Nick Foles had thrown his first interception of the season, and at a most inopportune time.
With just a few minutes left in the game and the Eagles nursing a three-point lead, Foles dropped back on 2nd-and-7 from the Eagles 34 and faced immediate pressure. He had a defender draped all over him but decided to try and force a throw to DeSean Jackson anyway. Bad choice. Patrick Peterson picked off the errant pass and had the Cardinals set up in Philadelphia territory for the possible go-ahead drive. But as the dust settled, sitting on the ground alongside all the fallen players was a yellow flag. Tyrann Mathieu had been caught holding Jason Avant, negating the play. Foles’ streak remained intact and, more importantly, the Eagles retained possession.
That was one of several critical plays down the stretch that hinged on a referee’s call (or non-call).
Arizona head Bruce Arians concluded his opening statement after the game by saying “refereeing did not determine us losing the football game. We didn’t make enough plays.” His players generally followed suit. But their body language in-game struck a much different tone.
“It went both ways,” said James Casey, who was also involved in one of the defining moments late in the contest. “We had a couple big calls go our way at the end of the game but that’s the way it goes sometimes. A lot of times you’re on the other end.”
Let’s take a look at the key moments: Read more »
At the beginning of the year, Chip Kelly was feeling so good about his stable of running backs that he said he would put his group up against any in the National Football League. There was talk of creating a nickname for the trio of LeSean McCoy, Bryce Brown and Chris Polk. “Earth, Wind and Fire” was the apparent leader in the clubhouse.
It’s turned into more of a solo show. McCoy is the league’s leading rusher with 1,009 yards through 11 games. He is also second in carries (behind Adrian Peterson) with 213, and is on pace to comfortably set a personal high in that department.
Meanwhile, Brown has failed to get off the ground. He has carried the ball 53 times for 165 yards (3.1 avg.) and has just one run of 10-plus yards on the season — a 32-yarder against Oakland. After back-to-back scintillating performances last season against Carolina and Dallas, when he posted 347 yards and four touchdowns, expectations shot up for the seventh-round pick. This season, though, the images most closely associated with Brown are of him fruitlessly bouncing it to the outside or slipping to the turf before he hits the hole.
What gives? Read more »
Coach of the Year buzz for Chip Kelly and a lot of writers picking the Cardinals to beat the Eagles. Here’s a roundup of what the national media are saying. Read more »
Player I’ll be watching:
McManus: Nate Allen.
Did you know that through 11 games, Allen has only been charged with two missed tackles? He exceeded that number by Week 3 last year (and missed 13 tackles overall). It really has been something to watch the former second-round pick transform into a steady, effective safety after a couple really shaky seasons. It’s to be determined whether he can keep it up, but there’s no question Allen is playing the best football of his career right now.
“I think Nate has continued week‑in and week out to take big strides and just playing solid football,” said Billy Davis. “It’s not all these big plays and everybody says oh, there is Nate. It’s just down in and down out, Nate is taking care of his job and it’s helping the defense.” Read more »
With each approaching game, words like challenge and test are thrown around frequently in conversations about Nick Foles.
What we have so far is a sample size (eight games, five starts, 162 pass attempts) that ranks among the best in NFL history. Foles’ jersey from the 7-TD performance against the Raiders is in Canton. And this week, he brought home the NFC Offensive Player of the Month award.
We’ve seen what the Eagles’ offense looks like when Foles is comfortable, firing on all cylinders, throwing completion after completion and touchdown after touchdown. His toughness has never been questioned, going back to last year when Foles started six games behind a makeshift offensive line.
But after every performance, there’s a desire to see more.
How much of this is real? How long can he keep up this pace? What’s next for the second-year signal-caller? Read more »
The last time LeSean McCoy took the field, Redskins defenders were constantly greeting him as soon as he got his hands on the football.
By our count, he had to either break a tackle or avoid a defender behind the line of scrimmage on 12 of 20 carries.
“Just different schemes they had to kind of take me out the game,” McCoy said. “On some of those plays, they wanted Nick [Foles] to keep the ball so they were just slanting, and I was just seeing it and reacting to it. But we have something for that. It’s all about how you want to play us.”
On five occasions vs. Washington, McCoy was dropped for a loss. On the season, he’s been stuffed at or behind the line of scrimmage 24 times. That’s third-most in the league, according to STATS, Inc. Read more »
Not surprisingly, Chip Kelly was peppered with questions today regarding comments Bruce Arians made about the read option on Wednesday.
“I don’t think it’s an offense,” Kelly said. “I think it’s a play. And we don’t run read option if you want to get really technical. We run a zone-read play every once in awhile. It’s just like saying our offense is a power offense because we run the power play. Or the old Green Bay Packers, their offense was the Green Bay sweep offense. It isn’t. Everybody’s got a bunch of plays they run offensively. Everybody’s got quick game, everybody’s got screens, everybody’s got dropback, everybody’s got out of pocket, everybody’s got power, counter, inside zone, outside zone. I never looked at it as an offense.
“I find we use it depending on what the defense is deploying and how they’re doing it. I know Nick [Foles] picked up a couple critical third downs in the Green Bay game for us, picked up a couple critical third downs in the Redskins game for us. But we don’t use it as much as people think we use it.” Read more »
Put simply, Larry Fitzgerald is an Eagle killer.
He has faced Philly five times in his career (including once in the postseason), and has racked up 35 catches for 570 yards and nine touchdowns. That’s seven catches, 114 yards and nearly two touchdowns per game on average. Those nine TDs are a personal high against any opponent outside of the NFC West.
“Oh, that’s news to me,” said Fitzgerald during a conference call with Philadelphia reporters. “It’s just another game to me, against a good football team, a well-coached football team, a team that’s right in the thick of the fight for the NFC East division race, and we know this game has huge implications for both teams.”
In a sense, Cary Williams (6-1, 190) and Bradley Fletcher (6-0, 200) were signed for games just like this one. (Same for next week when Calvin Johnson comes to town.) Chip Kelly gravitates towards big, physical corners in part because, quite simply, they match up better against big, physical receivers. Fitzgerald (6-3, 218) and Michael Floyd (6-2, 220) are about as big as this Eagles team has seen. Read more »
Michael Vick believes he is 100 percent healthy now and is expected to be active against the Cardinals this Sunday. Nick Foles is the starter, but could there still be a role for Vick?
“Yeah, I wouldn’t reveal any schematics for the game in terms of how we’re going to sub the players,” said offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. ”But Mike’s preparing himself to play in whatever situation he goes on the field. He’ll do a good job.”
Chip Kelly does not believe in a two-quarterback system. But might he call on Vick in specific situations? Read more »
Bruce Arians is not a fan of the read-option at the NFL level.
He made that clear Wednesday morning when he called it a “great college offense” during an interview with Philadelphia-area reporters.
The Eagles, of course, are an option offense and use zone read looks as much as any team in the NFL. So it should come as no surprise that some players in the Birds’ locker room took exception with Arians’ claim.
“I think it’s a great any-level offense, personally,” said center Jason Kelce. “I think anybody who doesn’t think it can be successful at this level is obviously mistaken.” Read more »