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.


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.

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  • theycallmerob

    great choice of adjectives, Sheil. Pressure doesn’t keep him from going through his read. Most of all, he does a great job of recognizing where the blitz is coming from (play recognition) before avoiding it (pocket mobility) and usually finding the open receiver or the mismatch (awareness, accuracy, decision-making). Key traits in a QB, especially one so young and green. Very promising.
    And kudos for the 2nd half analysis, it didn’t seem to be connected to any one issue. Some fans and talking heads were quick to jump on Foles, or the defense, or Chip’s play-calling (“letting off the gas”); rather, there were just a few plays where bad execution killed our drives (Herremans’ hold, the sack, McCoy’s two big negative runs, Bryce getting stuffed on a 3rd and 4th down).
    heck, even their two TDs were pretty lucky- the kind that if a certain Eagles QB benefited from, would never be due to his skill and purely the blessing of the football gods.

    • G_WallyHunter

      The football gods have awarded the suffering eagles fans (and team) with a Russell wilson-esque steal in saint Nick? Please gods make my prayers come true

    • Will

      Something works don’t fix it. Chip made the decision to change the tempo in an effort to kill the clock. Bad choice again and a bad habit. Pedal to the metal til the game is over.

      • southy

        Both can be right. Changing the tempo by calling the play with the usual speed, getting up to the line, and then doing nothing for 10-15 seconds kind of killed the rhythm, which may have been a reason for failures in execution.

        Unless Foles is gonna start making crazy line calls like Peyton, I don’t want our OL sitting in a stance that long.

        • Always Hopeful

          I think Chip is still working out his “under-drive” tempo and execution. I guess it’s okay that our rookie coach has a learning curve, huh?

          • southy

            I’ve said it before. If our biggest issue on offense is changing the tempo when we’re up big, I’m not complaining.

      • Always Hopeful

        I feel the same way. Run and hide, demoralize the other team. I know Chip’s not playing against Portland State (or E. Carolina…thanks Buddy!) but use the tempo to your advantage.

        No, he doesn’t have a roster of 80 guys to rotate our there, and he is finding out how to manage a well conditioned yet banged up team, but I’d like to see going for the jugular more.

        I know in my heart it’s more nuanced than that, but that’s what I WANT to see :-)

        • Will

          Chip saw how fast a 24 point lead can disappear in the NFL..

          • Always Hopeful

            Twice now with Washington!

    • #7

      LOL I know your post is geared towards me. I love it

      • theycallmerob

        nah….i very clearly used the word “fan”, not “follower”

        • #7

          Why are you referring to yourself in such a negative manner?

  • DirtyWaters

    I’m really still surprised at the lack of production from the TEs. Was it all a preseason ruse? Every week I think this will be (insert TE name here) ‘s breakout game.
    SK was right about Celek, though. don’t think I ever saw him run like that.

    • G_WallyHunter

      Beastly… Get the #&@! out of my way!! Type beastly, good to see

  • theycallmerob

    I Love You, Kempski.
    Q: How many consecutive INTs would Nick Foles have to throw to have a worse passer rating than other QBs around the NFL?

  • Jason

    Second half run game, I’m surprised with how the Redskins were loading the box that we didn’t see Kelly use 11 personnel with the bubble screen option.

  • Nick

    When will they solve the issue with challenges? Could really hurt us down the stretch…

    • jabostick

      So true. I wonder if Chip really values end of half timeouts or something and it’s just not something he’s admitting. Because this and last week were BLATANT examples. I can maybe understand the GB one a bit (maybe their feed wasn’t optimal, maybe they just looked at the feet and assumed it was a catch, etc) but this one was obvious, showed immediately on replay, etc…

      • BlindChow

        Yeah, you want to save your challenges for crucial plays (touchdowns would be one of those), but the odds of getting less than a yard in 4 tries are technically very good.

        I’m okay with them seeing he was in and deciding not to challenge anyway; what would bother me is if they just didn’t know he was in, because they never checked the feed. I want them making these decisions fully informed.

        • jabostick

          Yeah, I was talking about the Alfred Morris (I think?) play early on (where he stepped out of bounds then ran another 8 yards after). Wasn’t damaging, ultimately, and I get that challenges are limited but that was a “100% chance it would be reversed” scenario. I don’t blame them on the Cooper one. I don’t consider that obvious.

          If it is their philosophy that the Morris play wasn’t important enough, that’s fine I suppose. But if there’s a convoluted excuse like the GB game, then they’re doing something wrong with their approach to replays.

          • Ray

            That Morris play was on a 1st down, on the minus side of the field, with 47 minutes left to play. It wasn’t worth a challenge.

  • TNA

    Can’t wait to see Brad Smith get incorporated into this offense (in addition to seeing if he can add another dimension to kickoff returns – which for the most part are few and far between after the rule changes last year). Whether it’s a throw from a package bubble screen (less likely) or a wheel route similar to what Shady is running (more likely), I’m curious as to what wrinkles he can add to this offense. He doesn’t seem to have great acceleration, but once he gets it going, he has good top speed. He’s also a great leaper to go along with his 6’2″ frame. If he still has good hands, he could become the big sideline target that the Eagles seem to lack (or maybe haven’t needed).

  • ztom6

    Cooper was clearly across the goal line, but again they didn’t challenge it. Understandable, but still.

    • Chris

      ugh that play lost my fantasy game this week. i had cooper, guy i played had mccoy – 12 point swing, i lost by 10. frustrating!!! but happy with an eagles win haha

  • Andy

    Love the effort from Crazed Kitten. I think we will see more three and four tight-end sets in December.

    How much of the offensive stall in the third quarter and beyond was due to McCoy’s absence?

    • Andy124

      None. McCoy wasn’t absent. He missed the last few minutes of the first half but was back for the entire second half (other than the usual breathers).

    • BlindChow

      It was more attributable to the abandonment of the pass. When the Redskins players said we pretty much had the same game plan as the first game, they weren’t kidding. We even let up on the gas at the exact same time in both games. 75/25 run-pass ratio in the 2nd half.

  • Eagle Jim

    When James Casey pounced on that punt, if I’m not mistaken, an Eagles player had already made contact with the ball. Therefore, the Redskins could have advanced the ball. When I saw Casey do that, I was thinking…good heads up play man! Imagine if a Redskins player ran by and grabbed it while our guys are standing there looking at each other. That is something Colt Anderson does too, heads up ST players.

    • Jason

      Great call, I was thinking the same thing. It is nice to see some smart football players on this team.

  • Will

    Foles at work in a clean pocket great job O-Line!

  • sb1334

    I know it’s easy to make fun of Casey after giving him all that money and not seeing much production out of him. It looked to me on that punt he pounced on (#8 above) that it might have been touched by another Eagle. If it did touch another Eagle the Redskins could have picked it up and had a “free play,” as they could have taken either the result of the attempted return or around the 35 or 40 where it was first touched.

  • John J. King

    Celek looked like wideout, in afterburner. Much more fun reading this stuff this year.

  • Dominik

    “The poor guy clearly gets excited whenever he has the opportunity to touch the football. […] 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?”

    Great one, Sheil!