Game Review: Eagles Offense Vs. Bucs ‘D’
Here’s a position-by-position look at what we saw from the Eagles’ offense after having re-watched Sunday’s game.
* Nick Foles’ numbers speak for themselves: 22-for-31 (71 percent) for 296 yards (9.5 YPA), three touchdowns and no interceptions. Foles also ran in for a score. This was different than last week’s game. He was going up against a Bucs defense that has some talent, specifically in the secondary. We spent much of the offseason discussing how the offense fits Michael Vick’s skill set. But so far (small sample size, granted), it looks like it fits Foles as well. As a rookie, he completed 60.8 percent of his passes and averaged 6.4 YPA. On 61 passes the past two weeks, those numbers are 67.2 percent and 8.9 YPA.
* That second number is a big one. Foles has hit on several downfield throws the past two weeks. The 47-yarder to Riley Cooper down the left sideline could have been a little more out in front, but Foles still allowed the receiver to make the play. The 36-yarder to DeSean Jackson was on-target, and perhaps what was most impressive was that Foles took a hit right after he released the ball. Both Foles and Vick have shown tremendous toughness in the past couple years, even when circumstances haven’t always been great.
* The Eagles had the screen game working too. According to Pro Football Focus, Foles completed seven passes at or behind the line of scrimmage. Good patience and setup on the first play of the game, a 44-yard screen to LeSean McCoy.
* Other throws that stood out: Foles got the ball out quickly against the blitz and completed an 8-yarder to Damaris Johnson on the first drive. He found Jackson for 6 yards on 3rd-and-2 in the red zone. He found Zach Ertz for 6 yards on 3rd-and-5. He had a defensive lineman being driven back into his face, but stood tall and found Cooper for 17 yards on 3rd-and-15.
* Was Foles perfect? Of course not. It looked like he was late on a throw to Ertz down the seam in the first. He had multiple occasions where defenders had a hold of him, but Foles still tried to throw the ball. Those plays can turn into bad mistakes and turnovers quickly. Have to be a better decision-maker in those instances. And there were multiple occasions where the Bucs had unblocked defenders rushing. Chip Kelly said today some of those are on Foles, and he needs to get rid of the ball quicker when the protection is set up that way.
* The Eagles ran a lot of packaged plays (more on those later this week when the All-22 is released). Instead of the QB reading a defender and taking off on his own, Foles would often read a defender and decide run or pass.
“There’s other ways that you can read the defense and other things you can get to,” Jason Kelce said. “If you notice, we threw a lot more bubbles today. If the quarterback’s not as dangerous a threat running it, if we have numbers outside, we’ll probably take that a little bit more than trying to run the quarterback. Is that the way it’s gonna be all the time with Nick in there? Who knows? But I think there’s so many different things. And Chip and Pat [Shurmur] are both great at designing reads based on the personnel, who you want to get the ball and getting the ball to the guys who can make plays for you.”
* The guess here is that Kelly will delay his QB decision for another week. He’ll let Vick rest, play Foles against Dallas and then go from there. If Foles performs like he did against Tampa, though, he has a chance to stay put as the starter.
* The sign of a good running team is you can pick up yards on the ground when the opponent is expecting it. With 8:03 left in the fourth quarter, the Eagles called 11 straight run plays and chewed 5:29 off the clock. Granted, there was a key offsides penalty mixed in there, but still, it was an element of this offense we hadn’t seen previously. McCoy had 10 of those carries, and overall he ran 25 times for 116 yards. As I wrote previously, it says something that McCoy turned in a 171-yard performance (rushing and receiving) and is barely in the headlines today. People have come to expect big things out of McCoy on a weekly basis, and he almost always delivers.
* McCoy has been very good as a receiver. He has 241 receiving yards and is averaging 16.1 yards per reception. He had two catches for 55 yards vs. Tampa.
* Bryce Brown continues to be up and down. He looked good on back-to-back runs of 7 and 4 yards on the first drive, but continued to bounce runs to the outside. Brown finished with 20 yards on five carries.
* Overall, the Eagles called 33 passes and 31 runs. But those numbers are a bit misleading. Until that final drive, they called 33 passes and 20 runs. With Foles back there, those screens can be viewed as an extension of the run game.
* We went in-depth on Jackson and Cooper earlier. Kelly was asked today about Jackson not really having been a threat in the red zone in the past.
“In my career here, he has,” he said. “So I mean, I haven’t looked at whatever they did with him in the past. I mean, we don’t change our receivers when we get down inside. He’s a real good route-runner, and he’s a tough matchup down there. We’ve had that play in for four or five weeks. It was just somebody was stupid enough not to call it in the first couple of weeks and somebody was smart enough to call it on Sunday.”
Overall, Jackson had six grabs on six targets for 64 yards and two TDs.
* Cooper finished with four grabs for 120 yards. I didn’t notice it live, but he went with the old Brent Celek first-down gesture after a 12-yard catch on the first drive. Normally, given the Eagles’ tempo, there’s not time for that. Nice job by Cooper to squeeze it in.
* On the 47-yard TD, he made an excellent adjustment on the ball. And Cooper’s 44-yard catch and run was one of the biggest plays of the game. The Eagles were clinging to a one-point lead and had a 2nd-and-10 from their own 20. Cooper made the grab, made a defender miss and then broke a tackle for the big gain.
* Jason Avant had four catches for 21 yards and did a nice job as a blocker. Damaris Johnson got into the game early, played eight snaps and had one catch for 8 yards. Jeff Maehl had one grab for 5.
* Kelly said today that Celek has been one of the more underrated or under-appreciated players on the team. He had just one catch for 10 yards, but performed well as a blocker. Celek threw the key block on McCoy’s 4-yard run on 3rd-and-2 in the third. He pinned a defender inside and allowed McCoy to get the edge for 6 in the fourth. And he threw another good block on a 6-yard run by Brown.
* Ertz saw his snaps increase once again. He had three catches for 13 yards on six targets. Foles and Ertz seemed just a bit off on a couple incompletions, or he could have had a bigger game. On the 36-yard TD to Jackson, the Eagles showed run-action. Ertz came across the formation and threw a wham block as Foles settled in the pocket.
* The Eagles were in 12 personnel (one RB, two TEs, two WRs) on 19 of 64 snaps, or 29.7 percent of the time. They were in 11 personnel (one RB, one TE, three WRs) on 45 of 64 snaps, or 70.3 percent of the time.
* Overall, I thought protection was pretty good for the second week in a row. There were some mishaps, but Foles had time to throw and find receivers downfield. He was sacked just once on 33 pass plays.
* Jason Peters played well for the most part. He had some trouble with Daniel Te’o-Nesheim off the edge on Foles’ 3-yard completion to Ertz in the first. On the first-quarter sack, the Eagles left Lavonte David unblocked, but Kelly said that was the plan.
“Got to get the ball out,” he said, pointing to Foles on that play.
Peters drove Te’o-Nesheim off the ball on McCoy’s 8-yard run in the second and manhandled a defender on McCoy’s 4-yard run on a 3rd-and-2 run in the fourth. He left the game briefly with a shoulder issue, but then returned. Kelly said today he expects Peters to be limited tomorrow in practice.
* Evan Mathis was asked to pull quite a bit as the Eagles ran more “power” run plays than they usually do. And he had several impressive moments. Mathis drove a defender to the ground on McCoy’s 5-yard run in the second. And once again on McCoy’s 8-yard run. And a third time on McCoy’s 10-yard run. That’s not something you usually see so often from one player throughout the course of a game. Mathis and Peters seemed to have a miscommunication in the first as they both let a defensive lineman through, resulting in a 5-yard loss for McCoy. Overall, though, strong game for Mathis, especially in the run game.
* Jason Kelce bounced back nicely, showing off his athleticism in the run game and getting to second- and third-level defenders. He had the key block 20 yards downfield on McCoy’s 44-yard screen in the first. He and Todd Herremans had the key blocks on Foles’ QB draw that scored from 4 yards out. He got to the linebacker on McCoy’s 8-yard run in the second, on McCoy’s 10-yard run in the second and on his 19-yarder in the third. Kelce held up well in pass protection also.
* There were a few issues for Herremans, but I thought he played well too. He had the key block on the Foles touchdown run. Herremans and Kelce crushed a defender on the 11-yard screen to McCoy in the second. Excellent down block on McCoy’s 19-yard run in the third. And good job on the linebacker on Brown’s 6-yard run in the fourth. The issues? He got beat on Brown’s 2-yard run in the second and had a bad sequence in the third where he was called for holding before allowing pressure on Foles on the very next play.
* The Eagles used a lot of unbalanced lines with Lane Johnson and Peters on the same side. Johnson probably had the most uneven performance of the Eagles’ linemen. He drove a defender several yards downfield on an early 4-yard run by Brown. Excellent seal by Johnson on McCoy’s 19-yard run in the third. The issues once again were in pass protection. Johnson gave up a QB hit on Foles’ 6-yard completion to Ertz in the first. He got driven back into Foles’ face on the 17-yard completion to Cooper. He gave up edge pressure late in the second as Foles got hit. And he had trouble with an inside move by the DE in the third. Overall, Johnson was fine, but the pass protection continues to be a bit of a work in progress.
* Allen Barbre filled in for Peters at left tackle in the second half. He did a great job in pass protection on the 47-yard bomb to Cooper, before giving up pressure on a third-down play in the third.