Zone Read: Eagles-Cardinals, the Day After

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Philadelphia EaglesChip Kelly stood at the podium late Sunday afternoon and prepared to answer questions about his team’s performance against the Arizona Cardinals.

“It looked like the offense had a lot of trouble after that touchdown drive to start the second half-” a reporter started before Kelly interrupted.

“Can we go positive with the first question on a win?” he joked.




About 10 minutes later, the Eagles' locker room opened up to reporters, and while it was clear that players were happy to have gotten a win, they knew there were plenty of mistakes that needed to be corrected.

After putting together an impressive 13-play, 82-yard drive to start the third quarter, the offense stalled in a big way. The Eagles totaled 22 yards (not counting penalties or kneel-downs) on six drives. They managed just five first downs during that stretch and did not move more than 16 yards on any single possession.

"We try to stay out of this situation," said LeSean McCoy. "We just have to do a better job of closing out the game. We have gone through this a couple of times and we just have to do a better job."

Added center Jason Kelce: "It was a couple things. I think first of all, people’s minds got a little bit lax. I think that there were a lot more mental miscues in the second half. One example, the right side thought we were going left and we were going right. And it ended up hurting us big. I think we had a 4- or 5-yard loss on a run play.

"And then obviously when we started trying to run the ball, they came down doing all-out blitzes, really doing some things that as an offensive line we just didn’t take care of very well. I think it comes down to really being locked in as the game goes down, can’t lose focus. No matter how much you’re up, you’ve always gotta stay focused on what your job is. And it’s just something that we’ve gotta do a much better job of."

The accountability from the players will undoubtedly be welcome by the fan base. In previous years, there was constant talk about how the team had talent, but was just not producing results. As the losses piled up, those statements grew stale and infuriated the paying customers.

This time around, the players in the locker room seem to acknowledge that adjustments need to be made even though the team has won four in a row.

"We need to play better in the second half," said Nick Foles, after completing 21 of 34 passes for 237 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. "That's obvious. We didn't play well. We need to help our defense out.

"We had our opportunities, but in that situation when the game is like that, you have to put a dagger in them. You have to execute. It's really important to come away with points on the board to help our defense out."

Defensively, the Eagles limited their opponent to 21 points or fewer for the eighth straight game. But they had their fair share of miscues and allowed four pass plays of 20+ yards.

"At the end of the day, we’ve gotta keep the pedal to the metal," said cornerback Cary Williams. "We’ve gotta continue to put our foot on those guys’ throats. We can’t get give away anything. I think we had a bunch of giveaways today defensively as far as communication. There are some things we need to improve on."

In the end, the defense came up with a stop that sealed the victory with under two minutes left. The Eagles kept pace with the Cowboys atop the NFC East at 7-5 and have not lost since Oct. 27.

On Tuesday, they'll work on figuring out how they can better close games out and avoid miscommunication on the defensive end. But it'll be a lot easier to correct those mistakes knowing they're very much in the hunt for a playoff berth and a division title going down the stretch.

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  • hillbillybirdsfan

    Love the way Trent busted his butt to make the position change. He’ll never be a great cover guy but it’s nice to see him get rewarded for his efforts. As usual, a great job by Sheil and Tim on the post-game coverage.

  • BlockingBack-BeanCounter

    Hands Down! In the No-22, looks like Graham is lined up as a 4-3 down lineman when he gets the sack. In the Numbers That Matter, credit Graham as a DE not as an OLB.

    • Adam

      Doesn’t look like his hand is down to me. Either way, our base defense is a 3-4 and Graham is an OLB.

    • PhilliePhanCT .

      Kendricks is blocking your view. Graham is squatting down low and it appears as if he’s a down lineman.

  • JettMartinez

    If the Smith play was just a Zone Read, why keep Foles in at WR? Why not just put Smith (or Vick for that matter) in with regular personnel? At first I though it would be some kind of lateral to Foles, who would then throw a forward pass, but if the revievers were all run blocking, that doesn’t make much sense.

    • anon

      so you don’t have to sub on next play.

      • Andy124

        Also, so they don’t know it’s coming before you line up.

      • JettMartinez

        Ah! Good point, still getting used to the go go go mentality!

        • anon

          Yeah the Go-Go makes it more likely that gimmicks will work b/c D has less time to prepare. Not a terrible thing to try on 1st and goal.

  • PhilliePhanCT .

    Nice how Roc C. comes in for 2 plays and one of them is a PI that places the ball on the one. Thanks, bro. Nicely done, now…get off the field. Ugh. Kid has some upside, but you gotta know your time and place.

  • GEAGLE

    Love this teams mentality. They don’t rest on their laurels, every week they seem more concerned with what they need to improve on, then patting themselves on the back….if you hear an eagle give praise! it’s praise for how a team mate played. you don’t even hear players talk about themselves. Coaching and Locker room is a major part of success…and we seem STRONG in both areas….really enjoying this season no matter how it plays out

  • Scott J

    Chung was terrible. Hopefully we’ll get Wolff back soon.

    • bentheimmigrant

      It’s like he’s blocking for the other team! That’s 2 TDs in 2 games because he’s tackled the wrong guy. Then he almost knocked Sconces out of the game.

      • cliff henny

        thought c-wills was going to knock chung out, he looked pissed. friendly fire chung

        • BlindChow

          Maybe they promote Coleman or Anderson. Surely they couldn’t be worse…?

        • theycallmerob

          the No-Man’s Landshark?

    • Scott J

      Now we know why he was benched by the Patriots. They were probably scared he might get a hit on Brady while he was standing on the sideline.

  • distantfires

    Thought Nate Allen was active throughout and had a solid game.

  • greenblood20

    Good solid win against a good, solid team. Need to finish better, obviously. Still shaking my head over the Brad Smith play on 1st down in the red zone. What were they thinking, honestly? It is like Andy Reid leapt into Chip Kelly’s body on that one…

    • EaglePete

      I thought same thing although to be fair, Smith just keep your eyes on the snap and stay within yourself there and it might get a few yards or at least work to a degree. Was totally on him, he took his eyes off the ball. Also, some of the run calls on 2nd and 17 at one point and an entire series that went 3 n out, 3 straight runs. Nit picking though.

  • theycallmerob

    Celek and Ertz combined have 14 rec of 20+ yds (7 each). combined, that ties the Eagles TEs with Vernon Davis and Jimmy Graham for most in NFL (2nd best “team” duo overall; Gates and Green in SD have 18).
    Love it, especially from a run-first team. both guys are blocking well too

  • theycallmerob

    Sheil-
    with both ILBs back and healthy, can you tell us who’s wearing the helmet mic on that side of the ball? I assume that same person is making the calls? I thought it was Kendricks in TC and PS (being groomed for the spot), then it appeared Ryans took over (DL mention he makes the calls, and of course Kendricks missed some time).
    Just thought it was interesting Kendricks is in there for the dime package.

    also, slight typo- under the snap counts, where you mention all the players who were in 100%, you left Chung’s name off the list

    • anon

      It’s gotta be Ryans — Billy D has said as much.

      • theycallmerob

        I believe so too. Reckon Kendricks manages only the dime package

    • OldDocRoss

      ” under the snap counts, where you mention all the players who were in 100%, you left Chung’s name off the list”

      On at least a couple of snaps he was playing for Arizona, so doesn’t count.

  • jon h

    Great article Sheil.

  • OldDocRoss

    Jason Kelce consistently gives some of the most honest, intelligent post-game interviews around. One of the best things about this site is Sheil and Tim taking the time to seek out guys like Kelce rather than just speaking to the ‘name’ players.

  • maxm98

    My problem with our 4th quarter scheme is this:
    Our offense is based around numbers – 6 or less in the box = run the ball – 7 or more = pass it. We have no power running game as such.

    Yet in the fourth when we have a lead teams know we will run and yet we run anyway. We either need to stick with our philosophy and throw in the fourth or start running true power football. Otherwise this will cost us a game soon.

    • Scott J

      I understand Kelly saying he wants to run because if you throw and don’t catch the ball, the clock will stop, BUT…I think 3-and-outs are worse. First downs are more important than the clock. Besides, if we throw, the defense will have to back off from stacking the box. Sometimes Kelly reminds me of Reid where they think they’re the smartest guy in the room.

  • theycallmerob

    Great stat, courtesy of Kempski (link to the article for the explanation below)

    In reality, the Eagles are 10 of 13 (76.9%) in the red zone with Nick Foles, not 10 of 17. That would put them at 2nd in the NFL, behind only Denver.

    http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/red_zone/Eagles-brand-of-football-reminiscent-of-recent-Super-Bowl-winners.html

    • Andy124

      He must have seen my post about redzone kneel downs de-yeasting Nick’s redzone %. I love this power I have.

      Thank you for sharing that. I don’t check twitter enough.

    • Joe from Easton

      Thank you, I was going to ask about this if someone hadn’t already brought it up.

  • europeaneagle

    Well I guess that means Cole is still my favorite player on defense, with Fletcher Cox not far behind. I was wearing my #58 Jersey to watch the game, seemed to work well for him. Does that mean I have to get Chung’s?