Normally we use this space for a thorough recap of the previous day’s game, and there will be some of that.
But it’s a playoff week for the first time in three years in Philadelphia, so let’s lead off with 10 things you should know about the next opponent: the Saints.
1. New Orleans took care of business Sunday, crushing the Bucs 42-17 to improve to 11-5 on the season – that’s 8-0 at home and 3-5 on the road. The Saints won four of their last five and were 2-3 overall against teams that are in the postseason. Going into Week 17, Football Outsiders had New Orleans as the No. 7 team overall – fifth on offense, 11th on defense and 24th on special teams. Read more »
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 »
Here’s a position-by-position look at the Eagles’ defensive performance after having watched the All-22 from Sunday’s game.
* Going in, the Eagles should have expected to dominate the Vikings’ ground game, given that Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart were out. And that’s what happened. Matt Asiata needed 30 carries to get to 51 yards (1.7 YPC). The pass-rush could have been better, but Matt Cassel did a good job of getting the ball out quick, and most of the problems through the air were the fault of the secondary. Read more »
Safety Patrick Chung was pulled in favor of Kurt Coleman after allowing Greg Jennings to beat him for a 57-yard touchdown pass. Defensive coordinator Billy Davis said that moving Chung in and out of the lineup was the plan all along.
“Going into the game, both Patrick and Kurt knew that we were rotating every two series,” said Davis. “It happened that he had on that second series he had that [play against him]. But going into that game we were going to rotate. Now we were rotating because Patrick has been in a little bit of a slump, but he is increasing, he getting better and better as we go. That was a bad snap for him but there was going to be an every two-series rotation of the safeties regardless of that play happening.” Read more »
Going into Sunday’s game against the Vikings, the Eagles appeared to be peaking at the right time.
They had won five straight, were in the driver’s seat in the NFC East and looked like a team capable of making some noise in the postseason.
Less than 24 hours after kickoff, the outlook has changed a bit. The 48-30 loss to the Vikings was either just one bad letdown game or a true reality check of where this team is.
Keeping that in mind, let’s take a point-by-point look at some of the issues that surfaced in Minnesota, debuting The Kapadia Concern Scale. Each issue is given a ranking from 1 to 10. Read more »
Minneapolis — Flags were flying and tempers were flaring and the Viking horn was blowing for score after Minnesota score. The well-oiled machine that had ripped off five in a row broke down on Mall Of America Field.
A defense that had held its opponents to 21 points or fewer for nine games straight surrendered 48 to a Vikings team that was operating without running backs Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart. LeSean McCoy, coming off a career day in the snow against Detroit, had 38 yards on just eight carries. The offense overall was choppy.
“A lot of frustration, honestly,” said DeSean Jackson. “We thought as an offense we should have came out there and be able to have a lot more success. We weren’t able to get it done. It was very frustrating, especially after the way we’ve been able to play the last couple weeks.”
The first signs of that frustration came in the third quarter after Nick Foles‘ second interception of the season. Jackson, the intended target, was animated as he returned to the sideline, apparently shouting in the direction of receivers coach Bob Bicknell and later, Jason Avant. Riley Cooper stepped in as mediator and was pushed away by Jackson, who eventually calmed down after a conversation with Avant away from the rest of the team. Read more »
Here is a position-by-position review of the Eagles’ defense after having reviewed the All-22 tape.
* This group led the charge. Joique Bell needed 23 carries to gain 69 yards (3.0 YPC). And the Lions failed to gain more than 8 yards on any single run. Cedric Thornton was outstanding, leading all defensive linemen with six tackles (per team stats) and a forced fumble, which the Eagles turned into a takeaway. Thornton helped blow up a Bell run that gained 3 in the second and was disruptive throughout. Read more »
Here is the Eagles’ injury report for Sunday’s game against Arizona:
Out: S Earl Wolff (knee)
Probable: S Colt Anderson (ankle), CB Bradley Fletcher (pectoral), LB Mychal Kendricks (knee), LB Jake Knott (hamstring).
As you can see, the Eagles exit the bye in pretty good shape. Read more »
We went through the offense yesterday. Here’s a position-by-position look at where the Eagles’ defense stands going into the final five games.
The guys up front have been the key to the defensive improvement. Cedric Thornton leads all the team’s linemen with 58 tackles and has looked like a natural in the two-gap scheme since Week 1. He’s versatile, powerful and has been perhaps the Eagles’ most consistent defensive player all season long.
Fletcher Cox has really come on and has 13 tackles the past two weeks. He has three sacks and leads the team with 19 hurries; no other player has more than eight. Bennie Logan has been a huge upgrade over Isaac Sopoaga at nose tackle. He’s got 15 tackles in the last three games. That’s just three fewer than Sopoaga had in the first eight games.
Vinny Curry, Clifton Geathers and Damion Square round out the rotation. Curry has been the team’s most productive pass-rusher and is tied for the team lead with four sacks. Read more »
If you missed the game review of the offense, click here. Now, onto 10 observations of the Eagles’ defense after having re-watched the game.
1. The Eagles’ defense shut out the Redskins for three-plus quarters, but let’s start in the fourth where things got a little dicey. Trent Cole was trailing Darrel Young in coverage, and Patrick Chung was closing in from his deep safety spot down the left sideline. Robert Griffin III escaped pressure and lofted one to Young. Cole went flying at him, and Chung did the same from the opposite direction. They both whiffed and collided into one another as Young got free for the 62-yard score. Then on the 2-point conversion, the Redskins set up with a bunch formation to the right, and Chung completely lost track of Nick Williams.
2. Roc Carmichael had a rough fourth quarter. But his coverage wasn’t bad on the 41-yard TD to Aldrick Robinson. Griffin underthrew the ball, and Robinson made a great adjustment. I asked Carmichael last week when he’s taught to turn and find the football. He said he watches the receiver’s eyes and hands. Obviously he could have done a better job on that play. Carmichael also gave up completions of 19, 9, 28 and 7 in the fourth quarter. The most concerning of those was the 28-yarder. The Eagles had the Redskins with a 3rd-and-25, but they were able to extend their drive with a completion to Santana Moss. Carmichael might have been expecting more safety help, but the safeties are going to play particularly deep in that spot, focused on keeping everything in front of them. Read more »