Offense Game Review: 10 Observations

NFL: Washington Redskins at Philadelphia EaglesHere are 10 observations on the Eagles’ offense after having re-watched the game.

1. The one word I would use to describe Nick Foles is comfortable. He was calm in the pocket, delivered the football on-target and did a great job on the little things like setting up screens. Foles threw a beautiful ball to DeSean Jackson in between Redskins defenders for 19 yards in the first. He connected with Zach Ertz for a 15-yard pickup and lofted one to LeSean McCoy for 49 yards down the sideline. In the second, Foles motioned Bryce Brown to the right, pump-faked to him and then came back to Brent Celek for a 42-yard gain on a screen. In the third, he delivered a nice ball to Ertz, but the rookie dropped it. That was no issue for Foles, who came right back to him on the very next play for a 16-yard gain. Overall, 17-for-26 for 298 yards. He easily could have had three touchdowns, but receivers were brought down inside the 5. Foles’ play was not the issue in the second half. He wasn’t asked to pass a lot, but still went 8-for-11 for 81 yards.

2. McCoy had 20 carries for 77 yards and also added 73 yards as a receiver. He had to make defenders miss in the backfield all game long. The Redskins’ strategy against the zone read was to crash the unblocked defender on McCoy and force Foles to keep the ball. McCoy spun out of trouble on several occasions to pick up positive yards. Among running backs, only Darren Sproles and Danny Woodhead have more receiving yards than McCoy (399).

3. Chip Kelly said Monday that Foles probably could have kept the ball even more on zone read plays. Overall, he ran nine times for 47 yards. Four of those were option plays where he picked up 23 yards. This is going to be a storyline to monitor in the coming weeks. I fully expect other teams to do what the Redskins did and force Foles to keep the ball. He was successful doing so at times, but those plays also open him up to hits. Given the way he’s passing the ball, teams are going to want to get their licks in. On the 4-yard TD run, Ryan Kerrigan crashed down on McCoy. The safety was in charge of monitoring Foles, but the Eagles’ QB showed excellent strength. Contact was made at the 3-yard-line, but Foles used his length to reach past the goal line.

4. So, what happened to the offense in the second half? After scoring on their first possession of the third quarter, the Eagles finished with four punts and a turnover on downs. Based on what I saw, there was no magical adjustment made by the Redskins. The Eagles had too many negative plays and failed to convert on short yardage. On one drive, Kerrigan slipped past Celek to drop Brown for a loss on 3rd-and-1. On another drive, Foles couldn’t find a receiver, James Casey had trouble in pass protection, and Evan Mathis couldn’t hold his block, leading to a sack that put the offense in a hole. In the fourth, a Todd Herremans holding penalty set the Eagles back, and then Brown failed to convert on 4th-and-1. The Redskins had seven defenders in the box, and the Eagles had six blockers. London Fletcher (unblocked) made a nice one-on-one tackle at the line of scrimmage, and Jason Kelce had some trouble with Jarvis Jenkins. Too many negative plays on a later fourth-quarter drive. Darryl Tapp slanted past Jason Peters to drop McCoy for a 6-yard loss. On a separate play, McCoy tried to spin away from an unblocked defender, but ended up losing 5. Again, the Eagles got sloppy and made too many errors in execution once they were up 24-0. Plenty of little things to clean up before the Cardinals game in a couple weeks.

5. I thought pass protection was good, aside from a few issues. Mathis was not as consistent as usual. It looked like he was late to pick up a blitzer on Foles’ incompletion to Riley Cooper on the Eagles’ first drive. On the very next play, Mathis was late to pick up Brian Orakpo, who came clean and pressured Foles into an incompletion. On the other side, this might have been Herremans’ cleanest game in pass pro. I only noticed one issue for him in the fourth where Foles was forced to scramble. In the third, Peters gave up a hit on Foles and was called for a penalty. But otherwise, he did a good job on the edge. Kelce was called for holding in the second, but was otherwise clean. A couple issues for Lane Johnson. He got beat by Kerrigan around the edge in the fourth and allowed a hit on Foles. Orakpo had a sack in the second, looping around the edge. It looked like Johnson was supposed to pick him up.

6. In the run game, Mathis did a nice job on McCoy’s 3rd-and-1 conversion in the first and also threw the key block on McCoy’s 1-yard TD run. Peters delivered good blocks on both those plays too. Herremans made a nice seal block on McCoy’s 9-yard run in the first. He also did a good job on Foles’ TD run. Johnson manhandled the linebacker on McCoy’s 7-yard run in the third. He also had the linebacker blocked several yards into the end zone on Foles’ TD run.

7. The screen game was huge for the Eagles. I didn’t know Celek had that gear. He accelerated for 42 yards in the second. Herremans threw the key block on Stephen Bowen to spring him. Peters took care of a linebacker. Kelce and Mathis hustled downfield. The Eagles also had a 24-yard screen to Brown. Great pump fake by Foles to set it up once again. One of these days, Brown will find cleats that don’t cause him to fall down in the open field. Kelce took out a linebacker on that play, Herremans got in the way of a DB, Mathis hustled downfield, and Celek blocked the safety.

8. Ertz had two catches for 31. Celek had just the one grab. Casey was not targeted. The poor guy clearly gets excited whenever he has the opportunity to touch the football. Check him out in punt coverage in the third.

casey_940

The ball took a bounce slightly forward, and Casey pounced on it like a crazed kitten. You can see the rest of his teammates are standing around thinking: What’s up with this guy?

9. Jackson was the team’s leading receiver with four grabs for 82 yards. He’s on pace for a 1,432-yard season and leads the NFL with 19 catches of 20+ yards. Cooper was stopped at the 1 on a slant in the red zone. He probably should have gotten a flag on a deep ball early on, but still had a chance to make a play. Overall, three catches for 37 yards.

10. Leftovers: FOX analyst John Lynch said he thought the Eagles had the best offensive line in football. …Great job by Mathis and Johnson picking up blitzers on the 49-yard completion to McCoy. …Tremendous individual effort by McCoy on the play where he was injured. He avoided Fletcher in the backfield and then made a safety miss as he picked up 16. …On 3rd-and-3 in the red zone, it looked like Foles wanted to set up the shovel to Chris Polk, but either the Redskins sniffed it out or Polk wasn’t where he was supposed to be. …Foles got crushed by Fletcher on a delayed blitz in the second. He had Jackson open over the middle, but couldn’t get him the ball. …Not a great day for Celek as a blocker.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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