Zone Read: Eagles-Bears, the Day After

CAN SOMEONE PLEASE EXPLAIN…

1. Why a coach loses a timeout if he throws a challenge flag on a play that’s automatically reviewed?

We saw this with Kelly in the third quarter when officials ruled that McCoy had fumbled. Kelly threw the red challenge flag, but turnovers are automatically reviewed. As a result, the Eagles lost a timeout.

“Yeah, I screwed up,” Kelly said afterwards.

“I knew the rule. I’m not making any excuses. It’s my fault. I knew the rule. I was wrong.”

Kelly should have known the rule. No doubt about it. But why is this a rule in the first place? Because of the extra five seconds it takes for the coach to pick up his flag? This Tweet that came across my timeline summed it up best.

2. How a defense can look as bad as it did last week vs. the Vikings and then shut down an offense as good as Chicago’s?

Matt Cassel against the Eagles: 26-for-35 for 382 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

Matt Cassel against the Bengals in Week 16: 13-for-27 for 114 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.

The Bears, meanwhile, had scored 83 points in their previous two games. They were the second-highest scoring offense in the NFL entering Sunday night’s game, averaging 29.0 points per game. But the Eagles limited Chicago to a field goal and a touchdown on 11 drives. The Bears punted six times, were intercepted once, took a safety and turned it over on downs.

The fitting Tweet for this one:

I’ll admit: After the performance against the Vikings, I was more in the “they might get exposed in the final two games” camp than the “maybe they just had a bad outing” camp. But Billy Davis and the players deserve a ton of credit. Against a prolific offense and a team with a lot at stake, they came up huge.

Before the game, I probably could have envisioned some crazy scenario where the offense would go off for 40+. But even the biggest optimist would have struggled to come up with a scenario by which the defense only allowed 11 points.

***

THE NO-22

James Casey has seen an increased role in the offense since the Eagles started using him as a run-blocker after the bye week. He got the job done on Polk’s 10-yard TD run in the fourth.

polk1a_no22

The Eagles often show the same look and have Foles read the unblocked edge defender. But since the bye week, they’ve been using the tight end more to come across the formation and account for that defender.

polk1b_no22

Casey does an excellent job, and so does Mathis. Also notice that Foles carries out his fake. That’s something that Lazor grades him on during their film review sessions. Here, the linebacker freezes and keeps an eye on Foles.

Polk gets a huge running lane and finds himself one-on-one against the safety.

polk1c_no22

He breaks the tackle and scampers into the end zone for the score.

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THE NUMBER THAT MATTERS

0 – That’s how many pass plays the Eagles called in the fourth quarter. Not counting Vick’s final kneel-downs, the offense was on the field for seven plays, and they were all runs.

In the final 15 minutes, the Eagles ran it seven times for 135 yards. That’s an average YPC of 19.3.

On one drive, the Eagles ran it six times for 70 yards. McCoy with back-to-back runs of 9 and 14; Bryce Brown with back-to-back runs of 4 and 18; McCoy once more for 15; and Polk with the 10-yard TD. In all, the drive took 3:41 off the clock, and the ball never traveled through the air.

Later in the quarter, Brown broke a 65-yard touchdown for a score.

The Bears’ run defense is horrible, but still, that’s impressive.

***

GAME BALL OFFENSE: NICK FOLES

He completed 21 of 25 passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns. Just as important: He didn’t turn it over once.

There have been three instances this year where a quarterback has completed at least 84 percent of his passes and averaged at least 9.2 yards per attempt. Peyton Manning did it in Week 3 against the Raiders. And Philip Rivers did it in Week 7 against Jacksonville.

Foles is the third QB to add to that list. And the amazing part about it is no one really blinked an eye like he was doing something special.

“It’s typical Nick Foles football,” said tight end Zach Ertz. “Everybody still kind of wants to remember that Dallas game. But we’ve thrown that in the rear-view mirror. He’s thrown 25 touchdowns I think to two interceptions. He’s playing at a record pace. So we’re very excited for him.”

Barring a four-INT performance in the finale, Foles will become the second quarterback in NFL history to post 25+ touchdowns and five or fewer interceptions in a season, joining Tom Brady who had 36/4 in 2010.

GAME BALL DEFENSE: TRENT COLE

A Kapadia Rule for this day-after piece: Any time you total three sacks or more in a game, you win a game ball.

“Trent was lights-out tonight,” said DeMeco Ryans. “That’s what Trent is capable of doing – taking over games, dominating offensive tackles and getting to the quarterback. That’s what he’s capable of doing. We just had to put him into situations where he is able to rush the passer and showcase his talents.”

The Bears tried to use Matt Forte to block Cole early on, and Cole beat him to sack Cutler. Later, Cutler was pressured by Cedric Thornton, but Cole finished him off. And in the third, Cole got to Cutler once again.

Cole had one sack in the Eagles’ first 10 games. He has seven in the last five.

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