The Matchup: Eagles Vs. Bears

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Minnesota Vikings

When Nick Foles and the Eagles’ other signal-callers take a seat Tuesday morning inside the quarterbacks meeting room at the NovaCare Complex, they are handed a copy of Bill Lazor’s game report.

The document contains play-by-play grades broken down by category: accuracy, decision-making, pre-snap checks, footwork, carrying out fakes on run plays and so on. Some plays have questions next to them because even for a quarterbacks coach who knows the calls and has reviewed the coverages, there are times when he’s not sure exactly what happened.


"I question, ‘Why did you do it this way?’ " Lazor said. "Because it’s not always just a clear-cut answer. So they have that in front of them as they start watching the game. We start at the beginning and we go through. We try to not only talk about what happened at the time but why. We have the notes that the quarterbacks take during the game - the backup quarterbacks take notes. ...And so as we sit in the room now, you hope you treat it more like a laboratory setting where you can really go back and dissect."

For Lazor, it's usually the fourth time he's looked at the film. After away games, like last week's loss to the Vikings, the first viewing happens on the plane ride home. Lazor then takes part in a film session with the entire coaching staff back in Philadelphia. And he watches the tape a third time to pick out specific plays for training/teaching points later in the week.

Players get Mondays off, although Foles usually shows up to the team facility anyway to get a workout in and review the tape on his own. Tuesdays are for corrections. The players meet as a team in the morning and then split up into offensive and defensive meetings. Finally, Lazor sits down with just the quarterbacks.

The 41-year-old has seven years of NFL coaching experience. He was the Atlanta Falcons' quality control coach in 2003. He spent 2004 to 2007 with the Washington Redskins, splitting time as an offensive assistant and then the quarterbacks coach. In 2008 and 2009, Lazor coached the Seattle Seahawks' quarterbacks. And he spent three seasons as Virginia's quarterbacks coach/offensive coordinator before joining Chip Kelly's staff.

Throughout all of his stops, Lazor says there's been one common theme to the weekly film reviews: they're no fun for the quarterbacks.

"I’ve never been with a quarterback who enjoys Tuesday because when you get to in-season, now there’s one guy in the room who’s getting critiqued on every play," Lazor said. "Not that he does something wrong on every play. But sometimes when you’re doing training camp and guys are sharing the reps and learning from each other, or preseason games, it spreads out. But even the most veteran guys I’ve ever dealt with, some squirm and some just accept it. They kind of get through it because there’s always a mistake here or there even on great games."

For Foles, there have been a lot of great games this season. He leads the NFL in passer rating (117.0) and yards per attempt (9.02). Foles has 23 touchdowns and two interceptions. He's completed 62 percent of his passes.

Lazor, however, is not interested in the numbers. There may be a play where Foles completes a pass that draws praise from the announcers and the fans in the stands. But the QBs coach may notice an issue with Foles' mechanics.

"We spend just as much time on plays that were completions that maybe his footwork wasn’t just right," Lazor explained. "We coach every play. It isn’t just a completion or incompletions. It’s, 'Did I do it exactly right?' "

Added Foles: "It’s one of those things where you close the door and you try to get better. There’s gonna be things to work on. Coach Lazor’s gonna try to point out the stuff that we did well and he’s gonna point out the stuff that we need to work on. That’s what a coach does. And he’s very detail-oriented with what he does. So I always get a lot out of the film sessions."

Lazor and Kelly know they don't have to worry about Foles responding poorly to criticism. A day after he threw for 428 yards and posted a passer rating of 103.5, Kelly described the QB's play as inconsistent. Foles later agreed with the head coach's assessment and said he didn't make enough plays even though the offense scored 30 points.

"Nick’s a guy that his feelings aren’t gonna get hurt if he feels like a coach is saying, ‘You’re not getting it done,’ " said center Jason Kelce. "He’ll welcome that and then be able to say, ‘What can I do better to correct these things?’ You can’t have a guy who’s always just saying, ‘Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.’ You’ve also gotta have that little thing in your head that’s like, ‘Well, why? That doesn’t necessarily make sense.’ And I think he’s got that too. He’s very coachable and also gonna make the coach explain it to him if he needs to."

Added Lazor: "I think Nick does a great job of being critical of himself. He spends time when he’s watching the video of really critiquing how he did things, along with why."

While the larger corrections session takes place on Tuesday, the Eagles (like every other NFL team) try to make adjustments in-game. Backup quarterbacks are tasked with taking notes: plays, coverages, things they see that can be helpful when Foles returns to the sidelines. That's why when TV cameras show the offense in between possessions, Foles, Lazor and the backup QBs are almost always looking at pictures.

"It’s really important that a quarterback can come to the sideline and tell you what he saw," Lazor said. "And so we work really hard on the sideline on gameday with the backup quarterbacks of getting in that groove with the pictures. ...We just try to get through a lot of it there so that the better we do on the sideline Sunday, the less we have to go over probably Tuesday."

Everything is done with an eye on the future. For example, if Lazor notices a single-high safety who's playing shallow, during Tuesday's session he and Foles will talk about how to attack a similar look in the next game.

If Michael Vick, Matt Barkley or G.J. Kinne have suggestions or feedback, they are encouraged to chime in as well.

"One of the important things for me in that room when it’s just the quarterbacks in there is to have a very open dialogue with them," Lazor said. "I want them to feel comfortable speaking their minds. And they may not agree with everything that I say or we say as coaches. They may want to be able to discuss, ‘Hey can we think of it this way or do it differently?’ But if they don’t feel comfortable at least speaking their mind, then I don’t always know why they did things or what they were thinking.

"It’s a relationship that doesn’t happen right away. You have to build it over time. They have to trust me. If they tell me what they think and it’s different, I’ll work with him. And sometimes I take their suggestions to Chip and Pat [Shurmur]. Sometimes I say, 'No, that’s not what we’re doing.' "

The Eagles are guaranteed two more Tuesday review sessions. Their ability to correct mistakes during the week and execute on Sunday will determine whether the laboratory stays open in January when the postseason begins.

***

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  • GEAGLE

    Cutler spoke in high praise about our defense, saying we are very hard to figure out all the odd blitzes, multiple fronts, and different coverages we use over the course of a game….”sometimes you have to fight crazy, with Crazy”-Cutler lol
    ….
    Can’t wait to see the INT he throws to Mr. DECEMBER!!!

  • GEAGLE

    We attack this defense by pounding the ball all game, play action to ERTZY abusing their weak safety!

    • cliff henny

      only Bears game i watched was MNF vs Dallas, and Murray should have run for 300. hope kelly has 1 series where it’s all shady, same play over and over, just blowing it up.

      • Adam

        Wait, were you always cliff henny? I thought it was henry

        • G_WallyHunter

          I’ve always seen henny

        • cliff henny

          always Henny. been called chris henry so many times, i answer to it.

        • EaglePete

          ha, Ive always read it as Henry also, strange.

          “My mind is playing tricks on me”

          • Andy124

            Do you sit alone in your four cornered room staring at candles?

          • EaglePete

            its got 5 corners…..wait maybe not

          • EaglePete

            oh duh, the song, my bad

          • Andy124

            lol. I thought you were deliberately referencing the song. :)

          • EaglePete

            I was, its been so long though, I only ever remember my favorite line….”this year halloween fell on a weekend….”

          • Andy124

            First verse as sung by Jason Garrett:

            At night I can’t sleep, I toss and turn
            My D can’t get a stop, visions of DBs gettin’ burned
            4 games in the month of December
            I’m paranoid, Jeruh’s finger’s on the trigger
            The fan’s are always stressin’ I ain’t call it right
            But Romo in Rocember is my plight
            See every time my eyes close
            I start sweating, and seeing Tony Romo’s throws

            Too many lyrics to do that crap with a rap song lol.

          • EaglePete

            well played, love it. Ya way too many lyrics, it would take a while. Even what you did took some effort, nice. If the boys lose it will mean xmas fell on a weekend for birds fans. Stealin divisions instead of bags. I wont even try to match up lyrics.

          • Richard Colton

            your talent is wasted here

          • Andy124

            lol. Thank you.

          • Joe from Easton

            Hvae you eevr raed a wrod srcabmle? The hmuan biran deos not raed eevry letetr in a wrod, geenarally olny the fsirt and lsat. Hecne why you wuold esaily see a siimlar wrod.

    • jabostick

      Agreed. I hope wee see some multiple TE sets and new formations. I imagine Chicago is just as aware about the run game and this might be a good one where Chip can get in their heads a bit with unique looks

    • Joe from Easton

      We NEED to run the ball and often. We can hang with the Bears in a shoot-out, but 2nd year QB’s are not immune to mistakes if the volume is high enough. I don’t want to see Foles have 40 pass attempts in this one. I’d love a nice 19/28 – 270 yds and a TD or two with zero Int’s along with Shady racking up 125 and two TD’s. He can easily do that against this Defense with 25 carries or more. We need to control the clock and keep the bears offense off of the field (yea right, right? haha).

  • TNA

    NFL.com’s Around The League posted their All-Pros and Mathis, Kelce and McCoy were the only unanimous Eagles picks. Foles, Peters and DeSean also got some votes. But goes to show you that in terms of execution and production, and not just talent, the Eagles’ OLine is the best in the league and the strength of this team.
    As always, the Eagles D needs to get off the field with turnovers and stops. And that starts with special teams giving the opponent the ball inside the 20 and forcing them to go 80+ yards. I expect Forte and Bennett to go off in this game because there’s going to be a priority placed on not letting anything go over the top. Kendricks and DeMeco will have their work cut out for them and I hope Kendricks stays focused all game.

    • cloisterwater

      The Eagles OLine sure didn’t play like tops in the league this past week. But I agree they are a top 2-3 NFL line.

      • Andy

        Agree, but O-line play is something that definitely can be determined by effort, and if there is one part of the team that fell into the trap against the Vikings it may have been the line. At least I’m hoping that’s the explanation.

  • cliff henny

    cant tell future, no idea if Foles will lead Eagles to McNabb like tenure, hopefully much more, or he’ll be JAG. pretty sure he wont fail because of IQ, hubris, excepting coaching and effort to improve mentally and physically without constant supervision. when kelly was hired, certainly wasnt the type of qb i was expecting, but Foles seems to get it, and a really easy guy to back.

  • calieagle

    Is that Sheridan lurking in the back of the reporter pack?

    • Chris

      I think i see Ruxin from The League too

  • Adam

    If Earl Wolff is healthy why would you rotate him in and out? He’s clearly better than Chung. Don’t even put him on the field.

    • Token

      Yea if Wolff can play Chung should never see the field as a Eagle again.

      • G_WallyHunter

        Give him kickoffs

    • southy

      Remember the 3-safety look is Davis’ brainchild, too. Don’t try to reason it out. You’ll just give yourself a headache.

  • Andy

    Anybody remember the trick kick-off return Andy Reid tried last year where Boykin caught the kick and faked a run out and then threw across the field to Riley Cooper, who had been hiding laying down in the endzone lettering? The TD return was called back because it was a forward pass, but we need to try that again!

    • G_WallyHunter

      Was thinking about this today actually, should definitely try it again, Chip can probably hit it better

      • Joe from Easton

        I loved that play. I wonder what kind of tweaking chip could do with it. I’m sure the blocking would be better and more disguised.

        • G_WallyHunter

          Yup, and I was thinking Boykin runs up a few yards more, get the gunners more out of allignment and make for damn sure it’s a backward pass.
          Ex. Boykin runs up to the 10 yd line, plants feet and tosses to Riley at the 5 (and if Boykin gets to the 10 and gets the ball off, chances are he takes a huge hit)
          then it’s perfected, the gunners should be way out of position if Boykin gets to the 10.

          This is all assuming they don’t see Riley and adjust to it haha

  • EaglePete

    Is Foles a “gamer”, does he have “ice in his veins” stay tuned to find out. That is huge in my book, more than all the stats. This franchise deserves that, its been a long time coming. Cmon Skins, cmon Cousins, Im dying to see the Cowboys sideline completely distraught. Put up a quick 14 on em and test their meddle.

  • Guest

    c

  • Crestfallen

    Top 15 WR duos in the NFC, ranked by yards (from reddit):

    • Richard Colton

      thats ugly. doesn’t even tell the whole story because they’re both so good. Dallas is #7, byt Dez is the only one who scares me. Same thing with Megatron. Somebody say something comforting about Fletcher & Williams in this matchup, please.

      • Andy124

        They struggle more with quicker guys than with bigger guys.

        • Daniel Spector

          Not true… J. Boykin had a field day against us when we played the Packers and he is pretty slow.

          • Andy124

            He did. And that would certainly mean my statement was not true if I had said that they only struggle against quick guys.

      • cloisterwater

        Neither of them are named Nnamdi?

      • G_WallyHunter

        They will both bounce back and shut down these two beasts without getting any PI calls.

        • Joe from Easton

          Now that is optimistic. I believe we can beat the bears, but shut down both of these guys AND not get a PI? Can I have some of whatever you’re drinking?

          • G_WallyHunter

            Hey, Colt just said to say something comforting, he didn’t mention anything had to be realistic.

            Imagine tho, if that happened, and that duo is held to say 100 combined and a TD? We can dream

          • Joe from Easton

            Indeed we can. If we held them to 150 and Cutler’s only two TD’s then I’d even call it a win, haha.

      • theycallmerob

        Kempski broke that list down, too.

        Turns out the Eagles have played, or will play, the top 8 on that list. Results are mixed, but it’s not end-of-the-world bad.

        http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/red_zone/The-Eagles-have-plenty-of-practice-at-facing-top-WR-duos-results-are-a-mixed-bag.html

    • Andy124

      I was totally confused at first glance. So in case anybody else is as blind as I am, just wanted to put the NFC in bold. List does not include AFC duos.

  • GiveMeABreak

    If we beat Chicago, it will most likely be in a shootout. We’ll see if the train wreck that is the Skins can pull it together and beat the ‘Boys but it is not looking good. The game in Dallas is likely to be for everything. It will be good not to have our QB play the air guitar on the way to the field. I think Shady wakes the echoes of Wilbert and beats the boys, however. Nick just needs not to lose it. Davis has earned his pay this year getting the performances he has from a group that lacks so many important pieces.

  • nicksaenz1

    Patrick Chung has been “in a little bit of a slump” for the better part of his career.

  • EaglePete

    Tidbits from a motivated Redskins team.

    “You can probably guess what the Redskins would like to see happen, can’t you? “It’s a great opportunity to go into a rivalry game and get a win and give our fan base something to feel good about,” Cousins said. “So there’s a lot to play for.”

    “London Fletcher’s last home game with the Redskins. The 38-year-old linebacker announced on Wednesday that he’s “99-percent” certain this will be his final NFL season.

    Despite suffering a one-point loss in his season debut as a starter last Sunday, Kirk Cousins increased his trade value with three-touchdown performance in Atlanta that included directing a clutch last-minute scoring drive. But if he’s truly ready to be a full-time starter in the NFL, his next challenge is being consistent from week to week. The good news for Cousins? The injury-plagued Cowboys own the NFL’s worst defense. And they’ve also lost back-to-back games against backup quarterbacks (Chicago’s Josh McCown and Green Bay’s Matt Flynn). Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan said Cousins will be better prepared against the Cowboys. “I know he’s enjoying the repetition that he’s gotten [in practice] and he gets to work with the first unit again,” Shanahan said. “You can see he’s more comfortable this week than he was last week.”

  • theycallmerob

    good to see Foles comes in for workouts and a tape session on his day off. great attitude all around. glad he didn’t enter the league with a lot of drama like Cam did, or Johnny Manziel probably will.

  • EaglePete

    can you imagine the vibe at the linc if the skins win….oh boy

    • G_WallyHunter

      Didn’t even really think of that, jeeze, I bet the atmosphere would throw the Bears way off, some Seattle 12th man s$!t lol

      Someone mentioned yesterday, Fletcher’s last skins game at home tomorrow, let’s hope the vibe at FedEx field makes skins win and creates the Linc vibe lol

      • EaglePete

        not to mention the drinking involved pre-game, look out Cutler. We will force that sorry pout face. Im pumped already, its a long wait til Sun night. Lets Fly Eagles Fly….havent been this excited for Eagles football in years.

  • John J. King

    I hope Chip makes them put 8 in the box and then DJax them into oblivion.

    • Jason

      You mean, like the Vikings game

  • jon h

    I know I’m beating the dead horse here, but it still amazes me how insightful these articles are vs. the others out there. I was reading some of the other coverage, and it’s all opinionated and negative. You guys really go deep into the fabric of the team and even your opinions (like the prediction on how many quarters the starters will play) is very different. If nothing else, you can tell by the reader reviews how valuable your articles are, because most of the responses (usually 20+) focus on the content rather than criticism. Well done again fellas.

  • Clamdigger

    Is this article mistitled?

  • Ryan

    This matchup is better for our corners and safeties than against the Vikings and Broncos. We have big, slow cornerbacks who do better against big receivers who aren’t necessarily as quick/fast speed guys like Jennings, Patterson, and Demarius Thomas.