Zone Read: Eagles-Cardinals, the Day After
“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.