All-22: Foles, the Deep Ball And the Offense

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Nick Foles’ response struck the right tone.

He knew he had gotten a little lucky. But throwing a 55-yard touchdown in the NFL, regardless of circumstances, is not easy. So he was not about to apologize.

“I need to throw it a little further, but it just so happened that the ball popped up the way it did, and that happens in sports,” Foles said when asked to describe the 55-yard touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson against the Packers. “That happens all the time. Sometimes it doesn’t work out for you. That time it did. And I was very thankful it did.” Read more »

Game Review: Eagles Offense Vs. Packers

foles_400_111113Here’s a position-by-position look at what we saw from the Eagles’ offense against the Packers.

QUARTERBACKS

* I thought Nick Foles played great against Oakland. This was a bit of an uneven performance. I know that seems crazy to say, considering he posted a 149.3 passer rating, but I’ll try to explain.

* There were a couple decisions that could have been costly. In the second quarter, Foles was being pressured and just launched a pass up for grabs. It was in the direction of DeSean Jackson, but there were defenders nearby. The ball landed incomplete as Jackson couldn’t find it in the sun, but it was a dangerous throw. In the third, Foles made an awkward throw to Jason Avant, stepping into it with his right foot. It ended up being a 23-yard completion, but just as easily could have been picked off.

* The first touchdown to Jackson was obviously flukey. Jackson had the corner beat, and the Packers had a single high safety, but Foles underthrew him. Chip Kelly said today that the wind played a factor on the pass. Read more »

Three-And-Out: Eagles-Packers Predictions

foles_400_110313Player I’ll be watching

McManus: Nick Foles.

Fun merchandise-related nugget for you: The page where you can purchase a Foles jersey on the team site saw a 25 percent spike in hits following his seven-touchdown performance against the Raiders, yet sales went up hardly at all. People are interested and they are considering jumping in but aren’t quite ready to commit.

Pretty symbolic, right?

It’s hard not to be intrigued after Foles’ monster day in Oakland, but it’s impossible to jump all in with the Dallas performance still rattling around in your mind. That Cowboys’ game was his chance to assume authority over the quarterback situation and he didn’t answer the bell. The bar was lowered for the Raiders game and he crushed it. Sunday is another chance to grab the reins. How will he respond this time? Read more »

The Matchup: Eagles Vs. Packers

JJF_8100.jpgEditor’s Note: This feature will post every Friday. We’ll bring you nuggets from the locker room, scouting reports on the upcoming game and more.

***

It’s Wednesday morning at the NovaCare Complex, and Jeff Stoutland is fired up.

Practice has just started, and the pads are on. Eagles players line up row-by-row in one end zone. When the whistle sounds, the first group gets started with their warm-up routine.

First it’s knees up to their chests, followed by a light jog to the other end of the field. Then they slide like basketball players working on their defensive stances. On and on, just as they’ve done during the start of every practice since the spring.

“Pick it up today!” Stoutland shouts, watching his players’ every move as if they’re competing in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl.

The 51-year-old chews his gum with authority. He claps and spits and then claps some more. Behind his dark glasses are eyes that have seen a lot since he first started coaching 29 years ago. Read more »

Notes: On Ertz, ‘D’ and Foles’ Secret Weapons

ertz_940_100713Leading 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 »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Three Kelly Leftovers

chipkelly_400_102613Yesterday, we covered what Chip Kelly had to say about Nick Foles and the QB situation, but he discussed a variety of other topics. Here are three things that stood out.

1. Foles had plenty of time to find receivers downfield Sunday. A big reason for that was the play of the Eagles’ offensive line, which had perhaps its best performance of the season.

“I thought they did a really, really good job,” Kelly said. “For most of the day, Nick wasn’t pressured very much, so he had an opportunity to set his feet and get the ball out on time. I thought that group up front played really, really well. I think we were pretty clean for the most part of the day in the pocket, and that always helps. We’ve said all along that pass offense is a combination of everybody. And I think they contributed greatly to that because I think he was clean in most of his throws.”

The guy to watch in the coming weeks is Lane Johnson. I didn’t see him give up any pressures at all vs. the Raiders. The rookie has been a good run blocker, but Johnson’s been inconsistent in pass protection. If he can get that part of his game cleaned up, it will really help the offense in the final seven games. Read more »

Game Review: Eagles Offense Vs. Raiders

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Oakland RaidersHere’s a position-by-position review of what we saw from the Eagles’ offense this week.

QUARTERBACKS

* Not sure what else there is to say about Nick Foles. He was spectacular, completing 22 of 28 passes for 406 yards and seven touchdowns. Two things really stood out when I re-watched the offense. One, Foles was willing to take shots downfield. And two, he did an outstanding job of buying time with his feet to create space. On the Eagles’ opening drive, they faced a 3rd-and-13. Foles could have easily checked the ball down, but instead fired a pass to Jeff Maehl in traffic over the middle for a 19-yard gain. That had to be big for his confidence.

* Foles did a great job of looking defenders off all game long. In the first, he looked to LeSean McCoy in the flat, drew a defender and then hit Zach Ertz for a first down. The 17-yard TD to Riley Cooper down the left sideline was a beauty. Foles let go of the ball while Cooper was covered and let his receiver make a play. He later found Cooper for a 63-yard bomb. Read more »

The Matchup: Eagles Vs. Raiders

mccoy_400102713Editor’s Note: This feature will post every Friday. We’ll bring you nuggets from the locker room, scouting reports on the upcoming game, reader e-mail and more.

***

LeSean McCoy took heavy breaths in between sentences, his forehead glistening with sweat from extra conditioning work after practice.

On the surface, everything is good for the 25-year-old running back. At the halfway point of the season, he’s the NFL’s leading rusher (733 yards). He’s carrying the ball more than ever (19.5 times per game). And he’s averaging a healthy 4.7 yards per carry.

Yet McCoy is in the midst of a mental tug of war in his fifth NFL season. In the past four games, he’s averaging 3.4 yards per carry. The Eagles’ offense has scored just three points the last two weeks, failing to hit on explosive plays and finding difficulty in sustaining drives.

“Just more attention to really try and contain the backs, keep everything in front of them,” McCoy said when asked this week about opposing defenses. “The backers are way more into the line than usual. And everything just seems so cluttered, seems so packed. That’s probably the biggest difference I’ve noticed. Even on some of the fakes, if it’s a half-fake or an average fake, they’re all on it. So that’s probably the biggest difference I’ve noticed from just early in the season to the last couple weeks.”

Defenses game-plan for the Eagles and make No. 25 their first priority. With a shaky QB situation and one true dangerous threat in the passing game in DeSean Jackson, it’s really a no-brainer. But that has led to tough times for McCoy, who has been critical of himself after each of the last two games. Read more »

Inside Voices: Getting On Kelly’s Bad Side

chipkelly_400_102613Casey Matthews was asked: What’s the angriest you’ve ever seen Chip Kelly? He smiled immediately as the answer popped right to the front of his brain.

The offseason heading into Matthews’ senior year, Kelly’s players kept showing up in the news for all the wrong reasons.  Running back LaMichael James was arrested  on domestic violence charges. Place-kicker Rob Beard and defensive end Matt Simms were charged with misdemeanor assault for their involvement in a street fight. Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli was identified as a suspect in a theft.

Kelly called a team meeting to express his disappointment. That night linebacker Kiko Alonso was cited for driving under the influence.

“He told us the guy was off the team. He was mad,” said Matthews. “We were in the team meeting room. He rips us for the offseason — everyone is getting in trouble, the star quarterback was stealing from a frat, domestic violence charge, a bunch of little stuff — finally he calls a team meeting, rips us — get it together — and then that night [the DUI]. It was bad.

“He couldn’t breathe. That was the worst I’ve seen.” Read more »

All-22: Diagnosing the Issues On Offense

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One of the fundamental principles of Chip Kelly’s scheme is to set the offense up to take advantage of one-on-one matchups.

There’s plenty of blame to spread around when it comes to reasons why the Eagles have managed just one field goal offensively in their last eight quarters. But one is the failure to capitalize and win those matchups. Read more »

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