Zone Read: Eagles-Cowboys, the Day After

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys

Normally we use this space for a thorough recap of the previous day’s game, and there will be some of that.

But it’s a playoff week for the first time in three years in Philadelphia, so let’s lead off with 10 things you should know about the next opponent: the Saints.




1. New Orleans took care of business Sunday, crushing the Bucs 42-17 to improve to 11-5 on the season - that's 8-0 at home and 3-5 on the road. The Saints won four of their last five and were 2-3 overall against teams that are in the postseason. Going into Week 17, Football Outsiders had New Orleans as the No. 7 team overall - fifth on offense, 11th on defense and 24th on special teams.

2. Saints players don't exactly enjoy being peppered with questions about why they're a different team on the road. From Jeff Duncan of The Times-Picayune:

The New Orleans Saints' regular-season finale wasn't 30 minutes old and already the questions began.

The Saints barely had enough time to shed their pads after bashing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 42-17, Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome before the onslaught commenced.

Can you win on the road?

What do you have to do differently?

How can road Mr. Hyde become road Dr. Jekyll?

The Saints were prepared for the insurgency. They came armed with readymade deflector shields.

"We're going to switch to Green Gatorade," said right tackle Zach Strief, tongue planted firmly in cheek.

The Saints were 3-5 away from New Orleans and 1-5 in their last six road games. To be fair, they weren't exactly playing push-overs in those matchups. The losses came against the Patriots, Jets, Seahawks, Rams and Panthers. Of those teams, only the Rams (7-9) finished under .500. Three of the five losses were by seven points or fewer.

3. For the Saints, everything starts and ends with Drew Brees. The 34-year-old just put together one of the best regular seasons of his career, completing 68.6 percent of his passes (second league-wide) for 5,162 yards (second) and 39 touchdowns (second). He averaged 7.94 yards per attempt (seventh) and was intercepted just 12 times, or once every 54.2 attempts. Against the blitz, Brees has been deadly, completing 67.3 percent of his passes and averaging 8.6 yards per attempt with 11 touchdowns and two interceptions, per STATS, Inc.

4. There will be a serious focus this week on big plays. Brees had 41 pass plays of 25+ yards on the season - second-most in the league behind only Peyton Manning (46), per STATS, Inc. In the Saints' finale against Tampa, six different players had at least one catch of 20+ yards. The Eagles' defense finished the season having allowed 62 pass plays of 20+ yards, fourth-most in the league. The No. 1 threat in New Orleans' passing game is Jimmy Graham. The athletic/explosive tight end finished the regular season with 86 catches on 144 targets. He piled up 1,215 yards, averaged 14.1 yards per catch, got in the end zone 16 times and had 19 receptions of 20+ yards. The matchup is even more concerning for the Eagles, considering they let Jason Witten pile up 12 catches for 135 yards on 16 targets.

5. But it's not just Graham. Brees utilizes a plethora of weapons. Five different Saints totaled at least 500 yards receiving; four had 70 catches or more. Marques Colston has posted 70 catches or more in seven of eight NFL seasons. This year, he had 75 for 943 and five touchdowns. Per Pro Football Focus, 41 of Colston's 75 catches came out of the slot. Kenny Stills, a rookie fifth-round pick out of Oklahoma, has given the Saints a vertical threat. He averaged 20.0 yards per catch, tops in the league. Running backs Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles combined for 148 catches.

6. Up front, the Saints made a major shake-up two games ago, inserting rookie third-round pick Terron Armstead into the starting lineup at left tackle. Armstead had not played an NFL snap until Week 16. He struggled in his debut, but played better against Tampa. The Saints have one of the best guard tandems in the game in Ben Grubbs and Jahri Evans - both are 2013 Pro Bowl selections. Brian De La Puente has started every game at center for New Orleans the past two seasons. And Zach Strief has been very good at right tackle. New Orleans entered Week 17 with the fourth-best sack rate in the NFL, per Football Outsiders.

7. Defensively, the Saints employ a 3-4 blitzing scheme under Rob Ryan. Going into Week 17, Football Outsiders had New Orleans as the 11th-ranked defense - sixth against the pass and 20th against the run. The Saints allowed just 19.0 points per game, fourth-best in the league. Two dynamic pass-rushers lead the way for Ryan's group: defensive lineman Cameron Jordan and outside linebacker Junior Galette. Jordan, a first-round pick in 2011, made the Pro Bowl and posted 12.5 sacks. Galette, a fourth-year player, added 12. New Orleans finished the season with 49 sacks, fourth-most in the league.

8. The Saints' weakness is their run defense. New Orleans is surrendering 4.6 yards per carry, fifth-worst in the NFL. Their inside linebackers are veterans Curtis Lofton and David Hawthorne. Up front, in addition to Jordan, New Orleans starts former Eagles first-round pick Brodrick Bunkley at nose tackle.

9. The Saints' secondary finished ninth in yards per attempt (6.8) and 15th in opponents' completion percentage (60.0). New Orleans allowed 20 passing touchdowns, compared to 12 interceptions. Cornerback Keenan Lewis signed with the Saints from Pittsburgh in the offseason and has played well. Veteran Jabari Greer suffered a season-ending knee injury in November and has been replaced by second-year player Corey White, who has started 10 games in his career. First-round pick Kenny Vaccaro suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Week 16. The Saints now go with veterans Malcolm Jenkins and Roman Harper at safety.

10. Leftovers: Thomas is the team's leading rusher with 549 yards. He averaged 3.7 YPC and did not have a run over 20 yards all season. Mark Ingram averaged 4.9 YPC. Sproles has been used almost exclusively as a receiver with just 53 rushing attempts on the season. ...The Saints signed veteran kicker Shayne Graham before Week 17. He hit a 24- and 40-yarder against Tampa.

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  • Justin

    I just realized the worst part of us making the playoffs this year: I won’t be able to watch another Eagles game unless we make it to the NFCCG. Damn you, work!

    • Tom

      Quit

  • jabostick

    Sheil, not sure if you heard the telecast last week but Collinsworth is firmly courting Jason Kelce as well.

    I don’t put all that much stock into NO’s road record, especially come playoff time. That team may be less comfortable on the road and outdoors but Brees is really good, I think Payton is really good. Should be a tough game.

    I also realize that this is probably oversimplifying things but our O-line play seems to be the determining factor for us.

    Lastly, it’ll be interesting to see the All-22’s this week. I want to know what Dallas did to DeSean and if it was anything other than Foles being under pressure.

    • mtn_green

      It was nice watching DeSean make those tough ten yard move the chains catches. Just awesome. And those shallow crossers, it’s just a matter of time till he breaks one.

      • jabostick

        Foles also missed him once in the red zone and there was, in my opinion, a pretty blatant hold/jersey grab on a deep ball, so he could’ve had a bigger game pretty easily.

      • Maggie

        Desean making those shallow crossers pretty much knocks down those whiny posters who keep insisting that he is afraid or fragile or too diva (divo?). Of course, most of those twits are on another site.

        • Andy124

          what other site? BGN?

  • GW.Fisher

    Worse to me is a THIRD straight week of Chris Collinsworth.

    • Nah__Roots

      Beats the hell outta Joe Buck

  • gutshot

    Good read as always, Sheil. One correction though: Chris Polk and Bryce Brown only had one TD between them.

    • sdk152

      Whoops, thanks! Will fix. -SK

  • Beastmode

    Don’t have confidence in beating the saints. On the other hand, oddly don’t care. Hope eagles players feel differently!!

  • morgan c

    “Maybe the better question here is: Why have Brandon Boykin blitz
    and Chung in coverage? Boykin’s the better cover guy. Why not put him
    on Bryant and let Chung go after the quarterback? We can pose that one
    to Davis this week.”

    Sheil and Tim, please make sure you do exactly that, and report back on what BD says about that costly play.

    ALSO, as Sheil alluded to, Kendricks was good in coverage, but good gave up 12 for 135. Against Graham, that will be 16 for 210. We have to double him with a safety and Kendricks on him at all times. I just don’t see any other way around it.

    • evanphilly

      Davis needs to watch the tapes of the NE game. Graham was held w/o a catch on 6 targets against them. Needless to say the secondary has their work cut out for them.

    • Michael Adam Bennett

      What NE did to Graham was put their most physical corner on him at all times. Aquib Talib ragdolled him. Might see Carey covering him quite a bit. I wouldn’t mind seeing that.

  • BostonianEagle

    Please. No more Brad Smith. It hasn’t worked all season. He is actually more productive as a wide out than as this weird wildcat. Way better than Johnson as the 4th WR.

    • Justin

      Honestly, that play still almost worked. He throws that pass just a little lower, that’s a TD.

      • nicksaenz1

        I just pictured the first “The Fast and the Furious” movie where Paul Walker says to Vin Diesel that he almost had him. VD: “You almost had me? You never had your car!” Almost but didn’t.

      • JofreyRice

        Yeah, it wasn’t a bad play. Kudos to their D for staying at home. Throw wasn’t great, It would have been a pretty difficult catch, but I think some TE’s could catch that ball for 6.

        • Token

          I feel it was. Just like last time they pulled that crap, they were rolling. A nice drive. Then bam. That play stops it dead in its tracks. Brad Smith is somewhere around the 50th best player on the team. Id rather him never have control of the ball, and a play like that. Not at this time of year. Let Foles make the decisions.

    • nicksaenz1

      I’m better than Johnson as the 4th WR

    • evanphilly

      I had no qualms with the play call. Would have liked to see Smith run the ball after the initial read, but whatever. This is what you get with a CK offense. And if it worked, then we would be talking about how awesome of a play it was. I expect to see some more gadgetry on Saturday night.

    • ACViking

      Gimmickry crap. Run the damn ball.

      • Andy124

        Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t this another game where we were perfect in all redzone possessions that didn’t include wasting a snap on a gimmick?

        • ACViking

          Yes, you’re right as rain.

    • mtn_green

      Chip does run the ball, 4th and 1. He has run the ball on 3rd and 4 more than any coach I’ve seen.

      But sometimes he doesn’t. Gotta keep defense honest and give the next team hell to prepare for.

  • nicksaenz1

    I guess Davis didn’t learn the lesson about Blitzin’ Boykin earlier in the season.
    3 straight weeks of Michaels and Colinsworth. I might break.
    Brown and Polk didn’t have a pair of TDs, Brown had one, that was it.

    • Myke Lowery

      but they’re 2-0 with those announcers.

      • nicksaenz1

        I thought about that. Then I thought that the 3rd time is a charm and immediately hated it again.

        • evanphilly

          I’m just more upset because they will be swooning over Brees, Peyton and Graham all game long.

          • nicksaenz1

            As long as we’re abusing them, let them.

        • Myke Lowery

          its only weird if it doesn’t work. #superstitious #budlight

  • Joe from Easton

    I’ll give it to Dallas on the late TD to Dez. Excellent play design to isolate our worst man defender in a man situation. I was screaming as soon as he motioned.

    • Jason

      Absolutely, and it was after a TO. I was screaming, oh God no. Call a TO, no,no,no.

  • nicksaenz1

    Wish I took that prop bet of coaches getting axed. Shanahan, Chud, Schiano, Schwartz, and Frazier. Would have had the over. I guess Kubiak didn’t count since it wasn’t on “Black Monday”.

    • cliff henny

      maybe cause Eagles lost to them, but Frazier is only one i disagree with. until he gets a qb, what do they expect? lost alot of heartbreakers and team didnt quit.

      • Andy124

        Totally agree.

        • cliff henny

          was a browns supporter, those people have neen thru enough. but, while banner is there, hope to see a continuous dumpster fire

          • Bdawkbdawk

            I think they are going to be very good in a short period of time. I’ve said it elsewhere, but if they can sure up the QB position with the 4th pick in the draft, they should be a playoff team. 3 or 4 legit offensive pro bowlers. RBs are cheap nowadays. And they won’t have a hard time finding a WR to compliment all world Josh Gordon (maybe Maclin’s prove it contract if we don’t bite).
            If they can retain Horton, their D will keep on improving. (Already pretty legit with a good nose, two OLBs, a pro bowl CB and a maybe should have been pro-bowl Safety. Penny pincher Banner will keep their cap situation under control too.

          • cliff henny

            no qb, musical coaches and what’s the story with fraud owner. that’s the issue with firing guys after 1 season, it just doesnt look good to coaches who have options. why kelly came to philly, he knew he had 4 yrs at least to turn things around. think browns are going to get top tier coach? i’d say that’s the worst franchise with job opening. we’ve learned, coaching counts in nfl moreso than any other sport. or, i just really hate banner

          • nicksaenz1

            I’d take the Browns job over the Redskins job seven days a week and twice on Sunday.

          • mtn_green

            Banner will get the cap working though.

      • nicksaenz1

        Agreed. Get him a QB and a secondary and it’s a totally different team. OL needs a little upgrading as well. Cassel with a little time isn’t bad.

        • BlindChow

          Wasn’t he the head coach when they chose Ponder? I’d say he’s had his chance.

          • nicksaenz1

            Good question, not sure to be honest. I thought he was a pick of Childress’

      • JofreyRice

        eh…He’s had how many years now, and can’t get the team moving in the right direction. Where would he be without the HOF running back he inherited? His thing is D, and their D has been pretty bad, specifically the secondary, and the entire unit has progeria.

        I think Chip’s success is going to make hiring “hot” college coaches viewed as a lot less risky. O’Brien, Malzahn, Sumlin, Shaw all have shots to come into the pros.

        • Andy124

          O’Brien and Shaw are staying where they’re at forever. Shaw because that’s what he wants, and O’Brien because that’s what I want.

          • JofreyRice

            Yeah, my nephew is out at PSU, and he was checking twitter every 2 minutes looking for BoB news when I saw him for Christmas. I have heard that about Shaw, but you never know.

          • Maggie

            I like Shaw, but he just signed new contract last year, so might want to keep his word. He also has a great gig at Stanford, and, having seen him on TV, I don’t think he has too many ego issues.

          • Bdawkbdawk

            Yea Shaw is a Stanford guy through and through. Apparently he didn’t even go in with an agent. He just talked with the AD about what he thought was fair compensation.

    • BlindChow

      Wow, how does Munchak still have a job? He’s probably a nice guy, but he’s the equivalent of “game manager” at head coach. He’ll only give you year after year of mediocrity.

      I think Chud is the only one who got screwed here. I wonder if there was some behind-the-scenes drama that made Banner & Co. think he couldn’t lead a team to the big one. I do find it strange that owners view success as a coordinator as being an indicator of success as a head coach. But I guess even success as a HC might occasionally leave you with a Schiano…

      • JofreyRice

        there really must have been. Who fires a coach after one year? It’s clear they wanted Kelly as a first choice, and settled for Chud, but to let the guy go 350 odd days after you hired him just screams of an organization in utter disarray.

        I’m wondering if they go after a “Kelly-lite” College HC, or have already lined something up (B’OB darkhorse suitor?).

        • BlindChow

          Sounded like they wanted O’Brien and cut Chud loose early when they read all the stuff about the Texans courting him.

      • anon

        Think they like horton — also think given draft they have an attractive position. Going 1-11 is terrible but should get a small pass bc of QB play. Honestly think Chud was a one year guy — they are gearing up for a rebuild through the draft this year.

  • Kevin

    I curious to get someone else’s take on the officiating… has this been the worse year ever? There seemed to be a lot of no-calls last night…. Murray lowering his head, time after time, push on Celek after the TD, and if Foles was Manning, the last play when he slid and then was hit would have been a flag… and then the ticky-tack “i brushed a punt returnet” flag… come on man.

    • Jason

      I’m in the minority, but I liked the officiating. Sure, there are always plays that you can pick out. But, I liked it mainly because of your first point. The officiating has been horrendous and last night was just not good. This year, i’ll take that. Especially if you watched the Seattle-St. Louis game, talk about a crew that was overmatched.

    • mtn_green

      Bad reffing, but the refs allowed holds and PI all game.

      I’ve noticed that eagles secondary does better when some contact is allowed.

      Also saw Foles throw a jump ball to DJ to get a PI call cause DJ was mugged and refs didn’t throw the flag. The announcers didn’t catch it.

      Lastly, did you notice that NBC never replayed the defensive offsides plays in first quarter, we couldn’t see if Oline moved.

  • cliff henny

    sure we all agree, officially playing with house money. little torn on saints. in one way, saints outside in cold on road 1-demensional offense and mccoy should get his, com’on, take it to them. other hand, can accept brees ending such a great season. really REALLY glad it wasnt cowboys

    • Andy124

      Yeah, I’m probably a bit of an extremist in the house-money camp. We beat Dallas, that’s all I cared about. Win or lose, I’m going to love Saturday night.

      This actually makes me even more excited for the game, knowing that I can just watch and enjoy the sport without getting worked up over how we do.

      And if I had to hand pick a team I wouldn’t hate losing to, it’d probably be N.O. Brees is the man.

  • Damien

    May I just point out to all the Howie haters, how well the last 2 draft classes and FA pickups have played?

    2012:

    1. Cox- Starting DE who has pro bowl potential
    2. Kendrichs- Future Pro Bowler
    2. Curry- Deadly Pass Rusher
    3. Foles- Franchise QB
    4. Boykin- Top 5 Slot CB in the NFL
    7. Bryce- Solid 2nd RB from the 7th round
    UFA- Polk- Solid 3rd RB from UFA

    2013:

    1.Johnson- Held his own all year, best rookie tackle in a stacked draft class
    2. Ertz- Come alive the last 5 weeks. Looks like he can be a starter soon.
    3. Logan- Took over the dline and has played fantastic for a rookie NT.
    5. Wolff- When healthy is our starting safety.
    UFA- Jake Knott- Really good backup LB.
    UFA- Najee Goode- Another good backup LB.

    FA:

    Barwin- Arguably our defense’s DPOY.
    Cary Williams- Lock down some weeks.
    Bradley Fletcher- Solid, solid CB.
    Cedrick Thorton- Got him for nothing and he is now clearly a starter next year.
    Evan Mathis- 3 years ago, but he’s so good, he’s worth mentioning.
    Donnie Jones- Best Punter in the NFL imo.
    Colt Anderson- Off the street pickup from 2010 paying off.

    Plus there’s some guys that were labeled busts and are now producing like Riley Cooper from 2010.

    My point is, if you take out the 2010 and 2011 drafts which were not completely Howie’s fault, he’s done a remarkable job with this team.

    • Andy124

      I don’t think there’re any left. Jeoffrey as given these last two classes their proper due iirc.

      • GEAGLE

        Joeffry is a fool who doesn’t know a good LB if he punched him in the mouth…

        Kendricks will be GREAT, tired of the dopes letting their video game desire for instant gratification, trash our young talent, and then ride it’s jock to big wins..

        Joeffry is like the non QB version of Dutch and 7…god forbid a young player isn’t a hall of famer instantly..we have to replace them lol….hopefully that idiot learns a lesson, so I don’t have to spend all next offseason making him look dumb,..

        • BrickSquadMonopoly

          You still talking about that kid?

          • JofreyRice

            This mental patient is obsessed with me. Starting to get creepy.

            I wonder why he hasn’t addressed the fact he thought Chip was the wrong hire?

        • JofreyRice

          The only person you’re making look dumb is the doctor that allowed you computer privileges.

      • JofreyRice

        Yup. Still think Kendricks is better attacking than dropping in coverage. Gave Boykin his due as one of our true playmakers weeks ago. Still don’t like Cary, but that breakup on the 2 pt conversion was huge, and a great play.

        I’ve acknowledged that the past 2 drafts are looking very good. I think the biggest piece that Howie & Jeff should get credit for is the coach hire, as stated below. You just don’t have this across the board improvement unless it’s something central to the system. Pretty much everyone is playing better than they did for Reid.

        • Mr. Magee

          Hard to argue with those points. Amazing what Kelly has done with Reid’s players. The fact that he kept so many of Reid’s players had me scratching my head, esp those 2 weeks when the birds did not have an offensive touchdown.

    • Bdawkbdawk

      Howie has been really really good. The whole FO has actually been great. But I tend to think that there is a lot more luck involved in this than most people would like to admit. There just aren’t that many “dumb” franchises any more in the NFL. There are certainly a few, but generally, overtime, there has been more parity in player evaluation. And really good teams like the pats (blegh) have missed out on a few back to back drafts (similar to the ones we like to criticize from Banner and Reid). I hope that Howie and company are just a bit better, but I fear that we are just benefitting from some uncommonly good years.

      • Bukester

        Agreed. I think if there is a player with exceptional raw skills – speed, strength, leaping or even just longass arms – I would defend the FO decision. If no big money is involved why not? But to say, definitively, that it will pan out and if it doesnt – then Howie or whomever is an idiot is idiotic. We know they havent pissed away money.

    • Tom w

      Totally agree but the haters gonna hate. Howie has killed the last two drafts and wait till Krueger and big mike bamiro and maybe Travis long make a leap next year. Howie goes the extra mile … Getting momah bamiro otackle from Australia Bryce Shepard from lsu danaris Johnson Polk …. Shit and Goode and knott. Not even talking about the sound free agent strategy of not blowing out load and taking smart low risk low money high payoff signings 2 corners olb punter … And Casey is coming along.

      And the most important pickup in eagles history … Landing chip Kelly after he said no and getting a once In a generation offensive mind and program builder. Thanks Howie

      • nicksaenz1

        I’ve been critical of Howie and I’m starting to be proven wrong, but I wouldn’t mention Momah, Shepard, or Damaris Johnson when defending him. Hell, Demaris Johnson needs to be released after the season, Momah isn’t even on the PS and Shepard got put on the PS only to be picked up by another team. He and Greg Salas should both be on the team over Demaris Johnson. Otherwise, can’t argue against much of the rest. As I said, I’m being proven wrong about Howie.

        • Tom w

          By mentioning those players, the premise was he is going beyond the draft and finding uber obscure players like bamiro momah Shepard danaris Long …. Going that extra mile. Same w the Australian otackle Purcell. And cutting Shepard was chips call not howie. Not that all obscure players will be successful but Howie has eyes everywhere. Shit he even has a scout who looks at college basketball players.

          • nicksaenz1

            I guess I wouldn’t call of these guys obscure, but point taken. And yes, he longs for his Jimmy Graham/Antonio Gates player.

      • anon

        Chip Kelly by far best pick up. I really think this team has more to do with what CK has done (his team and his philosophies) than anything else. Even on D i think he’s just made this team a team and has a way of getting the best out of all his players.

  • dave H

    Eagles cant win at home & Saints cant win on the road .. great no one will win.

    • nicksaenz1

      Can’t win at home? Did you watch the last 4 home games?

      • dave H

        yes i did from a Chicago bar ..really nice to watch eagles victories and Chicago tears at same time.
        but I was only joking as to what the national media storyline would be – like as cliché as “snowballing Santa” and certainly Tony Dungy used that stupid regurgitated ancient history cliché.
        so its not ME, I am mimicking the press ..didnt think I had to say that I was doing that but that’s what I was tryin to do

        • Jason

          ah, fair point. Sarcasm is tough when read and you don’t know the person.

          • dave H

            respect. go birds !

        • Chris

          got into an argument with a cowboys fan this morning, as he claimed the eagles “can’t win at home”..i think it just became a thing to say, even after 4 straight wins. you’re spot on.

        • Andy124

          In Tony’s defense, he’s just trying (and failing) to be funny.

        • nicksaenz1

          My misunderstanding. National guys get dumber and dumber it seems.

    • Jason

      That was PF. Pre Foles. turn the page

      • anon

        Cowboys game was at home, but agree am glad that seems to be behind us.

        • Jason

          Not sure your point? Don’t think I said he was undefeated

    • DEBO 215

      Won the last 4 straight home games. The 10 straight home loss skid seems like it was ages ago.

    • Maggie

      Made me snicker.

  • Tom w

    Anyone else not like going for it on goalline after a Dallas timeout on 4Th down up 1 pt. hear me out — gotta take into account who you are playing .. Orton not manning. 3 pts get you a 4 pt lead in the early 4th. Basically taking points off the board. 4pt lead forces Dallas to go length of field to need a Td to win or two drives of 3. With failed conversion… Keeps Dallas hopes of winning on a fg. Following up w McCoy Td we woulda been up 11. I was fine going for it before the timeout because Dallas had small nickel unit out there, but after timeout and subs I woulda taken the pts. Playing Brady or manning or Brees I am going for it.

    Also hated the play call. If you gonna run the qb sneak even though your oline getting owned all nite; why not spread them out and run it instead of running it w 10 guys in the box. Hey how bout we run our stud rb behind our allpro tackle and stud guard and center on the left side. Hate that call w foles … Maybe McCabb or newton not foles.

    • DEBO 215

      I liked going for it, but I hated the play call. Dallas was bunched up in the middle and when Foles started to sneak it right before Dallas called the timeout, he went nowhere. I would’ve called a stretch or a toss to let Shady try to get outside on the edge.

      You have the best RB in the NFL. He should be able to get you 1 yard.

    • Jason

      Loved going for it, hated the play call after the timeout. Pre-TO, love the QB sneak. They were gassed. After I would rather have taken my chances with McCoy.

      • DEBO 215

        Exactly.

      • morgan c

        Yup

    • cliff henny

      agree, but that’s kelly. if he starts playing it straight, like the smith option pass, then he’s not his unpredictable self. my issue was more on coming out in same formation after timeout. also, as you said, can live with stopping shady.

    • Andy124

      Certainly a case can be made either way. Personally, I was in favor of going for it and I was screaming for a QB sneak before the time out. I could see switching to a conventional power play to McCoy behind Mathis and Peters after the time out, (for the love of god, NOT out of the shotgun), but I am also on board with the mentality of, ‘we have to be able to pick up 1/2 yard this way.

      Also, I think the sneak is a great play in general, but may have to reconsider Kelce’s ability to get his job done on that play.

      • GEAGLE

        Spread em out and run a QB draw…we already saw Chip call a draw for FOles against skins

      • anon

        Agree with that — half a yard QB sneak is good, our line against theirs. PLUS worst case they get the ball on the half yard line, we got a safety last week in same situation so that’s the outcome i was expecting. Didn’t work out that way but you know what they say about hindsight.

      • EaglePete

        yup, I was also screaming run the sneak. All too often the line gets pushed back when they are all bunched up and rb has nowhere to go. I always think the snap count can help get that push for a half yd with a big QB. Didnt work but I liked the call and would say to do it again. Too many years of watching AR try to punch it for a yard with westbrook and miss. This is simply mmqb talk because it failed. I say take the 3 pts to go up 4, Tom W is correct. That being said, its how CK has coached all year so I didnt expect them to kick a FG if that means anything.

    • Andy

      I like the call to go for it. They had a chance to widen the lead and if they didn’t convert (which they didn’t) they’ve got the Cowboys pinned back on their own goal line, which is better than letting them start a drive on the 20 or better with three more points (after kicking the FG). Ultimately it forced them to burn a time-out, which limited their ability to stop the clock later. That said, I agree that maybe they should have tried something different or given to McCoy (or Polk) to punch it in rather than go to the sneak after Dallas brought in their goal line defense.

      • Broadcasting Wisdom

        This is the key. Harris was returning the ball to the 30-40 yard line on our kickoffs. Dallas got 60 yards on the next drive. If they had started on the 40, 60 yards gets them a touchdown (or at least a field goal) instead of getting stopped on 4th and 1. If you can’t get half a yard and then the other team goes 99.5 yards against your defense, you don’t deserve to win.

        • nicksaenz1

          We had two touchbacks because Henery was pissed about the Minnesoat game. Thought Harris had only one decent return, could be wrong there, though.

          • BlindChow

            Harris had 2 returns, a 36-yarder and a 29-yarder. Keep in mind those numbers include the end zone yardage. I know one was only brought out to the 23 yard line. So there was one return where he made it past the 30.

          • nicksaenz1

            So one decent return. Not mad about it. Overall, a pretty good day from our coverage unit.

    • ztom6

      I like going for it. I don’t even mind going for the sneak. What I don’t like is that the “sneak” isn’t very sneaky when you line up in a formation which gives away you are going to run a sneak… particularly when you already showed that formation (and gave away the sneak) before the timeout call.

    • Will

      Didn’t mind him going for it, just hated the play called…was thinking McCoy our play maker will get in the end zone…especially since they saw we were going QB sneak before the time out…a FG there would of be huge…either way in Chip I trust nice win, now onto New Orleans…Sheil great 4 page read…thanks for all of the articles and hard work by you guys!

  • DEBO 215

    I’m oddly more confident going into THIS game then I was going into the Dallas game. I think they win and they win BIG.

    • BlindChow

      Eh, they couldn’t stop Kyle Orton. We better hope they can move the ball better against New Orleans than they did against the worst defense in the league, if they want to keep up.

  • Mike

    This will be a tough matchup. Eagles D isn’t good against quick passing teams. Just watch the Broncos, Vikings and last night.

  • Dave

    Here’s Kelly to all those “experts”

    http://m.imgur.com/Zlpqf2a

  • mtn_green

    There need to be a HUGE change to how statistics are calculated for football:

    Two point plays: as hard to defend or score as a TD, no stats. Williams needs his pd one of biggest plays of game. This has been bugging me since lions game. Rg3 had two of them in our game. No stats for him.

    Final drive: the final drive by eagles in TB, lions, GB, cowboys games all show as a red zone failure, whereas they were game clinching drives that were BETTER not scoring a TD.

  • JettMartinez

    The best news in this article? “The Saints’ weakness is their run defense” Forecast for next Saturday? High of 28 degrees. Freezing with 100% chance of Shady. Enjoy, dome boys.

  • JofreyRice

    What I like about the Eagles O vs. the Saints D is that a lot of what they do to generate passrush is based on pre-snap disguise and exotic overload blitzes. It just doesn’t seem that defenses have been terribly good at doing that to the Eagles offense because of the pace, and multiplicity built into each play.

    Kiffin’s D had a little bit of blitzing, but it was mostly just rushing four and play man. Oddly, the simplistic defenses seem to give the Eagles the most trouble. The protection has to be better, and I’m hoping we see more of the concepts to beat man coverage (Jackson in the backfield, bunch, etc.).

    Brees is going to be a bear to stop. I’m really hoping the elements angle isn’t being overblown because the secondary can use all the help it can get. They have to find some way to get pressure. I was disappointed in Cox yesterday. He really did not show up for that game. Can’t have another week where he’s so listless and hope to win.

    • anon

      3-5 on the road, way better than having to play them at home. I dont know if we can win a shootout so hope the d shows up again.

    • Token

      Frankly the Eagles just got manhandled in the trenches last night. It looked like a terrible matchup. I expect much better this week. They will have to be.

      I feel like you arent gonna cover the Saints. I think they lose that battle. Pressure and aggressiveness are what I want to see. I dont think they had either last night. Murray ran over some guys. I thought it was embarrassing.

      I think its a real tough game. But I guess they all will be. Vacarro being out hurts their D. I think we can score points against them. But they can keep up shot for shot.

      I dont put a lot of stock into the outside thing for the Saints. Brees is 0-4 outside in the playoffs I guess. I dont think it means much. I remember when Tampa never won below freezing or some crap like that before they embarrassed us in the playoffs.

      Graham should always be doubled. Id put a corner on him. Or Barwin. I thought Barwin was supposed to be a decent coverage guy? And he has the size to disrupt him at the line. Take away what they do best and thats Graham. I want someone else beating us.

      • anon

        Think jets had a good game plan for Graham and other TEs, hopefully B Davis is watching what they did. Double cover + keep out of end zone on red zone plays.

      • JofreyRice

        Davis does seem to subscribe to that philosophy. They held Bryant in check, for the most part. I thought the late TD was a factor of Davis being aggressive, trying to force the issue, and ending up with his worst player aligned against their best. I can live with getting burned on those kind of plays, because they’ll get there sometimes, too. I don’t know what the hell you do for Graham. Freak. I’m hoping they don’t allow the kind of free releases they did against Dallas, because that was just pitch and catch for Orton and Witten, at times.

        Yeah, I didn’t think either Cox or Thornton were terribly impressive yesterday, which was weird, because they’ve been pretty steady at disrupting plays in the backfield. Logan probably played the best out of the three, getting the better of their first round C more often than not.

  • Token

    Reading some stuff makes me crazy.

    I read people basically complaining because we didnt look pretty enough while winning? Playoff football people. Not usually gonna be pretty.

    And again, we must move past this thought that unless Foles looks amazing he must have had a bad game.

    Just from yesterday:

    Newton – 55%, 149 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT
    Brady – 58%, 122 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
    Wilson – 65%, 172 yards, 1 TD

    Its not always gonna be 400 yards and 4 TDs. Defenses spend all week thinking of how to make a QB do badly. Its tough. Most praise Wilson, yet if Foles put up the type of numbers Wilson typically does he would be shredded by the media and fans. Maybe its because people dont pay that close of attention to other QBs?

    • anon

      Cowboys were on pace to have literally the worst defense in history AND their best D player was out — that’s why it was a little disappointing. I think half of it was on the o-line that gave up 5 sacks and a lot of hurries, not sure what the deal was there.

      All that said i chalked it up to what you said division game, playoff football Dallas had a LOT riding on that game (3 years of 8-8, 3 losses to end those seasons, each of which caused them to miss the playoffs, and they were playing at home).

      We can be the saints but we have to play a LOT better. Had chances to break that game open and just couldn’t get things going in the second half.

      I’m giving this W to the Defense, which is great to say heading into the playoffs.

      • Token

        Its a division game. And its Dallas. Regardless of how good or bad either team is, its tough.

        • anon

          That was my second para. I went in thinking we’d beat them down, Sean Lee out, Romo out, D terrible, revenge game for Foles, but as game moved along i chalked it up to what you said.

  • Scott J

    I would put one of our tall corners on Graham, and put Boykin on the outside. It worked for the Patriots.