open throws like that

        • BlindChow

          I think they only called one RB screen, in the 4th quarter.

      • aub32

        I agree Freeman shouldn’t have been put in that situation, but he was awful. At some point you have to be able to hit a wide open receiver. I get he didn’t know the scheme, but he had more than enough time on several occasions to watch guys get open and just throw them the ball. He’s was gut wrenchingly inaccurate.

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

          I’m going to hold out judgment on his awfulness ’till he gets some more time. I mean that was just a HORRENDOUS situation to be in. And I mean damn, Ponder or Cassel (Cassel?) has to be a better choice than that…if not…well that’s just beyond sad.

          On a side note: Vikings a GREAT landing spot for Vick after this year. He can make the throws and AP gets a QB that will open up some running lanes for him.

          • #7

            I thought he would go there in 2009. Philly was obviously the better choice IMO

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

            Philly def was the best choice for him in 2009. And Reid was a good coach for him.

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

    Well…here’s hoping the line and the defense plays this well when Vick come back AND for whoever is under center for the Giants game.

  • #7

    “In most cases, the QB gets too much blame when things go wrong. But in
    this one, receivers were open for much of the game, protection held up
    well for the most part, and Foles just couldn’t make the throws”

    They do. Too much credit (Foles Hype Train after two wins over winless teams) and too much blame (Animosity towards Vick is a recurring theme on here regardless of play).

    I try to stick by my mantra of “its a team game” but it’s hard to do that for this particular game. Foles was terrible and I was really pulling for him to do well. I was expecting to see the quick release and the anticipation that you guys rammed down our throats last week on here. The o-line wasn’t perfect, but Foles had time to throw for the most part. A pocket QB holding the ball for six seconds?? I can understand why Vick and others do it because they can extend plays with their feet, but Foles is unable to do that for the most part. We have the best backup in the league and that’s Foles. He did his job IMO. Now the starting QB needs to get back hamstring or not.

    We should have beat Dallas even with Foles, but the man was scared to pull the trigger..we all saw it. I’ve said the same thing about Vick against KC and a bit of the NYG game. I wonder why? It it them solely? Playcalling, which has come into question the last couple of weeks?

    I know one thing. I will be on my knees praying that Barkley does not take that field for us on Sunday. I’m not convinced that he can play in the NFL honestly. That arm is just too weak.

    • Eagledelphia

      Barkleys arm looked fine much better than in the preseason actually he just had A LOT of bad reads

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

        I liked Barkley, interceptions aside. There may be something there.

        • #7

          Need to see him in a game. Just not this year

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

      Like I said somewhere else I think he started seeing ghosts AND once he could make the underneath throws like he likes with regularity he didn’t know what to do with the ball, started over thinking and lost confidence.

  • KobraKai7474

    I am not trying to be funny here, but is there a chance that Foles got concussed early in the game and nobody realized it (it sure wouldn’t be the first time it happened in the NFL). It is just really hard to believe he could be that “off” for the entire game without some kind of explanation. While watching, it is easy to assume that the Dallas D is doing something special that is gumming up the works, but obviously that wasn’t the case. Receivers were getting open and the O line did a reasonable job in pass pro. This was one of those rare games where, for the most part it was all on the QB.

    • #7

      You could be right about that. Foles took some shots early in the game from holding the ball too long

  • #7