Editor’s note: The Zone Read is a weekly feature that will publish the day after every game some time before noon. It will feature dispatches from the locker room, thoughts on what went down, play breakdowns and more. If you have feedback or suggestions, e-mail Sheil at email@example.com.
Through the first four weeks of the season, the Eagles’ offense had something to hang its hat on: the run game.
LeSean McCoy was gashing opponents – 468 yards on 78 rushes (6.0 YPC). The scheme was sound. The blocking was great. And the marriage between McCoy and Chip Kelly’s offense looked like one that would carry the Eagles all season long.
Many coaches break the season up into four-game segments. And the second quarter for the Eagles has produced a ground game that looks pedestrian. In the last four, McCoy has carried 78 times for 265 yards (3.4 YPC). Yesterday against the Giants, he carried 15 times for 48 yards (3.2 YPC). In the first half, he managed just 7 yards on six carries.
“I just gotta try to be more consistent, making plays when plays are granted, taking them,” said a frustrated McCoy, standing at his locker in front of a group of reporters. “Today was a little better, but not good enough. I had so much success against the Giants for so long, so it bothers me. I’ve gotta get it going. It starts with me. I need to make better decisions, which I’m not.”
Asked if he’s trying to do too much, McCoy said: “I think it’s a little bit of that, doing my own thing sometimes and just not making the plays. The plays, they’re there, they’re available. Just not getting it done.” Read more »
Chip Kelly said he was concerned about his quarterback situation all week.
Michael Vick looked like he was on target to start but there were obvious questions surrounding his hamstring. Nick Foles was unavailable because of a concussion, meaning rookie Matt Barkley was the next man up. Kelly had two quarterbacks that needed prep time, and zero QBs that gave him a sure thing.
“It’s a Catch-22 for everybody. Mike hadn’t been in for two games and you have to give Mike his requisite amount of reps and you also have to get your second-string guy the amount of reps,” said Kelly. “It’s tough to get that second guy ready to go.” Read more »
Chip Kelly and the rest of the Eagles’ brass thought maybe, just maybe, this time would be different. All they had to do was figure out a way to bottle the flash.
If it was ever going to happen it was going to happen with this coach in this system. Plug Michael Vick into a a stripped-down, high-octane read-option heavy attack, and watch the fireworks fly. He might be able to recapture his 2010 form and if he does, quarterback problem solved for the short-term.
Their theories held up to a certain degree. Entering Sunday’s game against the Giants, the Eagles were tops in the league in rushing (165 per game), rushing yards per attempt (5.18), overall plays of 20-plus yards (44) and passing plays of 20-plus yards (36). They were third in the NFL in average yards per game (425.3). As anticipated, the threat of Vick as a runner opened up all sorts of space for this offense to gain yards in giant chunks.
With a healthy Vick, this machine can be hard to stop. With a healthy Vick. Read more »
Matt Barkley replaced Michael Vick under center late in the first half against the Giants.
Vick was clearly not himself. This was his first game back since injuring his hamstring in New York on October 6. Though he practiced in full this week, the 33-year-old did have his normal burst and was unable to elude pressure. He finished 6-of-9 for 31 yards with an interception.
As the first half wore on Vick was getting more and more attention from the trainers on the sideline. He spent one defensive series on the stationary bike as Barkley got a few warm-up throws in, but re-entered the game. Chip Kelly pulled the plug on the following series.
Barkley entered with 2:24 remaining in the half. Read more »
A roundup of national media links on Sunday’s Eagles-Giants game. Read more »
Player I’ll be watching
McManus: Nate Allen.
Billy Davis was armed with a few interesting stats when he met with reporters this week. One was that the Eagles’ defense is being thrown on an average of 45 times per game (44.28, actually). That number is so high in part because the Eagles give up a lot underneath in the name of preventing the deep ball.
The Giants were undeterred by this style of defense the last time these two teams played. By Davis’ count, Eli Manning threw deep 11 or 12 times against the Eagles in the first matchup. Manning attempted 52 passes overall in that game.
Safe to say the secondary will be busy again. Allen has been playing better of late, but faces a pretty stiff test on Sunday. Read more »
Michael Vick was a full participant at practice for the third straight day and is listed as probable for Sunday’s home tilt against the Giants.
Friday is a walkthrough day for the Eagles, though Vick said he was going to give his hamstring a final test by sprinting 100 yards. Apparently that exercise went fine. Vick is expected to start against New York after sitting the last two-plus games out.
Nick Foles has been ruled out for this game because of a concussion. As of Thursday he had yet to pass the imPACT test. Jake Knott (hamstring) is also out this week.
Patrick Chung (shoulder) and Cedric Thornton (knee) are questionable. Both players were limited at practice this week.
Bradley Fletcher (knee), Donnie Jones (left foot), Jason Peters (shoulder, finger) and Chris Polk (shoulder) are probable. Read more »
The episode in which I make salient points about the quarterback situation and subsequently get accused of being a Nick Foles lover. Sheil does nothing to grab my back.
You can listen to the podcast here or download it from iTunes.
We broadcast live from Smiths in Center City from 6 to 7 every Thursday during the season. If you haven’t visited us there yet, please remedy that immediately. Read more »
The joint press conference last week prior to the Dallas game carried some symbolism with it.
As the quarterbacks were walking off the practice field and towards the podium, they wore a look as if to ask, “Who’s first?” The Eagles’ PR rep solved the problem by waving both of them up.
Nick Foles was coming off the best game of his professional career and looked comfortable as he shared the moment with the vet. Michael Vick heaped praise on the young quarterback and said he would be ready if and when he was called upon again.
Some wondered if this was the passing of the torch. It at least felt like Foles had pulled even with Vick for a lap of the race, and who knows, maybe he can nudge in front with a quality outing against the Cowboys?
Instead, he crashed. And as he did, some Foles detractors/Vick supporters pointed at the wreckage and delivered told-you-sos to those that hitched their wagon to the second-year signal-caller. After a hot debate that raged for a couple weeks in Philadelphia, there was a moment of vindication for those who backed Vick.
But make no mistake: there were no winners as a result of Sunday’s performance. The search for a franchise QB is back at Square One. Read more »
The expectation is that Michael Vick will start Sunday’s game against the Giants, but the Eagles’ quarterback said he still needs to test his hamstring out one more time on Friday.
“Just gonna take one more day and see how it feels,” Vick said. “We had a good practice today. Didn’t really have to stretch it out. Tomorrow is a run day for us so I’m gonna give it a go.” Read more »