Leading up to the Oakland game, Zach Ertz didn’t hide the fact that this trip meant something to him. He grew up in nearby Danville, CA and played his college ball at Stanford. It was his first time back in the Bay Area since he left for training camp in late July. Got tickets for about 20 friends and family members to watch him play.
You could tell that he was smelling the end zone when he caught a short pass from Nick Foles over the middle midway through the opening quarter. Ertz lowered his shoulder and barreled ahead. Ultimately he was stopped at the 2-yard line.
“Coach Kelly preaches don’t reach for the goal line so I didn’t want to reach, have something bad happen and then not play again, so I just kind of tucked it in there. And I want to get Brent [Celek] a touchdown, anyway,” he said.
Celek scored on the very next play. Ertz’s patience paid off. Foles went back to the rookie later in the half for a 15-yard touchdown — Ertz’s first in the NFL. Read more »
We went over the offense on Tuesday. Now here’s a look at how the defense grades out through the first half of the season.
Defensive line: B-
This group has shown more improvement than any other on the team from Week 1 to Week 8. And defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro deserves credit for that.
Cedric Thornton is playing lights-out on a weekly basis and leads all Eagles D-Linemen with 45 tackles. Fletcher Cox has really come on as of late and has three sacks to go along with a team-high 15 hurries (no other Eagle has more than seven). Isaac Sopoaga was a non-factor, but players like Clifton Geathers on the second team are starting to show flashes.
Opponents are averaging 3.7 YPC vs. the Eagles. Only five teams have posted a lower number. Read more »
Editor’s Note: This new feature will post every Friday and replace the old Cheat Sheets. We’ll bring you nuggets from the locker room, scouting reports on the upcoming game, reader e-mail and more.
It was after midnight by the time Jason Kelce had fired up his iPad and loaded the coaches tape to see what had gone wrong.
Hours earlier, he had been on the field at MetLife Stadium during one of the more frustrating games of his young NFL career. The Giants came up with a gameplan to stop the Eagles’ most popular run play: the inside zone read. The biggest factor in their success? Stunts by the defensive tackles that kept Kelce off-balance all game long.
“I was kind of checking, hitting refresh every single minute to see when it would come up,” Kelce said. “Very frustrating game for me. I knew I played bad even during the game. I knew the stuff wasn’t going well for me and that we tried some things to fix it, but I felt like they had a good take on when to do it and when not to do it. So we didn’t really handle it well throughout the game, me in particular.” Read more »
Back in the spring, new Eagles defensive coordinator Billy Davis was asked if he had spent time looking at Jim Johnson’s scheme and concepts.
“He had some great dynamic pressures, and I’ve studied a lot of them,” Davis said. “They were out-of-the-box thinking. But when you really break him down, it was more guys up in the A-gaps with the illusion of pressure than actual [sending] more than four rushers.
“There were times that he brought more. …But he did a great job of keeping offenses off-balance through both pressure, illusion of pressure and non-pressure. And you need all elements to attack an offense because there’s some times you pressure some of the stuff Coach [Chip Kelly] does, you’re going to get eaten alive.”
Davis’ comments serve as a good launching off point to examining what’s working well for the Eagles on defense. Last week, they were able to keep Tony Romo off-balance and free up rushers all game long, both with the blitz and the threat of the blitz. Read more »
Trent Cole used to pace around his locker stall like a mad man leading up to big games. If it was Dallas week or Giants week, the look in his eyes would get a little bit crazier, his voice more animated. One time a couple seasons back he was so hyped that he did an entire interview standing on a chair while talking nonsensically.
He would get wound up and wound up some more until the band was ready to snap, then would unleash it all on Sunday.
The 31-year-old has mellowed some of late. He’ll still get wild but not as often or to the level he used to. On this particular day he did the interview seated on his chair and speaking in a measured tone, even with the New York game fast approaching. Truth be told, his new position doesn’t require the bat-out-of-hell Trent Cole. Seek and destroy has been largely replaced by read and react. Read more »
Since before the season started, Billy Davis has cautioned that his defense would likely be a work-in-progress in Year 1.
A new scheme, a new staff and six new starters. Davis knew there would be hurdles and growing pains along the way. But now that the season is seven weeks old, there are signs of progress. Part of that is due to Davis gaining a better understanding of his players and how he goes about calling a game.
“I think I feel a lot more comfortable,” Davis said. “I think the players feel more comfortable in the calls. All of it is a growth that’s happening. I feel more comfortable. Knowing what the strengths and weaknesses of the individual players are now that we have almost half a season under our belt. So that’s growing. I think more importantly, we as a staff see the players understanding the concepts of the coverage, the techniques within the coverage and how they work with the concept. All of that is growing.” Read more »
Cary Williams spent a good portion of his Sunday barking at Dallas receivers. Mostly Dez Bryant. The two stood facemask to facemask several times. There was a steady dose of jostling and trash talking throughout the day. Miles Austin was greeted in a similar fashion when he wandered over to the right side of the defense.
This is how Williams conducts his business. Bradley Fletcher couldn’t be any different. He is quiet and soft-spoken and far from an agitator on the field.
Together Williams and Fletcher make up a cornerback duo that is playing a notch above expectations. Read more »
Here’s what we saw during today’s Eagles-Cowboys game. Read more »
If you missed the first cheat sheet, click here. Now, onto 10 things to know about how the Eagles’ defense matches up with the Cowboys’ offense. Read more »
Player I’ll be watching
McManus: Cary Williams.
This is the game where Williams can truly become an Eagle. He has spoken about his disdain for former rivals like New England and Pittsburgh, and how he is now learning to hate a new set of divisional foes. No worries, this type of stuff comes natural to him. He will be fueled up on Sunday and really, the type of bite that Williams can provide is exactly what the defense needs this week. Perhaps the biggest mismatch coming in is the Dallas receiving corps against this secondary. From a pure matchup perspective, it’s difficult to envision the Eagles corners and safeties hanging with Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and Co. Read more »