Zone Read: Eagles-Packers, the Day After
GAME BALL OFFENSE: LESEAN MCCOY
I thought about giving it to Riley Cooper, but he got some nice B247 ink on Sunday.
McCoy piled up 155 yards on 25 carries (6.2 YPC). In the previous five games, he had 309 yards on 90 carries (3.4 YPC).
“Today, I think the offensive line actually controlled the line of scrimmage,” McCoy said. “…I think it’s one thing for a back to be confident to run the ball. But it’s another when the guys up front want to run the ball even more than you do. So it says a lot about them up front, the way they played today.
“I think today I had more lanes and a lot more one-on-one opportunities. I was to the second level so fast today, and I was just hitting it.”
McCoy was particularly impressive in the second half, carrying 16 times for 114 yards (7.1 YPC). With six games to go, he leads the league in yards (932) and carries (193).
GAME BALL DEFENSE: DEMECO RYANS
I know we already recognized him up top, but Ryans deserves it. He led the team with 13 tackles (11 solo) and also came up with an interception. Plus, the sense I get is this team would be a mess in terms of pre-snap alignment without Ryans’ guidance.
THAT’S WHAT HE SAID
“I know a bunch of times, I felt like I was tackling my own guy just because there were so many people around there.” – CONNOR BARWIN
The stat community often makes a big deal about missed tackles, and certainly those numbers have value. But against a back like Lacy, the first guy to the ball is not always going to be able to bring him down. He’s a powerful runner who takes on defenders with a violent style.
That’s really what was most impressive about the defense’s effort against the run. Davis’ guys swarmed to the ball and made sure that even if one guy missed, there would be someone else to clean up. In fact, that’s something they’ve been doing well pretty much all season long.
FIVE RANDOM THOUGHTS
1. With 9:32 left in the game, the offense took over at its own 8-yard-line. The Eagles ran the ball on 11 of 12 plays and were able to chew the clock down to zeroes, finishing with three kneel-downs.
“You would think a long drive like that you’d get tired, and you don’t because you’re used to going so fast that when you slow down, it’s like a huddle,” McCoy said. “And we haven’t huddled since probably last year. So to get a chance to really huddle up and run the ball and call the plays is a totally different feeling.”
Added Jason Kelce: “We didn’t really do much different. Like I’ve said in the past few weeks, I feel like the line and the running backs have kind of been on a different page, and it almost feels like at times, they’re not where we think they’re gonna be or we think they’re gonna go one way and it just doesn’t happen. Or we just flat-out don’t block well. They did a lot of similar things that the New York Giants were doing – really trying to run the ‘backers down, create a wall right there and make Shady bounce it outside. And we did a good job of getting movement.
“Chip [Kelly] did a really good job of when he saw they were running downhill, instead of continually trying to bash our heads against that all the time, that we could get to some outside stuff and then they’re out of position to scrape over the top.”
2. This was my first trip to Lambeau Field. As you’ve probably heard, there are residential streets surrounding the stadium, and people try to make a dollar or two offering up their properties for parking.
The pricing structure is fascinating. We saw some homes asking for $10 or $15. But others upped the ante. They asked for $20 or $25. The reason? That price included use of the bathroom.
I know we’re in tough economic times, but is the mark-up really worth it? Do you really want strangers to step inside your home and use your bathroom for an extra $5 or $10? I say no. More importantly, I’m 100 percent sure my wife would say no.
3. The Eagles shook up their secondary a bit on Sunday. Bradley Fletcher was sidelined with a pectoral injury. But instead of going with Boykin on the outside, Davis decided to give the start to Roc Carmichael.
“It came down to not knowing what personnel groupings,” Davis said. “And again, I need Brandon to be a great nickel for us. I had to put him on Jordy Nelson. So in order for him to step up and play a great game, I felt like putting him at nickel was the way to start. …So Roc was doing a nice job out there, Boykin was doing a nice job inside. Kind of had a roll going. So we kept with it.”
It seems pretty clear that Davis doesn’t like the idea of moving Boykin back-and-forth between the inside and the outside.
The Eagles also showcased their dime package for the first time all season, playing with one inside linebacker and six defensive backs (three safeties).
“I think I should have been in this package a little bit earlier [in the season] to give DeMeco and Mychal [Kendricks] a little bit of a break because we are playing a lot of snaps every game,” Davis said. “And that’s one way to help the inside backers get a blow because they’re the only group that really hadn’t. So we dropped in a little bit more of the dime package.”
When the Eagles have opponents in obvious third-and-long passing situations, going dime makes sense. It’s not like they have an embarrassment of riches in the secondary, but a third safety might be a better fit than either Ryans or Kendricks.
4. If you recall the stories about how Kelly met with Bill Belichick in the past, one of the themes was one-word play-calls. It’s a way of simplifying things so that the offense can move fast.
Kelly often talks about how everything he does is stolen from coaches who came before him. Would you believe that the one-word play-calls go back to Vince Lombardi?
The image to the right can be found in the Packers Hall of Fame, which is a spectacular museum at Lambeau Field. If you’re a football nerd, this should be on your bucket list. Lombardi’s calls were pretty simple. Sweep to the right was 49. Sweep to the left was 28. It’s easy to go quickly with calls like that.
5. All season, I’ve maintained that Eagles fans want to have meaningful games in December. And it looks like that’s going to happen. The Cowboys got smoked by the Saints Sunday night and are now in a first-place tie with the Birds at 5-5.
The Giants and Redskins are 3-6, respectively. The Eagles play Washington at the Linc Sunday afternoon before the Week 12 bye.
The Cowboys have a bye and then take on the Giants at MetLife Stadium in Week 12. It’s true that no one gives out trophies in November, but it’s at least worth mentioning that the Eagles have a chance to be in sole possession of first place in the NFC East at around 4:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Extra point: You’ll notice I didn’t write a lot about Nick Foles in this space. That’s because I need to re-watch to get a better feel for how he played. My initial impression was that he was dealt some good fortune and also took advantage of some opportunities. Rather than offer up a concrete opinion that I’m going to change in 24 hours, I’m going to hold off. McManus took a look at No. 9 after the game.
Editor’s note: The snap counts have not yet been released. They will be posted later in this space or a separate post.
GUESSING THE LINE: EAGLES (-3.5)
OK, I’ll be honest. I already mistakenly saw the line for this week’s game on Twitter (yeah, I’m looking at you Kempksi! Thanks for ruining it!).
The guess is that you might hear about that whole home losing streak once or twice in the coming days.