Zone Read: Eagles-Lions, the Day After

THAT’S WHAT HE SAID

“I still remember one play on the goal line I’m blocking Fairley, I felt like I anchored really well, and then he just starts pushing me. And my feet… I’m not getting walked back, my feet are just standing there and they’re just sliding, going back and I don’t know what to do.” – JASON KELCE


I couldn't find a single player in the locker room who said he had played in snow like that before. Mathis decided to change his cleats at halftime - from the rubber ones to the studded ones. Other players, like Kelce, Peters and Herremans, didn't think the change in footwear would make much of a difference.

***

FIVE RANDOM THOUGHTS

1. Lots of funny "only-in-the-snow" moments. It started off early. Before flipping the coin, Ed Hochuli explained sternly: "If this lands on an angle, I will flip it over!"

Thanks for the clarification, big guy.

Before the Lions attempted their only extra point, they called a timeout. The reason? To clear out space to hold the ball.

akers

And finally, with the Eagles threatening to score inside the Lions' 10 in the fourth quarter, Hochuli made another announcement: "We're gonna stop the game a moment and clear the goal line. We can't see the goal line."

Sounds like a good idea to me, Ed. Thanks for the heads-up.

2. The biggest issue on the day for the Eagles was special teams. They allowed a 58-yard punt return TD to Jeremy Ross and then a 98-yard kickoff return.

"He made good plays, but for that type of game, you’ve got to make him try to stop and start and change direction," said Kurt Coleman. "And he was able to hit the holes."

Polk appeared to be at fault primarily on the punt return. Colt Anderson forced Ross towards the sideline, but Polk didn't keep contain and let him get outside.

On the kickoff return, several Eagles - including Polk and Smith - got blocked to create the initial hole. The Lions blocked it up well, and the Eagles couldn't recover.

Obviously, had the Eagles lost, this would be a much bigger storyline. The team never fixed its issues, giving up a 46-yard kickoff return in the fourth. Special teams had been playing well, and the weather was a factor, but this is something that needs to be addressed quickly, especially with lethal returner Cordarrelle Patterson and the Vikings coming up next.

3. I think Kelly will start to receive some Coach of the Year buzz this week. The Eagles were 4-12 last season, implemented new schemes on both sides of the ball and are now 8-5, one of the hottest teams in football.

"Some of the adjustments we make in games are awesome," said Celek, a favorite of Kelly's. "There are some times that we are running things we didn't get a chance to run in practice that week. The way the guys execute them is great. The way Coach Kelly has the faith in us to do those types of things is big. Guys appreciate it."

There are several good candidates. Andy Reid is probably the frontrunner with the Chiefs at 10-3. Marvin Lewis could warrant consideration if the Bengals (9-4) close out strong. Pete Carroll and the Seahawks are 11-2. Sean Payton (10-3) and Ron Rivera (8-4) too. But Kelly should be in the conversation.

4. Mychal Kendricks had never played a game in the snow before. Afterwards, he stood by his locker with the football from his fourth-quarter fumble recovery in hand and a big smile on his face.

"It was so fun," Kendricks said. "We weren’t thinking, 'We can’t see.' We’re thinking, 'We’re about to play a snow game!' It was so freaking fun, so fun. One of the funnest games I’ve ever played for sure. Losing sucks, but if we wouldn’t have come up with this win, I honestly would say it’d still be a fun game just because I’ve never experienced the snow."

Stafford got away with four fumbled snaps, but the fifth time, Kendricks dove on the football behind the line of scrimmage. The Lions were only down eight at the time and were threatening to score at the Eagles' 24-yard-line with 7:28 left in the game. The shotgun snap was early, Stafford wasn't ready for it, and he failed to fall on the football, instead trying to scoop it up.

"We actually had the same situation happen in practice and I got a one-handed scoop for a touchdown," Kendricks said.

He explained that Foles fumbled a snap during a "clutch period" at practice. Kendricks also pointed out that one of Zach Ertz's big catches in the win over the Cardinals also was similar to one he made in practice the previous week.

"So the things that we’re practicing are really showing up in games."

5. I usually hate using words like gutsy, but I think that fits for how Foles played. The conditions were terrible, and he started out 4-for-13 for 35 yards. Midway through the third quarter, it seemed like he had no shot of completing a pass.

But Foles finished strong, completing seven of his last nine passes for 144 yards. The 44-yarder to Cooper was a great catch, but Foles put the ball in a good place.

"I mis-executed in the first half, and I have to execute on certain plays," Foles said. "The other team was playing in the same environment and he [Stafford] was throwing the ball. I knew it was one of those things where I would adjust to it and we would adjust as a team because the routes changed up a little bit because of the speed of them."

Two of the Eagles' final three games will be played in favorable conditions (at Minnesota, at Dallas). The exception could be the regular-season home finale against Chicago in two weeks and potentially the playoffs.

Foles grew up in Austin, Texas and played his college ball at Arizona. In the long run, having played a game like this should serve him well.

***

[CLICK HERE FOR PAGE 4]

1 2 3 4 < Previous Next >View as One Page

Be respectful of our online community and contribute to an engaging conversation. We reserve the right to ban impersonators and remove comments that contain personal attacks, threats, or profanity, or are flat-out offensive. By posting here, you are permitting Philadelphia magazine and Metro Corp. to edit and republish your comment in all media.

  • Adam

    How cool is hearing about this “clutch period” stuff? You see this stuff in practice and it comes natural in a game. Love it.

    • GEAGLE

      Really well coached team!! 1 penalty all day in a Blizard? Like are you kidding me? That’s a damn good coached team!

      just look at your defense. So fundamentally sound,yet now you are seeing front 7 players try to hold up ball carriers while someone comes and tries to strip the ball free…Cary and Brad aren’t shutdown CBs, but they are FANTASTIC and WILL be starting here TOGETHER for two, three more years…just WATCH! They don’t have that all world speed, but they battle the hell out of WRs for 60 minutes, and while they won’t just shut you down, they are fantastic at interrupting WRs hands at the last second and breaking up what looks like a completion…that’s just COACHING!!!

      the sports science..the TEAM UNITY. Players keeping their heads down and not talking about how great they are…consistent weekly improvement in so many areas…we have the makings of something special here!!

      • Mike Flick

        It is funny how we are trained. After every single 3rd down pass hits the turf (or snow). I hold my breath and wait to make sure there are no flags before I celebrate the play.

        I can’t remember a game with only 1 penalty.

        • GEAGLE

          Trained? More like traumatized!! We have some NFL version of some twisted Stockholm syndrom sort of disorder :)

    • southy

      I’m all for gushing over CK, but “clutch period” is something pretty much all NFL teams run in practice, just by another name.

      • Adam

        Chip seems to put the guys in very specific scenarios, more so than most teams. There was an article about it a few weeks ago I think. If Andy used to do it, he must not have done it very well, along with some other teams in the NFL.

        For the scenarios that played out in our clutch period to play out in back to back games, well that’s pretty.. well, um.. clutch.

        • BlindChow

          OMG Time machine!

  • DirtyWaters

    As awesome as that was, I would’ve loved to see the gameplan. Would we have stuck with our first 15 scripted plays last year?

    • Adam

      I think they had the right game plan as far as theory went in the beginning… running stretch plays and running away from the middle of that defense, but the weather obviously made that impossible to get any footing. Kudos to Kelly for adjusting and not banging his head against the wall. Let them play strength vs strength.

    • Scott J

      We might still see it in the playoffs.

  • annoyed eagles fan

    Andy Reid inherited a team that had at least 8 pro-bowlers on it….how many pro bowlers did Chip inherited? That alone should put The Chipper ahead of Andy….

    • Richard Colton

      he might have inherited 2 MVPs…I’ll take it

      • Andy124

        What do you mean? Donnie Football wasn’t inherited.

        • GEAGLE

          Did you hear the ironic story of Donnie long balls success?
          Punters have been learning this rugby style punting the past few years, so Donnie wanted to add that style to his arsenal, so he sought out the help of Brad Wings father like two years ago when he was for the texans. ironic how B rad Wings father teaching that technique played a role in his son not being an Eagle today….life is funny sometimes

          • Andy124

            Ha. Did not hear that.

      • macadood

        Foles and McCoy?

        • Richard Colton

          yep. why not? each has had a little MVP buzz this year.

          • GEAGLE

            Probowl caliber Cox
            probowl Meco
            The best signing of the NFL offseason, BRAMA Bull Barwin!!

          • Richard Colton

            best offseason move? not trading FOles to KC for a second round pick.

          • GEAGLE

            Can’t trade what you don’t know :)

    • GEAGLE

      Andy inherits probowler…Chip manufactures probowlers…

      What is Andy even really doing? Suttons defense scores more points then Andy’s offense, and he traded for a QB that can’t get on the same page as their probowl WR….if Billy Davis defense was doing what Suttons defense is doing, and Chips offense was playing like Andy’s the national guys would be ridiculing Chip all day about how he can’t coach here…Andy is being carried by a defense he inherited. And the DEFENSIVE additions added since the arrival of Andy are the weak links of that defense..Andy doesn’t learn, he went for the name again, and Sean Smith ends up being the worst CB in NFL…what has Dunta Robinson done in past two years?

      Chip took what Andy ran to the ground and turned it into gold?we thought he had of turnover this entire roster! yet Chip just coached it up to his standards…THAtS the NFL coach of the year right now…we would still be eating tacos on Tuesdays if Andy were still here smh

  • cloisterwater

    “Kelly scrapped the original gameplan and went back to basics…”
    The best part of the article right there. One thing that Reid could never do was adjust/adapt to how the game was going. If the original game plan didn’t work (which many times it did – to his credit) he just stuck with it, expecting it to eventually work.

    • Wilbert31

      preach.

  • GW.Fisher

    Chip’s certainly done more with less than most of those other guys. Took Andy’s team, got rid of a few cancers, and is sitting at 8-5.
    And as much as I loved the last throw to Celek it sure looks like Lane Johnson is illegally 5 yards downfield before the throw…

    • Brian

      He was only 2.5 yards off the line, when the ball was released.

      • @PhilthyBird215

        Not that anyone can see it. but Brain is right. not sure, but i also think Jonson was an eligible receiver.

        • southy

          He was covered up by Celek on the play, so not eligible.

      • Corey Dawson

        Yep. Easy to miss that line across the field though. The shade of blue is just too glaringly bright.

    • JTR

      Is it possible that Reid was doing less with more? Either way, Chip has them playing great, whether that means playing way over their heads or up to their potential…

  • @PhilthyBird215

    before we start handing out honers. lets just see this through. where ever its going to take us. think about your initial thought, and expectation at start of the season. think back to your thoughts after the first game vs the Redskins. then after back to back losses to the Cowboys and Giants.

    what I’m trying to say is, this team, this coaching staff and players are something special. I dont know about anyone else but, my expectation a the out set was modest at best. I wanted to see improvement across the board. To put it simply; When i sit down on sunday afternoon to watch a eagles game. I wanted to feel that i was going to watch a good effort, smart play, smart coaching and play calling. Instead of the feeling I’ve had every sunday for the proceeding two years; feeling of complete hopeless ness, and the urge to but a bag over my head.

    I guess the point I’m trying to make is. I am still enjoying the win yesterday. and its seems everyone is way ahead of me handing out medals and such.
    I love everything I’m seeing and hearing about this team. they project my thought what a “TEAM” should be.

    lets enjoy the ride, because it is special. believe me there will be plenty of time for awards .

    • GEAGLE

      What awards were handed out? Like do you really take issue with people praising a team for good play? I don’t think you have read too many, SB here we come posts. this is a day after reaction to a game that went AWESOME, you can’t even talk about yesterday without throwing out some serious praise.that doesn’t mean people are handing out awards…..how can you talk about yesterday without being excited or positive?
      ….
      I’m watching Tom Brady and his veteran hall of game coach squeak out 1 point wins against teams like Cleveland yet after we win games, the talk is about not being able to hold onto leads?….if you are going to react to what you saw yesterday, how can you not be positive?

      • @PhilthyBird215

        GEAGLE, there is nothing i’ve said that was/is negative about reactions to Eagles wins.
        yesterdays game was fantastic, or as you put it “AWESOME”.
        where in the last 2 years I would have turned the TV off after the 3rd quarter, when ross took a punt back for a TD to make it 14-0 Lions. This year I did not. If you remember by then it felt more like 41-0 rather than 14-0.
        More to the point; I am simply trying to put focus on the fact that this team is over achieving by a wide margin then initial expectations set last August. so when we start praising, we should do so with perspective. Meaning, No matter what happens in the next 3-5 weeks. It would not changed my thought on them over achieving.

    • Scott J

      I feel the same. I just wanted to see improvement – which we have seen. I still don’t expect much, but I think we have a QB for next year. There is no QB in the draft that I would rather have instead of Nick. Is he our next franchise? Maybe. Lets let it play out. Our defense is much improved. Instead of a complete overhaul, we need a few more pieces and we could be in the top 10. There is reason to be optimistic now and Chip Kelly has won me over.

  • Dallas Eagle

    Agree with cloisterwater. Reid’s achilles was inability to ever adapt in-game. Chip is showing he can do that – even listening to the players – that only bodes well as they improve.

  • GEAGLE

    Can someone explain something to me? How was the Lions run defense NOT ranked #1 when they were accomplishing things that no run defense had accomplished since 1930 like not allowing a TD?….they have been historically fantastic defending the run before Shady and our Oline punched them in the mouth! yet they were only ranked like second or 3rd….how is that even possible?

    • Corey Dawson

      I know they’ve just been silly good the last 6 games or so, but what were the 6 before that like? According to espn, they’ve allowed 1291 yards on 315 attempts over the course of the season for a 4.1 ypc average.
      Whatever happened, run defense rankings are based on rushing yards allowed. They weren’t #1 there, so they aren’t #1 in the rankings.
      This is the same reason the Eagles D ranks so low, they gve up a lot of yards since they’re on the field so much and have to defend more plays, but they still don’t give up points.
      Run/pass/total D isn’t ranked on points allowed like many think it should be because a) you don’t know how many points are due to passing or running individually but mostly, b) points doesn’t account for field position. A efense can can give up only 200 yards a game but a bunch of points if the oline is constantly giving the ball to the opposing team on the 40.

  • Alex
  • GEAGLE

    For me, Celek deserves a lot of credit. not many TEs that can go out and catch passes, can be asked to consistently handle Blocking DEs the way Brent did yesterday when we started to have our inside zone read success. he was fantastic in sealing the DE.
    ..
    Avant had a fantastic block down field where he literally took out two defenders with one block, springing shady to take it to the house and do his shady dance!

    As soon as I saw the early success bell was having against us early running north south! I KNEW we would be seeing some of Polk.

  • GEAGLE

    Btw, YOUR eagles defense didn’t give up 20 points, they gave up 8!!!!

    And it’s takes a pretty strong team to overcome two ST TDs

    • Andy124

      Initially read as:
      pretty strong team to overcome to STDs

      My thoughts: Only two?

      • Richard Colton

        smoothies are a natural prophylactic

      • Johnny Domino

        Chip has given them a real shot in the arm.

      • Brian

        Spurts Science?

      • GEAGLE

        Ha

  • theycallmerob

    Wilbert Montgomery currently holds the mark (1,512 yards in 1979). McCoy needs 207 yards in the final three games (69.3 YPG) to break that mark.

    Also at 1744 all-purpose. Needs 360 more rush/rec yards to break Westbrook’s franchise record from ’07.
    Very important to note Shady is not alone in carrying this offense, like Peterson did getting all those yards last year:
    DJax needsz 330 rec. yards to break Quick’s record from ’83 (1409). Currently tied with Bud Grant, from ’52, for 9th all-time Eagles’ record in ypg (83.1) If he were to break Quick’s record, his average would bump to 88.1 minimum, good for at least 4th-time and the highest among those who played a full season.

    Simply incredible for a gimmick college offense in its 1st year

    • Richard Colton

      Your Kelce avatar looks like Jesus and Buddha had a child in a blizzard

      • theycallmerob

        courtesy of the 700level (too large to uploard, so link instead):
        http://the700level.com/eagles/gif-jason-kelces-beard-in-the-snow-also-reggie-bush-warming-up-prior-to-his-calf-injury/

        ….getting harder and harder for Eagles’ fans to tell their children Santa doesn’t exist.

        • Richard Colton

          thanks for the link – a few more clicks and this Peter King gem showed up:

          “I think the Eagles have to be the disappointment of the season. The offense in particular. They do nothing well. In the last two weeks they’ve had 25 drives in two home games, against the Cowboys and Giants … and scored one field goal and no offensive touchdowns. A Chip Kelly team first and foremost has to have consistency and efficiency at quarterback, and Philadelphia hasn’t had that all season. Which is why I think Michael Vick isn’t back next year, and why I think Kelly probably drafts a quarterback high. The Eagles, by the way, have lost 10 straight at home, by an average of 9.9 points per game.”

      • Brian

        My favorite scene from yesterday. 700 Level has a great .gif of it. http://abload.de/img/snowmanidq1m.gif

        • Dominik

          Winter is coming!

  • jabostick

    Re: the debate about the ceiling for this team and “with just three tests remaining to determine whether this is a playoff team or not”.

    I get that they’re not yet a playoff team in a literal sense but I think they have proven it in a figurative sense. I think the argument is whether they can win a couple of rounds, not whether they’re able to sneak in.

    I get that NO and SEA are gangbusters at home but given that we’re playing good defense, running the ball well, and not turning it over, who else should we be scared of in the NFC?

    • BlindChow

      If the Eagles make the playoffs, it’ll be nice knowing they actually deserve to be there, as opposed to a team that makes the playoffs just because the other teams in the division just suck worse.

  • Max Lightfoot

    Good analysis of why the Lions skidded off the road yesterday by Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom:

    http://www.freep.com/article/20131209/COL01/312090022/mitch-albom-detroit-lions-philadelphia-eagles-nfc-north

  • dislikedisqus

    Watching highlights on NFL Network. On Shady’s first TD, Todd H’s block was anazing. Like a snowplow, he just shoves either Suh or Fairley about 10 feet, just rips that hole open for 25.