Here is a complete breakdown of Sunday night’s Eagles-Cowboys matchup.
THE BIG PICTURE
It’s pretty simple: Winner hosts a first-round playoff game next weekend, while the loser goes home.
The Cowboys have been up and down with two losses in their last three games, but they pulled out a 24-23 victory over the Redskins in Week 16.
The Eagles have won six of seven and are averaging 39.3 points per game in their last three. Read more »
When Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker met with reporters Monday, he noted that the Eagles basically used the same five run plays out of different formations Sunday night to pile up 289 yards on the ground.
If Chip Kelly heard that assessment, it would probably put a big smile on his face – because it’s true.
By now, we’ve seen Kelly’s Eagles team take the field 15 times, and we have a pretty good idea of what he head coach values offensively. He wants his offense to play fast – which means simplifying things and going back to the same concepts until the defense proves it can stop them.
He wants to run first and take shots downfield. He uses packaged plays to put defenders in situations of conflict. And he wants to spread the field both horizontally and vertically.
Sunday’s 54-11 victory against Chicago was a pretty good example of all those things at work. Read more »
As the Eagles prepared for their final possession Sunday night, Nick Foles stood on the sideline next to tight end Zach Ertz and quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor.
The offense gathered briefly before running onto the field. Foles had a green and black baseball cap on instead of a helmet. He paused his conversation, joined his teammates briefly, put his arm around James Casey and returned to the sideline as Michael Vick took a couple kneel-downs to end the game.
There was a hug from Chris Polk and a handshake from Brent Celek. Foles then made his way past cameras towards midfield to greet the Bears’ quarterbacks as the clock showed triple zeroes. He removed his hat, knelt down for the prayer circle with members from both teams and joined LeSean McCoy for an interview with NBC.
Foles’ performance will not be the first or even second topic of conversation among Eagles fans today. And that’s saying something considering he went 21-for-25 for 230 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions for a passer rating of 131.7. Read more »
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.” Read more »
Dec 8, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles (9) hands off to running back LeSean McCoy (25) during the second quarter against the Detroit Lions at Lincoln Financial Field. Photo | Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Here’s a position-by-position look at what we saw from the Eagles’ offense against the Lions, after having re-watched the game.
* There was good Nick Foles, and there was bad Nick Foles. Obviously, the weather conditions were a factor. Foles started the game 4-for-13 for 35 yards. When he missed, he generally sailed his throws. That’s what happened on the first-half interception. Foles was also off-target on a hitch to Riley Cooper, and he fired a quick throw to Cooper into the ground. Last week, on the same throw, Foles fired the pass over Cooper’s head. Both attempts came with him under center. I think that has something to do with it. That’s an easier throw when you’re in shotgun and can just take the snap and fire. Read more »
Chip Kelly might not admit it, but he has favorites.
Players whose names he will bring up unprompted. Guys he’ll go out of his way to mention as underrated or under-appreciated. And atop that list this year has been tight end Brent Celek.
On the surface, Celek’s numbers are unimpressive: 23 receptions for 319 yards. He’s on pace for his lowest per-game averages since 2008 in both categories. But there are plenty of reasons why Kelly has sung Celek’s praises all year long.
“I think Chip respects guys that give everything they’ve got on every single play when you’re out there,” Celek said. “I respect everything that he’s done. Everything that he does makes sense, and you as a football player, that’s what you want. You want answers to some of your questions, and he answers those. And everything he wants you to do, it all makes sense.”
The strong relationship between Celek and Kelly was no given during the offseason. The seventh-year tight end was an Andy Reid loyalist. Even as things fell apart last season, Celek stood at his locker after every game and defended his head coach.
Meanwhile, after Kelly was hired, he made moves to bolster Celek’s position, signing James Casey in free agency and drafting Zach Ertz in the second round. Those moves could have rubbed Celek the wrong way and put his standing with the team in question, but Kelly made sure that was a non-issue. Read more »
Asked after the bye whether LeSean McCoy had been encountering too much traffic in the backfield, Chip Kelly offered a brief response.
“I don’t think any running back likes to deal with defenders in the backfield too much, but I don’t see that occurring at a high rate,” he said.
The Eagles’ head coach prefers sometimes to not show his hand. The previous week, McCoy had been dropped for a loss five times against the Redskins. He had to deal with a defender in the backfield on 12 of 20 occasions, oftentimes spinning out of trouble and picking up positive yardage.
But that model didn’t seem sustainable. Part of the problem had to do with the Eagles’ zone read. Teams were using their unblocked defenders to crash down on McCoy. If Nick Foles kept the ball, so be it. They would live with the 5- or 6-yard gain and an opportunity to hit the QB. Read more »
It didn’t take long to figure out Chip Kelly‘s offensive strategy against Arizona. Have a look at the play-by-play from the Eagles’ opening drive:
|1st and 10 at AZ 25
||N.Foles pass short left to B.Celek pushed ob at ARZ 22 for 3 yards.
|2nd and 7 at AZ 22
|| N.Foles pass incomplete short left to B.Celek.
|3rd and 7 at AZ 22
||N.Foles pass short middle to B.Celek to ARZ 6 for 16 yards
|1st and 6 at AZ 6
||N.Foles pass short right to Z.Ertz for 6 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
See a pattern there?
Read more »
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 »
Here are 10 observations on the Eagles’ offense after having re-watched the game.
1. The one word I would use to describe Nick Foles is comfortable. He was calm in the pocket, delivered the football on-target and did a great job on the little things like setting up screens. Foles threw a beautiful ball to DeSean Jackson in between Redskins defenders for 19 yards in the first. He connected with Zach Ertz for a 15-yard pickup and lofted one to LeSean McCoy for 49 yards down the sideline. In the second, Foles motioned Bryce Brown to the right, pump-faked to him and then came back to Brent Celek for a 42-yard gain on a screen. In the third, he delivered a nice ball to Ertz, but the rookie dropped it. That was no issue for Foles, who came right back to him on the very next play for a 16-yard gain. Overall, 17-for-26 for 298 yards. He easily could have had three touchdowns, but receivers were brought down inside the 5. Foles’ play was not the issue in the second half. He wasn’t asked to pass a lot, but still went 8-for-11 for 81 yards. Read more »