Game Review: Eagles Offense Vs. Cowboys
Here’s a position-by-position review of how the Eagles’ offense performed vs. the Cowboys.
* What’s left to say about Nick Foles‘ performance? That’s probably as bad as you’ll see this year. Foles finished 11-for-29 for 80 yards. In most cases, the QB gets too much blame when things go wrong. But in this one, receivers were open for much of the game, protection held up well for the most part, and Foles just couldn’t make the throws. He’s not as bad a player as he showed vs. Dallas, and he’s not as good a player as he showed vs. Tampa. He’s somewhere in between.
* In the following instances, Foles targeted an open receiver and misfired: He was off-target on a throw to Zach Ertz across the middle in the first. He missed Bryce Brown on a wheel route down the sideline on third down in the first. He threw behind Jeff Maehl on 3rd-and-5 in the second. He missed Brent Celek on a corner route in the second. He threw behind Jason Avant on 3rd-and-5 in the second. He led DeSean Jackson out of bounds on a deep ball late in the first half. He missed a wide-open Maehl in the third, throwing low and behind him after executing a nice play-fake. He was late on a deep ball to Jackson in the end zone (or as Troy Aikman suggested, he should have led Jackson more towards the pylon). The worst throw of the day was the miss to Avant in the end zone in the third.
* And there were plenty of instances where Foles just failed to pull the trigger. We’ll get a better look at those with the All-22, but he had time before being sacked in the first. He left the pocket early and was called for intentional grounding in the first. He had plenty of time, but couldn’t find a receiver and scrambled for 12 on third down in the first. He didn’t trust LeSean McCoy’s blitz pickup and left the pocket right into pressure before throwing incomplete to Avant on the run in the first. He took off for a gain of 8 on third down in the first even though he had good protection. He held the ball forever in the fourth, and Evan Mathis was called for holding. Even on the play where he suffered a concussion, Foles had time before scrambling to the right sideline.
* The Eagles called 34 passes and 19 runs with Foles in the game. The Cowboys rarely blitzed (just four times on 34 dropbacks). But he was just out of sorts all day. Foles suffered a concussion in the fourth and will undergo the necessary rehab procedures throughout the week.
* Matt Barkley entered the game in a tough spot, but with the Eagles still having a chance to stage a comeback. He went 11-for-20 for 129 yards and three interceptions. He didn’t see linebacker Sean Lee dropping on the first pick. He looked like he was trying to throw the ball away on the second one. And he didn’t expect the corner to drop on the third INT. There were actually two more balls that could have been picked. One was negated because of an offsides call. The other was a near turnover on a pass over the middle where Barkley was looking for Avant.
* Barkley made a few nice throws. He stood in the pocket, faced pressure and delivered to Riley Cooper for a 17-yard gain in the fourth. His arm seemed stronger than we saw in the preseason. And he didn’t panic when facing pressure. Overall, though, it was obviously a struggle.
* Really looking forward to seeing the run game with the All-22. Based on TV footage, it seemed like McCoy was a bit off and left some yards on the field. He finished with 55 yards on 18 carries. McCoy himself said afterwards that this was one of the worst games he’s played since he was a rookie. Credit the Cowboys safeties too, specifically Barry Church. He brought McCoy down one-on-one on multiple occasions. You usually don’t see that.
* Chip Kelly wanted to get his running backs matched up against the Cowboys’ linebackers in pass routes. McCoy took a swing pass for 11 yards on the first play of the game. He later drew a holding penalty. McCoy had six catches for 26 yards. Once again, good job in blitz pickup. Also, give McCoy credit for trying to keep Foles’ head up. The cameras showed Foles on the sideline after he suffered the concussion, and McCoy was clapping, trying to encourage the struggling QB.
* Bryce Brown has been a disappointment. He had two carries for 4 yards and slipped on one where it appeared he had a big hole.
* The wide receivers got open plenty, but Foles failed to get them the ball. DeSean Jackson had three catches for 21 yards on eight targets and was visibly frustrated throughout. There were two specific big-play opportunities (mentioned above) where Foles missed him. It looked like Jackson had a drop on a pass from Barkley in the fourth.
* Riley Cooper had a second straight good outing with six grabs on seven targets for 88 yards. He had a 14-ayrd catch in the first and did a nice job of breaking a tackle and picking up 9 on 3rd-and-7 in the second. Up and down as a blocker. Nice job on McCoy’s 11-yard catch, but poor job on a screen to Jackson that lost a yard.
* Jason Avant had three catches for 32 yards on 12 targets. He ran an excellent route on what should have been a touchdown in the third, but Foles missed him. Up and down as a blocker as well. Nice job on McCoy’s 11-yard catch and run. Poor job on McCoy’s 5-yard run in the first that could have been a bigger gain.
* Jeff Maehl dropped a screen in the first, but it probably would have lost yardage anyway. He had a chance to haul in a 3rd-and-5 pass in the second even though the ball was thrown behind him.
* Blame for the issues in the run game can be spread around, and that includes Brent Celek. He had a couple tough assignments that he failed to execute. On one, he couldn’t block the safety on a 2-yard McCoy run in the second. And later in the red zone, he couldn’t get to Lee on a sweep that was stopped for no gain. Celek was wide-open on a corner route in the second, but Foles overthrew him. He dropped a pass from Barkley in the fourth. Celek finished with one catch for 9 yards.
* Zach Ertz had three catches for 33 yards, but wasn’t much of a factor.
* Overall, the Eagles were in ’11’ personnel (1-RB, 1-TE, 3-WR) on 67 of 75 plays, or 89.3 percent of the time. They were in ’12’ personnel (1-RB, 2-TE, 2-WR) on just three plays. The Eagles used ’10’ personnel (1-RB, 0-TE, 4-WR) twice and ’20’ personnel (2-RB, 0-TE, 3-WR) three times.
* James Casey did not play an offensive snap.
* The biggest surprise when re-watching was how well the protection held up for Foles and Barkley. There were minor issues here and there, but overall, both quarterbacks had plenty of time to set up in the pocket. Foles showed poor pocket presence and often made the pressure look worse than it was. Barkley did a good job of hanging in the pocket and trusting his blocking.
* Good game from Jason Peters. He held up well in protection and got the job done in the run game too. As far as I could tell, none of the issues on the ground were his fault.
* Evan Mathis was solid for the most part, but had some issues. Even though Foles held the ball, Mathis had trouble in pass protection on the first sack. He couldn’t get to the linebacker on McCoy’s 4-yard run in the first. He missed a block on the safety, who slipped past him on a screen attempt to Maehl in the second. And he failed to pick up the defensive end, who hit Foles on a stunt in the second. Mathis did a good job pulling on McCoy’s 6-yard run in the third. He executed well on another McCoy 6-yard run and a 4-yard run in the fourth.
* This was one of Jason Kelce’s best games of the season. He held up well in protection and made nice blocks on both of McCoy’s 6-yard runs in the third. Kelce pulled out in front on McCoy’s 10-yard run and also did a good job on his 4-yard scamper. One issue in the second: Both he and Mathis blocked the same player at the second level, leaving the safety free to tackle McCoy. Like I said, the issues in the run game were spread out among several different players.
* The pattern with Todd Herremans continues: He’s run-blocking perhaps as well as he ever has. But he’s going to have some issues in protection. Herremans got beat for a sack in the second and was pushed back on a bull-rush in the third. He also gave up a hit on Barkley on his first INT. In the run game, Herremans pulled out in front on McCoy’s 10-yard scamper. He did a great job on McCoy’s 4th-and-1 conversion. And he made nice blocks on both of McCoy’s 6-yard runs. In the first, Herremans had no shot of catching up to Lee on an outside zone play that lost 3 yards.
* Lane Johnson was solid. Technically, he gave up the first sack, but Foles held on to the ball for awhile. Johnson did a good job of picking up a stunting defender to give Foles time on a 14-yard completion to Cooper in the third. He’ll sometimes let rushers get upfield, but generally does a good job of giving the QB space to step up in the pocket. Johnson didn’t finish his block on Lee in the third on a McCoy 4-yard run. But overall, he held up well.