Here’s a position-by-position review of the Eagles’ offensive performance against the Vikings after having re-watched Sunday’s game.
* Tough game to critique for Nick Foles. He threw for 428 yards, three touchdowns (one INT) and averaged 8.9 YPA. Normally those are phenomenal numbers. And Foles did have some excellent moments. But I came away thinking he could have closed in on 600 yards. Keep in mind this is without the benefit of the All-22 (not released yet). There were a lot of times where he identified open receivers but was off-target with his throws.
* Of the 18 incompletions, I counted nine where it looked like Foles just missed: He missed DeSean Jackson on a corner route in the second. He threw low to Jackson on a comeback route late in the first half. He missed Jason Avant badly on a corner route on third down in the third. He was picked off after initially having Jackson open in the third. He sailed a throw to Avant later in the quarter and was low to Cooper on the next play. Foles sailed one to Zach Ertz on a corner route and fired high to LeSean McCoy in the flat. Again, it wasn’t decision-making, more just inaccurate throws.
* But like I said, there were a lot of good throws. He set up the screen beautifully in the first, faking to Avant before coming back to McCoy for 24 yards. Foles’ toughness was on full display. He stood in the pocket, took a hit and delivered to Jackson for 17 yards on third down in the second. Great throw to Jackson on the wheel route for 20 yards on the next play. He avoided pressure, slid to his right and made a fantastic throw to Jackson for 21 yards late in the first half. Then in the third, Foles stepped up in the pocket and found Jackson for a 16-yard gain. Later, he escaped to his left and found Avant for 13 yards on third down. His best throw of the day might have been the 30-yard TD to Jackson. Foles faked to his right and then put the ball on the money for the score. In the fourth, Foles stepped up away from edge pressure and found Ertz for 17 yards. He took a hit but delivered to Jackson on a shallow crosser that picked up 51. And he made a nice throw on the run to Avant for the 16-yard TD.
* As a runner, Foles picked up 41 yards. He kept the ball on a zone-read play in the first that gained 9. Good decision to take off for 21 yards on third down in the first, but he slid too late and took a hit.
* There were multiple occasions where Foles held the ball too long. There very well might not have been anyone open, but he needs to throw it away or take off in those situations. For example, on 2nd-and-4 in the third, Foles tried to buy time, held the ball for about six seconds and took a sack. That set up 3rd-and-16. In the first, Foles wanted to go to Cooper, but he was covered. He was slow to escape the pocket and took a sack.
* On 3rd-and-1 in the second, he probably should have handed the ball off to McCoy on a zone-read play. Jared Allen played it well and tackled Foles when he kept it. The peel-back block that negated the Jackson TD on the double reverse was unnecessary. But I can’t kill Foles for that. He’s in an unusual spot there and just trying to help his teammate.
* Overall, an uneven performance with highs and lows.
* LeSean McCoy only had eight carries for 38 yards. Chip Kelly has pointed out that the Eagles weren’t getting much push and failed to pick up half-a-yard in the third. But McCoy did average 4.8 YPC. It’s not like he was getting stuffed all game long. In the second, McCoy picked up 16 on a toss to the left. And he had a 7-yard run in the third.
* McCoy was excellent as a receiver with five catches for 68 yards. He picked up 24 on a screen in the first. He hauled in a high throw in the second and picked up 22 on another screen. McCoy picked up 14 on a third screen in the fourth.
* Great effort as a blocker on the double reverse to Jackson. Overall, good game given the opportunities.
* Chris Polk played more snaps (nine) than Bryce Brown (three). He dropped an easy pass in the flat in the first. On Brent Celek’s 25-yard screen in the third, Polk leveled a linebacker.
* Great hustle play by Brown in the fourth. He picked up a blitzer and then got downfield to help block on Jackson’s 51-yard catch and run.
* Jackson had a monster day with 10 catches for 195 yard and a TD. He started in the backfield and ran a wheel route for 20 yards in the second. Good job of keeping his feet in bounds. Great grab near the sideline for 15 yards with a defender draped all over him. Jackson hauled in a 30-yard TD in the third. And he had a fantastic catch and run for 51 yards in the fourth. Jackson didn’t do much to break up the INT and seemed to take issue with wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell on the sideline.
* Riley Cooper had four catches for 29 yards. He had a shot on a deep ball near the sideline in the second but couldn’t keep his feet in bounds. Nice catch and run in the third on a shallow cross. Cooper picked up 13 yards and bowled over a defender. He also caught a two-point conversion late.
* Jason Avant had three catches for 40 yards. One was a 13-yarder on 3rd-and-10 in the third. Another was the 16-yard TD in the fourth. Avant ran a great route on the play.
* Brad Smith ran a short hitch, broke a tackle and picked up 14 in the second. I wouldn’t be surprised if we start to see a little more of him.
* Brent Celek (31 snaps) actually played less than Ertz (45 snaps). Celek did a great job sealing Allen inside on McCoy’s run that picked up 16. He also had a good seal on McCoy’s 7-yard run in the third. He only had one catch, but Celek did a great job of being patient, setting up his blockers and finishing for a 25-yard gain that set up a TD in the third.
* Ertz made a phenomenal grab in the third, hauling in a TD with one hand on a fade. He also had a 17-yard catch and run in the third. Overall, six catches for 57 yards. He was asked to block Allen on a run play in the second and got beat as McCoy was dropped for no gain. Ertz also had a drop early on.
* James Casey only played five snaps.
* The Eagles had issues in protection. The offensive line wasn’t a disaster, but plenty of things that need to be cleaned up.
* Jason Peters had a couple issues. He was beat cleanly for a sack in the third and gave up a hit on Foles in the fourth. In the first, Allen beat Peters for a sack, but Foles held on to the ball after seeing Cooper was covered. Not a lot of opportunities in the run game, but Peters did a nice job on the DT on McCoy’s early 16-yard run.
* Evan Mathis held up well for the most part in protection. He gave up a hit on Foles on third down in the fourth, but that was it. In the run game, he took care of the safety on McCoy’s 16-yard scamper.
* Good game for Jason Kelce. Didn’t notice any issues in protection. He got out in front on McCoy’s 16-yard run and threw the key block on the screen to McCoy that picked up 24. Kelce got out in front on McCoy’s screen that picked up 22, and he did a good job pulling on McCoy’s 7-yard run in the third.
* Todd Herremans had a couple issues in protection early. He got beat in the first, but Foles scrambled for 21. He also gave up pressure on a short completion to Ertz in the second. Herremans held up well in the second half. In the run game, he pulled on McCoy’s 7-yard run. His block on the screen to Celek got the play started. And Herremans shoved a DB to the ground on McCoy’s 14-yard screen in the fourth.
* Lane Johnson was up and down. He had some issues in protection. Brian Robison gave him trouble off the edge in the second, but Foles slid away and connected with Jackson. Robison beat Johnson in the third, causing Foles to throw behind Jackson on a crosser. Johnson gave up some pressure in the fourth with the offense backed up, but Foles stepped up. Later on the possession, he gave up a hit on Foles. Johnson and Herremans did a poor job on a fourth-quarter stunt and gave up a sack.